For single Catholics, here are some alternatives to cats

Emily Stimpson, Catholic blogger and author of The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years, gives some advice on Beating the Single Catholic Blues:

Why am I still single?

That’s a question a whole lot of us Catholic girls and boys find ourselves asking these days.

The plan, our plan, was always marriage and babies. But God hasn’t gotten the memo yet. Which leaves those of us who still believe we’re called to marriage trying to make sense of our prolonged singleness, not to mention striving to understand how we’re supposed to live in the gap between college and “I do.”

It’s confusing. It’s frustrating. And sometimes it just plain hurts.

So what’s a good Catholic single to do? Give in to the culture? Give up on our heart’s desires?

Buy lots and lots of cats?

No. No. A hundred times no.

Just try these tips instead.

1. Remember, It’s Not You

Okay, maybe it is. Maybe you have some deep-seeded issue preventing you from recognizing or committing to the person God has for you. Chances are, however, you’re still single for the same reason most of us are:

We’re Catholic and the culture is not.

The sexual revolution, divorce, abortion, contraception, pornography, cohabitation, even serial dating have left countless potential mates wounded and in need of healing. Others want and expect things from us that we cannot and must not give. The pool of eligible spouses is small, which leaves many of us single later—maybe much later—than we’d like.

But your unwillingness to widen that pool by turning your back on God and compromising on what you know to be true doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you. It means something’s right.

2. Seize the Day

The single years aren’t always a walk in the park. But they do come with certain perks and opportunities. Don’t let those perks and opportunities pass you by.

At night, read by the fireside. Buy season tickets to the ballet or symphony. Go on that missionary trip to China. Open the brewhouse of your dreams. Finish that masters in theology.

As your married friends will tell you, your time for most of these adventures is limited. Embarking on them now, however, tempers depression in the short-term and enriches life in the long-term. You see more and learn more. You grow more. And who knows? Maybe in some mission church in China, you’ll meet your future spouse.

3. Make a Gift of Yourself

 All of us—single or otherwise—are under orders from God to give ourselves away in love. See Matthew 10:39: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” 

 So lose your life. Give it away. Volunteer at the local crisis pregnancy center. Sing in the Church choir. Teach CCD. Feed the homeless. Take a meal to new mom. Make a holy hour for the singles you know. Just smile at the crabby clerk in the grocery store.

Whatever you do, do it often and do it gladly. God, after all, loves a cheerful giver. Accordingly, the more cheerfully you give yourself away, the more joy God gives back to you.

4. Count Your Blessings

Literally. Write them down. Tick them off on your fingers. Use an abacus. Enumerate them however you like, just count them…all of them. Your mind, your health, your strength, your friends, your faith, your beauty, your smile, your talents, your job, your lack of job, your great family, your crazy family, blue skies, green grass, hot coffee, strong whiskey, cashmere sweaters, fat babies, broccoli, old doors, new plumbing—whatever it is that floats your boat put it on the list. Then bless God for it. Tell him you see his goodness in all these things, and ask for the grace to see it in your singleness as well. Chances are, by the time you’re done counting, you will.

5. Hang Out With Jesus

Why? Because he loves you and wants only the best for you. He’s not surprised you’re single. He saw this day coming from all eternity. He’s accounted for it. He’s providing for you through it. And as long as your singleness lasts, he will continue to provide. So go to him, daily: in the Eucharist, in Confession, in Adoration, in his Word, and in prayer. Being in his presence reminds you of his love. It also can remind you of how much you love him, and how your deepest desire is not for a spouse, but rather to do his will.

6. Hope Always

There comes a time in almost every single Catholic’s life when we’ve had enough—enough dating, enough disappointment, enough bad endings. No matter how good we’ve been and no matter how hard we’ve prayed, it never seems to work out. So we contemplate giving up.

Bad idea.

If you truly believe you’re called to marriage, you can’t throw in the towel. You have to put yourself out there, and you have to leave yourself open—to getting hurt, yes, but also to being surprised by some totally unexpected, totally perfect gift from God.

And it’s never too late for him to send you that gift. Never.

Countdown to St. Joseph’s Day:  6 days

Last week at their monthly meeting, the Young Adult Ministry of St. Catherine of Siena Parish hosted its very first St. Joseph’s Table (La Tavola di San Giuseppe also called St. Joseph’s Altar).  On a three-tiered table surmounted by a statue of St. Joseph, these Catholic young adults placed food to share (including home made focaccia—so they literally broke bread together) as well as canned goods to donate to the hungry.

As we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of our great patron and father, let us seek to imitate his virtues.  The St. Joseph’s Table can help us do this, for around it loved ones gather to pray and share a meal; it is a reminder to model our own family after the Holy Family and, with grateful hearts for the many blessings of God, to show charity to others in need.

There is even an approved blessing for your St. Joseph’s Table, including a special provisions that a lay person can say if a priest or deacon is not available.

As part of the Rite of Blessing, the minister says,

Today we honor the memory of Saint Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and patron of the universal Church.  We rejoice at this table, which is a sign of God’s generous blessings and of our call to serve the poor and hungry.  We pray that through the intercession of Saint Joseph we too might join the saints at the banquet of the Lord in the heavenly kingdom.

All-provident God, the good things that grace this table remind us of your many good gifts.  Bless this food, and may the prayers of Saint Joseph, who provided bread for your Son and food for the poor, sustain us and all our brothers and sisters on our journey towards your heavenly kingdom.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

If you can’t have your own St. Joseph’s Table, you can go to the online Virtual St. Joseph’s Altar.  There you can place a symbolic item on the altar, submit a prayer request, view photos of more elaborate St. Joseph’s Tables, and even learn traditional recipes.

From the above website, here is a little bit more of the history and customs of the Tavola di San Giuseppe.

The St. Joseph Altar is Sicilian in origin. During a terrible famine, the people of Sicily pleaded to St. Joseph, their patron saint, for relief. St. Joseph answered their prayers, and the famine ended. In gratitude, they prepared a table with foods they had harvested. After paying homage to St. Joseph, they distributed the food to the less fortunate.

The Altar is set up in three tiers, representing the Holy Trinity. A statue of St. Joseph is placed on the top tier, usually surrounded by flowers, greenery & fruit.

No meat is prepared for the Altar. This is probably because St. Joseph’s Feast falls in the Lenten Season and also because meat was a rarity to the Sicilian peasants. Breads, cakes and cookies, baked in symbolic Christian shapes, are prepared for the Altar. Pastries in the shapes of monstrances, chalices, crosses, doves, lambs, fish, bibles, hearts, wreaths and palms adorn the tiers of the Altar. Symbols of St. Joseph - such as lilies, staffs, sandals, ladders, saws, hammers and nails - are also used. There is symbolism in many of the items on the Altar. Breadcrumbs rerpresent the sawdust of St. Joseph the Carpenter. Twelve whole fish represent the apostles. Wine is symbolic of the Miracle at Cana.

The Altar is a medium of petition and thanksgiving. Petitions of the faithful are written on pieces of paper and placed in baskets on the Altar. Photos of deceased relatives & friends may decorate the Altar as well.

Viva San Giuseppe!!!

Day 4 of our novenaIte ad Ioseph (“Go to Joseph”, Genesis 41:55)