The Deacon's Bench

Looking for Mr. (or Ms. or Miss) Right? Take a number and get in line. A lot of Catholics are looking, literally and figuratively, for their soul mate.

Which makes this charming essay by John Zmirak all the more poignant and sweet:

It’s no news to paleos that the Net empowers eccentrics of every sort, and helps us find each other. There are Facebook groups that summon from airless basement rooms the fans of squabbling heirs to the vacant throne of Byzantium, and dating services catering to the most peculiar tastes, and the tiniest coteries of dispossessed souls.

For instance, orthodox Catholics. No, not the folks who happened to grow up Italian-American or Irish in the wake of Vatican II, and learned a little less about their Faith than most 19th century Haitians. I mean the much smaller subset of people who have blundered somehow onto the actual teachings of the Church—and even worse, come to believe them. From a mass religion that exercised a sweaty grip on the minds of tens of millions, the American church in the past 40 years has become something very different: An exotic, almost esoteric sect of old believers, hidden inside the shell of a mainline Protestant denomination. Apart from the occasional Latin Mass full of elderly anti-Masonic activists, we typically sit through our dismal local services with teeth clenched and earlids shut, and spot each other (if at all) by secret handshakes and coded phrases. See that blonde over there, a friend might nudge you with his elbow. She took Communion on the tongue. I wonder if she’s single…. Such thoughts don’t always help you to pray.

It made matters worse that for most of my career I’ve worked from home, and missed out on all the happenstance meetings at water cooler and Xerox machine that can sometimes prove so fruitful. The casually glimpsed scapular dangling from an ivory, swanlike neck … the smudge of ash on a high, noble forehead that shows up one Wednesday every year, like a sticker reading “Marriage Material.” I found out the hard way that none of this happens by email.

So as soon as I heard about Catholic dating sites, I signed up for several of them. I wrote up a long and learned-sounding profile, posted pics I hoped were appealing, and began to send off notes to a wide array of bright-seeming, good-looking girls. I tramped off to Boston, Washington, Virginia, North Carolina, even Iowa. I learned (after more years than I’d like to admit) that phone conversations don’t always predict how two people will get along in person, and that photos can sometimes be… flattering. There are few things worse than having arranged to spend the better part of a weekend with someone six states from home… and realizing within 8 seconds or so that you want to go back to the airport. It’s worse, of course, when you’re the one still dazzled by surface attraction, and she’s staring at you like the burrito in which she found a human finger.

Read on to find out what happened. And a grateful crunchy h/t to Rod Dreher for the story and link.

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