My Relationships You Probably Don’t Need to be Thinking About Marriage by Cassie Sadie Have you ever seen someone really cute at Mass and become frightened by how quickly your thoughts go from “I hope we get a chance to meet later” to “I hope our children have his/her eyes”? It’s easy to get overly caught up daydreaming about or living out your love life. It sure doesn’t help that so much of Catholic imagery seems to portray that when you’re a good Catholic you have a basically happily ever after marriage (with the spouse you’ve been praying for for five years, naturally) and at least seven children. Combine this with the normal high school desires and pressures to be in a relationship, such as finding a prom date, keeping up with streaks on Snapchat, and having someone to go on dates with now that you can finally drive and not be chauffeured by your parents. But here’s the harsh reality: if you have a giant crush or if you’re dating, you’re either going to marry that person and spend the rest of your lives together… or you’re going to break up (or never even date in the first place). Either way, do you want all or most of your memories to be with that person, whether it’s spending all your time with them or pining over them? Even if you do end up high school sweethearts, don’t you want to be able to take advantage of hours and hours spent doing things you love, in prayer, or with close friends, in one of the few stages of life where that’s really possible…because I can only imagine it gets a lot harder to find that kind of free time when you’re married and have a family. Here’s my challenge: spend more time with friends than with your crush or your boyfriend/girlfriend… a good bit more time. You know, earlier I talked about how it often seems good Catholics are all in perfect relationships, but when it comes to the saints…what the vast majority of them actually have in common is really strong friendships. Francis Xavier and Ignatius of Loyola were college roommates. Paul and Barnabas traveled the world together, spreading the faith. Perpetua and Felicity were martyred together. Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas were classmates competing for the top of their class. Even Jesus spent the majority of His public ministry with the twelve apostles, and before that, Mary spent three months living with Elizabeth. Think friendships have to be with the same gender and anything else has to be romantic? Nope! Take Francis and Clare of Assisi, Patrick and Brigid of Ireland, and Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. Now, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of your friends on the weekends, and let’s just say they aren’t exactly leading you (or themselves) closer to a life of sanctity. So how do you make quality friends or deepen existing friendships? I can’t give you a perfect solution or even a quick fix. But these tips that have helped me: 1. Pray for quality friends. Our Father in Heaven gives good gifts to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11). Pray for friends who will lead you closer to Him and even ask a saint pair above to intercede for you. 2. Go on a retreat. Some of my closest friends are people I met or got to know better on a church retreat, camp, conference, or mission trip. Something about going deeper in faith and sharing that experience with another draws you closer in a way nothing else can. 3. Attend youth group, and join a Bible study/small group. Having guaranteed community weekly is huge. The more time you spend with those people (even if you think they’re weird, different from you, or you don’t get along with them), the closer you’ll get. You’ll be surprised by how much you actually connect with them, simply because you share the most important thing: the faith. 4. Do social things that don’t involve sin. You shouldn’t put yourself in situations where you know your standards can be compromised anyway, so if you can find fun, healthy things to do with friends, everyone’s better. Get creative, and do things you’ve always wanted to do. You’ll actually have more fun than the alternative too because it won’t be the boring, same old thing. Even joining teams and clubs is a great way to build relationships, all while seeking a positive common goal. 5. Talk about things that matter. I don’t think we can entirely blame others for not being good friends when we aren’t open and authentic ourselves. Stop being superficial, negative, or gossipy. Instead, talk about your passions. Be open about your faith, talking about it just like you would talk about anything important to you. The more you change the way you talk, the more others will change the way they talk to you. Seriously, try it. 6. Live out your own faith uncompromisingly. No matter how happy people around you might appear from worldly pleasures, they’ll never be truly satisfied. Maybe for a time they will be. But if you radiate peace and true joy, people will notice. And whether they express it to you or not, they’ll want that. Everyone does. A saint pair I didn’t mention above was Augustine and Ambrose. Augustine used to be caught up in a life of sin, but Ambrose helped him find true fulfillment in Church. Augustine is now one of the greatest conversion stories in the Church, which goes to show no one is ever too far gone or lost for the mercy of God, even your wildest peers. Don’t count anyone out. You never know how God can work in their lives. So who knows, maybe you and your current or future bestie could be the saint pair the 21st century needs. What’s stopping you?