Dear Single People, Stop Looking for Your St. Joseph/Virgin Mary

Marriage of Mary and Joseph, Pedro Ramirez, 1668, Mexico

Okay. I have no idea where I’ll be going with this post. That’s not true, I have some idea. I have the title. I want to share with you some thoughts that are beginning to bubble in my mind. I then want to ask you to leave a comment in the comment section (obviously) to help me grasp what I’m trying to say/beginning to understand.

Let’s hope by the end of this post I’ve said some helpful things and nothing too misleading.

You ready? Me neither.

I want to open a discussion over what I hear many teenage and young adult single Catholics say: “I’m waiting for God to send me my St. Joseph.” And the equivalent for blokes, “I’m looking for my Mary, or, St. Therese.”

Sorry to burst your bubble, but . . .

There are no more St. Josephs. There are no more Virgin Mary’s (there was only ever one of each). What there are are, those who have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). This, of course, has always been the case, but due to the sexualized culture in which we live, the ubiquity of porn, the break down of the family, the rejection of universal truths (e.g. try saying this in a blog without having all sorts of nasty thing said about you: “men are men and women are not. Women are women and men are not.”) this is especially the case.

The next date you will go on will be with a sinner, FYI.

It’s interesting to me how a line like that—the one I just wrote—doesn’t shock us. Nor do people feel ashamed when they say, “Hey, I’m a sinner.” But a sinner is one who sins, right? And I never hear people act so nonchalant about the particular sins they commit, “Hey, I’m a fornicator.”

But back to your next date. Swap “sinner” with one of the following and notice the difference in your reaction.

The next date you will go on will be a person who is a liar/selfish/arrogant/racist/a glutton/greedy/slothful/hateful . . . See what I mean?

Sin sucks.

Now, let me quickly respond to what might be your reaction to what I’ve said so far. I am not arguing,”hey, everyone’s screwed up, therefore go ahead and marry the next broken and wounded shmuck you lay your eyes on.” I’m not saying that, that would almost certainly be disastrous.

What I’m inviting us to do is to prayerfully reflect upon the way we shun and run from the poverty in others (and in ourselves). It’s easy to say, “love the poor.” But I (and I’m sure you’re different) feel awkward, inconvenienced, and most times repulsed when a homeless man asks me for money.” I feel the similar things when I encounter the awkwardness, depression, arrogance, etc. in others (colleagues, friends, strangers, me). We want people to be like the glowing rectangle in our pockets, I think. We want them to work. We don’t want any glitches. We hate glitches.

But glitchy, hurting people are all we have to choose from, right?

This reminds me of a beautiful photo the other day that I immediately texted to my wife. It sums us up perfectly. I can say with all sincerity, I am madly in love with my wife. She is one of the best human beings I’ve ever met and she constantly surprises me with how freaking awesome she is. She’s also really, really good looking. Okay. but, nevertheless, this photo sums us up:

11164773_828940250533852_1728489223905089434_n

So there’s a few thoughts. I know, I know, there’s little in here in way of a conclusion. That’s almost certainly because I don’t have one. So go on, I have no doubt most of you reading this are wiser and holier than me. Begin a discussion below.

How do we embrace the poverty of others? Of those we date, of those we’re courting, of those we’re married to, or those we are? 🙂

I look forward to your mind-blowing answers below.

31 thoughts on “Dear Single People, Stop Looking for Your St. Joseph/Virgin Mary

  1. So true that we are all sinners and we should not be expecting the person we meet to be perfect. However, it does make me think that perhaps maybe those of us who are single, who don’t want to, say for example, be with someone who consumes porn, perhaps we should consider staying single in order to be true to ourselves. Being around an activity or belief that contradicts something in your core will inevitably eat at your spirit. So if we can’t find someone with our values, we can consider focusing on living compassionately and with love as a single person. You can have close, intimate friendships without a physical component. There are so many people out there whose lives you can touch. I would rather be single with friends and the freedom to spread kindness to others than to be in a relationship where I see someone choosing to live in a way that contradicts my basic beliefs and values. Just like smoking, it is ok for porn to stop you from marrying someone. You can find others who are receptive of you exactly as your are. I know you’re not suggesting to ignore blatant differences or just looking the other way on things that really matter, but I do think that when it comes to things that society is really trying to force on people as mainstream, we can easily lose ourselves and end up inadvertently condoning something that will end of becoming even more difficult to change or spread awareness on.

    1. I just want to clarify that I am talking about if one were to meet a person who definitely disagrees with your beliefs or values and you know this ahead of time. I’m not referring to people who know they do things that they wish they didn’t do and they make mistakes. We all struggle with that. But I’m saying that it seems best to at least be in agreement as to what things you do or don’t want in your relationship, and acknowledge any struggles that each person has with adhering to those beliefs. That way there are no surprises and it can bond you together as a team.

  2. This post is perfectly right in saying that we won’t find anyone that is perfect. Sin is an imperfection that we all live with and deal with daily. For me, the hardest thing to do is accept my own imperfections and hoping “The One” will accept mine as well. We are all broken and God is the only one who is the glue to keep us together. I remember hearing the saying between couples, “That person completes me. It’s like they are my other half.” And to me in a healthy, loving, God-centered way that phrase is ALMOST right on the money. In marriage, we are called to get our significant other to Heaven, right? Well then we should be looking for that person who fills in our broken, missing parts and let God glue us together!

  3. To have a good marriage, you should choose a sinner who knows he or she is a sinner, and is not satisfied with it, but rather goes to frequent confession. That’s godly.

    You wrote something that reminds me of times when it’s not smart to be too particular. It’s okay to say “I love children,” for example, but it’s not okay to narrow that down to “I love 10-year-olds.” And don’t marry someone who says that.

  4. Hi Matt! As someone guilty of saying at least something similar, I thought I’d share a couple thoughts.

    In my experience, someone will say for example, “I’m waiting for my St. Joseph” not because they think there is a guy just as holy and awesome as St. Joseph out there for them. Instead, they say this recognizing that there is someone out there who is a glutton/sloth/sinner/etc. but who has the POTENTIAL to become holy like St. Joseph or any other saint.

    To paraphrase St. Therese, the very desire for holiness should give us great hope that God will help us to achieve it, should we practice virtue and cooperate with His grace. God wants us to become saints more than we could want it for ourselves. Therefore, by saying that one is waiting for a “St. Joseph,” I think one is looking for someone who DESIRES to be as holy, pure, courageous, etc. as St. Joseph, so that the two can continue to walk on that journey towards holiness together.

    God bless you, Matt!

    1. I agree with you here. I think when we say that we are looking for our saintly spouse we are really looking for someone whom we can trust to desire to be saintly/holy/virtuous day in and day out.

  5. While I know my boyfriend isn’t perfect, I embrace & encourage the qualities I like about him.. And I pray about the rest. That’s how I love him…

  6. Matt’s post speaks to me because I’m very aware of my own sin. And I’ve surrounded myself with church-going, innocent-seeming people. And I’m single. On the latter point, I’ve found myself trying hard not to give up. Here’s what I mean. If I struggle not to consume porn (and fail time and time again), how could I ever be good enough for that lovely girl who expects St. Joseph? If I have this sin in my life (as much as I hate it and fight against it), could I ever by worthy of that kind of romantic love?

    I’m a sinner, but I’m also repentant. I know, with some work, I could be a great husband and father. I also believe that the love of a good woman would help me get there.

    Matt’s right. It’s not about condoning sin or ignoring sin in a potential life partner. It’s about seeing the totality of that potential life partner, the good and the bad, and finding a heart willing to be changed in God’s redeeming fire.

    1. When you said, “with some work, I could be a great husband” it reminded me of this talk that I heard. I cant remember who Gave it but it emphasised on how only a man can sharpen a man (Proverbs 27:17). We cannot go through the path of becoming a godly man without having someone there helping us and guiding us the right way. The speaker also said that in order to be able to find love in a woman you really have to find love in a brother in christ before. I guess what iI am trying to say is that you shouldnt try to do it all on yourself.

      1. Thank you, Fernie. You’re right that I should seek help with the burden. I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for the opportunity.

  7. I think part of the issue with current is not only is it over sexualized… but young people have a lot of fear. I know I was in a dating relationship in high school that 6 years later I still, at times, find myself filled with fear at the potential of a man pursuing me. A lot of young adults have seen parents get divorced and were hurt from that divorce or saw their one parent be severely hurt or both parents and they fear that wound. Many women are filled with fear because in high school and even in college they may have been hurt in a dating relationship, or even in a friendship where they were lead to believe a man would pursue them, and then the man pursued someone else.. So I think we may say we’re waiting for someone who is holy, who is good, who is seemingly perfect because it seems that person is less capable of hurting us because they are “perfect” or holy.

    The reality is we live in a broken world, and one of the ways Christ can be most present on this earth is through marriage and family life, so it is a way most attacked in this world. So I think the excuse you discuss is simply that, an excuse, a lie we believe – that someone perfect is out there. To combat it – the best thing we can do is pray. Pray for healing of men and women and their view of marriage and family life, that we may come to see it as God meant it to be – good, holy, life-giving.

  8. As a very dear friend of mine once put it, “As human beings we are all flawed. We all have bumps and dents. You’ve just gotta find the person who has the dents to fit your bumps.” <3

    There's a lot I could say on this topic, especially from a more personal account (something I've been thinking a lot about lately), but for once, I will refrain from rambling because I think the quote I listed above in combination with the wise meme incorporated in this article pretty much says it all. I definitely think this article has the right idea. Thank you very very much for your reassurance.

  9. So… I am totally guilty of this. Just today, on the way out of Mass, I spent a second in front of the statue of St. Joseph and did my usual prayer of “take care of my St. Joseph.” So yeah, I really did not *want* to hear this, but I needed to. I definitely fall into the trap of wanting a sinless person… I think, at times, I feel as though marrying someone who is perfect will make me perfect, too. If I marry that great Catholic guy who has zero sins and goes to Mass every day and wears Mantled Catholic shirts all the time, then it’ll be an easy and work-free way for me to become sinless and devout, too. But, you’re right, that’s not how it’s supposed to work. Thank you for this post, it was excellent!

  10. Oh, and might I add that a marriage should be a reflection of God’s love for us. God’s love is pure mercy. He’s always chasing after us with open arms even when we slip away from Him through our choosing of lesser goods over Him. The one we’re with should be someone who God has given us a special capacity to love unlike any other, someone who we will always accept with totally loving arms when they so choose to return to us, someone we’re willing to give our lives to even if that means we risk getting hurt, like Jesus did for us.

    1. With that said, it is also important to remember that love is a willful choice. Not always an easy one either, but one that is unimaginably worth it.

  11. We don’t marry someone so we could live ‘happily ever after’ – though that would be perfect. But nothing’s perfect in life.
    My prayer, was that God would give me a wife who would help me draw closer to Him every day; AND someone who I could help get closer to Him.
    After 43 years of married life (sometimes quite turbulent) we can both say quite honestly – those prayers have been answered.
    To us, that’s what a perfect marriage really is.

  12. The best homily I’ve heard on the significance and purpose of marriage was from a deacon who stated that the purpose of marriage was nothing more than God manifesting the way (or more aptly, the person whom) He was choosing to save you. But, as married men, it’s easy for you and I to say that now Matt. For someone (like my sister) who is single, you might as well tell them to wait until they win the lottery to get married; it would sound just as plausible. So I think the key, as in most things, involves asking God to send us that vocation if it’s his will for our sanctification.
    When I was young, I remember asking him to send me a woman whom I could be certain understood the meaning of ’til death do us part. I never thought I’d ever fall in love with a person who had learned that very meaning because of the husband she’d buried some 2 1/2 years before we met, but the fact that she said yes to marrying him AFTER he’d been diagnosed with cancer (knowing full well what might happen) showed me everything I needed to know that this was the woman that was going to shepherd me to heaven. So maybe, it’s a matter of starting with a simpler, less idealized, humble, version of the person we’re envisioning. I never thought the my ideal mate would be a person whom God was calling me to love and help put the pieces of a broken heart back together; ten years later, I look back and wonder if it wasn’t me whom she’d been sent to save.

  13. I completely agree with this. We are all sinners, all struggling and drowning in our own unique struggles of sin. But that is what brings us together. Companionship is not found in expecting someone to be perfect or flawless, but in loving someone so deeply that you desire to help them through their pain and you lift them up. Companionship, true companionship, is teamwork. Love is unconditional. It has no end. We all have our deep dark secrets and scars and wounds, but a true companion sees those wounds and scars loves their partner all the more. It is my belief that true, unconditional love is a bond between two sinners wherein they lift each other up and when necessary, go into the fire to pull each other back out and into the light again. And in that, we bring each other closer to God.

  14. This is a wonderful reminder of a fact I often forget; everyone sins. Nobody is perfect because we are human. “The hard truth is that we love people poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly.” -Henri Nouwen. We have to begin anew every moment and forgive those who have sinned against us and love them.

  15. I’ve been married for nearly 20 years. When I went through the “dating game” I was a horrible sinner, in fact I was away from the Catholic Church. It was getting married that brought my husband and I back to the Church. It’s not the way I’d recommend, but I thank God regularly that He brought two broken people together who helped each other become more Catholic and become less broken. We are still sinners, but together we are less so.

  16. A very beautiful post. 🙂 I was intrigued by the title right away because this something that the Lord has been revealing to me through the man I am marrying just a few months from now.

    I was raised in a strong Catholic family and my father (who tours North America sharing both his music and the Word of God) was always a strong leader who frequently taught us the faith and led us in prayer. Needless to say, I maintained an expectation for this kind of leadership in the man I hoped to marry one day.

    Well, I met the love of my life and he is drastically different from my dad.

    I think there is a misunderstanding of what it means to wait for your “Joseph” or “Mary”. We can’t hope to marry a saint (and I sure hope guys aren’t looking to marry the mother of God). Like you said, we are all sinners—and not only that, but we each have completely unique personalities and experiences. And yet, I believe every man is called to be LIKE St. Joseph—virtuous, strong, obedient to God, a protector—and every woman to be LIKE Mary—humble, loving, courageous, lovely from within. But this looks as different from person to person as there are people. For my dad it was very vocal and confident, for my fiancé it is simple and quiet, but just as deep. Both men have been to me a protector and a beautiful example of God’s love, even though they are sometimes weak. The moment we understood this was a turning point in our relationship.

    I myself want to be like Mary. I want to be “full of grace”. I want to be a humble and loving wife and mother someday. I want to courageously embrace the will of God so that I can bring Jesus to the World like she did. And I pray that my husband-to-be and I will be able to help each other and our future kids to Heaven, and that we will all become saints. Saints like Joseph and Mary. 🙂

  17. Matt, perhaps when you hear that again you could encourage them to seek out someone that instills in themselves a desire to mimic one of these Holiest of Saints.

  18. I’ll expect to find my Saint Joseph when I start acting like the Blessed Virgin!

    But seriously. We are all sinners, and it is important to not expect the perfection Disney movies have prepared us for. Marriage isn’t perfect, husbands and wives are not perfect. But when imperfect people look outside themselves to the One who is perfect…well but by His grace, that is where the magic happens.

    I’m still single myself (I’m actually quite shy…) and the older I get, the fewer bullet points there are on my list for the essential qualities of Mr. Right. It’s not that I’m lowering my standards, but the closer I eek my way towards God, the less important it is for me to marry a Corvette driving rock star with great hair. One of the last qualities on the list is to find a man who knows that he is weak, a man who will rely on the Source of all Strength to be a good husband. I pray I will spend the duration of my single years learning to do likewise for him.

    I hope this is what you’re looking for.

  19. I don’t want anyone perfect, because I’m not perfect, I just want someone right for me, someone I have a connection with.

  20. Hi Matt! Another great blog! Interchanging specific sins with the generic “sinner” was especially impactful! I was certainly a sinner when I was single, and many guys I chose to date did not care…in fact, those sins I committed was sometimes what drew them to me, I’m sure. Sadly, I was disconnected from the Church in this time. I thank God on a regular basis that He somehow konked me on the head and brought my husband into my life!
    Confession to God in the Church is hard to do sometimes, but confessing to my husband about my past (while we were dating) was infinitely harder. But this is what needs to be done between people considering marriage. Full disclosure and truth throughout your lifetimes is essential to having a loving marriage. It is just about the hardest thing you’ll ever do – but oh so worth it! We continue to pray for one another and the old adage of “never go to sleep angry” is one to live by.
    God Bless!

  21. Hi Matt – I too, am guilty of wishing/looking for my own Saint Joseph. However I need to state that I do so conscience of the fact that we are all sinners, with myself at the top of my own list. What I mean to say is that it is more correct to say that I look for someone with traits similar to that of Saint Joseph. I look for a man who is strong, reliable, intelligent, hard working, loyal, loving, honourable etc, but understand how difficult it is for men to develop/retain such traits in such a society that is saturated with selfishness, slothfulness etc (as you listed in your blog). So long as that man is striving to be a better version of himself every day, and inspires me to do the same – this is what I am searching for. I guess it is the ‘mens rea’ that is important. It is the intention/ desire to be a better person that makes all the difference. If we cannot even hope to find a relationship that inspires us both to work on our imperfections, and to be better versions of ourselves for God first and foremost and then each other – then I just do not want to be married, for it is as your picture suggests, it is our imperfections that attract us to one another, however it is our love for God and each other that make us want to strive and be better versions of ourselves.
    I guess I continue to search for my potential Saint Joseph that will help encourage me to be more like Mary.
    God bless you.

  22. Yes, we are all sinners, and weak. There exists a kind of person who prays every day, go to confession, say their rosary, and try to love like Jesus loves. There exists a kind of person who sometimes stumble but who never gives up on following Christ; carrying their cross everyday. It is this kind of person that aspires to holiness and that one could share their faith and failures with that makes a good potential for a real loving relationship.
    I don’t mind sinners: but I want a follower of Christ through thick and thin.
    As someone commented above, when you are following Christ, you can’t go after someone who will be influencing you in sinning. Why date someone, if that someone is not following Christ? We must be the light of Christ firstly in this world, by being witnesses to our faith among non-believers and those who don’t know Christ. That’s our mission. To fight heresies, to speak against injustice, and sin. God knows best for us. I ask of everyone to not fall into the trap of thinking we can change people by being in a relationship with them. We follow Christ first, and He will lead us to our vocation. We must protect our values, and not for fear of loneliness or something else, get into a relationship with someone that has no intention to follow Christ. We are all sinners: but like Christ, we shouldn’t let someone be an occasion of sin.

    We are all sinners, but i’d rather date someone that has being a saint as goal than rich, popular, or yolo.

    We are all called to be saints; and if some in this world pray for their future husband and wife, asking help from God to grant them the graces they need to become the next generation of Saints; or want a future saint as wife or husband; there’s nothing wrong. Pray unceasingly for everyone, pray for graces they need, pray for graces you need. With the help of Jesus, Mary and the saints, sin disappear: because Jesus crucified the old man to the cross.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *