Well, dear pumpkins, I am back. We have returned from our countryside getaway via the train from Aberdeen. Aberdeenshire was cold but mostly dry. We walked over frozen paths and country roads under an azure sky. We saw green fields, straw fields, granite walls, Caledonian pines, beech groves, a small castle tower (still occupied), various village churches, a hipster café (amazingly), a few horses and many sheep. The nearest Catholic church was a three hour walk from our cottage, as B.A. and I discovered by walking to it on Friday afternoon. For Sunday, however, my mother wished to order a taxi cab. So we went to Mass by cab, but my mother's spirit of adventure returned and we walked the three hours back.
We saw in the New Year with the help of BBC Alba, and when I woke up I wrote up some resolutions. I always think other people's resolutions vastly entertaining, so here are mine:
1. to fast from sugar (especially sucrose)
2. to do Pilates exercises everyday
3. to continue to study Polish everyday
4. to write more paid articles
5. to write another book
6. to save up a down payment for a large item
7. to continue to improve at housekeeping
8. to memorize 730 lines of Pan Tadeusz (i.e. two lines a day for 365 days)
I thought up that last one just yesterday, and so swiftly re-memorized the first eight lines. I think it would be a good idea to read Pan Tadeusz in Polish first because I am sure it's more charming in verse and in English I got bogged down in the scene where young Tadeusz, returned from university, mistakes the dodgy older woman at supper for the innocent young thing he had accidentally spied in her underwear.
This sounds like something I may have read in a "Dear Auntie Seraphic" email. I can just imagine it:
Respected Madam Auntie Seraphic!
I am turning to You with a polite request about solving a tender matter of the heart. At a dinner party at my father's country house I mistook an older experienced woman for a young maiden who had instantly captivated my senses a mere hour or two before. Alas! My eyes are weak from too much study, and society women all basically look the same, and before I discovered my error I found myself embroiled with a woman who, although very attractive, is not a long term prospect, i.e. not marriage material. However I don't want to offend her for she is my father's friend, and gallantry is very important in my society. What do You think I should do?
I warmly greet You!
P.S. Please change any identifying details if You post this on your blog. I thank You.
Meanwhile, I have had a request to continue to answer letters about social stuff, so I have decided to have "Seraphic Singles Saturdays" on this blog. Thus, I will answer one letter a week, but I will almost ALWAYS put it up on the blog (with identifying details changed). Also I will have to start consulting the young Singles of my acquaintance because I have been married for over five years now, and am over forty, and as technology changes, the problems of Singles change, too.
During my lifetime, the dating scene has worsened for chaste Singles, but the convent scene has improved immeasurably. When I was twenty, there was basically nowhere for an old-fashioned Catholic girl to test her vocation with other girls her age, whereas now there are lots of solid orders and convents to which twenty-somethings and even teenage girls are flocking. So that's good news.
Let us not forget that although it can be good to be married, and marriage is the best institution in which to have children, religious life is the best kind of life. When I was Single I always hated it when middle-aged married Catholic ladies snarled that there were no spiritual benefits to remaining Single. That's not what Saint Paul said. No, let us acknowledge that the best thing a girl can do is beetle into a wonderful convent as a twenty-something virgin and live out her life in prayer and contemplation according to the delightful liturgical seasons of the year. Here's a good one I know.
But there is usually no harm in holding out for second best. I read Quo Vadis over our holiday, and I was much struck by how Saint Peter himself stood up for the heroine, Lygia, whose spiritual director was furious because she wanted to marry the hero. Back in Roman times, Christians extolled virginity to the detriment of married life although nowadays we are much more likely to extol married life to the detriment of virginity. In both circumstances what is needed is a healthy balance. Marriage, good. Religious life, better. And any married lady who feels furious that a nun might be considered ontologically better than herself has the option of going to Syria and preaching the Gospel to the Islamic State. As Saint Augustine points out in De Virginitate, married women trump virgins if they become martyrs.