Catholic Courtship - Duration
By Fr. Daniel Pinheiro - Holy marriage presupposes holy preparation, presupposes holy courtship
Note from the translator: Fr. Luiz Carlos Lodi da Cruz and Fr. Daniel Pinheiro wrote a good number of articles on Courtship that we are translating now.
General View on Courtship by Fr. Luiz Carlos Lodi da Cruz
Ideal duration by Fr. Daniel Pinheiro
Agreement in ideals by Fr. Daniel Pinheiro (coming soon)
The need of chastity by Fr. Daniel Pinheiro (coming soon)
Means to be chaste during courtship by Fr. Daniel Pinheiro (coming soon)
We took the freedom to break the articles when they were too big for a single email/post and we added images and headings for easier navigation.
Original in Portuguese here .
I suppose that the excellent text by Father Luiz Carlos Lodi, recently republished here, has done a lot of good for young – or not so young – Catholics who intend to have a holy courtship, according to right reason enlightened by faith, so that they can also have a holy marriage.
Courtship is preparation for marriage. So whoever wants to have a good marriage must prepare well. Holy marriage presupposes holy preparation, presupposes holy courtship. However, I would like to add a few points regarding (1st) the duration of the Catholic courtship and (2nd) the purpose of courtship, which Father (Lodi) correctly defines as “knowing the soul of the other”. Finally, (3rd) I would like to deal a little more precisely with the harmful consequences of sins against purity between lovers.
(1) Duration of courtship. When we talk about courtship here, we talk about the entire time and process that precedes marriage, including, therefore, courtshipand engagement. The duration of the courtship should be the duration necessary to achieve its purpose. The purpose of courtship is to “know the soul of the other”. The purpose of courting is to know what the other thinks, to evaluate and examine, with seriousness, the couple's chances of reaching the ultimate goal of marriage: the sanctity of the spouses and children. This evaluation and examination must consider the qualities, relationships, social environment, etc., of both, with everything that can and usually influence the formation of a Catholic home, with everything that can and must contribute to ensuring the fulfillment of the serious duties that weigh on married people (Peinador, Consultorio Moral Popular, p. 63). For more details on this knowledge, see (upcoming) Part 2.
The ultimate goal of marriage: the sanctity of the spouses and children
A courtship that was short of the time necessary for this mutual knowledge to occur would be imprudent: marrying someone you don't know well is opening the door to various problems and conflicts. Extending this time beyond what is sufficient to have this mutual knowledge is also unwise: undue familiarities will emerge, the multiplication of occasions for sin, and the loss of due respect. It is evident that it is impossible to establish a precise time for each and every couple, since the achievement of this mutual knowledge depends on several aspects, such as, for example, the previous knowledge they had of each other or the reliable information they could receive from the other, etc. … However, in general, it can be said that the courtship should last between one or two years (Father François Dantec, Fiançailles Chrétiennes, p. 79). Less than a year seems like a short time to get to know your future spouse well enough. More than two, there is great danger of undue familiarity arising. If two serious people haven't gotten to know each other well enough in two years, there's a problem.
courtship should last between one or two years
All this means that the courtship should not start without the prediction that the marriage will take place in a short term (one, two years). Therefore, when starting the courtship, the couple must already be able to marry or have a well-founded hope of being able to marry in the short term. The reason for this, as Father Peinador says (cited work), is that courtship is a certain occasion of sin that can only be considered as necessary for those who can and should marry, because God calls them to it. In order to marry, this greater proximity between man and woman is necessary, so that they can have sufficient knowledge of each other's souls. In this situation of necessary closeness, God gives the graces so that one does not fall into temptation, if the couple takes the necessary measures to avoid sin. For those who intend to marry in a distant time — for whatever reason — courtship becomes a voluntary (and no longer necessary) occasion for sin. Now it is well known that it is lawful to place oneself at a necessary occasion of sin, taking proper precautions to avoid sin. Putting oneself on a voluntary occasion, that is to say, putting oneself in an occasion of serious sin without there being any need to do so (as in the case in which we are dealing, always following the Fr. Peinador) cannot be licit, because it is a way of tempting God: not we do our part, but we expect from God the efficacious grace not to fall.
All this means that the courtship should not start without the prediction that the marriage will take place in a short term (one, two years)
Thus, to be able to start a relationship, which is always with a view to marriage, it is necessary that both are already able to marry or that they expect to have it in the short term (one, two years). As a consequence, there is also a serious obligation not to start courting in adolescence, not to mention the complete lack of meaning of the so-called “dating”. Also according to Peinador, it is necessary to interrupt the closest treatment when unforeseen causes delay the marriage too much.
It is also clear that there is an obligation to end any relationship when it comes to the conclusion that a future coexistence in accordance with the law of God and the demands of the Catholic conscience is impossible. Here, reason, inspired by the desire to secure eternal life, must make the decision. It must not be the heart, the feeling, that makes such a decision, but the reason enlightened by faith.
Fr. Daniel Pinheiro
Thanks for reading Catholic Translator! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Note from translation: Of course “dating” is not even thought here since the “experimentation” that happens during this period is immoral as can be read in previous articles.