Nzie sent me this link to a Boundless article on "How Not to Sabotage Your Path to Marriage", wondering what I would have to say about it. Apparently a lot of women wrote complaints in the combox, but so far I can't find the combox.
The article doesn't make me want to complain, but two points stand out. The first is that the author does not seem to be a Catholic, and I will note that the Protestant* tradition never had time for celibacy whereas the Orthodox and Catholic traditions still hold it out as a sign of the Kingdom and a Very Good Thing.
Thus if you are a 40 year old Catholic Single, you have many models of holy celibacy, lived by priests, brothers, nuns and even ordinary lay people. Saint Edith Stein, by the way, didn't become a Carmelite until she was in her 40s. Before that she was a Single woman committed to her prayer, teaching, writing and lecturing.
But if you are a 40 year old Protestant Single, you may have fewer models for holy Christian single life to choose from or that you have even heard of. The author of the Boundless article makes celibacy sound like personal failure. She might like to have a little read of Saint Paul.
The second thing that strikes me is that she doesn't mention the reluctance of men to marry young these days. I maintain that it is a man's job to seek, court and win a wife. It is not a woman's job to make herself into a fishing lure and trail herself across the waters of her social life. It is her vocation to be a kind and helpful person and a good companion to others while remaining committed to Christ and His Gospel and developing all her gifts.
Like the women of Saint Edith's generation, we have a bit of a man shortage. In post-Great War Europe, the man shortage was caused by the battlefield deaths of so many beautiful young men. In modern Europe and America, the man shortage is caused by men's new suspicion that marriage is some kind of materialistic trap in which he will be at a disadvantage. It is also caused by a view that it is best to look like and act like a 20 year old for as long as humanly possible. And it is also caused by the difficult economic circumstances in which we live. In these here parts in the 1950s and 1960s, a construction worker could maintain a family of six on just his salary alone. Today this would be fiendishly difficult.
So you can think every day and in every way that you want to get married, but you can keep on wanting, Missy, until the right man comes along, and who knows when that will be? Best to leave that up to God and work on becoming the woman you believe He is calling you to be.
And don't settle for just any guy. Getting married just for the sake of getting married is seriously dumb. Wait for the man who makes your heart sing. I mean it.
But the author's other advice is sensible. Certainly don't date the same adult-out-of-school man for five years if marriage never seems to be on the cards. Your love, fidelity and sacrifice would not be beautiful or noble; they would be stupid. Don't rack up massive school debts if you feel strongly that you will be called to be a stay-at-home mother with children. Take Early Childhood Education, which will qualify you to work with other people's kids if you don't have your own, instead of Corporate Law. (Ultimately, work towards that which really satisfies your heart and don't be suckered by glamour. Pray before you sign anything.)
You know how I feel about Pelagianism. Pelagianism is the attitude that if only you pull yourself up by your own boot straps, you can achieve Grace. Well, no. Grace is a free gift from God and so, I believe, is your vocation. To return to Saint Edith, she felt strongly that she had a vocation as a cloistered nun, but the circumstances of her life put it off for a decade. Her spiritual directors said, "No, Edith. You haven't been a Catholic long enough, it would kill your mother, and the Church needs you to teach and to travel around giving your wonderful lectures." In fact, the only circumstances that made German Edith feel that now she could enter Carmel were the stupid Nazi laws against Jews (which meant anyone with Jewish grandparents) teaching and publishing. Out of serious, serious evil came this good. How mysterious, but how very God, eh?
Anyway, that's what I think about the article. Good-hearted, somewhat helpful, but ultimately dismissive of the good of the Single life and a tad Pelagian. It's really not all up to you, girls.
By the way, you should all be reading Essays on Woman by Edith Stein. And I mean all: the Orthodox, Pixie and Protestant* girls, too, please!
*I wrote Reformed, but Calvinist Cath said this was wrong and I should write Protestant, so I did. Cath is my go-to girl on Protestantism, so if ever I seem to sound like a 19th century Scots Presbyterian Church Elder, you can blame (or credit) Cath. Meanwhile, Cath should never take me as the authentic voice of Catholicism but go straight to vatican.va!