Today we have a guy's eye view of a Catholic speed-dating event from frequent reader "Young Canadian R.C. Male", edited by me for clarity. I am sure you will enjoy this backstage pass to a young Catholic bachelors's thoughts.
"Upon seeing Seraphic's post on Operation Valentinus 2012 and commenting on my Valentine's Day plans within the post, the lovely Auntie Seraphic asked me if I could write an account of the event and she'd post it on her blog. Wow, me, a little blip on the Catholic blogosphere map? Doing a post for a pretty big Catholic media darling? [Very kind but sadly an exaggeration.--Ed.] How could I say no to sweet Auntie Seraphic?
I'm a Catholic male in his late 20s who recently came back to his faith. I'm working towards getting back into a career in health care. I didn't have much luck in the dating department over my school years and, though I did a little bit of dating for a month and a half through a Catholic dating site last year, [that didn't work out]. However, I wasn't employed at that time and I really should haven't gone in full barrel. And that hasn't quelled my honest and heartfelt desire to fall in love, have a long-term relationship and start a family.
So here I am, in the middle age group of 25-32 yr olds, partly employed, and trying to establish myself personally, faith-wise and career-wise. This Catholic speed-dating event was random, mysterious, and I did not know what the outcome would be, nor was there any ``rulebook`` or smart advice that I could take with me. Furthermore, one on the organizers told me about the Catholic frame of mind of this event:
'We are going to encourage a Catholic model which is based first and foremost in human dignity. Each of us has dignity and is worthy of being treated with dignity because we are created in the loving image of God. Also, friendship is an important part of this model ....'
'.... People will be given a little valentine’s greeting card after each speed date meeting. You are going to be asked to write down one thing you enjoyed learning about the person / you admire about the person. And if you want you can enclose your contact info in that note. (The notes will not be handed to participants right away. They will be handed out at the end of the speed dating portion of the evening). It will then be up to recipient to decide if he or she wants to use any contact info provided to get in touch after the event.'
So this seemed like a departure from normal speed dating. Worse, it wasn't definite if people wanted to contact each other, so I felt like I was stepping into the Casino, where the house has the advantage. Randomness abounded, and I didn`t know what would happen. This made me nervous because I am more of an organizer who likes things planned out. I don't mind some randomness but not when it encompasses a task or event.
Furthermore, would the ladies be paying attention to my clothes? Would I seem interesting enough to them? Would they be revolted if I let it slip that I love the Latin Mass, or that I am that deep into my Catholic Faith, or if I said I'm looking long term relationship/for a family? What if I said something wrong and that one thing cost me a further event or friendship/relationship with that woman? What if they asked me if I own a car? What if God's Will is against me and will make the event flop because He's signed my vocation with his Divine pen on my life contract my as single or "GASP" (to me because I do not want to go to) the priesthood????? I really hoped not because God is supposed to respect a person's free will and I already have my faith and relationship struggles and I don't need more.
So the week came and went. I managed to scrounge an outfit that wasn't too business/dressy and yet work acceptable, and went to the event. Beforehand, I prayed to Jesus that I didn't know what would happen, whether I'd burn out big-time or maybe be fortunate, but if something good should happen, let it happen.
Once I arrived there, with my usual initial nervousness when it comes to women, I tried to see who looked around my age, who caught my eye, or if I knew anyone. You had to sign in, and provided you paid prior to the event, you were granted one free beverage.
While there I met another young guy who was part of another local Catholic student association. Still I was relatively alone and nervous. All my worries were running in my mind until the facilitators arrived and started to speak. They said to congregate to various areas depending on our age group and status. They also read out the portion about the frame of mind for Catholic speed dating (above).
When I did what they said, I had my first surprise of the night: My age group was so large (more than 10 people of both sexes) that we had two groups, while the others had only one group each.
Each date included 3 minutes of conversation, followed by 2 minutes writing on a little Valentine's day card, where you would give one considerate detail or comment to the other person, and if you chose, contact information.
And so it began. Each date varied in the level of connection/conversation but was interesting in its own right. With some of the women, we ended up asking the usual questions--about work, education, and the like, while others tended to be a bit more open and got into some elements of their Catholic faith such as how we both got involved in (the Catholic student association), and even some parts of our faith life, like our ministries, our home parish, and some things we've done.
Some women even revealed how they've done work abroad with children, either through teaching or missionary work. One woman revealed an interesting connection to St. Michael the Archangel as one of her patron saints (after daring to open the ``random question`` envelope and asking me about my patron saint, of which one is St. Michael).
Of the more interesting insights/surprises of the night here's what I found:
- I was able to have speed dates with a number of women, all of various figures, cultures, looks, and experiences. It tied quite in nicely to the whole central idea of us all being made in the image of God.
- One of my dates had found that a different form of liturgical music (praise and worship) contributes to her faith, and this has made her consider thinking of joining that choir. I know the kind of music they use, and while I`m more a traditionalist with my Catholic Church music, I was perceptive to see that perhaps in certain cases, it`s the strong faith of the members and people who perform this music that can aid in giving its strength to the liturgy.
- I tended to give my contacts out more, while I didn't get any reciprocated.
- While I didn't receive a contact, nonetheless I was quite pleased that the dread I had experienced going in was gone by the evening, and the event was much better than it could have been. This relief was shared by my fellow daters ! Perhaps this Catholic concept of speed-dating really made it worthwhile.
- Also, I did find that by the end of the night, there were one or two dates I knew that I was able to easily open up to; that I was capable of letting down my guard and anxiety, and feeling confident in their presence. And their looks didn`t prevent me [from speaking easily] or make me guarded. I just eased up and enjoyed their company.
That to me personally is encouraging and makes me somewhat happy inside, that perhaps for me there is the possibility that we can love as Christ did, without reservations, be it a heterosexual loving relationship (Eros), or in other forms of love (e.g. filias - friendship love, Caritas - highest form of love that Chirst expressed).
- Of all the valentines that I received, the one that really caught my attention was that it said the person would pray for me and hope to meet again in future. Often with my personal struggles, I tend to lose hope quickly when the going gets tough. The fact that someone else is praying for me to the Lord really gives me hope and told me someone else cares, even if contact info wasn't there. I now am not praying alone anymore to the Lord.
So this is my account of my speed date from a Catholic man`s perspective. I would do it again if I had the opportunity! I say, perhaps if we all, both men and women, took the principles of the event, and applied them to our dating, maybe just for the initial steps of this whole rondo, or even more when it comes to relationships, maybe things would be a lot easier between the sexes, and both men and women would be more succesful with each other. More importantly, maybe we would all love like Christ just a bit more in this world.
--Young Canadian R.C. Male."
Thank you, YCRCM, for your report!