Audrey

by Lillian Flynn “And did you name the child?” I sit back in my seat almost automatically– stunned or shocked. I voice the thought as it comes, “Nobody’s ever bothered to ask me that before.” There is a moment of hallowed silence, and then my voice comes again, only– and this is perennial– it does … Read more

On the Walk and On the Sidewalk: Heaven & Hell

By Kenneth Chavez I have been attending the ‘Walk for Life West Coast’ for years.  Like many, I am always amazed that 50,000 to 70,000 people can literally swarm over the bulk of downtown San Francisco — to resounding silence in the mainstream media. It’s as if only some people’s voices matter.  As usual, there … Read more

Why Brexit Matters to Catholics

by Beverly Stevens, REGINA Editor From my Facebook newsfeed, reports from young Catholic people: “I know loads of people who voted LEAVE, including my family, and I haven’t heard a bigoted comment from a single one of them. From the REMAIN side, however, there has been explicit ageist bile, contempt for the uneducated, talk of … Read more

A Catholic Quinceañera for Trinity

by Donna Sue Berry It’s not a Sacrament, though it always includes a Mass. The Mexican Quinceañera (variously called fiesta de quince años, fiesta de quinceañera, quince años, quinceañera or simply quince in Latin American countries and ex-patriate communities) is a ‘coming of age’ ceremony. The origins of Quinceañera are variously credited to the Aztec … Read more

Regina’s Road to Recovery

By Beverly Stevens, REGINA Editor Three people I know have this year buried their young adult children. They died in grotesque ways—all  from drug addiction. Countless others are despairing of their loved ones,  caught in a tarantula’s web of addictions and despair. I try to avoid writing opinion pieces because, well, I’m an editor. That … Read more

Come Over for Sex Devoid of Commitment

In a world where ‘hooking up’ is normal, millennials are desperate for a real date

by Kelly Thomas

When you are head of a campus club that stands for sexual integrity and traditional marriage, you don’t win any popularity contests. Shockingly, coordinating events on the harms of pornography or the conjugal nature of marriage does not bring with it hordes of admirers from the 18-24 year-old demographic.

I have never seen so many cold shoulders as I did during my year as president of Love Saxa, Georgetown University’s chapter of the Love & Fidelity Network.

However, there was one aspect of Love Saxa’s mission that drew in even the most skeptical of my peers: the notion of dating.

“Netflix and chill”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s no secret that the dating scene has altered radically, particularly among millennials. A romantic dinner, followed by the chivalrous walk to the door and maybe a stolen kiss, has been largely replaced by the blasé “Netflix and chill” which is polite-speak for “come over for sex devoid of commitment.”

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. My roommate was once treated to a moonlight stroll through Washington’s national monuments. My own boyfriend led me on a personalized tour of a London museum, taking in my favorite historical eras –essentially a walk through the early Christian theology rooms. Needless to say, he got a second date. (For gentlemen reading this, these are all excellent first date ideas.)

Nevertheless, broadly speaking, we as a generation have lost the “dating script” used by our parents and grandparents.

“Date” used to mean a fun night out, a chance to get dressed up and be charmingly flirtatious. Now, in the world of hookups and hangouts, going on a date is something terrifying. Men think if they ask a woman on a date they’ll be expected to be down on one knee the next week. Women panic when a man asks them out, unprepared for authentic interest that doesn’t involve swiping right on their smartphone, and they run in terror before he can carry out any more nefarious schemes. The ensuing trauma is usually sufficient to drive both sides back to their risk-free world of ambiguous connections.

Millennials’ Secret Desire

However, both men and women, in my –albeit limited- experience, are harboring a great secret: they want to know how to date, and even more, they want to go on, and be asked on, real dates — complete with sweaty palms, stomach butterflies, and the famed “fiddling of the keys” before a first kiss.

I witnessed this secret desire firsthand when I organized a ‘Bring Back the Date’ event at Georgetown University. The speaker was Boston College’s Professor Kerry Cronin, who tells her students they must ask someone out on a date over the course of her class, or risk a failing grade.

At Love Saxa, we were accustomed to small turnouts and contentious audiences. However, for this talk, I watched in shock as a packed room of students sat spellbound while Cronin relayed anecdotes, both humorous and poignant, from her “dating experiment.”

When she stopped to take questions, hands shot up, from both men and women. They wanted good first date ideas. They wanted to know the proper words to use when asking someone out. These were not the commitment-phobic men and women I had read about in social commentaries; they were sponges, soaking up her advice. I could see some taking notes, others nodding enthusiastically.

Kerry Cronin herself is Catholic, and she often gives talks in Catholic venues. However, the beauty of her message is that it is so appealing on a widespread scale, that many who hear it, even if they are not religious, are drawn in. It seems the idea of an authentic, loving relationship based primarily on emotional and spiritual connections and only secondarily on the physical is, well, compelling.

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No more shouting “chastity” from the rooftops

I learned something, too. In the fight for sexual integrity on college campuses — or indeed anywhere — shouting “chastity” from the rooftops, or passing out pamphlets on the emotional and physical consequences of sex out of wedlock, is by and large an ineffective strategy.

The best way to reach people who aren’t already of a similar mindset is to appeal to a desire they already feel — even if they cannot yet name it. Merely getting others to consider that they are at least worth the time and consideration it takes to plan a proper date, is still a step in the right direction.

But that’s not all. The semester following, I was stunned to find one of our talk’s attendees authoring a column in the school newspaper. Her topic? No more unfulfilling hookup partners; she was in search of a true relationship via dating.

Now, I know next to nothing about this young woman — not even her name, as the articles were published under a pseudonym. However, I do know that when presented with the option between a casual hookup offering only meaningless sex, and a real, human relationship, she leapt at the chance to have the latter. At the time of the last column, she was happily “going steady” with a young man, and delighted by the difference.

I hope and pray that she found true fulfillment in her relationship, and that it brought her closer to God, as all good relationships should. But in the meantime, if simply learning how to date was in any small way able to help her realize her own worth when it came to the men in her life, I’ll take that as a tactical victory. Hopefully, it’s a gateway for better things to come.

Millennials and the Nameless Enemy

by Kelly Thomas

“I wasn’t expecting you to be so intelligent because I knew how religious you were.”

The speaker was a teammate on my high school’s debate team. A self-proclaimed atheist who prided himself on his intellectual superiority, he pulled me aside after I won a debate tournament. He phrased it offhandedly as a kind of pleasant surprise: Catholic girl shocks with ability to string two original thoughts together.

The Truth About God & Man at Georgetown

Fast-forward three years, in my Georgetown university apartment, a crackling debate on religion with two agnostic roommates and a fallen-away Catholic guy. I left the room briefly and heard him say quietly that he “respected people of faith” but was “sorry they weren’t confident and satisfied enough with their own merit” to not have to lean on these narratives. My roommates murmured their pitying assent.

In the view of so many ‘accomplished’ American students, the two-thousand-year old Catholic Church is little more than a comforting fable perpetuated by such intellectually compromised men as Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, and Cardinal John Henry Newman. (If only someone had told the early martyrs. They might have avoided being shredded by Roman lions by choosing another fairy tale in which to seek solace from worldly woes.)

If these had just been acquaintances, their condescension likely would have infuriated me. But they were my friends; I knew them too well to feel anything besides heartbreak.

One was the same girl who would get blackout drunk every weekend, dissolving into tears as she stumbled back from whatever party I had been summoned to collect her from. And the guy? Shortly after this conversation, he withdrew from school for an eighteen-month leave of absence to treat his ongoing battle with depression.

Divorcing Faith & Reason

Of course, religious communities are not immune from alcoholism or depression, nor is every nonreligious person doomed to a life of self-medication. But these vignettes speak to a haunting development, which has plagued modernity since the Enlightenment. It is what a Georgetown chaplain referred to as the “intellectual over-development and spiritual under-development of the world.”

In the view of the modern world, faith and reason are no longer to be seen as working in tandem. Rather, one is the result of superstitious ignorance; the other, of intellectual rigor. Where once we were the ones to be judged for our failings, now it is God that we have put on trial. Doubting Thomas, once scorned, has become the ideal apostle for the modern world, praised unceasingly for his enlightened refusal to believe that which he could not see.

The result? A thick layer of existential angst slowly settling over the secular West. Self-help books fly off the shelf, written by “experts” who claim to have found “the way” to fulfillment and happiness. For some reason their PhDs are easier to swallow than the searing words of a carpenter from Judea.

Weekly Yoga and a Juice Cleanse

Such ‘progress’ has been closely accompanied by record-breaking antidepressant consumption. Men and women jump from fad to fad, giving themselves whiplash and bringing their hapless children along for the unsettling ride.

I went to university with these children, the inheritors of a world which has tried to do away with any notion of Truth. They have been raised to believe that they, on their own, and perhaps with a weekly yoga session and a juice cleanse, can find all the answers and achieve inner peace. So they roll into college, with puffed chests and lost eyes, looking about them and frantically latching onto anything that may give them any sense of solid footing.

Some do “figure it out” or at least enough to attain a surface level of happiness. But far too many, in their desperate attempts to avoid anything reeking of the surrender of religion, look for answers in kegs, or by having sex with strangers, or diving into toxic relationships — anything to feel less alone.

Is it any wonder then that my friends in that apartment living room sank further into a maelstrom of alcohol and depression, even as they congratulated themselves on their intelligence and independence?

They were doing precisely what they’d been told to do, which was to trust their own flawed selves to discover what would make them truly happy. The heart-wrenching results were no better than could be expected.

Millennials and the Nameless Enemy

The fact is, that all the old evils in the world have remained, but we have steadily and systematically been pushing away our knowledge of the Good — because we cannot see it, so therefore we cannot trust it.

As Chesterton phrased it: “[we] fell once, and in falling gained knowledge of good and of evil. Now we have fallen a second time, and only the knowledge of evil remains to us.”

Today, evil goes un-feared. We can feel its encroaching darkness, but for so many of my peers, there is no knowledge of the light to fend off the nameless enemy.

Come Out Virginia, Don’t Let ‘Em Wait

(Catholic Girls Start Much Too Late) by Kelly Thomas When men hear that I won’t have sex until marriage, they have one of two reactions: A) they run screaming in the opposite direction or B) they nod soberly, muttering assurances about respect, all the while nursing an unspoken “challenge accepted.”  The “A”s are by far the … Read more

Jennifer’s Tale – Part 2

(For Part One, click HERE) Jennifer (not her real name) is a 42 year old NYC teacher. A cradle Catholic, she had not practiced her Faith for years. After a traumatic abortion experience, she reached out for help – and found herself directed to the Church, in the person of a priest in an amazing … Read more

Jennifer’s Tale – Part 1

Many post-abortive women suffer from psychic pain. Most have not understood the degree to which they were victimized – by a ‘dating’ ethos which insists that promiscuity is ‘empowering’, by the men who bully them into aborting, by a society which allows no room for single mothers. Most cruelly, they are put in the position … Read more