I still remember the day I felt sure my daughter had found the “right” guy. She texted me one morning, saying that her boyfriend had broken his scapular and she needed my help. For a minute, my mind raced as I tried to quickly think back to 9th grade Biology class to remember what part of the body a ‘scapular’ was. Then it dawned on me. She had said ‘scapular’, not ‘scapula’. Thankfully, no one needed a doctor or even my motherly medical advice… just help locating where to buy a new scapular, a traditional ‘sacramental’ of the Church consisting of two small squares of woven wool connected by a cord.1
Now, to set the record straight, we had spent a fair bit of time with said boyfriend and already knew him to be a kind, generous, and caring person. We’d seen how he and our daughter interacted, how natural they were together and how comfortable they seemed with one another. But, in my mind, this little revelation was the clincher… Not only was he Catholic, he was a practicing Catholic.2 I’m happy to say that, for many reasons, he was the right one, and they were married last month in a beautiful, sacred ceremony within the Church. It’s what I’d always hoped and dreamed of for my daughter.
But it also got me thinking about all those young women who haven’t found someone yet, who are still waiting for the right guy to come along. I’ve spoken to enough young women to know that sometimes a good man can be hard to find. I’m not saying there aren’t nice guys out there – I’m sure there are. But for some reason, they seem to be scarce, in short supply. Perhaps it’s because the qualities that many girls are looking for in a husband can’t be learned from textbooks. Such traits aren’t promoted or taught in universities, nor are they always valued in the business world. Most young men set out on a “career path,” but what about finding their vocation? It got me wondering if we’re doing right by our young men – if as a society, we’re working to instill the qualities and virtues that will help our sons, brothers and friends become good husbands and fathers one day.
Here are a few things that Catholic girls (and their moms) find attractive:
Holiness – Of course, wearing a scapular or crucifix – or any other outward symbol – isn’t a guarantee of what’s inside a person. But it may at least say something about their disposition: that they desire to know and love God. My daughter didn’t always consult me about the guys she dated, but because her faith was important to her, she knew what to look for. She understood that finding a man who shared her beliefs would be an important foundation for any lasting relationship.
Humility – Forget what you see in Hollywood, in magazines, or on the Internet. The days of “macho” men went out with the Village People… What girls really want is a guy who is open, honest, and genuine. They’d much rather date someone who is approachable, easy to talk to, and interested in people than a guy who’s focused primarily on himself. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s about knowing who you are in the sight of God and recognizing your utter dependence on Him for everything. Humility is one of the crowning virtues because it reflects the life of our Lord. So when we see true humility, we are instinctively drawn to it.
Humour – Life is serious enough, so lighten up and try to find the humour in every situation. God certainly seems to have a sense of humour, so why shouldn’t we? Be silly at times and learn to laugh at yourself. Share those aspects of your life that aren’t always the most flattering, yet when seen from the right perspective, can be moments of growth. Fr. James Martin, SJ calls a sense of humour “a signpost on the road to holiness,” for it shows that we aren’t attached to the opinions of others, or even to our own “overblown egos.”3 Besides, we have a saying in our family that no matter what happens in life, it’s all good; either it makes for good memories, or for good stories!
Honour – Words like ‘honour’ and ‘respect’ have almost come to mean the same thing as tolerance in today’s culture, but I’m actually speaking about something quite different. Being honourable means doing the right thing and having good intentions – being a man of integrity. Respecting a person’s dignity has far less to do with their beliefs or lifestyle than with wanting what’s best for them – putting the ‘good of the other’ before our own desires. When it comes to dating, this means being a gentleman. Respect her and don’t make her feel like ‘one of the guys’. Rather, show her the same care and respect that you would for your mother – or grandmother – and you’ll be on the right track.
Honesty – This really goes beyond telling the truth. It’s about being ‘real’ with yourself and with others, about being truthful in all that we say and do. So, no games or pretenses, especially when it comes to relationships. Be honest about what you’re looking for and don’t string someone along if you aren’t really serious, or if things don’t seem to be going anywhere. I’ve met young women who’ve been dating the same guy for, like, 6 years and still hold out hope that he’ll ask her to marry him one day. I’d say, if he’s not sure after 6 years, he probably never will be. For most young women, the point of dating is to ultimately find a spouse. Remember also that there’s a right way and a wrong way to break it off. Our words needn’t be brutally honest; always temper them with charity.
And one more for good measure… Hygiene. What do they say…?? Cleanliness is next to godliness? I’m not going to take it that far, but good hygiene will obviously make you more attractive to people! You don’t need to look like you’ve stepped off the cover of GQ, but a little effort will go a long way. It’s really about respecting yourself and taking care of your appearance. Girls notice if you’ve taken the time to clip your nails or trim your beard or put on deodorant. (And they’ll certainly notice if you don’t!)
If you’re single and still haven’t found that ‘special someone’ to spend your life with, perhaps you’re looking in the wrong places. Instead of bars or at the gym, think about places where you’re more likely to meet like-minded individuals, those who share your worldview. For young Catholics, that means any place where other young Catholics tend to gather: young adult groups or volunteering for university campus ministries or with mission groups. Consider getting involved with youth events in your city, like One Rock here in Calgary. Or, if you want to truly expand your horizons, consider attending World Youth Day (next one: 2016 in Poland). I’ve heard of many a young man or woman discovering their vocation and/or finding a potential mate these ways. And don’t forget about Catholic dating services… Apparently there are some good ones out there. Whatever you do, rest assured that if you’re called to married life, God has a plan. Entrust your cares to Him and ask Him to reveal it to you. Pray for your future spouse, that the Lord will watch over and protect them, keeping them safe and pure until the day of your marriage. Finally, saying a novena to one of the saints, like St. Anne, never hurts either!4
– Kelley Holy
1 For more information on scapulars and their uses, check out the excellent article “Discover the Secrets of the Scapular” by Karen Edmiston, available from http://www.catholicdigest.com/articles/faith/heritage/2009/01-01/discover-the-secrets-of-the-scapular. As she explains, “Pope John Paul II said those who wear the scapular – or habit, as he called it – dedicated themselves to the service of Our Lady for the good of the whole Church. ‘Devotion to her,’ he continued, ‘cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honor on certain occasions, but must become a ‘habit,’ that is, a permanent orientation of one’s own Christian conduct, woven of prayer and interior life, through frequent reception of the sacraments and the concrete practice of the spiritual and corporeal works of mercy.’”
2 They met, incidentally, at a Catholic young adults group through their university.
3 James Martin, S.J., The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life (New York: Harper Collins, 2010), 121 and 263.
4Here’s an awesome story that hit the news recently about a young woman who did just that and found love and happiness: