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by Anne Ross Kootz

There so is much accumulated wisdom, so easily accessible now, for young women who want to live holy lives. How to: prepare for roles as traditional wives and mothers; enjoy a chaste and successful courtship; begin a happy and fruitful marriage with a God-fearing man. FinerFem.com is itself a first-rate source of this information.

Gratefully, I scan this and other sources of womanly interests, though I am the mother of sons, only. I have spent myself for more than 26 years trying to form ornery, grimy little boys into strong, virtuous, and devout future husbands (and priests.) You see how I might also have an interest in anything that will help other mothers rear their daughters as future wives!

In all this wealth of information, however, there is a neglected element deserving of a closer look.

Recall: God-fearing Catholic men are just like any others when it comes to our fairer sex. We fascinate them. Yes. Absolutely. Fascinate. Most men manage to keep themselves under cool control, but within their minds and hearts… lightning is flashing, bells are ringing, and storms are raging when in the presence of the Feminine. These men are to be commended for their self-mastery!

Because of this fascination, good men really want to please us. Eagerly! With tremendous effort! Sometimes they will even ask their mothers what to do, because mom might remember being a girl.

So, what is the problem? Because we fascinate them, men are vulnerable to our attention, and lack of attention. A quick smile will send him, interiorly, into flights of happiness. One short, but pleasant conversation will put a spring in his step for days. Usually we are adept at genteel behavior. Sadly, sometimes we are focused on our own interests, forgetting that hidden weakness in a man’s armor. A thoughtless word, or snub, can injure his heart without our ever intending it!

When someone simply wants to engage you in conversation, common courtesy suggests you give at least a few minutes of your time. If you already know a man, and welcome his attention, conversation comes easily. As for a potential suitor, whom you do not yet know well, a few friendly chats could lead to pleasant discoveries! Impromptu opportunities abound – for instance, invite him to wash dishes with you after a party!

But what if you do know him, for many months or years now, and really aren’t interested? What can a lady do to deflect unwanted attention? Evasion is the easy, automatic response. But is it the right response?

When you avoid a man because of his unwanted attentions, you merely drag him along. He wonders if you are simply shy, and he should persevere gently until you are more comfortable with him. He may suspect you don’t like him, or there is simply no sparkle for you, and he should back away. He just doesn’t know. And he can’t read your mind. This situation confuses him. Remember, he wants to please you. He is trying to find out how to do this. How can you help him? Use words!

Here are some suggestions. First, practice the virtue of charity at all times. In the case of the unwanted suitor, this means you must be courageous enough to find words to tell him.  Maybe you appreciate his kindness toward you, but would prefer to keep your friendship on a purely casual level. Do you already have a mutual agreement with another man? He may not want to hear it, but he will prefer the truth to the uncertainty.

Collect your thoughts before speaking to him. Focus for a moment on his positive attributes. Then your remarks will give him hope to find an good woman who will appreciate him. Is he an attractive man? Intelligent, warm, humorous, kind? Is he admirably devout? Does he sing or serve at Holy Mass? Observe his qualities, and acknowledge them. Does God have a better match for him?  Take the time to write your ideas. When you have formulated your best response, please tell him at the next reasonable opportunity.

You can, of course, write him a letter. But telling him in person, discretely, may better support his inherent human dignity.

What circumstances might permit this private communication? Where you can be seen, but not overheard, by others. For example, walk with him for a moment in a parking lot, or at the edge of a sports field. Out of doors is best, as fresh air and open spaces will help him manage his disappointment.

Once you make it very clear, verbally, kindly, you are not the one for him, he will be briefly stung. But he will probably recover quickly, and be free to notice another woman – perhaps one who has been hoping to get his attention. Thus you may be doing two acts-of-mercy in one!

“Love one another as I have loved you.” Your goal is to live a holy life now and gain eternal life in heaven. The exciting time of young adulthood, with vocation discernment and courtships, is part of that process. You can leave a trail of wounded hearts, or a legacy of graciousness. Bestow a treasury of warm memories on all who know you, including that rejected suitor.

vharity
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“No—the age of chivalry has not so utterly passed away… the spirit which animated the knightly institutions of old still remains to inspire lofty aims, sentiments of the most exalted and self-denying generosity, and deeds of chivalrous daring and heroic self-sacrifice, as worthy of eternal remembrance as those that ever graced the lives of a Godfrey, a Tancred, or a St. Louis.” – Fr. Bernard O’Reilly, True Men As We Need Them, 1878, Painting by Franz Gullery
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