Almost Holy: Confessions of a Bad Catholic
Love is in the Air
The save-the-date cards are rolling in with a frequency usually reserved for bills (this weekend, I’ll be at the third family wedding of the year). Many of my friends are excitedly hinting at engagements and the rest of them have something to show for their many nights spent out on the “scouting tour.” A priest-friend of mine in the missions just presided at his parish’s first wedding since the early 1930s and, closer to home, BustedHalo’s own Dr. Christine Whelan has hit it big in the States with her new book, Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.
As the saying goes, love is in the air.
But if that’s true then I must be either hermetically sealed off from it or on an oxygen tank.
In a sense I’m married to my beat with my blog Whispers in the Loggia and couldn’t picture my life without the bustle of covering the people who give the best of themselves in the life of the Church. Being embedded in a world dominated by male celibates, however, isn’t an optimal workspace for any sane, red-blooded American male, and it might just be that the ways of the business have rubbed off on me.
Then again, who said I was sane?
A couple weeks back, I paid a visit to a friend of mine, a priest of great holiness and wisdom. “You really shouldn’t talk about the girlfriend stuff,” he said referring to comments I’ve made on my blog. “That’s your life and it’s nobody’s business but yours.”
He’s got a point, of course. But at the same time, I don’t know if there’s a part of my life where my faith, its truths and its values have more of a role and relevance than that of finding the girl. More precisely, it’s the richness of faith, the responsibility of it, that gives me a standard to shoot for and my guiding concept of what’s important. Hopefully that’s the case for all of us—and the popularity of a relationship column like Christine Whelan’s on this site indicates that the intersection of faith and relationships is incredibly important. Still, it’s difficult to keep an even keel amidst the torrent of highs, heartbreaks, tempting diversions and tough calls that come with having to navigate the dating scene.
Imitating and Integrating
By using faith as a guide, I’m not talking about some esoteric nicety of dogma but the value of imitating and integrating the concrete examples from my life that prove that—when we use the best of what our faith has to offer as a guide—things simply work better.
In my own life, I think of two specific cases.
The first of these is my parents, who mark their 26th wedding anniversary next week. Despite having been close by for almost 24 of those years, I can honestly say that, in their commitment to and love for each other, God is present—not just for them, but to everyone who they happen across. And while that’s a blessing to behold, at the same time it presents a challenge so steep it’s almost frightening. My sister and I have been the beneficiaries of witnessing their relationship, so we’re responsible to make good on the things they’ve taught us and all the sacrifices they’ve made. They raised us so that the fullness of life and love might be ours, often in ways they didn’t have growing up. It’s a tall order, and as time goes on I realize it all the more.
The other example I carry with me is that of my maternal grandmother, a couple weeks from her 90th birthday. Her story is far too good and lengthy for the constraints of this column, but her impact on my life has been incalculable. I will never know a soul with a greater spirit of faith, loyalty, dignity, love and sacrifice. As she often says in her philosophical moments, “Love is sacrifice.”
That’s a truth we often try to run from. I’ve had many teachers through the years, and hopefully I’ve learned as much from them as I could absorb. But of them all, I’ve had none better than this 90-year-old woman raised by Vincentian nuns in an Italian orphanage with little more than an eighth-grade education.
So, armed and entrusted with all that, I’ve got my eye out for the girl. All Saints Day is right around the corner and it’s a reminder of how much I’ve learned from the living saints in my own life. I’m just hoping there’s another one out there who’ll want to put up with me.
Then again, it seems that love is in the air.