Fr Zhulsdorf has posted a quote from Pope Benedict's recent sermon to open the Synod of Bishops, the sentence that caught my eye was:
Marriage is linked to faith, but not in a general way. Marriage, as a union of faithful and indissoluble love, is based upon the grace that comes from the triune God, who in Christ loved us with a faithful love, even to the Cross.Bravo!
My regular reader will know that this is a subject close to my heart and that I will talk for hours about the profound, earth shattering reality of this sacramental bond.
Now, imperceptibly, I may be courting again, someone I've known for some time and someone who laid out our ground rules nearly a year ago: the "rule" being the primacy of Christ. This has led to some rather bizarre behaviour (according to the ways of the world). We rarely see each other apart from sitting next to each other at Mass, we don't have each other's telephone numbers, we've never been near each other's houses, we send the odd e-mail and don't expect replies. Some relationship, you may say. Yet, as I have mentioned before, this cuts deep, very deep.
The thing is, if Christ is the centre of our relationships, then nothing else matters. In heaven we are all married to the Lamb, so the ultimate goal is the sanctification of the other person and their getting to heaven and not some earthly relationship and marriage.
As far as I am aware nobody has written a manual on Catholic courtship other than to say, be chaste. What we are discovering is that, whatever is happening to us, it is happening through Christ. Our joy in each other's company is not simply the joy of two creatures who intellectually click with each other and find each other good fun, but a faith enhancing experience that leads to a closer relationship to God.
I have found myself uncommonly coy. And I will add that coyness is not teasing or fear of commitment. I simply desire to reach this person with my better part, and this needs gentleness, reserve, patience and prayer. Our better part IS the part of ourselves that we can only reach through our relationship with Christ through the sacraments and the Church. It is the person we were meant to be, but O felix culpa! that we are aware of our need for Christ in order to reach this part of ourselves.
So this is why I say, I may be courting. I have certainly found someone who is willing to engage in a profound relationship with Christ in which I play a part. I'd marry him tomorrow, if he asked, but that isn't right either. God showed Adam so much and always let Adam make up his own mind. If, through the sacraments and our love of God, we have some small grain of our pre-lapsarian infused knowledge, then man will know his mate and know her with his better part. Post fall, a woman is filled with desire for her husband, but that desire can be transformed into something wholly unselfish and life enhancing. Why desire anything less, even if this means that a relationship as measured by earthly standards may be a long way off, or may even never happen at all.
ps (2014): this one didn't happen, though we both grew in the trying, in the giving of unconditional love even when things went wrong and in failing to find each other. It is fine, there is a full stop at the end of this, we cannot now be together. For me, there will be another ......