Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

26 October 2013

"Would You Date You?": Review and Application

Last year I was in a near occasion of sin Catholic goods shop, where I spotted Would You Date You? by Anthony Buono, founder of Ave Maria Singles and writer at the blog 6StoneJars. The sight of this book filled me with delight. It sits at my right hand, arrayed in the gold of the autumn sun.

I met Anthony through a mutual friend, a priest and mentor who was kind enough to employ me as an organist at his parishes when I was a child of twelve (good enough for government work). I can't recall how Anthony met Fr. Connolly, but the two later collaborated on Road to Cana, a marriage series that aired on EWTN and is available on DVD. I was honored to serve for Mr. and Mrs. Buono's wedding twenty years ago. It's been a few years since we last spoke, but God knows whether and how our paths may cross.

While I have miles to go before the last page (138) of WYDY, because I've enjoyed what I've read thus far I am tempted to write a rash review. Now I don't expect the book to go sour at any point, but knowing that I might once again misplace it or place it down in favor of something else (not necessarily better), I will assure you that Mr. Buono's Opus is worth buying, reading, assimilating, and implementing.

I am not dating anyone--the Diocese and countless others will be glad to know--but I come into regular contact with people who are dating or who likely will be dating "before you know it." WYDY would make a fine gift for any such person. Content and delivery are appropriate for any high schooler or college student, perhaps as suggested or required reading, a stocking stuffer, etc.

Any human beings who exist in any sort of community--would profit from devouring this book. If the reader is moved to make necessary changes of attitude and action, WYDY will have fulfilled its purpose, and, please God, the divorce statistics will change for the better, because the reader's conversion will have prevented, or even saved, an unhappy, unhealthy or unholy relationship.

Arthur Porter wrote and Frank Sinatra sang that "love, like youth, is wasted on the young," but the young are understandably drawn to it. Unfortunately, and often tragically, many teenagers and adults lack the wherewithal to approach authentic love appropriately. They and their prospective spouses would profit from a formation in virtue

Buono treats several virtues that are particularly relevant to prospective spouses, such as humility, purity, charity, detachment, self-awareness, and practicality. He writes with a balance of directness and gentleness that invites the reader to a like consideration of his or her own ways. WYDY concludes with "A Meditation on the Crucifix for Singles," which amounts to an incisive examination of conscience that works just as well for persons who have already consecrated themselves in a vocation.

This take-away passage is relevant to the weekend's Scripture readings, for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C:
[Jesus' judgment on the Pharisee] should make us all tremble, because there is a little bit of the Pharisee in all of us that has to constantly be recognized and worked on. We hold others up to very high standards and even recoil when someone falls short of those expectations (maybe even cut someone off for their failure). Yet, we have an incredible capacity for justifying our own actions and even blinding ourselves to the hypocritical approach to the life we lead. (p. 21)
And he concludes the chapter with a practical suggestion:
Dating couples need to work at making each other feel relaxed so that authentic love has a chance to develop and blossom. They should be quick to see the best in each other, and assume any fault within themselves..." (p. 23)
Previous Lucan texts remind us that Martha and Mary were sisters, the Prodigal and the Elder were brothers, and today, the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector are praying in the same Temple...though not to the same person: while both pray-ers address God, the Pharisee "took up his position and prayed to himself" (Lk 18:11).
Two interesting points: (1) The Pharisee "took up his position": statheis literally means "stood," but the word can admit a sense of firmness. (2) He "prayed to himself" (pros heauton), which suggests a monologue.
When it feels like we're talking to ourselves in prayer, it should prompt us to consider our motives for praying. Are we trying to ingratiate ourselves with God, as if our prayer intends to "convince" Him of our virtues, or that we've been "good enough" to deserve what we seek? Are we pharisaically promoting ourselves to ourselves, as though God didn't even need to be around for it?

What kind of prospective mate, or friend (for the former ought first, and always, be the latter), could possibly "feel relaxed" in our presence--another egotist like us?

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