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Friday, 13 July 2012

I do not believe that being single is a vocation

For years and years and years, I have been against the teaching of some priests, deacons, sisters and laypersons that one is called to the single life. I simply do not believe this. I have never believed this.

I think that the single state is a horrible product of the dysfunctional societies in which we live. There are many reasons for this phenomenon and some cures. I am going to jump in the deep end here and say that unless one is caring for aged parents, (a self-sacrificing and holy call), or an unusual person called by God to be outside the mainstream, such as St. Benedict Labre, or if God has allowed you physical and mental crosses which keep you out of religious orders or marriage, I believe one needs to choose. There may be some people with an outstanding job to do in the world, but never alone.

Here are my reasons why liberal Catholics, especially and some trads have fallen into the trap of the "single vocation", which I do not think exists, except for the above calls.

One, selfishness. Our individualistic, selfish and narcissistic society has discouraged commitment. I have recently come across a holy and Catholic psychologist, who has experience with this type of selfishness leading to non-commitment. A person wrapped up with themselves has created their own world and is living in "ME-land". Those types do not get married, have children, or follow a vocation of love and service as a father, mother, husband, wife, priest, monk, nun or sister. I also include consecrated virgins in the category of commitment. This is a relatively new revival under Blessed John Paul II of an old order and should be considered by Catholic virgins who feel the call to be in the world for the Church. I personally know two and worked with one. It is a great and fulfilling vocation-a real call from God, but not for the selfish.

Two, fear. I have written about this many, many times in my posts on love. People fear the love of marriage and the challenges of celibacy. Fear keeps many men from getting married, I am sure.

Three, the society lies to us about "fulfillment". Many women feel they cannot be fulfilled as a wife, mother, nun, sister. But, they have not tried. One must step out, visit a monastery of convent, and look and see. One cannot just let one's life slide into singleness.

Four, the fragmentation of our society has led to a fragmentation of community. In the old days, and I have written about this before, my parents knew the parents of the young men I was dating. We were in one big Catholic ghetto. We shared social and religious lives. The prairie experience of community had something to do with this. but parents expected and rightly so, one to marry in the community and at the level of status to which the family belonged. This was a healthy and natural set-up. Remember when Liz told Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, that he was a gentlemen, but that her father was as well, though less wealthy. Money was not the issue, class was. The levels of our dating partners were somewhat equal and Catholics could get on with life at those common levels.

Five, parents used to take an active part if helping and guiding a child towards his or her vocation. Parents do not do this and it is wrong that they ignore this duty.

God gives parents the insight and knowledge of how to raise and guide their children, if all are in sanctifying grace, which most Catholic good parents are.

I am so sick of hearing that mothers should not influence their sons concerning vocations. Tell that to St. Monica, or Our Lady, who in asking Christ to change water into wine started His public ministry and His road to the Cross.

Six, the acceptance of sexual gratification outside marriage and the contraceptive mentality have ruined relationships. These attitudes have ruined marriages as well, but also courtship, and led to a lack of men asking women to marry.

Seven, the opposite of above, parents allow their adult children to stay at home. No, no, no. This is horribly unhealthy and causes the adult child not to grow up. If a man has his mom, when he is in his late twenties and thirties, cooking for him, sewing, cleaning, doing his laundry, etc. why should he think of another woman or of getting married?

Eight, the lack of responsibility in men not to find jobs which will support a family is another issue. Two of my friends who are married to lovely men and now, with six kids in each family, gave up their dream jobs. The husbands did the same for other ones which would support a family. This is right and good. A man not willing to sacrifice for a wife and family is not marriage material and would not make a good priest, either. A woman who "wants it all" will end up sad and lonely.

Nine, some Catholic leaders have lied. One cannot become holy on one's own. One must be in a community, either monastic, of secular priests as friends, or a family in order to grow in holiness. There are many stunted people who could make a decision to be involved in relationships, and do not. They are denying the opportunities of holiness to which they are called.

Ten, God can work, even in singleness, but this state is that of the Cross, especially for so many women I know who desire children and a loving husband. To be alone in the world, without a protector and facing a life of loneliness as an elderly person, is the sharing of the Passion of Christ. I know many woman who share in the Passion of Christ because of their single state.

Singleness is not a vocation, except in unusual cases, and for these unusual cases we have Blessed Margaret of Castello, St. Benedict Labre (who falls into the category of  what the Byzantines call "Fools" and are highly honored in the Eastern Church), and a few others. God wants excellent priests, nuns, monks, sisters, wives, husbands, mothers and fathers. He wants holy families.

I repeat, the single state is not normal. It is not a default. It is a tragedy of loneliness and a lack of an opportunity to become holy-more holy than one can imagine. Think, pray, act, love, commit...


New Sister said...

It's interesting you say *act*.
Two years ago, I was maid of honor in a wedding, which came to be because a Catholic man and a Catholic woman did think and pray (discerned), then acted: they met via Ave Maria Singles. Orthodoxy is what drew them to one another; God did the rest. They're a beautiful sight - as we say in the Army, "what 'right' looks like."

I do agree with you, that the single life is not a vocation but in rare circumstances, yet I and some friends like me are really really uneasy with (or perhaps lack the courage for) the dating site concept. I now wonder, are we culpable of not seeking our vocation-God's own will for how we might love and serve Him in this life? Are we testing God by expecting Him to enable the circumstances for us?

New Sister said...

BTW: Condoleezza Rice is a single woman who seems to have a special call to serve as such. She gives so much of herself (if not all) for the good of America. God bless her.

JonathanCatholic said...

I agree with almost your whole article but there are a few things I question slightly. First, while I agree that singleness is not a vocation, being alone can be. It isn't done very often these days, but in the Church's past, in both East and West, there have indeed been hermits called to be in that vocation, and who have grown in holiness by being alone. I would say that this is definitely the minority of all Catholics throughout history, though. In general, community does strengthen us in our vocations and our service of God by being the Body of Christ here on the earth, suffering and sacrificing.

Second, I don't exactly understand what you mean about class-restrictive dating and matrimony being a good system. Can such a system, if it is rigidly obligatory, really be ideal? Having grown up in an entirely different world, totally removed from such a system, admittedly I am in the dark about how it would have functioned or what the experience of it would have been like. It would have been fascinating to live life in such a state, or to understand such a life.

Haus Adams said...

I am having trouble with a few points here:

Opus Dei has Numeraries whom are single and for all I can see (being friends with more than a few) lead very holy lives - in community (cf pt 9). That in my view is a very good application of the single state lived well.

I have problems with Point Seven as it in our family's thinking directly leads to point Six.

We sense that people shack up because of loneliness and fear. My wife lived at home till she was 35 - contributed to the household, is responsible, thrifty and is a living saint. Her older brother lived at home to for just as long is extremely successful professionally, financially, responsible to the hilt and has five kids. My sister in law takes the little ones to mass daily with my wife. The whole family in-laws and all live under the same roof.

They live in a traditional Eastern-European Catholic style which is no doubt queer to the rather modern notions of American "independence".

I, on the other hand, got out of dodge ASAP at 22. Went off on my own to become a professional musician overseas. I was a hard worker, responsible, independent, daily mass goer, "successful" (for a musician), did well (for a musician - meaning I had a savings account :) ), thrifty and utterly miserably ALONE. How crushing it was night after night to come back to NOTHING but the sounds of tenants "doing it" in next flat? Five long nightmarish years. Shoulda stayed home and re-thought that through.

Thankfully my blessed bride never had to suffer that. She recounts coworkers initially bragging and having a little fun at her expense because she still lived at home at 25. Flash forward a few years later and these people had a place, a job and nothing else but despair and constant loneliness.

And these were good people! The mass goers. The ones at the Youth Groups and Theology on Taps. No fornicators they!

Nescio Quid said...

I entirely agree with Haus Adams on this. Having been brought up in two cultures, I do think we have very queer notions of family here in the West. It never used to be this way, but somehow the nuclear family unit had become synonymous with normal in the West.

I also agree with Haus about Opus Dei numerary members, who have a vocation to the celibate life not as mere whim but rather as a spiritual calling and material act of service. (But I'm sure you agree with that too Supertradmum, given previous posts)

Finally, well, I speak from the heart here, yes agreed marriage is a wonderful vocation, just as divorce is really quite terrible. Too many people enter marriage thinking of it as something they can cast off at will. For too many it is pure loneliness that makes them enter marriage, rather than deep feelings. I'm not married not because I'm commitment shy, but because I simply haven't met the right person. I think if you take marriage very isn't easy to meet a potential life partner. The more educated I have become and crucially the older I get, the harder it is to meet someone appropriate. I don't think that it is a "right" to be married. It is a blessing. I have an open heart and mind but it would be wrong to expect that I must be married. Somehow it also feels wrong to "settle" for someone who doesn't feel right for the sake of not being alone. Desperation is not a good reason to get married...! When you speak of being single you seem to indicate that someone had chosen this route out of selfishness -that may be the case for some, but there are many others who do not choose. not feel that marrying an atheist or agnostic is necessarily going to be beneficial to family life. I think it could work with a lot of hard work and loneliness...and there's the nub. There would be a whole aspect of your inner and outer life that you could not share with your spouse. One of my friends is in such a situation. It is a cross.

Supertradmum said...

Nescio Quid, read my respond post. If you do not think the nuclear family is the center piece of society,you are not in keeping with the teaching of the Catholic Church and many encyclicals of the last 100 years.

Again, I am not talking about orders, and vocations in orders. Also, as I note in the new post, Numeraries may be 20% of the OD order but they are not common. And, these people have MADE a decision to be celibate for the Kingdom. I call that a religious vocation in the world, and a rare one. Most singles do not do this....Do not use exception to prove the rule-doesn't work in logic or experience.

New Sister said...

Supertradmum, she is Protestant. I believe her father was a preacher of some sort - Baptist? - in Alabama.

She's so beautiful. I wonder how one might get a Miraculous Medal to her... :-)

Nescio Quid said...

You have misread my post. I am not suggesting that the family us not the centrepiece of society, I am suggesting that the nuclear family is a problematic notion if one believes that us ther only way. Extended families are very natural, and indeed a very happy alternative for do many elderly people living in loneliness in care homes.

P.S. I just wish to add that you make many good points and being single without a spiritual commitment of an institutional kind is indeed not a vocation.

Also no quibble about numerary members of Opus Dei. They are the minority. However, they are not religious members canonically, historically or spiritually whatever your viewpoint, that was my point really. I might also add that there are many supernumerary members (those who can marry) who simply are but married for the reasons I outlined. It is hardly reasonable to label those people who have not found an appropriate person as selfish. And no they are not an exception, there are many many people using dating sites (as mentioned above) precisely for this reason.

Shall read your latest post.

Supertradmum said...

NQ, elderly people who are parents are family and I said nothing about that. And, you need to read the Church's teaching on marriage and family, of which there are several encyclicals. You have a bad habit of getting off track. Secondly, third orders or oblates and I assume Numeraries are no longer strictly "lay" In fact, Dominican third orders can get buried in the habit. So my point on Opus Dei stands. Not every one is going to join or be attached to an order. Whether their clerical state is changed is not the point-they are committed to something and have made a decision.

I did not pick on Opus Dei at all and like all third orders or oblates, am sure there are holy people among them. However the VAST majority of Catholics who are single would not go that route. I stand by the selfish angle and have talked to young people, even young men, who blatantly say they would not want to give up their lifestyles for marriage or for becoming a priest.

Anita Moore said...

Super, not only can lay Dominicans be buried in the habit, we can also wear it within the walls of a priory. I believe the Vietnamese lay Dominicans also wear theirs at chapter meetings. For the record, I do not personally own a habit, nor do I know any other lay Dominican who, to my knowledge, does.

As for our status as laity, lay Dominicans are truly laity. We are not under vows of poverty, chastity or obedience. We are not under the governance of of a religious house or superior. We are of course bound (though not on pain of sin) to follow the Rule, and the Particular Directory of our province, and the provincial does have authority over things like admitting or expelling members, or forming or suppressing chapters. But we have all the freedoms, privileges and responsibilities of any other laymen, and the duties of our state of life always come first.

Incidentally, I do not think the idea of a vocation to single life is new. Years ago I was given a book written for young ladies by a priest around the turn of the last century, which devotes a chapter to ladies called to live single in the world. I don't remember the title of the book or the name of the author; I suspect it's long out of print.

Supertradmum said...

Anita, thanks for the descriptions. I knew third orders, etc, were lay but belonging to a community of some sort is a COMMITMENT, which puts you all in a different category, does it not? You have chosen not to be alone and selfish.

As to pushing the single life, and if the book you saw is that old, I suspect it was a book written as a result of three things. One, the industrial revolution, which caused the type of upheavals we see today in society; two, World War I, which killed off the best and the brightest in Europe; and three, the great movement of peoples in the 19th century which caused displacement. Even today in Alaska, a pioneer type place which I love, there are four men for every woman. The men came from somewhere, and from where they came has a shortage of men, as in the days of immigration and emigration. I have seen statistics that war is sometimes caused by too many men in a society--look at China's huge army after destroying girls in the womb and with infanticide all these years.

No simple solutions, but I still do not think it is a vocation, as such.

Anita Moore said...

True, being in a third order does entail a commitment. It means doing things you would not otherwise do (like, say, recite the Divine Office or abstain from meat on Fridays), and being in a special communion with people you would not otherwise associate with. For those reasons, among others, it also entails suffering: the Third Order of St. Dominic is not also called the Order of Penance for nothing. I must confess before the world that it was not at all my idea to join the Dominican Third Order -- a fact that made me want to resist joining, but that also made joining all the more compelling. The story can be found here and here.

In re the book: it actually predates World War I by about 10 or 12 years. But the world was in upheaval then just the same.

P.S. Maybe I ought to move to Alaska...

Nescio Quid said...

Actually numeraries are strictly lay. You seem to regard celibacy as a religious attribute. Anyway I hardly accused you of picking on.OD. And grandparents do not fall under the definition of the nuclear family which you so clearly.advocate. I get the impression that you don't particularly like my differential viewpoint from the rather critical comments coming my way from you. I find that you approach the subject of being single as if people ought to get married, or they are selfish, which is rather crass. Life doesn't work that way. The issue here is not whether being single is a vocation, you have no quibble from me there, it is your treatment of it as disease or dysfunction. The real dysfunction is the increasing divorce rate, or serial monogamy. How sad. Marriage isn't a duty, it's a solemn commitment and blessing. God, for whatever reason does not call all, who are not religious, to marriage. Marriage is not a default category, but rather a vocation. There is subtle but important distinction.

Supertradmum said...

I know Numeraries are lay and said that in the second, post, but they are members of a community which means that they committed themselves to something, which is not the case for most of the singles in this world.

As to picking on them, I was responding to a commentator or I would not have even brought them up.

Lastly, did you see my statistic on one-third of the households in England being headed by singles? This is not NORMAL. It is a sign of dysfunction.

Every civilization which has a large number of singles is also connected to a rise in homosexuals and I did not put that in the post. I stand by my comments. And, enough...we must agree to disagree, but I do not think you are reading my comments, and posts carefully.

gsk said...

While at the surface I agree with the points offered in this piece, there are two things missing -- first is a workable paradigm, second is the recognition of collateral damage.

The paradigm that is needed is spousal love -- all persons are called to give a total gift of themselves in love, and this is usually done through marriage, holy orders, the religious life, or more rarely in singular paths of inspired charity. A single man or woman with a deep prayer life, a sense of sacrifice and desire to help aging relatives is certainly offering that gift, but outside the norm. A thrice-married (twice-divorced) contracepting man or woman looks like s/he's living the norm, but isn't. [OD numeraries are curious in that regard (I've discussed it with a few) but they are living in community, and giving a gift of self, even if they don't use nuptial language.]

Secondly, with all the very valid points made in the piece, it becomes obvious that there is a dearth of mature, dedicated souls available for marriage unless one decides to compromise greatly. To that end, there are many young men and women who simply cannot find a spouse. They have been short-changed by a misguided culture and have become victim souls. They are chaste, thoughtful, generous and loving, and must channel their great desire for a family into other projects.

It is for that reason that we have to be very careful in how we frame this argument. Just as not all people with HIV/AIDS are promiscuous or addicts, not all people who don't marry are selfish, immature individualists. Every collective sin has its dark force, and some are caught in the maelstrom through no fault of their own. It is for them to cling to God, to offer up their suffering, and to show us the Sign of Contradiction.

Supertradmum said...

gsk, I agree that if one has no choice, then fine. But, society needs committment as well as prayer and fasting. As to not finding a spouse, is it a problem of all these singles not being in parishes, even TLM ones? In my father's day, men sought out ladies and courted them. I do not think this even crosses the mind of most. That there are some called to the radical road of the Cross, as signs of contradiction is true, but not all. God is a God of life. And society is crying out for strong, good Catholic families.

Supertradmum said...

gsk, If I may add, my original argument was with the new so-called Church teaching that being single in and of itself was a calling. I do not believe that. War, displacement, illness, poverty, economic chaos, etc. can add to the problem but it should not be seen as a vocation. As a non-vocation, as a coping with circumstances, of course, it can as a state, lead to holiness. But, it should not be taught and encouraged as an option, especially to young people.

Supertradmum said...

May I add to all, there are simply not even Catholic children. Singleness should not be talked of from the pulpit as a choice. It is not.

Supertradmum said...

enough is a missing word in the last note--by computer is gasping for breath as it dies

gsk said...

Of course. I neglected your main point, which was to say that teaching that men who have one leg instead of two are perfectly normal. One-legged men can acheive heaven like everyone else, but they must be seen for what they are.

Supertradmum said...

gsk, I agree and never said that a mere lack of a leg or even a metaphor of such was an impediment. There are a few physical impediments to marriage, but rare, and even then, bishops do give permission for such-as I know couples who knew before they were married that the man was infertile. Permission was sought and given. I would hope that no one would think I am that trivial in this mini-observation.

Supertradmum said...

gsk, if you simply use this as a metaphor for imperfection, of course,

Phil Steinacker said...

Thank you for your post. On this topic I am in a distinct minority among fellow Catholics, and have gotten a lot of (some angry) resistance for making similar points.

As a person who has been single for 62 years - as a result of pursuing the fulfillment of my own selfish desires - I have given much thought to this question, and despite the reality of my current status (no longer my desire) have concluded much as you have.

There's so much dimension to this topic. I think it could stand an even more thorough vetting over time to sort out all the strands of thinking, some of which have surfaced here in the combox.

I'll make one clarifying point, which I thought you were going to make a couple of times (perhaps I missed it?).

I acknowledge that one can remain single and live out a deeply spiritual life willed with prayer and good works. Indeed, we are all called to do that regardless of our station in life or vocation.

I was taught "there are three states in life (as seen through the eyes of the Church): the single life, married life, and religious life, including the priesthood, and there are only two vocations: married life and religious life, including the priesthood."

The part in quotes I remember word for word because I recall as a young man not liking at all what was being said. Remember, I lived selfishly for over 30 years. However, I cannot recall who or what was the source of those exact words, nor have I been able to find them since.

I believe the advocacy of the single life as vocation is the result of the worship of youth and singleness bleeding through the walls of the Church, and this view has colored the common understanding of so many, even those who regard themselves as orthodox.

The missing ingredient in a single life lived as vocation is that unless it is tied to a commitment to a beloved (or more than one beloved as made by religious brothers, sisters, priests, and lay consecrated) it is a whim which prevails today but which binds not for tomorrow, according to the desires of the single person in question. While there is nothing objectively sinful about ceasing working with the sick, for example, outside of a consecrated vow such a decision can be rightfully taken by a single person who has a change of heart unbound by such a consecrated vow.

Combine all this with how Pope John Paul II explained love, which is elevating the best interests and well-being of the beloved over one's own, as well as over one's desires. This definition applies to married life and to religious life - BOTH displaying a visible sign of an invisible reality through a consecrated vow - which can never pertain to the unconsecrated single life which preserves an option to shift direction as desired.

I would appreciate folks here pointing me to anything (especially online) which clarifies this discussion, even if it does not support my view, so long as it can be shown to comport with genuine Church teaching.

Great post, STmum!

Supertradmum said...

Phil, Thanks for your superb comment. I agree with all that you say. Keep close to God. And, you may still meet some nice trad girl in your church. I know many lovely girls in the States who would marry an older man! Anyway, God bless you. Must be gone. Talking to a friend.

gsk said...

Wow, my analogy must have been a clunker. It wasn't about deformities at all, but calling what is abnormal normal. My apologies. Being uncommitted to a family or religious vocation should be the exception, not the norm.

Supertradmum said...

Sorry, even though I am a poet and artist, sometimes I take writing on this blog literally. You are an exceptionally good writer, as I have seen your website, so I should have picked up on the metaphor. My apologies, entirely....

You are, of course, correct and that has been the problem of this "new" approach-calling the abnormal normal.

God love you.

Tina said...

Let's see--Jesus was single. Was He selfish? His Mother let him live at home for 30 years. Was that dysfunctional? You seem to think everybody has to be either married, ordained or in a convent. There are plenty of single people who became holy through the grace of God and became saints without being married or ordained. Saint Joan of Arc comes to mind. Let's try Saint Maria Goretti. My aunt was single her entire life and lived a holy life. Another uncle also lived the single life, went to Mass every day and also lived a holy life. Neither of my relatives were selfish. I believe that it's not what "vocation" you are called to, but whether you strive to be holy in that state. Sometimes we can choose the wrong vocation orstate in life but always, through thegrace of God we can choose to holy. We are all called to holiness.

Supertradmum said...

Jesus is not single in the modern sense of the word at all. He is THE Priest, Prophet and King. He is not single and unattached to any call as in my definitons. Joan of Arc is a rare saint, and little Maria Goretti a martyr. There are many young martyrs, who chose celibacy and perhaps, had they lived, would have been in convents, if these existed. I think you miss the point. Catholics should be committed to something, either a mate, or an order, or in the case of a priest, to his vocation and bishop. Being outside commitment, refusing to be committed is the point of all these discussions. To put Christ, God and Man in this category is to miss His list of fulfilled calls. I am sorry, but it is almost blasphemy to compare Him with those who refuse to commit to anything. Just as a priest is not single, so too is Christ. Celibacy is a call and most singles I know do not even know what it means. You may have referred to John the Baptist, but he too was probably part of a prophets' celibate community, and had a rare call. Exceptions do not prove the rule and these examples have nothing to do with the modern disease of selfishness.

Supertradmum said...

Tina, the "single" state I repeat, to which I am referring does not cover religious or priests. Look at the categories. I am clear that I mean lay people.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to pick up on a point made by Phil: "I believe the advocacy of the single life as vocation is the result of the worship of youth and singleness bleeding through the walls of the Church.."
I totally agree with this - never before have the youth in the Church been catered for as they are now. There seems to be an almost obsessive need to focus on young people these days, to the exclusion of others and this attitude seeps into the Church from the secular world. I have seen so many programs, events, retreats, religious orders, etc which target the under 30s or 35s. I don't understand this - you don't find this obsession amongst the Orthodox, who will accept even elderly people as monastic novices.

At the same time there has been a great downplaying of the married state and family life. It is no longer 'cool.' Witness the modern reluctance to grow up and take on responsibility and the growing phenomenon of the "kidult"...

I agree with this post. The Church does not do anyone any favours by promoting singledom as a vocation. All this does is encourage individualism. Even those committed Catholics who spend their time praying and doing volunteer work, do so according to their own agenda, their own timetable and their own needs. I do not say this as a criticism as I was and still am very much like this. We can kid ourselves that we are really sacrificing ourselves if we help out our parish or fit some volunteer work into our busy lives but nothing rubs the edge off our own egos as living in community and having to subordinate our needs and desires to that of the greater good.


Barbara said...

May Jesus Christ Be Praised!

To assume that one is 'uncommitted' because one is neither married or consecrated religious is rash judgment of any individual. Many persons have achieved lives of great holiness as single persons. One's 'commitment' is to Christ. This commitment can be lived out in unique and individual ways as single persons. You are completely correct, Tina. Holy Mother Church has rightly designated being 'single' as a valid way to follow Christ. She did this long before our culture became as it now is.

Supertradmum said...

Anonymous, good comment, but please look at my policy on anonymous. Think of a blog name and post again. But, you must use a name.

Supertradmum said...

Barbara, I cannot find evidence of the Church teaching the single state AS a Vocation before the end of the 19th century and even then, the wording is not what one hears now.

A vocation is a call from God, not a result of a dysfunctional society. That one may be holy and be single is NOT the issue here. One can become holy in a concentration camp, but that is not God's perfect will. Holiness, of course, can happen in any state, but to see the vast majority of singles in this word, and look at the statistics, as following a vocation is just plain skewed. I never stated anything about holiness, but the articles are about vocations. Do not confuse definitions. I would like to know if those who are so upset have ever tried to stay in a monastery or convent, for example, or considered being Consecrated Virgins, my next post tomorrow? Commitment and relationships are necessary for full growth in a human being and we shall remain less than what we are outside those ideals.

If, we have honestly pursued vocations to the religious life as women, and have never been proposed to, or have failed marriages, that is not the same thing as never trying to follow a vocation. Singleness is and of itself is non-commitment, except in rare cases, such as taking care of old parents or a sick sibling, which would be a vocation, but rare.

Anita Moore said...

Lydia says: There seems to be an almost obsessive need to focus on young people these days, to the exclusion of others and this attitude seeps into the Church from the secular world. I have seen so many programs, events, retreats, religious orders, etc which target the under 30s or 35s. I don't understand this - you don't find this obsession amongst the Orthodox, who will accept even elderly people as monastic novices.

I think part of this is fear of death. For instance, from my (admittedly limited) observations of LifeTeen rock bands -- a thing that should not exist at Mass -- most of the people in them are over 30. I saw one that looked like a bunch of Rolling Stones retreads surrounded by teenaged girls in short skirts. It's like they're trying to recapture the heyday of their youth. An inordinate fear of death and a struggle to return to adolescence seems to me a sign of a decidedly un-Catholic outlook, and part of the whole phenomenon of singleness at issue here.

Supertradmum said...

First of all, it is a given that there is a preoccupation with youth in our society. There is also a fear of death.

But one cannot compare the monastic history of the East with that of the West. Western monasteries for both men and women demand health and vigor. The work is hard and the schedule demanding. One must be in good health. I have stayed in monasteries and I know this from experience.

Secondly, the Latin Rite expects formation: in spirituality, singing, obedience, poverty, celibacy and few older people could be formed. In fact, psychologists have shown that the formative years of youths ends about 35, which is very life the traditional cut-off points for many orders. Some Benedictines and Carmelites abide by this strict rule because of formation issues. That some orders have extended the age limits for women to 40 or even 45 is a modern blessing.

Supertradmum said...

apologies for typos

JP said...

AMEN!!! It's about time we we woke up to this. There is no call to singleness as such. There is no call to be perpetual adolescents or just adults in a state of drift. A vocation is about a complete gift of self. This may be the priesthood, consecrated virginity, apostolic celibacy, or life as a vowed religious. The Catechism is very clear on this. These are all terminal vocations. Some people may be single by circumstance, but this is a transitional state at best. Telling young people and young men in particular that they should not think of being married until the "discern" a vocation to marry is recipes for disaster. It will mean a lot of young people who wake up no longer young one day wondering what happened to them.

Supertradmum said...

JP, thanks and after all the negativity from singles and even some marrieds who think I am being hard on the poor singles, this is a refreshing comment.

Circumstances do happen. I am a single statistic myself. However, I know what my vocation is and tried to follow it. Now, what I cannot understand are those who do not want to get all the graces-I am a grace-pig and want all the graces I can get. Also, as far as pain is concerned, I would rather love with pain than not love at all--some people are terrified of pain and suffering not realizing how wonderful either celibate love in a commitment or married love can be.

Siobhan said...

Sometimes being single is not a choice. I grew up in an emotionally abusive home where I had to LEARN what is normal and what is abnormal behavior and had great difficulty in forming relationships with people. Therefore, in my younger years, I would have been a disaster as a wife and mother – I was simply incapable of it emotional or psychologically. Because of my emotional problems and not being able to find my place in life, I have suffered breakdowns which required medication and therapy, but it is out of this darkness that I gradually found my way to God. Now as a middle age woman I have reached a level of emotional and spiritually maturity where I finally have some level of peace (though what is happening in my family and my country causes me great distress!) Last year I became a fully professed 3rd Order Lay Carmelite which is a lifetime commitment to Our Lord and to Our Lady. Is it still possible to me to marry? I guess it is but I am now comfortable in my state of life. Do I have fears about the future, especially financial – absolutely. If I’ve learned anything from my life’s journey it’s that I must completely depend on God for EVERYTHING. He has gotten me this far – he will take me home the rest of the way.

Supertradmum said...

Siobhan, you are heroic in your life. And being a Third Order Carmelite is a great step in your life. You are to be applauded. You are not the same as those who can do something more and don't. God bless you.

Joshua said...

I think part of the issue is a lack of clarity on what a vocation to the single life is. After all, there is no official formation offered for singles like there is for married, priests, and religious. The lack of definition leads to the single life justifying many things, as this blog has aptly pointed out. However, Fr. Brett Brannen in his book "To Save a Thousand Souls" offers a clear definition for the single vocation. He calls it the generous single life in Christ. This is a vocation when it cements the single person into work in which he serves others, builds up the Kingdom, helps others get to heaven, and grows in holiness in the process. Fr. Brannen is very clear that being "a selfish, self-centered bachelor" is not a vocation.

Supertradmum said...

Joshua, your comments are good. I think that the problem is that too many Catholic teachers have fallen for the siren song of the secularists. Dying to self is what Christianity is all about, as you know. One cannot get to heaven in a vacuum. One must be in relationship, with a husband, a community, an order, friendships which are deep and committed, in order to be holy.

That teachers and pastors have fudged on this is that they are not thinking like Catholics. To give one's life to God is answering the vocation to which God has called you.

Only you and your spiritual director can understand what that practically means.

Disciple96 said...

I see what you are saying, Supertradmum. But I would ask you to read 1 Corinthians 7 where Saint Paul talks about the states of life. He encourages those who are not married not to seek a spouse. Perhaps God calls different people to different states, even the single state. I'm single and my life is full. If God decides to put a good, faithful wonderful Catholic single man in my path, that would be great. But He hasn't so far. I'm 55 now so I hope He'll hurry up!

I do agree that there is a lot of selfishness in our society and a whole lot of people refuse to get married. Can't help but see that. But that doesn't mean that there is no calling to the single state. Just means that not all those single people are called to that state.

Peace be with you, Supertradmom.
Disciple :)

Gail Ramplen said...

I think these postings have more to do with judgemental-ism than 'vocation'. Only God can read the heart, and only He knows the path along which He calls the particular individual. It is too easy to conclude that if you are not like me, then you are aberrant or defective in some way. God is not that limited and He makes us as individuals, and unique every one. So what if one is not married? Which Commandment says, 'Thou shalt marry'? The bottom line is that Christ is the Spouse, whether one is 'committed' elsewhere or not. One should beware of taking pride in one's holiness or commitment - without the grace of God, where would one be? Be thankful for the gift but do not attribute it to your elevated holiness or just desserts. God does not dispense His gifts uniformly or even equally.

Supertradmum said...

Gail, read the post again and the comments.

You missed the point.

And, fyi, I am single and have been most of my life. So, stop the ad hominem and use logic.

Lynda said...

C Rice supports the killing of unborn children.

Lynda said...

Many men do not seek to court women and so many women are never proposed to.

Supertradmum said...

Horrible about C. Rice. And as to not being asked, I understand. Many of my friends are in that position.