Many of the posts here on this blog have been on thinking like a Catholic and not like a Protestant. In the many, many responses I have read on the series on being single, I realized that some Catholics are not thinking like Catholics about vocations. Let me posit a few points.
One, the Scriptures give us not only real life stories of people but paradigms and analogies. Scripture also give us prophecies about Christ and Who He Is and what His Titles as God-Man, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Jesus Christ was and is the High Priest, the Priest of Priests. He is not "lay". Several commentators were confused on this subject. He is the Fulfillment of the Old Testament Priesthood and the First Priest of the New Covenant. All priests ordained in the Catholic Church are "other Christs". One can click on the link on the side or here for more explanation-Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
Two, the Church has Tradition, which are the entire teachings, doctrines, and sacramental theology, for examples, as I cannot list all. which are based on Scripture but go beyond the Scriptures. We cannot read Scripture outside of Tradition. We believe as Catholics that the Holy Spirit inspires the Church regarding Faith and Morals, as well as the Nature of Christ, His Mother, the Liturgy or whatever. As Catholics, we value Tradition and Scripture as from God; that is revealed Truths given to the Church. Scripture, that is Revelation and Tradition are the two keystones of Truth in the Catholic Church.
Three, in describing or defining the traditional, "small t", vocations in the Church, the Teaching Magisterium, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has given us clarity as to those calls in the Church. One cannot merely quote Scripture and say "so and so was this or that" without looking at the interpretation of the Church in these matters. We have 2,000 years of Tradition and to throw that away is to be a Protestant in one's thinking. We do not interpret Scripture outside the Church. Those are the heresies of "private interpretation of the Bible" and "Sola scriptura"--the basis of all Protestantism. What the Church teaches about vocations through-out is that we choose to follow a vocation, to follow the calls from God for our lives. We are just not "single" without choice. Therefore, referring only to Scripture is incorrect. See more of this train of thought below on Protestant ideals.
Four, Apostolic Succession means that the Apostles were priests. They were not lay people after Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders as sacraments. Now, the Jews would have understood this, as they had priests, set aside from the rest of the community to serve in the liturgy of the Jewish Law. The Apostle themselves would have understood their priesthood. That some were married is not an issue. That they all were priests, then bishops, handing down the priesthood through Ordination to our own day is one of the great blessings and treasures of the Church. The Old Testament priesthood foreshadowed that of the New.
Five, the Church very early on saw that the Holy Spirit was calling men and women to consecrated celibacy. One is no longer "single" in the same sense as a lay single person who is not committed to anything, under this vow, which should be, but apparently is not, obvious.The first monks were hermits, that it solitaries, who took in young novices. Later, under St. Anthony, Abbot, we see the development of monasticism. St. Augustine started a community of celibate men. St. Benedict's inspired genius changed Europe. Women also were called as nuns.
Six, Our Blessed Virgin Mary is the Role Model and great patron of consecrated virgins. To deny her virginity and her complete commitment to the Trinity is heresy. Mary is all things and no one else is to be compared to her. She is Queen, Mother, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mother of God and virginal spouse of St, Joseph. Catholics understand her uniqueness in God's Plan of Salvation. She is the Theotokos. She alone is Mother, Spouse, and Child of God.
Seven, as Catholics we are called by God to grow in love and the life of the virtues. One never hears sermons on the virtues. Without living that virtuous life, one cannot see God. We cannot go to heaven without the virtues being established in our beings. In a committed relationship, God perfects us in the virtues. One cannot do this alone, or very rarely. To live with others is to allow one's self to become holy. Thankfully, more traditional priests are speaking on this subject. I hope more do so for the sake of our souls and the souls of our societies. To think that we can reach our potential for holiness in superficial relationships, and not in choosing either marriage, Holy Orders, religious life, or that of the consecrated virgin is revealing a Protestant mind-set-that life is just about "me and God". If one finds one's self alone, and this is a common problem, one must find out God's Plan for life, especially if one is older. The younger among you need to decide.
May I add that those "religions", false ones, which do not value celibacy, have not the true teaching of the Catholic Church. Celibacy is a committed state and is not synonymous with being single and not being committed to any walk of life. Today, for example, if one is dating and looking for a mate, one is not dedicated to following a celibate life-style.
One of the first things that Henry VIII did was to suppress the monasteries and convents, forcing thousands of monks, priests and nuns literally onto the roads and into dire poverty. He, of course, was in debt and needed property and goods to pay his friends, but he also hated the "sign of contradiction" in the world. So, too, other Protestant "reformers" taught against celibacy. All ministers were to be married and some ministers were distinctly seen as "lay brothers". Part of this rebellion was hatred of the hierarchical structure of the Church. Of course, a Protestant ideal would be to get rid of authority, which meant the priesthood, bishops, cardinals, the Pope. This is connected to point three above. The rebellion against the Church led to rebellion against vocations to celibacy.
I know some of this thinking has seeped into the consciousness of some Catholics. A permanent deacon is not a lay person. If he is not married, he cannot get married. If he is married and his wife dies, he cannot get married again. This is also true for the married priests coming in through the Ordinariate. The Byzantine Catholics do not allow a married man to be a bishop. This is all part of the Catholic Church's high evaluation of celibacy as a consecrated state. One can choose to be celibate on one's own, but the Church has always encourage spiritual direction for this and vows. And, as noted in the other blogs, there are Catholic ways to enter into communal life and be celibate. But again, it is a commitment, not merely a "being single in the world".
I do not have this book with me, but one of the best on the monastic life is Consider Your Call: Theology of the Monastic LIfe by Daniel Rees. I read it many, many years ago and loved it. My copy fell apart I referred to it so often It is out of print but around used. I highly recommend unattached laypersons to read this and to consider your call.
If any of you missed these two posts on virgins and widows, here are two links.
Also, if you are one of those who claimed you could not find an appropriate spouse, read this: http://supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/on-monasteries-convents-and-suitable.html