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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...