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Friday, 13 July 2012

Second Response to Readers--the Single State

If one is a careful reader, I did state that some people have had to live single lives and can be holy in those circumstances. However, as a "call", this is a new post-Vatican II category which I reiterate, comes from a lie, the destruction of the family, and all the other reasons in that post.

Let me try and address some of the comments and e-mails.

Firstly, as to the call to be a hermit, this is actually a status in the Church and one must be under the authority of a bishop to be a real hermit. One is usually only a hermit after being in the religious life for many years, such as a monk in a monastery or a nun in a monastery, and taking vows in an order. Then, if a nun, priest or monk feels called to be a hermit, he or she petitions the bishop.

We have been led astray by modern terminologies which do not exist in the Catholic Church. One cannot merely "choose" to be a hermit outside the hierarchical structure of the Church, just as one cannot be a Consecrated Virgin without going through a bishop.

A layperson cannot be a true, Catholic hermit with standing in the Church, without special permission from a bishop. I have checked this out with a priest hermit, who explained the process to me. Lay people may call themselves hermits, but they really are not. If one is called to live a solitary life, that is an exception, and one must have a spiritual director who is orthodox. This is not a natural state for a human being. But, one should not call one's self a "hermit" as that means something more than just a solitary life. I refer to Catholics. What Protestants call themselves is another story.

As to Opus Dei having single Numeraries, that is fine, as they are part of a community, an order, which is Opus Dei. But, again, that would be a vocation which is not usual. They are not isolated and have the support of a group. These people are also a very small sampling in the much larger Catholic society. That they are lay, I do not dispute, but they are still not unattached in a sense of belonging to a group. These single people have made a COMMITMENT to something more than themselves.

I have met several self-proclaimed, "lay hermits" in Europe and they have all been heretics, and without spiritual directors. That sometimes people go to see them for advice is just plain dangerous and stupid.

Secondly, when I referred to dating in a particular class structure, I meant that in the older days, one was in a stratified social structure which facilitated good marriages. That people were meeting those with similar backgrounds, tastes, interests, even orthodoxy, was a blessing and helped couples get over differences or not even have such, which create disharmony in marriages. Now the dating game is hit or miss and oddly, the total responsibility of a woman to discern. In the old days, the family and community helped a woman discern. A similar thing happens with those who attend Thomas Aquinas College, or Christendom and others, for example. They meet like people, and many good marriage, as well as religious and priestly vocations, come out of those colleges. In 2012, most women are merely thrown out into the world to figure out who are the protectors, predators or peter pans, as in my earlier post.

Thirdly, I am not going to get into multi-cultural arguments over staying at home. I write for Westerners. I usually write for the Americans and the English, and Anglo-Saxons prize independence, which is a good thing. I think cultures which hinder adulthood by letting men and women stay in a state of adolescence by living at home (I am not talking about poverty, or Asia or Africa, which is out of my area of knowledge), have fallen away from Christianity, and are part of the culture of death. Putting off child-bearing is killing Europe. In a study a few years ago, it was revealed that one-third of the households in England were headed by single persons. THIS is not normal.

There is an optimum time for getting married, choosing a religious vocation (most orders have cut-off ages because of formation issues, which is excellent), having babies, having careers, supporting society and the culture. By not deciding on a vocation, one is avoiding responsibility. A man who is living at home in his thirties is not a man, sorry, at least by American and English standards. Part of being a man is taking responsibility for one's own life and not relying on others. We all have been brainwashed to think differently in this individual, selfish world of the West. I am not commenting on the East, and will not.

One may not understand American independence, but it is a sign of adulthood. And, I come from prairie stock. My ancestors left Europe at very young ages, one a young woman at 18, and I have nothing but the greatest admiration for what they accomplished in the Catholic Church as laity, as well as some missionary priests, some monks.

By the way, I am harder on men, as they are the ones who have to ask the lady to get married. That there are so many traditional, good Catholic women not married is not natural. That they may become saints by living alone is without a doubt, when I think of their excellent spiritual lives. But, this was not God's Perfect Will for them. The long list of unmarried women and men is a sign of our dysfunctional society. The lack of religious and priestly vocations is a sign of dysfunction as well. In certain, small communities, this may be changing, but not for most social groupings in the West.


JonathanCatholic said...

Humbly, thank you for the education, Supertradmum. I stand very much corrected on hermits, and that societal structure sounds lovely. I can see how the decay of society has had ill effects on that structure, and it is a shame.

Supertradmum said...

Yes, we ladies were protected more in the old days. God bless you and keep praying for me and my needs, which are many

Nescio Quid said...

I started of agreeing with you, particularly with reference to OD. Them you got to the cultural bit and started to impute morality to the cultural norms you have grown up with. Let's be clear, they are your cultural norms. Having said that, the West, of.which I am a part, is not uninfluenced by other cultures, there is no Samuel Huntington clash of cultures. You spoke of a Prairie culture as if it represented the US today! I know plenty of people who would take issue with that. Moreover the prairie culture certainly doesn't represent British culture. And when we speak of culture let's not assume that culture is in itself not mutable and influenced by its environment and time, and therefore hardly a moral arbiter.

The reason so many women are unmarried today is as much to do with old ways of arranging marriages breaking down. Suitable matches or love interests used to be found or developed through community ties and networks. As these old communities change, break down or move so too do networks. It's not as.simple as you make out. There are tons of studies on immigration and changing cultures.

Supertradmum said...

NQ, I think you read too quickly, as I have said what you repeated about the breakdown of culture.

England is even MORE class-structured than the States, and marriages occur must more in one's class here than in the States. So, you are incorrect there.

There is a clash of cultures. Catholic vs. all others mostly. Kulturkampf is real. Sorry. The Christian culture which lasted for a very long time helped men and women form good relationships based on all the principles I listed plus more.

Even our present Pope believes in the clash of cultures.

Nescio Quid said...

Hi Supertradmum, I would love to meet you in person one day I'm sure we's have lots to talk about, and lots of common ground, just approached from different perspectives!

Huntington's "clash of civilizations" and the "Kulturkampf" that you speak of, are not one and the same. What I'm getting at is that the East-Clash that Huntington spoke about is not real. There are more synergies between Catholicism and many eastern cultures than meets the eye.

Yes England is more formally class structured than the US. However, after living in the US, and being attached to one of the more privileged higher education institutions, I can honestly say that there are tons of class divisions in the US, just not as formally delineated as they are in the UK (where I'm from btw).

I don't also believe that we are in a situation where Catholicism vs the rest of the world! I think Christian principles are deeply embedded in more than just Christian cultures. When legal systems were transplanted to former colonies, Judaeo-Christian principles and a way of perceiving rights were simultaneously transplanted (perhaps not entirely, but certainly in large measure).

Supertradmum said...

Dear NQ, you are more optimistic than I am. As to class structure, I am not against it. There can be good reasons for levels, and the Medievals with guilds and other groupings managed just fine.

God bless your work and I am glad you are from England. I LOVE England and wish I could stay here forever. I love the people, the culture, the history and lived here for 12 years, but lost my residency. Have a great day.

david. said...

Heh, for asians, while we do have a culture of living with our parents until marriage, sometimes that alone is quite an incentive for marriage. Trust me, you don't want to live with your asian mum and asian dad all your life, even if they do your laundry ;)

Family piety is a very large thing in oriental asian cultures. One's family is pretty much the centre and focus of any asian family. While we live with our parents for much longer than the west, independence is still stressed and one is actually expected to enter the workforce and contribute to the family rice bowl. Often, that would mean working in the family business. The asian family is very much like a village.

Further more, this idea of western romances is actually new to asia, and until very modern times, the whole family, was not just involved in discerning, but the choosing of one's spouse. The marriage in the East is very much a social contract and arranged marriages were commonplace and widespread.

Interestingly, because of our eastern mentality, which is rather understandably, utilitarian, children are treated as a commodity in the our culture and many catholic parents don't approve of their children entering the religious life. I think that is possibly because it is seen as a loss of grandchildren (also a commodity), of lacking material income and the fear that the children will not be able to look after them in old age. That said, asian parents do love their kids a lot.

Supertradmum said...

david, sounds great and more like the old days in America, when all the family had opinions on mates. I remember my mom and dad never agreeing on who I should marry. Mom was more romantic. Thanks for sharing.

The Asians, may I add, are not the only ones who discourage vocations for the sake of the family. I personally know other families which are American which have done this.

Nescio Quid said...

Totally agree with David's comments about East Asian culture (China, Japan, Korea etc) it is very similar to South Asian culture (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal). Parents do tend to have more sway over issues like marriage in general in Asian culture, although much of this has changed. A lot of my Indian relatives (born and bred in India) met their spouses in college, that is not to say their parents' approval didn't form some part of things. Extended family set ups and looking after parents is still a very important aspect of South Asian culture.

Christian families in India tend to still value their sons becoming priests. And, as I understand it, there are still quite high numbers of religious vocations in India. I know Mother Teresa's order receives quite a few vocations.

Also, there are very well established Christian communities in the East, dating back to the time of the first apostles. So Christian values and institutions are by no means estranged from the East in many respects. There is in no sense of a clash between being Christian and Indian, and it is important to separate this from religious riots which are in fact highly politicised.

Supertradmum, God bless you too! I guess I am an optimistic person. And like you, I do think hierarchies are often a natural way for people to organise themselves. Whether we like it or not, we are all different with unequal abilities.

So sorry you lost your residency! When do you go back to the US?

Supertradmum said...

NQ the East is very, very big

Nescio Quid said...

Well that's why I broke things down into Asian regions. In the UK people often refer to East Asians and South East Asians as Oriental, but of course traditionally, the Orient refers to the East, not simply East Asia. Notice too in my earlier discussion, I didn't speak of the Middle East or West Asia...! But even there, you can't lump Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria for instance, into one category or culture. This is also why Samuel H's so called clash of East and West makes even less sense.

P.S. I am an academic who specialises in one of these Asian regions.

catholicnomad said...


I have a question.

I once read that if you would not make a good husband / wife, then you should not try to enter the religious life as you would not make a good religious either.

So what are people like that to do? If they are barred from marriage for some reason, which also bars them from the religious life, then what?

Just curious to know your thoughts.


Supertradmum said...

catholicnomad, one does not have to be perfect to either be a priest, religious or husband or wife. None of us are perfect. I disagree with the blanket statement that someone who leaves seminary would make a poor husband. I know many men who were in the seminary, left and are now married with kids and very good husbands. It is a discernment job for some to go in and come out.

However, if one has serious impediments, such as very ill health, mental problems, or serious emotional problems, then one must seek advice before commitment. However, I believe most people are actually "normal" and will be finally perfected in their vocations.

Do not take off-hand cliches too seriously.

DavidMultiplico said...

I agree that a great many people are shirking their responsibility to follow God's call in marriage or the priesthood or religious life, and may be trying to justify it by claiming the single life. I think it's going too far to say that there is no vocation to be single, though. It exists, even though very few may be called to it. Matthew 19:10-12 states that there are those who are eunuchs from birth, those made so by human agency, and those who choose it for the sake of the kingdom. Not all in these categories can be priests or religious, and it would be ludicrous to say that they were all nonetheless called to marriage, unless we believe that God sends out a call that we cannot answer. I don't think the teaching about the single vocation is new; it is newly misunderstood, though.

Supertradmum said...

DavidMultiplico, I am not merely advocating marriage, but the religious life and priesthood as well. I have quoted Don Bosco on this at least twice. Making one's self a eunuch means to me choosing the religious life, not merely being celibate outside a community.

I am convinced those are rare callings, but not one category which is taught all the time as if normal. I know too many singles who have never visited a monastery or convent, one of my points on a post tomorrow and one I have made here before as well. God bless you for your honesty and clarity.

By the way, I have a degree in Theology (among others and Scripture studies were my strength. If I have not quoted the passage, it has just been a question of time. Thanks for bringing it up.

DavidMultiplico said...

Supertradmum, your theological studies have definitely been more extensive than mine; I can assure you that I was not trying to "catch you out" with a scriptural quote. I do appreciate your responding.

I agree with you that the "eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom" refers primarily to those in consecrated life; it is possible that there might be those called to be celibate but not religious, but as you say, that would be a rare calling.

I was thinking more of the eunuchs from birth or made so by human agency. I've been inclined to include among the latter not only those who have been physically castrated, but those with deep-seated same-sex attraction who are unsuitable for marriage or the priesthood or religious life. I count myself among them; I could not be married, and I'm fairly sure, speaking only for myself, that I might be a liability in the priesthood or consecrated life.

As far as I can see (and who knows what God has in store), my vocation is to be single; and if so, I'm sure that God has some purpose for me in this state. I'm sure it was not your intention, but it was painful to think that my vocation did not exist, and that my life is defined by my inability to respond to God's call (i.e., if the only vocations are marriage or religious life).

I apologize for the brusqueness of my first comment, I just felt that "there is no single vocation" was a bit strong. I see you meant that there could be, but not as a normal option. I would bet that God intended no "single" vocation prior to the Fall.

Supertradmum said...

David Multiplico, Your humility moves all of us who read your comment. I think you are correct, but can a man not make a vow of celibacy like a Consecrated Virgin and live a life of peace knowing that you belong to God Alone? Once we remove ourselves from the world of possibilities, the temptations are much easier to deal with. I honestly do not know if men can do such private vows, bu I believe that decisions, vows and commitments give us all graces we normally do not have. And, in your situation, God has called you not only to celibacy, but to His Cross. I do not say that lightly. I honor you and your choices. Be assured that God has always had a plan for you as he does for all of us. You are very close to Him. Thanks for your comments.