I hope that everyone's start to the new year has been somewhat better than last year's events, though it doesn't always happen.
I'll admit I've been very lax on my blog lately and I haven't done much work with the catechesis assignment. I just seem to be bowing down to procrastination lately and as well my worklife is a vampire sucking both my physical and mental energies, even though its 8-hr rotating shiftwork. Worse my rents are always on my back to accept extra shifts and usually I do, to the point where I think that I think people call or text directly knowing I`ll switch or take their shifts.
However, I have been commenting on other blogs around here on occasion (Fr. Z, Vox Nova, Seraphic Singles ...) and I've delved into a couple of books lately on Church history:
1) The Story of the Church by Johnson, Hannan and Dominica. This book is an excellent Conservative Catholic history book sold on homeschooling sites (or used copies on Amazon/E-bay) that covers up to the 1940's with some focus on America, and also has questions and activities in the book. I will also add that for what I`ve read, this book is much heavier on the contributions that the Saints have had throughout the Church`s history and the authors do not touch things lightly. They'll tell you exactly how the saints died in detail. While this book doesn`t touch the 20th Century enough, it`s still a good book to have in your Catholic library.
2) The Catholic Church: Journey Wisdom and Misson, printed by St. Mary`s Press, by Carl Koch. This was my high school textbook for my Gr. 10 Church History course at my private Catholic all-boys school. Believe it or not, they still use this book (in its 94`edition) as the main textbook. In my opinion they should look at the Didache series and do an upgrade, but if this is what they are using still, it must be a decent book. It`s a ``neutral`` Catholic Church history book covering in decent detail history up to the opening of Vatican II, and has brief snipits of the Church post Vatican II up to the early 90`s. Considering most Church history books are biased against the Church, this is an alright `just the basics` text to have or keep from high school, if your curriculum isn`t busy teaching that social justice garbage.
Personally, I like both my books. However my one caveat is that I want a book that touches on the reign of JPII and now Pope Benedict XVI. Both had and are continuing to make (posthumously or currently) significant contributions to the Church (e.g. JPII --> Catechism and Theology of the Body; B16 --> sex scandal clampdown, ecumenical work with the Anglicans and Society of St. Pius X, Summorum Pontificum and Ecclesiae Unitatem). If anyone can recommend a good CONSERVATIVE Catholic History textbook from any publishing company that covers these two popes' reigns, please let me know.
While I've been around the blogosphere, one of the blogs that I frequent are the two of Dorothy Cummings McClean (a.k.a. Seraphic, Auntie Seraphic), a weekly columnist for the Catholic Register. She used to live in Toronto and had done post-secondary academic studies in theology. Currently, she lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with her husband and the both of them are Tridentine Latin Mass/Extraordinary form goers. Her two blogs on the internet are Seraphic Goes to Scotland and Seraphic Singles, of which the second blog's title is also the same as that of a book she wrote for single Catholic women here or here for you Canadians on Novalis. It's also titled "The Closet's all mine" in the USA. So I wander over to her blog today and find a cool posting on Valentine's Day. For those in love, it's a nice way to do something and rekindle that burning love or maintain a marriage. However, there's a lot of consumerism involved and between that and being not in love on that weekend/day, it's quite a burden on the minds and hearts of the singles, widows, etc. out there. To counter both the un-Christian parts of that celebration and to bring some cheer to those singles, Seraphic has proposed Operation Valentinus 2012. See it there and make someone else happy. Now I chose to comment on it and I told her what my plans were for countering the single blues this coming weekend, consisting of a Catholic speed-date event set up jointly by my local university Catholic Chaplaincy and another Catholic young adult ministry. At that revelation, Seraphic asked kindly if I could do an account of that event for her and to have it posted on her blog! Wow I feel honourned. I figured why not. This isn't normal speed dating supposedly (it has a Christian/Catholic perspective) so I figure why not report on it. Here's my account of the event post-edit by Seraphic:
"Upon seeing Seraphic's post on Operation Valentinus 2012 and commenting on my Valentine's Day plans within the post, the lovely Auntie Seraphic asked me if I could write an account of the event and she'd post it on her blog. Wow, me, a little blip on the Catholic blogosphere map? Doing a post for a pretty big Catholic media darling? [Very kind but sadly an exaggeration.--Ed.] How could I say no to sweet Auntie Seraphic?
I'm a Catholic male in his late 20s who recently came back to his faith. I'm working towards getting back into a career in health care. I didn't have much luck in the dating department over my school years and, though I did a little bit of dating for a month and a half through a Catholic dating site last year, [that didn't work out]. However, I wasn't employed at that time and I really should haven't gone in full barrel. And that hasn't quelled my honest and heartfelt desire to fall in love, have a long-term relationship and start a family.
So here I am, in the middle age group of 25-32 yr olds, partly employed, and trying to establish myself personally, faith-wise and career-wise. This Catholic speed-dating event was random, mysterious, and I did not know what the outcome would be, nor was there any ``rulebook`` or smart advice that I could take with me. Furthermore, one on the organizers told me about the Catholic frame of mind of this event:
'We are going to encourage a Catholic model which is based first and foremost in human dignity. Each of us has dignity and is worthy of being treated with dignity because we are created in the loving image of God. Also, friendship is an important part of this model ....'
'.... People will be given a little valentine’s greeting card after each speed date meeting. You are going to be asked to write down one thing you enjoyed learning about the person / you admire about the person. And if you want you can enclose your contact info in that note. (The notes will not be handed to participants right away. They will be handed out at the end of the speed dating portion of the evening). It will then be up to recipient to decide if he or she wants to use any contact info provided to get in touch after the event.'
So this seemed like a departure from normal speed dating. Worse, it wasn't definite if people wanted to contact each other, so I felt like I was stepping into the Casino, where the house has the advantage. Randomness abounded, and I didn`t know what would happen. This made me nervous because I am more of an organizer who likes things planned out. I don't mind some randomness but not when it encompasses a task or event.
Furthermore, would the ladies be paying attention to my clothes? Would I seem interesting enough to them? Would they be revolted if I let it slip that I love the Latin Mass, or that I am that deep into my Catholic Faith, or if I said I'm looking long term relationship/for a family? What if I said something wrong and that one thing cost me a further event or friendship/relationship with that woman? What if they asked me if I own a car? What if God's Will is against me and will make the event flop because He's signed my vocation with his Divine pen on my life contract my as single or "GASP" (to me because I do not want to go to) the priesthood????? I really hoped not because God is supposed to respect a person's free will and I already have my faith and relationship struggles and I don't need more.
So the week came and went. I managed to scrounge an outfit that wasn't too business/dressy and yet work acceptable, and went to the event. Beforehand, I prayed to Jesus that I didn't know what would happen, whether I'd burn out big-time or maybe be fortunate, but if something good should happen, let it happen.
Once I arrived there, with my usual initial nervousness when it comes to women, I tried to see who looked around my age, who caught my eye, or if I knew anyone. You had to sign in, and provided you paid prior to the event, you were granted one free beverage.
While there I met another young guy who was part of another local Catholic student association. Still I was relatively alone and nervous. All my worries were running in my mind until the facilitators arrived and started to speak. They said to congregate to various areas depending on our age group and status. They also read out the portion about the frame of mind for Catholic speed dating (above).
When I did what they said, I had my first surprise of the night: My age group was so large (more than 10 people of both sexes) that we had two groups, while the others had only one group each.
Each date included 3 minutes of conversation, followed by 2 minutes writing on a little Valentine's day card, where you would give one considerate detail or comment to the other person, and if you chose, contact information.
And so it began. Each date varied in the level of connection/conversation but was interesting in its own right. With some of the women, we ended up asking the usual questions--about work, education, and the like, while others tended to be a bit more open and got into some elements of their Catholic faith such as how we both got involved in (the Catholic student association), and even some parts of our faith life, like our ministries, our home parish, and some things we've done.
Some women even revealed how they've done work abroad with children, either through teaching or missionary work. One woman revealed an interesting connection to St. Michael the Archangel as one of her patron saints (after daring to open the ``random question`` envelope and asking me about my patron saint, of which one is St. Michael).
Of the more interesting insights/surprises of the night here's what I found:
- I was able to have speed dates with a number of women, all of various figures, cultures, looks, and experiences. It tied quite in nicely to the whole central idea of us all being made in the image of God.
- One of my dates had found that a different form of liturgical music (praise and worship) contributes to her faith, and this has made her consider thinking of joining that choir. I know the kind of music they use, and while I`m more a traditionalist with my Catholic Church music, I was perceptive to see that perhaps in certain cases, it`s the strong faith of the members and people who perform this music that can aid in giving its strength to the liturgy.
- I tended to give my contacts out more, while I didn't get any reciprocated.
- While I didn't receive a contact, nonetheless I was quite pleased that the dread I had experienced going in was gone by the evening, and the event was much better than it could have been. This relief was shared by my fellow daters ! Perhaps this Catholic concept of speed-dating really made it worthwhile.
- Also, I did find that by the end of the night, there were one or two dates I knew that I was able to easily open up to; that I was capable of letting down my guard and anxiety, and feeling confident in their presence. And their looks didn`t prevent me [from speaking easily] or make me guarded. I just eased up and enjoyed their company.
That to me personally is encouraging and makes me somewhat happy inside, that perhaps for me there is the possibility that we can love as Christ did, without reservations, be it a heterosexual loving relationship (Eros), or in other forms of love (e.g. filias - friendship love, Caritas - highest form of love that Chirst expressed).
- Of all the valentines that I received, the one that really caught my attention was that it said the person would pray for me and hope to meet again in future. Often with my personal struggles, I tend to lose hope quickly when the going gets tough. The fact that someone else is praying for me to the Lord really gives me hope and told me someone else cares, even if contact info wasn't there. I now am not praying alone anymore to the Lord.
So this is my account of my speed date from a Catholic man`s perspective. I would do it again if I had the opportunity! I say, perhaps if we all, both men and women, took the principles of the event, and applied them to our dating, maybe just for the initial steps of this whole rondo, or even more when it comes to relationships, maybe things would be a lot easier between the sexes, and both men and women would be more succesful with each other. More importantly, maybe we would all love like Christ just a bit more in this world."