Support This Website! Shop Here!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Single Life

I've had many people ask me if single life is considered a vocation.

This is all I've ever been able to find on it.
As you can see, according to the Magisterial documents, single life is NOT a vocation.
In fact, the Magisterial documents don't really talk about single life at all.
It's not even listed as a state in life.

Apparently, adult human life is always meant to be lived in some kind of community under some kind of vow.

Indeed, according to the documents, living without this community life is considered a poverty.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live - often not of their choosing - are especially close to Jesus' heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the "domestic churches," and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. "No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who 'labor and are heavy laden.'"

2349 "People should cultivate [chastity] in the way that is suited to their state of life. Some profess virginity or consecrated celibacy which enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner. Others live in the way prescribed for all by the moral law, whether they are married or single." Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practice chastity in continence:
There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others. . . . This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church.


The Various Vocations in the Lay State
56. ... Along the same line the Second Vatican Council states: "This lay spirituality should take its particular character from the circumstances of one's state in life (married and familylife, celibacy, widowhood), from one's state of health and from one's professional and social activity. All should not cease to develop earnestly the qualities and talents bestowed on them in accord with these conditions of life and should make use of the gifts which they have received from the Holy Spirit"(208)
I know this isn't fun to hear for a lot of people, and I'd be happy to hear that there are some references I've missed which flesh this out better, but this is all I've been able to find.


Anonymous said...

Thomas Dubay talks about this in his book, AND YOU ARE CHRIST'S.

He pretty much says that baptized Christians are called to a life of self-giving, which either takes the form or marriage or some kind of consecrated virginity.

The single life cannot be seen as a form of consecrated virginity -- even if the lay person is living a life of chastity -- because the single person hasn't made any commitment to Christ in a solemn way to give his/her all to Christ in the way a consecrated virgin does.

I remember talking about this issue in a moral theology class I took at the University of Dallas. One of the ideas that the problem arises when the lay single has declared a priori that neither marriage nor religious life is for him/her. But if a lay single has done his/her best to test a religious vocation and has yet to find a spouse . . . well, what can you say?

At any rate, just some thoughts....

Steve Kellmeyer said...


It is worthwhile to remember that EVERY person lives, between birth and about the age of 20 (give or take), a period of life that is celibate but without vows.

So celibacy is a requisite experience for every human being.

But living a life of avowed celibacy (whether as a lay religious or in the order of priesthood) or living a life of avowed marriage (which is itself a lay holy order of the Church) is in both cases substantially different then living a celibate life without vows.

William said...

As a guy who's stayed single longer than "normal" I can say that it's really about waiting for the right person more than being all "Yay, I'm single!"

I'm focusing a lot on career and am holding off on joining the crude American dating scene since I feel like it's a lot of brutal rejection of women. In that, you have to refuse women who both want to instantly marry you and treat sex as a reason to buy her flowers for the second date.

I hope to find someone through my active Christian life, and maybe in a few years I'll up my game if it doesn't come naturally.

But no, I'd say it's more about taking marriage seriously and refusing to settle for the sake of social pressure than a "vocation."

This post is way too long, but I'm going to put it another way. I try to work every day of my life to become the father I hope to be someday. That's how I stay busy as a single person. If it's not in God's plan, that's fine, but I never think in terms of being single as a vocation. It'd be weird (and often is, when they show the "single vocational" people).

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Sounds like a good plan.

Patrick said...

Single life has certainly always been considered a vocation for some, as it should be a continued life cultivating chastity suited towards their way of life and is not necessarily of our choosing. As the Catechism specifically points out, this can be through chastity or through consecrated celibacy.

One would normally never consider widowhood a vocation, but the call to chastity is what can lead us towards God. St. Paul believed that marriage was only something considered when you can't overcome your physical temptations and Jesus pointed out that it was a material good that was only for people of this world. That makes marriage a rather strange thing to call a vocation or a calling from God as well. However, God calls each of us in our life circumstances and we need to act on that call no matter where we find ourselves in life.
"We do not praise any of them to the exclusion of the others."

Cammie Novara said...

"Apparently, adult human life is always meant to be lived in some kind of community under some kind of vow." I am delighted by the truth in those words.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


If you would be so kind, could you send me an e-mail? I have a private question for you.