Dating and Things -Dialogue of the Old and the Young

Therese Finals done!!! I just finished my math exam.  Wasn't as bad as I had expected.  I should get a very decent grade.  And Philosophy was a joke.  It was very easy.
So let your fingers run.  Therese

From Unity: Good Girl!  Our Lady will be pleased and I will not have to complain to Her about you.  I figured you would do well in Philosophy but math?  Women are not normally good at math because it has no feelings, no heart.  Just the facts man.  Physics is actually what convinced me there had to be a God, a starting point of the universe.  The fact that all matter and all energy remains in the same total quantity in the universe, never becoming more or becoming less, is beyond a natural possibility.  Nothing is being created and yet everything had to be created to exist.  If it was created, what was it created out of?  No one has seen a nucleus of an atom but it is known by reflection and logic.  In  fact it is probably only energy with positive or negative charge and holding at least one neutron capable of linking with
other neutrons from other atoms creating matter.  So then matter is made of pure energy and energy only expresses its existence in change.  The more logic thing is that matter is made from nothing except power, but we do not know from where this power came from.  This makes me wily nilly with a spinning head.

Dating is an easier subject but harder to do what you know is true than to know what is true.  Of course we must know people to find the God chosen husband or wife, but we also know that this can lead to temptations not easy
to control.  It also leads to someone getting hurt most of the time. I know from experience that sometimes just the touch of a hand can create emotions not easy to control because some people just have some kind of electricity
for each other that does not happen in everyone.  Sometimes, however, this happens to only one person and not the other.  It is best not to touch at all, because we have promised God to avoid any occasion of sin.  Although it may not be an occasion for us, it may be for the other person.

The problem with experimentation in love is that logic goes out the window.  Emotions and logic don't often go together well.  In the almost good old days, there was no such thing as "dating".  People visited their potential partners in the presence of mothers, fathers, or sisters but never alone.

Men never considered marriage unless they were ready financially to take care of a family.  In fact, there were laws in some countries that a man must own a home before he could marry.  The Church required of the man that he prove he could support a family without help.  In spite of this people married at very young ages because people worked at very young ages.  Today education is harder and longer and more important than before, so marriage is later in life creating an even greater problem because the natural sex drive does not go away just because we wait until a later age.  Often the sex drive is mistaken for love, when people allow themselves to get too close, even if not sinful.  It is more logical to find a real love if it happens before any touching is done at all, even a finger to a finger.  You see without distortion.  The higher nature must control the lower nature.  We, as humans, were not meant to be natural, but super-natural.  We are meant to control nature, and subdue it.  We do it with clothes, with heat, with roofs, with cars, with airplanes, but not often with emotions.

In a college situation, when we       allow someone to keep too much of our company we drive away other people who would like to know us better but never find us alone.

My friend here in Fatima is Paulo.  He works out with me in the gym.  Speaks good English and is very good looking.  He is about 35 years old.  He knows that he must find a wife in the next 10 years or he will be a little old for children being at retirement age when he still has children living at home.  However, every woman he goes with he sleeps with.  I have him convinced that  if he can sleep with a woman, so can other people, even after they are married.  I have gotten him to church twice and that is the first two times in 5 years.  I am stronger that he is even though I am 30 years older, so he has some respect for me.  He sees that woman look at me and yet I do not date or even look.  I explained to him that a good woman does not want a man who is a womanizer.  She wants a man who is hard working, holy, kind, a little funny, and very self confident without pride.  Looks matter in a woman because men are lookers but looks does not matter in a man if he has self confidence.  There is one exception to this thinking and that is how we present ourselves.  How we dress is what we are selling ourselves as.  We can pretend that we are just trying to look good, but often we are trying to look sexy, even seductive and then we are sinning, man or woman.  The very reason people do stupid things in dress, like nose rings and the like is to tell other people that they have no moral laws and are available for almost anything.  It is a statement of what we want other people to know about us.

Paulo is now looking at a girl from his home village that he always liked but she would never go out with him.  She is now a nurse in an old people's home.  She knows what he is like and will not date him.  Thanks to me, he now understands why she will not date him and he does care.  He is going to visit her at the hospital, catch her at the coffee shop, and let her know him without dating.  He must prove to her that his old life is over. Someday they may get married but they will never date.
Fatima's Old Gabby.

From Therese: Dear Rick,
So far we haven't studied much about conservation  of energy.  That is brought up in lab a little bit when we study motion under its quantitative aspect using those horrible equations with lots of derivatives.  But natural philosophy, or Aristotle's physics speaks more about theories which go to causes.  I like that a lot better since things like form and prime matter and stuff mean much more than the mere mechanics of chemical formulations or calculations based on atomic theories.  Next semester we study Einstein's Relativity, among many things, and I am scared of it. My brother wrote an enormous paper at 18 which he claims disproves E's theory but I still can't decipher his paper so I have no way of judging whether he does or not.

Do you really think it is easier to know what is true than doing it in dating?  I ask that question in all seriousness for two reasons.  First, what are the true principles of dating?  Second, isn't it very difficult to apply such principles to particular instances? I wish to engage you in a friendly dialogue in regard to this subject, not to be taken personally because I desire to get to the truth of the matter.  That is how we argue at TAC.  It is rotten when people slip into ad hominem arguments.

I would like to begin by asking for a clarification on the term "dating".  What do you mean by it?

Let me give you my understanding of the term.  Just a preliminary remark.  English is very limited and it does not have the word I am looking for to replace  "dating", so I add qualifications to it. I use "dating" strictly speaking to mean the natural process by which a man and a woman get to know each other in a way conducive to the intimacy required for  an engagement to be made in due time.

By "casual dating" I mean the social outings whether done in groups or in couples of mixed company in which genuine friendship is the cause and time together is spent to strengthen the bond.  Marriage is not immediately the cause behind such outings but the possibility is there, however remote.

You bring up as an implied "principle" that of chastity in physical relations.  Don't hold hands if that is a source of temptation sort of thing.  Okay.  Clarification is necessary here too.  For, does that mean never have any physical marks of affection for someone seriously considering matrimony?  Is it wrong in all instances?  Is it better or worse to hold such signs as kissing and hand holding till marriage or engagement?  We promise in the act of contrition to "avoid the near occasions of sin".  But is this absolutely considered an occasion of sin?  (Remember, these are just questions I am bringing up for consideration, not necessarily my own position.)

Here are my thoughts regarding chastity in dating.  For "casual" dates, especially the spur of the moment ones, physical signs of affection are out of place.  But for those who are very serious about each other I think that there can be a place for such signs.  But two conditions must be met.

First, reason (and grace) must be employed.  It is not reasonable to expect hand-holding or kissing at the beginning of a serious relationship.  Physical contact, as you justly remark, upsets the mind too much for an unbiased assessment of a prospective spouse.  Hence, if physical signs are to be used, they should be paced and spaced such that they are in due proportion to the time frame within which marriage might be reasonably expected.  From my talks with our chaplains and friends, it is the physical aspect that makes parting ways even more heartbreaking.  It is therefore very important to make use of affectionate signs only in due time (if ever).

Second, honesty (and tact) is the best policy between friends who are contemplating uniting their lives until death do them part.  Hence an honest appraisal of the effects of affectionate signs upon both of the couple should be made and shared.  This way intelligent decisions may be made and ought to be kept regarding physical contact.  I suspect this is similar to an approach to alcohol.  Of itself it isn't bad, but care must be taken in seeing how much one can take reasonably.  Once a limit is determined, then it is necessary to have the discipline it takes to never exceed that.  Some can exercise temperance, and others can't.  God gives to each his talents and aptitudes.

Of course, these two rules imply much discipline if the couple decides to allow things such as hand holding before marriage.  Factors include how long it is until marriage is feasible, times of penance such as Advent and Lent, what can be done chastely without really rousing passion, etc.

You brought up one factor.  Yes, it is true that a lot of "dating", courtship, or whatever you want to call it happened in the presence of family or others in the past.  This was a natural safeguard for the couple to help overcome a temptation to have pre-marital goings on.  That is why prudence is needed here.  Dark rooms, seclusion in empty rooms far from the sight of others, parked cars, and all the rest of the tempting places ought to be avoided.  Having people around is a good idea.  However, privacy in some way should be assured for a couple so that they can really get to know each other well enough to make a good decision.

You bring up good financial standing as another sort of principle to go by.  It is a serious consideration.  Again, prudence is necessary here.  Dating will depend upon the talents of the individuals, their financial status and aspirations, educational level, etc.

What then are my principles of dating?  Here are some.

1.  Pure but enjoyable.  Enjoy the company of your friend, bearing in mind the perpetual presence of  heavenly companions.
2.  Date seriously only when ready for it.  Be prepared to take up the crosses inevitable when engaged in intimate human relationships.
3.  For the sake of happiness, date only those that will encourage you in virtuous paths, who will support you in making a domestic church.  This doesn't mean that any Catholic will do, neither does it absolutely rule out non-Catholics.  There are some non-Catholics who just need a little touch to become fervent converts.  This leads to rule
4.  Don't expect to change the person you marry.  If you can't accept the person for who he is, DON'T make the terrible mistake of marrying him.  He is almost guaranteed not to change!
5.  In all things be ruled by the love of God.  One of the purposes of marriage is the "mutual" support of the spouses.  Work out dating such that it helps both of you to become closer to Him.
6.  Be PRUDENT.  This means don't mistake puppy love for the deep abiding desire for the good of the other. Don't be selfish.  Real dating isn't just for fun.  It takes two noble persons to make a friendship such that it leads to marriage.  The good of the other includes respecting his chastity, making reasonable preparations in education and work to provide for future children, etc.

So much for long winded me.  I have observed good things and bad in relationships on campus and elsewhere which have taught me much.  Because there are so many variables, I really don't think that there is an overarching "ideal" way of dating.  Each person has his own circumstance. For instance, on my campus we have strong advise from two sources.  The administration tells us that we ought to postpone dating until second semester junior year.  Reasons for this are obvious.  Reasons for the majority of people ignoring this advice are also obvious, one of the main ones being that the youngsters of 18 and 19 take themselves so seriously that they think it is prudent to date seriously...  We
also have rules banning PDA (Public Display of Affection).  Kitchen duty or maintenance duty is the penalty for PDA and breaking dress code (being caught holding hands, hugging, kissing on upper campus, and wearing inappropriate clothing).

Chaplains tell us that physical contact should be postponed until at least the fourth month of a serious relationship. What is good about the campus is that we have a lot of morally respectable students.  One may usually leave a book on a table without having to guard it.  Girls may ask male students to escort them on the hiking trails without fear of their escorts turning upon them.  (We are at one of the trails leading into the Los Padres National Forest.  A mile or two in are a bunch of pools and waterfalls.  A pleasant sight that many outsiders hike into, hence the need for students not to be alone when hiking.)

But there are features which aren't so good.  For instance, once a girl goes out either off campus with a guy, or is seen at meals together more than once a day, they are officially "dating".  That means that no other guy will ask the girl out unless the girl "breaks up" with the person she first went out with.  The drawback to this mistaken sense of chivalry is
that there is not enough freedom of normal friendship allowed.  A girl (or guy) can only safely talk at length with someone without suspicion of going out together only if at least one of the parties is publicly committed to entering the religious life.  Further, there is no place on campus that is suitable for couples or even friends of the opposite sex to get to really know each other.  The library is a quiet place, the classrooms are too risky and are known for PDA violations, and the Commons is too public.  There is no spot where you can talk and be seen and yet not heard.

That is why in my previous e-mail I advocate casual dating.  I think it is good for people to drive out to town away from campus gossip and be able to relax in a coffee shop or ice-cream place or whatever and have conversation that brings out true character.  Drive to town?  Certain people would be furious if they found out that I advocate that.  To them that indicates an occasion of sin.

Actually, it is of practical necessity.  The college is in the hills fifteen minutes away from civilization.  This situation is different from other campuses or jobs because in the "real world" everyone has cars and men and women can drive separately.  On campus few can have cars.  Hence there is no occasion for scandal when a student of either sex rides to town with another of the opposite because everyone knows how hard it is to get a ride to town and you take what
you can get.

Many of the students are children.  Our college advocates the intellectual life so much that the practical is left dangling in the air.  Our graduates may know subtle distinctions between the Persons of the Trinity or between the philosophies of Hegel and Marx, but they don't know how to get jobs or face real life as responsible adults.  It hurts me to see them rush off to get married right after they graduate with thousands of dollars in loans to be paid...But I am griping.  because I pride myself on having a practical turn of mind it irks me to see so much silliness going on campus.

Let us turn to your friend.  If he were trying to woo me, supposing I were old enough, I would find it difficult to forget a past life.  Legally, the Church demands proof of reformation for one who had a reputation before allowing a candidate to enter the studies for the priesthood.  Some sort of proof of good character must be given to the girl he likes before he even has a chance of winning her.  I say this as a woman who's first impulse would be to utterly reject attention from such a quarter.  You say they will never date.  But that depends upon what you call dating.  If you mean by that going out to movies, dinners, and what not, and only sneaking in a little serious conversation now and then, then sure, they might not date.  It might not be prudent to date in that way if temptations are to be avoided.  But if dating means to get to know someone in an environment conducive to intimacy without loss of purity, then what do you call that?  Isn't courtship reserved for the period between engagement/betrothal and marriage?

Must go now.  Ha!  I can write on endlessly, can't I?

From Unity: Hi, Woman of few words,
I am interested in your brother's paper for although I have found fault with most science, gravity, black holes, plate tectonics, evolution, an ageless earth, uniformitarenism, etc., I find little fault with Emanuel Velicosky and Einstein.  I do find something interesting in E=MC2 in that it implies  that M=E/C2 or pure E at different speeds.

Your thesis is getting good but it lacks the unique writing style you normally have.  Some consideration should be given to males having some female traits when needed such as tenderness, but there are traits that naturally look wrong in a man or a woman.  A woman must be brave at times, but does not look badly if she is not.  A man always looks bad if he is not brave.  Isabelle of Spain was able to lead a nation and in fact, was one of the greatest leaders of all time, but she never lost her femininity or even her obedience to her husband.  The did not let him be king for the sake of the Nation but she obeyed him in all other things not related to the government of the Nation.  If there is anyone in history I truly admire it is Isabelle, who should be Saint Isabelle. Now back to dating.  I, personally do not believe in dating.  Read what I wrote in

As you can see in this article I consider dating as being two people alone together in a walk, a car, a house or anywhere.  Prior to Rivet Annie in World War II dating did not exist anywhere in the world.  I still find in the majority of counties in the world that dating does not exist except among loose women and bad families.

I am 64 year old and might marry if God sent to me a sledge hammer on the head saying that this or that woman would get me to heaven better than by myself, and I would get her to heaven better than by herself.  But in doing this I would not date.  I would not put myself in such temptation and would not put her in such temptation.  It does not matter if I would or not sin in a physical way, because I might sin in a mental way and this might be hard to get out of the head.

Of course people will have to touch sooner or later because this electricity that God gives to the right people has to be there, and you must know it by touching.  However, this can happen in many ways.  At a dance (public dance) shaking hands when leaving and believe me that can have this electricity if it is right.  Believe me when we open any door that God does not want open, other doors open as well.

Here in Portugal everyone kisses both cheeks as a greeting, and I have no problem with that when it comes to old people or children, but stay away from anyone who might tempt me.  Maybe I am a little crazy but I am not taking any risks.  I can be tempted by a girl walking down the street or even in Church.  I assume I am not so different than other men.  What then for boys or young men?

This brings up another question we have not talked about.  I happen to know your mother and father, so I know I will not be offending them in this statement because I know they are not guilty of it.  What upsets me is when I see people get married and then start letting themselves go as if it no longer matters that they stay handsome or good looking.  Both men and women are guilty of this.  The men, who would not let themselves get fat when they were single find nothing wrong with it after they marry.  And women do the same.  I knew a man whose wife divorced him.  When he saw that he was back in the single world, he lost 100 pounds in 6 months.  I told him that if he had cared about himself like that before he was divorced, he might not be divorced.

I do not understand why men and woman my age are all fat.  I am not.  I think a lot of this is my vanity but isn't fat in most cases sinful?  You might say that after having children some fat is natural and I will answer "Yes!" for a time.  But I have a friend who has 11 children, and she is naturally full figured but has never gotten fat.  I suppose I notice this more in Portugal where win and bread are the primary foods.  When the weather is good I go to the beach and the young boys still look good but the older men, anything over 30, have lost all respect for themselves.  Women also.

Strange subject but I know I can talk with you about it because you will never get fat, as your mother did not, and your father never will. Just a few words to keep you up.

From Therese: Dear Rick,

Merry Christmas! It is Christmas Eve here and the boys are out fishing and skating. Too bad fishing ends permanently in California this January. Right now is a little lull in the home. I just finished making lunch. It was really embarrassing to have to ask how to use the new can-opener. For about five minutes I read the directions and tried it but the can just wouldn't open! So finally my brother came to the rescue. Hmmm... they must be wondering how useful lady philosophers must be in the house.

It isn't just a whim that makes me write you on Christmas Eve. Normally I would be very busy. But I have had my fill of rest and prayer and all the books worth reading are still packed up in the garage (my family moved yet again). The fact is I felt really badly about the last e-mail I wrote you and I wanted to clarify a possible misunderstanding.

You see, I feel that I may have written too carelessly about Paulo, and if I have given offense I sincerely apologize. Please do not hesitate to let me know if I ever do offend you. The truth is that I had been in the middle of a struggle within when I wrote what I did, and more or less was written what should not have been. I am not very good at sharing how things affect me, and something happened which I will now relate that disturbed me when I wrote about him.

The night after you wrote describing Paulo I had a very strange dream. I will not give it in detail because some of it is rather scandalous, but suffice to say, a young man strove to approach me in an exclusive shopping center after I had passed him and his girlfriend in a convertible by the store. I did not trust him, especially since he had left his girlfriend stranded in the car to chase me, but after much happened, his soul was revealed to me as is in the manner of dreams, and I saw that he sought someone of sterling character who was not after his money. The way he had approached me was blameworthy but I was made to realize that that was all he knew in trying to get to know somebody.

Silly though this dream was, it moved me greatly for I realized that once more I was coming to conclusions that were unexpected and yet important. My thoughts upon rising turned immediately to Paulo. How I longed to say to you what I felt. Here is someone who could use a good wife. Yes, I pray that he finds one and becomes a saint. I really do wish his good. It is wonderful that he has a friend such as you to guide him. He is fortunate and I am glad. Your analysis of what women look for in men is fairly accurate. A vivid example of this is found in the character of Faramir in Tolkein's work. In the book he was courageous in will and battle, delicate in his attentions to his guests and his future wife, and very upright morally. But the movie that was just released twisted Faramir into this awful creature that sank under temptation to own the evil ring of power and who gave little indication of true worth. Maybe the producers don't believe such good men exist anymore. But they do, and we want Paulo to be one!

And yet how I feel for the village girl Paulo desires to wed. What conflicting notions might be in her! Let me tell you what I mean. I have been brought up very strictly. Some of the advice given to me has been to not date non-Catholics, children of divorced parents, and those who have major problems of a serious nature that could jeopardize a marriage. It can be very risky to marry such people for reasons which will occur to you. Yet there are people out there for whom it would not be such a great risk, and who have what it takes to work things out. Early on in Christianity, Paul of Tarsus was such a person. It is not very probable that a persecutor will turn into persecuted, yet the Church took the risk of him being a spy or the like. What am I saying? That if it be God's plan that Paulo marry this woman, then may he show himself to be the stuff that she needs and may they be happy. I was upset at first that you just assumed that they would marry simply because he loved her. That struck me as a rather arrogant male opinion that guys can get away with whatever they wanted if they persevered long enough. But it seems more fair to say that you meant that she would find him changed and so might be induced to marriage. Because I had been so deeply affected (it is hard to see that iron-clad rules must be taken rightly), I tried to be as impersonal as possible when touching on Paulo. I failed to convey how my sympathies lay, and was seemingly harsh on him where I had had no intention to be so.

You have been forthright in giving personal reasons for things and that is a trait I much admire in you especially since I find it a difficult thing to do. For example you once told me that you seldom (or never) listen to music because you don't like to be moved against your will. I would for my part have willingly embarked upon something such as a theoretical exploration of the effects of music, but not for the world would I have admitted or described what music does for me personally. Yet I think it is time where I finally trust you better and be more human in my communication with you.

My brother's paper is on a disk at school. I will send it when I return to campus. His essay is unpolished and needs much editing but I think you will be able to get the general idea. I do not know what it is saying because I do not understand the matters it deals with.

You are kind to say that the thesis is getting good. I need encouragement because it is currently one of the banes of my life. The research I needed to do for it has torn me apart and forced me to look at issues I'd prefer to ignore because they hurt. Not only that, each word has been painfully wrung from an empty head. No glimmer of inspiration has hit me. I cannot see the whole picture and hence the whole is composed badly. I feel like an architect adding one two by four to another without a clear idea as to the style of the house. I am caught between the conflicting desires of seeing it through and coming to some truth and tearing it up for an easier subject.

As for people getting fat, you brought a big smile to my face when you brought that up. What a funny thing to bring up! Seriously, though, I do think it is a shame when people forget that they are temples of the Holy Spirit. Ordinary care of health has to be given, and that I assume includes proper diet and exercise. No, I do not think it is mere vanity to be concerned about this matter. I think you are right in thinking that it can mean a lot in marriage. Elsewhere too. One priest told my aunt that she should watch her weight when she entered the convent. Charity towards ourselves and others demands that we keep as trim as is possible. Some people have genuine health problems or hereditary traits that make them overweight.

My smile quickly died down when the topic of overweight people flitted to another in my mind which is related. You took care to mention that my family didn't look as if I would be able to take the problem you brought up personally. The same goes for this topic. I cannot for my life remember how you figure in this so it cannot be construed as personal. I am thinking in general of people whose dress is dowdy. This is divided into two areas. The war over fashions and the war over cosmetics.

The extremes that I see are when people are too fashionable to the point of not caring for modesty and the other is when people are wearing the modern equivalent of sackcloth and ashes and proclaiming that any other attire is sinful. Same goes for cosmetics. Men and women can use them such that they look very much like what I imagine prostitutes to look like, or they might condemn their use altogether. In one college the campus is divided into the pro-cosmetics group and its opposite, or so I hear from its students. It makes me want to laugh and weep at the same time.

This is a subject which has cost me many a tear. How to reconcile so many conflicting ideas! Ahhh. I still don't know if I'm on the right track. At any rate, this is what I think. I like beauty. Part of beauty is subjective. It is for this reason that I think that to be beautifully clothed one must follow fashion to a certain extent. St. Francis de Sales writes that one ought to dress according to one's station. I believe that it is implied that the surrounding fashion of one's class ought to weigh in one's choice of clothing. At the same time, there is objective beauty. Pants in my opinion will never quite flatter a woman as well as some flowing stuff. This beauty must not be marred by attempts to be sexy or clownish which is often built in the accepted fashion of our times.

It makes me uneasy to see certain families of my acquaintance wear very old fashioned or ugly garb. They profess modesty as the reason. I do not like to see girls wearing ugly plaid jumpers and paying little attention to their hair because they take St. Peter's words literally. At this point I am laughing because yesterday I was guilty of what I am not happy with- I wore an outfit that could fit someone a hundred pounds heavier quite easily but I did so because I was with such a person and didn't wish to scandalize. I get guilty feelings about the nice things I wear to parties and places when in the presence of such people. After all, I am frequently the belle of the ball when I choose to dress up and I am no stranger to showers of compliments. Because I am told that I am blessed with good looks, I have to be even more careful with the way I dress since I do not wish to arouse anyone. It seems to me that there can be beautiful styles that enhance one's beauty but without making one more sexy. The line seems so hard to draw at times. What women admire as artistically pleasing men often find provocative. Gentlemen probably don't realize how much agonizing is spent pondering over what is pleasing in the sight of God and man. It is so much easier to just forgo all nice things and look awful but I don't think that's right to do for most people. Perhaps hermits can. But people in society can't.

Quite frankly, one thing that appalled me and made me look with abhorrence at the idea of ever becoming a homeschool mom is the fact that many home-schoolers forget their looks. They don't even bother to look pretty and fresh to welcome their husbands back from a strenuous day at work. I am not saying that wives should dress in silks to welcome their hubbies, but that their clothes shouldn't always look like they do nothing but clean ovens or garden all day. Again, dirty work has to be done, but one doesn't have to look like a slob doing it or after. I get the idea that since a wife is at home, she feels that she can wear just any old thing. That is true to some extent if she's alone, but clothes really do help make up an atmosphere. Some people make piety and holiness such a grim task...

Now at length do I come back to the subject of dating. I read the article (Abortion is not the Problem) you provided a link to. It is good. But I fear that I do not understand you correctly in some areas. You consider dating to be when someone is alone with another person for a walk or whatever? I bring up a practical objection. Since few students have cars in the wilderness of TAC, we are allowed to go to certain local places like the bank with the college courier. The couriers are all male students. Would you have it mandatory that a girl find a friend to go with her if she needed to get to town for necessary errands in order to ride with a good conscience with the courier? Is it really an occassion of sin for the courier and passenger of the opposite sex to be in the same car on official business of the college?

Second, in your article and note, I noticed that the theme of "alone" as "occasion of sin" recurs. What exactly do you mean by "alone"? I agree with you that it is not good for a couple who are going 'steady' to be absolutely alone, ever. But what do you think of walks done within the sight of those who may be called chaperones? Obviously, being in the sight of just anyone doesn't necessarily mean anything. But when a couple is in the sight of say family or those who are interested somehow in the welfare of the couple, then is that a walk alone?

And what of friends who aren't interested in each other romantically? Would it be wrong to have them take a walk avoiding those who know them if one is seeking counsel of the other of important but private matters? This has happened to me where my advice has been sought in secret on vocational or other important questions when the presence of a girlfriend would be unwanted and the sight of us closeted in a room would be equally bad.

Rick, you bring up touch and its electricity. I was puzzled when you mentioned dancing. I couldn't figure out what that sentence referred to. What do you mean by "public dance"? And what does that have to do with joining hands? Of course I realize one touches the hands of one's partner but then what? Were you trying to say don't dance with the one you will marry because you'll hold hands before you marry?

I like the idea of no-contact before marriage. But I think it is something that I personally would not follow absolutely given certain circumstances. For instance, I love to dance the polka, waltz, and other ballroom dances. I would hope that if I married my husband would be a good dancer (although this is not an absolute requirement!). Dancing in a controlled environment with a potential spouse if not provocative to either party seems a reasonable way of not following the no-contact rule. While I wouldn't mind having a fiancée that was strong enough to wait until marriage for a kiss or hand-holding and would respect and delight in that, I do not think that a chaste kiss at a betrothal is amiss.

You amused me by making the subject of your e-mail "mrs. well". What was that supposed to indicate? You may as well know that the subject of relations between men and women has worn me out so completely that I am not contemplating having any serious relationships or to discern my vocation for at least a year or two after I graduate. I just had an interruption at this point from my mother. It seems that this semester she got something close to a proposal of marriage for me from a very unlikely source. While I am touched, the situation was so ludicrous that I had to laugh. Anyway, I was shaken by books I had to look up for my thesis like Betty Friedman's Feminine Mystique because it is so feminist and yet so appealing, and I need time to think things through before I venture to see what is in store for me. If I were featherbrained, life would be a lot easier because I wouldn't search so ardently for truth. I could just hop like a little grasshopper from one nice blade of grass to the next. But I have the feeling that a lot of the riddle of life is contained in the answers to the questions I am asking now and that I need to know things in order to make informed decisions. How stupid I feel at the present! Just as it would take God to hit you on the head for you to get married, so He would have to hit me on the head for me to figure out if he wants me in the convent.

Is silence really a woman's glory as Aristotle says?  I know not. At times it is appropriate and others it is not. I want to be influential one of these days. It would be nice to persuade people of the right things to do. To do that example is best. Words are secondary but are helpful.

Have to go. May the Infant Jesus bless you abundantly.


From Unity: Merry Christmas  to "Too Personal",

I have to worry about writing things that might hit someone in a personal way in that in most cases I do not know what people look like or even what they really think, since I only see emails.  Some people I have known for 10 years and have never even seen their faces.  One guy I consider a top theologian and writes to me almost every day, surprised me when I found out about his past.  We went to a seminary and was kicked out for being too traditional.  This effected him so bad in went into drugs and women and even dealing drugs.  He is back with God now but suffers from the fact that he cannot touch alcohol or even aspirin.  His writings make you think of a book worm but he turns out to be 6-4 and 300 pounds.  He has decided to live like a priest and is building a retreat center in the mountains.  This also is a safely thing for him, because it keeps him away from temptation, just like St. Jerome. 


One of my children searches through anything I write to see if she can find anywhere or anything that I have said that will offend her, and then she stops talking to me for a month or a year.  I have no prudence.  I just say what I think based on reading 3000 books and expect everyone to understand where I am coming from but when a person's background is very different from mine, this offends many people.  The very nature of my web site and my life is to preach right and wrong, truth and falsehood, approved and unapproved.  The biggest complaint I get is "You shall not judge" taking Christ's statement completely out of context and leaving the world void of any action against any sin.  My biggest concerns are that people become so conditioned in justifying sin or habitual sin, that they no longer consider it wrong, and on the other end of that, that people react so strongly to what they consider sin that they go too far the other way.


I see things that others do not see because of the books I have read and the fact that I have been in this world a long time now.  Some people have been in this world longer than I have but have spent all there time doing the same thing over and over again, giving them one experience many times.  A man who has a repetitious job and goes home to watch TV has a one day experience over and over again.  He can say he has 10 years experience at his job but actually he has one day's experience.  I jumped out of an airplane because I had never done it before and it was not something I could learn or experience from books.  The great value of books is that we can learn the experiences of the lives of others and not have to repeat the mistakes of the ages past.  Most of these great writers of old got very personal about their own lives and it is in these lives we learn the most.  I spent 30 years without a TV so I have a different way of thinking than those who have been conditioned by the mass media and the new religion of the state, psychology. 


I am not sure how to be prudent in writing about error.  Error is not a person that you can offend, it is a thought held by good people in a wrong way.  When the good people take this as attaching them personally because they hold on to the error, they in effect are telling me that I am in error.  So in effect they are attacking me personally, but I do not take it that way.  I hold that they are not coming from the same background that I am and therefore only God can judge them, but I can judge the error. 


I am writing all this because the simple things I am about to say about Paulo, home-schoolers, dress and makeup will offend everyone living today.  Seems that I have so little prudence that I know how to offend everyone and I do not want to write this twice so I am saving it for a document.  What you have said on the subject is so right that I may be asking you for permission to write this as a dialogue between two people like the letters of St. Jerome or simply to plagiarize  some of what you say.  I like the idea of dialogue better because it makes interesting reading and you do not have to give away the entire concept in the first paragraph. 


Paulo suffers from a double standard here in Portugal where boys are expected to be boys but girls are kept close to their mothers.  Since he was not taught to be good, he does not see the reason for it.  Of course he cannot find Portuguese women to clime in bed with so easily but there are many Eastern European women here who were raised without God under Communist governments and will do whatever they have to do here in Portugal without a thought of right and wrong.  I am teaching him that he cannot be happy without the commandments of God because these commandments were written for our happiness on earth and the road to heaven.  As I told him, a Catholic woman does not cheat on her husband because of God's laws, but a non-Catholic has no laws to worry about.  Paulo could make a good husband if converted just as a Protestant could make a good Catholic if converted properly. 


The problem lies in both cases, if he becomes a Catholic just because he loves a Catholic he will not be a good one.  He must become a Catholic because he loves truth.  Any other reason will produce a bad marriage. 


My biggest objection to many home-schoolers is that they become self-righteous and everyone else is wrong.  The kids get a better education and there is no doubt about that.  They also get a better understanding of religion and morals, and there is no argument there.  But at times even the children become judgmental to an extreme seeing all others as sinful.


I personally prefer a woman in a dress because I think she is more beautiful to me that way, but I do not see her as sinning if she wears pants.  Many traditionalists see her as sinning, which is too extreme for me.  What burns my behind the most is women who dress all up to go to the store to buy food, but do not dress up for their husbands when they come home from work.  I see a place for sexy clothes and too much makeup but it is not in the public.  It is in the privacy of a home between husband and wife. 


In public a single woman should try to be good looking because she is trying to find a mate someday and should put forth the best she can, providing that does not end with marriage.  In the old days and might I say the "good old days" women were taught to be ladies.  A woman is not a lady at birth.  She is taught to dress like a lady, walk like a lady, sit like a lady, and talk like a lady.  Men were taught to be gallant, polite, brave, honorable, pious and hard-working.  The greatest complement you could pay to a woman was that she was a lady and special words were used for this in every language.  In Spain and Portugal it is Senorita and Senora  The greatest compliment you could pay a man is that he is honorable.


To me dressing in rags is an ego trip, making oneself standout as a holier than thou extremist.  I use a cream to prevent old age wrinkles and dry skin, but in general I am against any make-up.  To make yourself the best you can is good, but to say "I do not like the way God made my so I am going to be something else" can be sinful.  To stand out because of being totally different from those around you can also be sinful because you are insulting those around you and showing some self-righteous pride.  The solution to make up is blend in unless it is sinful.  The problem with modesty is that it is not even possible.  To men, modesty is sexy and a woman who tries to be sexy is stupid.  If he is looking for a one night stand, he will go after the woman who tries to be sexy because she put a sign on her back that said she is available for a one night stand, but in truth he finds the modest woman more sexy. 


You cannot hide beauty.  The best you can do is put the right sign on your back.  That sign says, this is my garden and I am cultivating it and making it better and better, but it is a closed garden and no one will ever see or enjoy this garden until God sends me the man or woman who will see it and pick from its fruits.  It is his or hers alone. 


What happens to a man or woman who lived a bad life before and then became a good and moral Catholic like me.  He or she can never say that they are virgin, but they can clean up their garden, throw out the weeds, fertilize the soil with prayer and be in constant vigilance.  But this will take many years before he or she can say, "I have saved this garden just for you."  My standards are so high, I believe if I ever found someone who met these standards, I would not feel worthy of her. 


I have no objection to most clothes but there are some things that are forbidden in the Bible - pierced ears, tattoos, etc.  There are also things that are self evident, died hair, false eyelashes, or false anything else.  I have no objection to most things with the hair, like ribbons, or well groomed or even styled but it seems to me to do what your hair does not want to do, is too extreme.  I do not like anything false, with one exception - teeth.  Since a good smile makes the world happy, anything with the teeth seems right to me.  Now that's enough and too much on dress.


The more important thing is relationships and what is proper and not.  As I said in my article I consider marriage to God or man as the work of God.  Therefore, I must be loyal to my future wife or my marriage to the Church or even to my single life with God.  This loyalty has to be more than just not having an affair.  It must even worry about the appearance of wrongdoings and the reputation that I will be giving someday to someone even if that someone is the Church. 


That is why I define dating as being alone with anyone.  If a big fat lady comes to see me even about religious matters and many do.  I leave my door open so that there is no talk among my neighbors.  I have often spoke of very personal things with these woman because they come to me for help, often about their husbands.  This requires privacy but within the sight of others.  If someone comes to me for help and I find her attractive, I refuse to help her and send her off to someone else, because I do not want to even tempt myself. 


Like you, I love to dance.  In fact I have won many trophies for dancing.  Yet!  I have not danced in 25 years.  If, however, I find someone who I think God sent to me, and I find myself at a Church Fiesta (many in Portugal), I will ask her to dance.  At this point I am touching and testing the electricity but in a safe place where temptation can be controlled. 


I think expressions of affection in public fall mostly in two areas, control and ego.  It is funny how this is done when it should not be done, and then not done when it should be done.  When we are just testing someone for a future wife or husband we want the rest of the world to know "this is mine" - control, or we want the world to see what a beauty belongs to me, ego.  However, after we get married and we should show the world that we belong to this person, we no longer hold hands or hug in public and we should. We should show the world that we love him or her after we marry but not before we have make that life-long commitment of love.


Time to shut up and let you lead this dialogue where I might not want to go.  I might want to go to somewhere that you would not want to go.  I know how your parents raised you, and you have seen how badly some parents have done with their children, mostly because of being too easy in my opinion.  I am accused of being too hard as a father, but the results I see among my family and friends testifies to the opposite.  I may write on this subject.  I call it:


Condoning Sin - When Prudence is mistaken for Cowardice


Now I am - Gabby Rick from Fatima 


From Therese  Gabby Rick,

You wrote "My standards are so high, I believe if I ever found someone who met these standards, I would not feel worthy of her."

What are your standards that they be so high? I have been asked if I can realistically expect a man to meet mine. I say yes if God wants me to get married, and more than yes if He wishes me to be His bride. While care should be taken in the selection of a spouse, each should properly feel unworthy of the other.

I am curious about your ideas on the matter. They haven't been given much consideration by me because it was clearly my vocation to be a religious up until I had to leave Carmel. But I can tell you some of the little I have thought, and I will speak from my perspective as a single woman.

To me, the most important thing is that a man be eager to be a saint. Love is God-centered. We love truly when we love in God. And if I am to be united to someone for the sake of mutual help in reaching Heaven, then I want neither myself nor my husband to be a slacker in that area.

For a man who has read 3,000 books (I will harp on that even though but in fun) that should be a sufficient description of what I'd seek. But no doubt you will want something clearer just for the record even though you know that the rest follows automatically.

The whole world is explained by one word: LOVE. And everything makes sense by that one word.

It is love that makes sense out of what I call dating but what you call I know not what. Love of God. He is the One that causes charity. It is He who implanted that which draws men and women together to dwell in mutual charity until the end of their days. Love makes the time before engagement worthwhile and beautiful. The couple love each other enough to act for the good of themselves and each other. Self sacrifice is another word for love. But the right things have to be done.

Love provides for offspring. Authentic Christian parents or future parents make sure that they make sure the right atmosphere is given the children to make them future citizens of the City of God. This love implies many things.

A man has to be what it takes to make this possible. For me, he would have to be smart. I would risk my happiness otherwise. There is no point in making life harder, for there are enough crosses as it is. I couldn't respect a man who didn't wonder at our vast universe or who didn't care about the intellectual life. He would have to agree with me on all major issues. I don't care very much about the small things. If he wants apple pie and I cherry, then giving in isn't going to kill me.

Further, I would want a husband I could share the secrets of my soul with (or at least what is prudent to share). I wouldn't want to get stuck with a husband with whom I couldn't talk about our spiritual journey, the little victories or falls, common penances, etc.

I consider myself a "true" sort of feminist. No one would get away with trying to walk all over me. A husband would have to prove himself before marriage to be the sort who really respects women. A noble character is what I would give consideration to.

He must be strong, ready to spring to the defense of truth. My Carmelites have this upon their seal: "With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts". It is another Tobias I would want, combined with the fiery Elias and the fervent John the Baptist. Yet he must be gentle "the bruised reed he shall not break". I am a sensitive little plant and must be cared for gently.

Here I tire of describing. I have an ideal and that is not in words. The Israelites had to follow the letter of the law because they had not the spirit of truth. I will not follow stale laws but will abide with the one my spirit recognizes as the one for me if I am meant for that state. In other words, just as driving becomes second nature so I think the principles of finding the right person are probably second nature to me. If I am over bold in saying this I yet feel confirmation in my heart.

I have no objection to most clothes but there are some things that are forbidden in the Bible - pierced ears, tattoos, etc. There are also things that are self evident, died hair, false eyelashes, or false anything else. I have no objection to most things with the hair, like ribbons, or well groomed or even styled but it seems to me to do what your hair does not want to do, is too extreme. I do not like anything false, with one exception - teeth. Since a good smile makes the world happy, anything with the teeth seems right to me. Now that's enough and too much on dress.

To false teeth I might add earrings, but limited to one for each ear.  Since I was a little toddler I have thought that women look nice with earrings.  My father had me get my ears pierced because he thinks that it is very feminine, and this opinion is shared by many cultures.  This is one thing I have not formed a strong opinion on for I do not have enough data.  It is biblical to some extent, when Isaac(?) or one of the patriarchs gave gold earrings to his bride-elect.  Not a topic I'd fight much about.  It is too minor in my opinion. 

Your roundabout answer to my question seems to be concerning reputation. But I have to ask as Devil's Advocate, about the reputation of those who for good reason do not leave doors open. Take for instance a woman tending a poor patient in a hut. If the patient is a crippled man and needs a bath and no one else is to care for him, then what? One doesn't want to open the door to other eyes for the sake of his privacy, right? Isn't that what must have occurred in times past in the lives of the saints? 

This may seem an odd question, but do you ever think it can be a quasi duty to dance with others besides one that you consider potential wives? I am thinking for instance of our four formal dances at school. Our music has to be approved, there is a strict dress code, and many faculty and staff are present including the chaplains. But the guys present a big problem. The majority just look on. Lots of the girls are wallflowers. The few guys who do dance go from girl to girl but that hardly makes up for the guys who just watch. I don't worry about this too much because I have to refuse dances to catch my breath. But I feel for other girls who even stop going because they are not asked. Those who consider it an occasion of sin I excuse. But it is a social event of the community, the only one in which there is real interaction between men and women. And I can't see how it cannot be seen as a social duty to at least dance with a few girls for the sake of charity.

"We should show the world that we love him or her after we marry but not before we have make that life-long commitment of love."

It's funny that you should say this. One elderly couple visited our campus recently and there they were holding hands, etc. Some thought that was ridiculous at their age, esp. in public. I have no opinion on the subject yet. It seems to me that after spending years together such signs might wear off their original charm...

Since it is my turn to "direct" the dialogue, let me begin with this observation.  At one time I told you I know nothing about the role of woman.  This is still true to some extent.  The relationships question embraces many areas.  Dress, makeup, weight gain, and the rest are only a tiny part of the spectrum, and might I add, not the very most important.

The things I am currently wondering about include education, work, and the like.  At TAC we have a co-ed campus.  But it is my guess that it is a very masculine education that we receive.  Questions that rise in my mind are whether it is fitting for women to have an education geared towards men, what degree of education is really ideal for all people generally, to what extent is the search for knowledge good and not merely a waste of time.  What type of education is ideal?  Even co-ed.  Is it bad like some people claim for college age students (I don't think it is great for grammar and high schools in the normal school system). 

As for work, Edith Stein says that women will naturally tend towards "feminine" occupations and laws aren't necessary in that regard.  In a materialistic world, it is essential for women to work because it is money that counts.  But in a society where work is done for the sake of leisure, what is a woman's place?  In America one with talent may justly climb the ladders and end up with plenty of money.  To what extent does the family man work? 

But here I am merely raising questions.  You can take some up if you wish or go on to some other topic.  I must go.  God bless!