How do you greet someone on a first date? Do you keep things polite with a handshake? Presume a certain level of affection and go for a hug? Add a kiss on the cheek? Maybe avoid the issue altogether and just stick with an awkward smile?
When I was in high school, I had an incredible history teacher. She would begin every lesson with a short story; a story intended to make us think, to challenge our assumptions and to inspire us. My favourite was always the Starfish Story.
“What’s the point?” That was the question I found myself asking during Mass one Sunday. I doubt it was the first time I had asked this question. I’m sure I challenged my parents with it most Sundays when they would drag me to church as a kid. But this time was different.
I always thought I would be an absolute pro at dating. I had read all the books on the subject. Everything by Jason Evert, everything by Joshua Harris, and everything by Dawn Eden. I felt totally prepared. That feeling lasted until exactly five and a half months ago – the moment I actually started dating someone.
“None can sense more deeply than you artists, ingenious creators of beauty that you are, something of the pathos with which God at the dawn of creation looked upon the work of his hands.” With these words, Pope St. John Paul II began his Letter to Artists in 1999.
If you had to pick one defining feature of Christian dating, what would it be? Coffee-dates after the Sunday service? Leaving room for the Holy Spirit? Pondering how great you’d both be at married ministry? If I was going to pick just one, it would have to be “The List.”
Young Catholic men, we have a problem. It’s a problem that is going to require all of our courage, confidence and creativity to solve. It’s a problem that affects many of our friends; it might even be affecting you. Finally, it’s a problem that’s frustrating many of the beautiful, wonderful, young Catholic women in our lives.
It should come as no surprise that youth ministry is a demanding job. Youth ministers spend hours in overloaded schedules dreaming up speakers, organising events, practising music, setting up sports teams, encouraging outreach to those in need and, of course, preparing food. And then, after all that, sometimes only a few people show up.