The Lost Art of Discernment

I smiled at the face on my computer’s screen — a MySpace profile pic of a Christian boy with bright eyes and a bass guitar.

He was 21 and part of a band made up of a handful of my friends. I was 19 and had seen enough to come to a quick conclusion:

I should date him.

We texted and talked, and felt tethered to each other before we ever met face to face. I chose him, and he chose me, and we forged onward, determined to share life without discerning whether we should.

This is because discernment is a lost art. We cross paths with a person whose gaze raises our heart rate, whose humor gets us every time, or who gets us. We are physically attracted to him or her, and mentally distracted by his or her presence (or absence). We decide with haste to date him or her based mostly (if not solely) on what we feel when we first meet, without acknowledging dating’s purpose: to discern marriage.

The result? We aim in dating to maintain the warm, fuzzy feelings that brought us together. We date without discerning. But discernment is an art we can bring back, if we ask important questions while we date, including but not limited to these:

Do I know the truth about this person?

Excited to kick-off Hernando County’s Theology on Tap series with a talk about chastity. Theology on Tap is a night to eat, drink, and chat, for Catholic young adults. (But you’re welcome even if you aren’t Catholic!)

Date: August 6, 2014
Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Event: Theology on Tap
Topic: Chastity is For Lovers
Sponsor: Hernando Theology on Tap
Venue: Rookies
Location: 1320 Commercial Way
Spring Hill, FL
Public: Public

BUSTED: Four myths people use to promote premarital sex.

In 2009 and 2012, I wrote sex essays for the Tampa Bay Times — essays that sparked impassioned reactions. Some feedback came from readers who agreed that saving sex for marriage is a good idea. Other feedback came from readers who shared why they think premarital sex is better.

But their reasons — which still show up in my inbox — have this in common:

They’re myths.

Today, we bust them:

Myth 1: “You should have sex with the people you date because you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first.” It is true that one would not buy a car without test driving it. It is also true that cars are objects, and that a person who owns a car is supposed to use it. But people are not cars.

When a Man Likes a Woman: 5 Dos

Catholic Match Institute
June 8, 2014

In my then-boyfriend’s apartment, I smiled while I quietly asked a question:

“What crossed your mind the first time you saw me?”

He thoughtfully paused, and aligned his eyes with mine, before he answered without blinking (and, apparently, without thinking):

“I want a piece of her.”

You want a piece of me? The line led to fightin’ words, words that build walls between a woman and a man, which—in that case—was for the best. But the line also led to a realization: When a man likes a woman, he doesn’t do what that guy did (including but not limited to “objectify her”). So what should a guy do when he likes a girl? Click the above link and in this — my first post as a Catholic Match Institute contributor — I’ll tell you.

The Lost Art of Conversation

You know what’s weird?

I’ll tell you.

I answered the phone at work once, the way I do…

Tampa Bay Times!”

What’s supposed to happen next is standard procedure: the person who dialed my desk explains why he or she called. But this day, my greeting didn’t elicitan explanation. Instead, it elicited silence. Awkward silence.

So I broke it: “…um, is there something I can do for you?”

“Yes,” the woman said.

The Lost Art of Converstation

Image courtesy of

Then the woman stopped talking. So I spoke again:

“…um, can you tell me what it is that I can do for you?”

“Yes,” she said. Then she stopped talking again.