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We Met Online! Stories of Married Catholics Who Met Their Spouses On the Internet by by Anthony J. Buono and Stephen Weisenbach, eds.
As Written Publishing, 1413464653, $21.99

Is Internet "dating" good for the soul? It's not something I've done personally, yet I know people who have tried it, albeit through secular means. One friend's experience did not end well, another's will result in her first face-to-face meeting, and eventually marriage. Having volunteered my services to an organization dedicated to preventing cyberstalking, I can tell you the Internet romance machine has malfunctioned at times - "malfunctioned" more appropriate to describing a train wreck than a simple computer virus.

Yet, reading the book WE MET ONLINE!, an anthology of Internet pairing success stories which some may discern more as a grand advertisement for Catholic matching service Ave Maria Singles, a glimmer of hope is injected into the prospect of finding a life mate online -- for Catholics, it is a rather strong one, endorsed in the book's foreword by Father C. John McCloskey III.

"Long-distance relationships can work. They have for centuries," McCloskey writes. "Obviously the couple will have to move near one another, if not before, then certainly after the wedding. But the beauty of Ave Maria Singles or for that matter old-fashioned letter writing with paper and ink (remember that?) is that it allows the "dating" couple to really explore what matters by exchanging many, many messages over a period of time. This truly allows the "inner you" to be revealed until the moment comes for the face-to-face meeting." Such words help to dissolve the sometimes negative aura surrounding the Internet, and the twenty-five stories following this foreword affirm that faithful, single Catholics in pursuit of a married vocation can find success in the proper environment.

The testimonials from the now married couples in WE MET ONLINE! evidence a varied membership at AMS. Ages range from early 20s to late 50s, some members are widowed or divorced and awaiting annulment, while others (including a few approaching middle age) have never married. There are members with young children, people with medical conditions, and still others living abroad who were willing to look beyond their home country for a mate (the story of Mairead and Tim is especially evident of the power of love, as one mate is willing to migrate from the US to Australia).

For all the differences among the people represented in WE MET ONLINE!, there is some common ground - all turned to God for help in their search for a spouse, all were directed in some fashion to AMS (whether through Anthony Buono's appearances on EWTN or ads in Catholic magazines), and all had one thing specifically in mind: marriage to a like-minded, faithful Catholic. WE MET ONLINE! makes it clear that AMS is not a dumping ground for personal ads or casual contact; a goal is set. Reading WE MET ONLINE!, we learn some people had to wait more than two years to reach this goal, yet the end result was well worth the wait.

Is WE MET ONLINE! worth the read, however? For the discouraged Catholic wading through a sea of frogs to find that prince/princess, Buono and Weisenbach's collection serves as an inspirational tool, that with faith in God and the technology He brings happiness can result. Readers already enjoying the fruits of a happy Catholic marriage, who have no need directly for AMS, may look upon WE MET ONLINE! as a collection of light, romantic vignettes. What would be interesting, for all readers, however, would be a follow-up volume revisiting the same twenty-five couples in five or ten years. As each couple represented in the book has been married three years or less, to see a strong rate of continued success in their marriages would make for an even stronger advertisement for this organization.

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We Met Online!

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