Love(ly) Letters

I have been sent so many beautiful notes, hopeful messages and words of encouragement over the past four weeks and I want to share the love. I hope that some of you may find hope and encouragement in these words, as I did.

The below were published in the Catholic Weekly‘s Letters page the week after my article appeared:

Anna Hitchings’ article speaks volumes about the lack of good Catholic men. I completely agree with all she wrote. I observed the lack of good Catholic men when I was in my 20s. I am now 40, married and with a lovely two-year-old. I totally support and agree with young women and Anna who believe that one’s faith should never be abandoned for the sake of finding a husband.

However, if it is God’s will, perhaps through marriage Catholic women can help bring non-Catholic men to the Catholic faith. This is a difficult task, but achievable with God’s grace. It requires that the woman’s faith be on solid foundation and unshakeable.

This is my example. I married a non-Catholic man who has become a serious Catholic, with God’s grace, through married life.

Sunny

The sentiments expressed by Anna Hitchings in her article resound with most Catholic, single women looking to marry and start a family. I know my own daughter and many of her friends despair of finding a husband. Today’s online dating system is deeply flawed.

Men have fewer male role models today and are not allowed to be masculine. Man’s innate responsibility to provide and protect has been thrown out the window and they don’t know where they stand in society today for fear any move they make or say will be declared sexist.

I have to say that the rabid feminists of the past few decades have ruined it for women who have only just wanted to take on the traditional role of a wife and mother.

It would be great if we could get all the Catholic singles, 25-40, looking for marriage to get together, perhaps on a monthly basis at a church hall or mayvbe a “looking for marriage CW Facebook” page. Meeting someone is more likely to succeed than going through a myriad of profiles on an online dating site.

Anonymous

Bravo, Anna Hitchings, for raising an important issue for young Catholic women and our Church. I commend you for your courage in sharing your struggle. I can relate. For much of my 30s, I yearned for marriage and family life and, like you Anna, struggled with being single. Not to mention those inane questions such as ‘why are you single?’

My suitor arrived in the form of a church-going and worldly wise Frenchman (yes, Anna, he ticked all your boxes, along with a French accent!). I was jogging along Melbourne’s St Kilda Road and Paul stopped me to ask for directions. I was 35.

At 36 I was married and, at 37, the first of our four beautiful sons arrived.

Felicity

Dear Anna: I loved your article. Thanks for having the courage to write deeply personal things that many young people wrestle with in their lives. May God bless you!

Fr Michael

Anna Hitchings’ article makes me glad I was in my twenties 50 years ago. Then, we had local dances every week where you could meet girls (or boys) without any commitment in an alcohol-free zone.

Today, there isn’t the same amount of regular social activity available within our Catholic community for youth and young adults to meet each other.

Barry

I’m a Catholic man in London and have found the identical reverse situation to that described by Anna Hitchings: young Catholic men here speak a lot about the ‘desert-like’ conditions here for finding a Catholic wife in one of the most populous cities in the world. In reverse, Anna, I felt for your frustration, and your female friends so I thought I would send this response so you could maybe pull something positive from the other side of the fence.

First: don’t fall for the hook-up culture. You won’t find any practising Catholics out there partying with hedonists, you will waste your time and likely experience real suffering.

Secondly, pray. Jesus Himself said ‘ask and you will receive’. Pray to meet the right Catholic man and have faith, because God is Good. Go to prayer events, even Catholic singles events, maybe a different parish. If you’re not fishing in the right pool, you won’t catch the right fish.

Thirdly, I’m pretty sure most young Catholic men will be pretty astounded to meet a genuine young Catholic woman who lives the two points I mentioned above. You’ll instantly come across as a ‘priceless gem’ kind of girl.

Fourthly, if you’ve been trying for a while and things haven’t gone so great, why not try one of the ‘less worldly’ guys at Church? I mean when you look at it from their point of view, it might be that they’ve been pretty isolated from their ‘strip-club-frequenting’ buddies and appear a little ‘less worldly’ as a result?

Anyhow, good luck and, as St Padre Pio said, ‘hope, pray and don’t worry’.

Rob

The messages below were sent to me personally:

Hey Anna!

I just wanted to let you know that I’m praying for you, that God’s love and perfect will may shine through you.

A fellow striving Catholic

Saul

All the points you made were frightening to our culture because they threaten the dominant narrative ‘if you pray and are good things will work out.’ You’ve experienced the flaws in that narrative, and some people will experience that truth-telling as a threat. It isn’t, and it isn’t the same as rejecting God or His power or anything else! It’s the first step to improving our culture so that we don’t sell women false messages in the first place!

Lucy

Anna I just want to encourage you. I thought your article was excellent, brave and true. I felt exactly like you. I met my husband at 36 and quit my job, went on pilgrimage for the intention of finding a husband and met him online. It has been a difficult marriage and sometimes I wonder if I did God’s will or my own. But I can relate to every thing you wrote and I thank you for your honesty.

I do have 3 beautiful children and I love my husband but it has been much harder than I had thought.

I will pray for you and for all men and women searching for a spouse. It is such a strong natural desire to find a loving spouse

Katrina

Just want to say, what you wrote was refreshingly honest and brave and helps even me, a 30-something who married an agnostic and now have two kids, after too many Catholic dead ends or worse.

Even though I’m married with kids, your article spoke to so much of what was in my heart when I decided to give my now-husband a chance. It also speaks to what’s in my heart when I see my sister struggle to find a man who shares her values but who is not a total bore or totally awkward or wants to suppress all of her strength and her intelligence and her career.

Alice

I am certain that many young Catholic men and women will be able to relate to what you have written – I am not proud to admit that I have most certainly compromised my faith to date in the past and was convinced that I had no other choice but to make compromises so that I could fulfill my vocation!

Thankfully, by the grace of God, I was protected from completely losing my way. We all know that love has the power to blur one’s clarity and pull one away from one’s convictions. Your overall message is so important: that women ought NEVER to compromise on that which they hold dear, that is God and the Catholic faith, for without it we are lost!!! Our relationship with Jesus is THE most important thing, and nothing must ever come in the way of that, no matter how appealing it may seem.

Your article arrives at a crucial point in time, for it will help women to realise that they must never forget this key message, and significantly, it will help them to know that they are not alone! Our Lord has a plan for each and every one of us to reach utter fulfilment, joy and peace, but we can only find it through Him.

Kristen

I just want to let you know how much I appreciate what you did. I also want to affirm you and support the sentiment and the precise things you brought up. A few good mates and myself completely agree with you and we really do see your point.

There’s just so much wrong with the dating game and men in particular. Of course, it’s silly to think it’s just men that are in need of changing, but sadly I admit it is mainly men.

I fear for my sisters in a sense, and my future daughters if I have any. I feel for you and other good Catholic women out there that are living out their faith but feel like they’re not really getting met at their level.

God bless you and thanks for your vulnerability. What you’ve done is something a lot of men don’t have the balls to do, and that is to be vulnerable and to initiate. Pray for us men, and keep up your challenge.

Elijah

I could quote many more but I think these suffice to give an accurate idea of the response.

THANK YOU to all those who have written to me, even if you weren’t quoted here. Every single message has meant so much to me, and I’m storing them all up in my heart for those tough days ahead. You’ve given me confidence in my own voice and in the value of my thoughts and opinions, and that is an invaluable gift. Please be assured of my prayers.

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