Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Monday, March 19, 2012

Courtship?

Back in the day, unless everyone has lied to me all my life, the wife of a knight or a lord or a king would call her husband "My Lord." In later centuries, the wife would call her husband "Mr. [last name]." At some point, the wife would call her husband "dad."

I am not here to make a judgement about these practices. Maybe they are innocuous. Maybe not. Whether or not they are, I want to talk about courtship.

I have always been wary of modern courtship. Maybe it was awesome back in the Middle Ages, but I kind of doubt it was the same then as it is now. With modern courtship comes such practices as 1) the omnipresent chaperone 2) the purity ring 3) the constant involvement of the families etc. Of course not all "models" of courtship follow this pattern, but they all tend in this direction. The father of the girl involved must of course give consent (not only consent but permission). Physical intimacy is something that is avoided out of the fear of a failure of purity. There are codified percentages of time to be spent with the families.

Now I am far from condemning certain practices. For instances, I most certainly am going to inform my future father-in-law of my intention to marry his daughter, though I might do it after I have asked the girl herself and maybe even do it with her. I most certainly want to get to know her family and want her to get to know mine. I will of course try to safeguard my purity and hers to the greatest extent I can.

But that isn't courtship in the proper modern and dare I say it protestant sense. It is just dating with our heads on in the right direction (although really, if we could call THAT courting, I would...cause I like the word courting.) I don't believe that it is necessary for a father to give his daughter a purity ring. I think it is necessary for a father to look out for his daughter and he should give her jewelry but that is not the same. Should a daughter call her father "my Lord?" Should a wife call her husband "my Lord?" Doubtful. Should she have respect for her father's authority and her husbands duty to care for her? Yes.

Do I have a point? Maybe, maybe not. I tend to think that we American Catholics are too puritan/protestant for our own good (which of course means we tend to be American before we are Catholic). Gone are the days of trying to make the American Dream coincide to our call as Catholics. Yes, there are ways to interpret the vision of the Founding Fathers in such a way that it is consistent with Catholicism, but essentially this country was founded on Protestant tenets.

But more than that, I just think we're too influenced by fear. Fear of physical intimacy, fear of the loss of power, fear of the new, fear of the old. We fear so much that the teen years of American Catholics are filled with a tension between the disease of the hedonists and the disease of the puritan which is used to combat it.

Catholic teaching does not say "You shall not let they children date" nor even "You shall not develop a physical relationship in any way before you are 21." It does prohibit fornication and lust. We must avoid these then, but at what price?

I don't know. I'll let you know if I have any more wisdom when I'm actually in a "relationship."

That's another thing I don't like....the word "relationship."

--inspired by CheekyPinkGirl (link to relevant post)

7 comments:

thisjourneyofmylife said...

I like the idea of courtship, but if I were in a relationship and boyfriend would want to 'court', I don't think the relationship would last long.
This way of getting to know each other might be a good way for teenagers, but it doesn't seem particularly attractive when you're in your mid-twenties and have been living on your own for years.
Asking the father for the hand of his daughter is a custom that is pretty non-existant here. It would be funny though if someone would ask my father. If he were a catholic, my father would say no, if he weren't, I would say no. I'd never get married.

And I liked this part of your post:
"But more than that, I just think we're too influenced by fear. Fear of physical intimacy, fear of the loss of power, fear of the new, fear of the old."

thisjourneyofmylife said...

And I'm happy I can comment again!

Nate said...

And this is of course the difference between now and another earlier time: the daughter would still be part of her father's household/family and so the man would have to let the father know about it because it would affect his family. This was when girls married earlier, of course.

Now that women are in general out in the world working or in school before they encounter someone who they would like to marry means that they are much more their own household at that point. It makes sense then that the traditional courtship practices would not continue. However, the mutual informing of the father (and mother of course) is still something that is not only polite but I think a huge part of making the old family a part of the new family.

thisjourneyofmylife said...

It's not only that the girls married earlier, but also that women just couldn't live on their own. A woman living on her own was either a spinster or a girl of easy virtue. And of course, in the time when courting was the norm, marriages were seldom a matter of the heart. It made sense to get to know the family, because most people married because of the family, not because of the partner.

Ink said...

It still makes sense to get the families to know each other. Then you don't have to split holidays. If they all enjoy each others' company, have everyone over!

Nate said...

If they don't however enjoy each others company, that doesn't work. Also, of course, not everyone can just bring the whole family over to someone else's house 1000 miles away.

But yeah, it's best if at least the attempt is made for the families to get to know each other.

thisjourneyofmylife said...

If each family has one child, celebrating holidays together could be done. As soon as a family has more kids, it gets a bit hard logistically.