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Why the single life is not a vocation
Posted By Eric Sammons On January 13, 2010 @ 9:01 am In The Church | Comments Disabled
This week is National Vocations Awareness Week, in which we contemplate the vocational call in each person’s life. In recent years I have noticed that prayers for vocations often include the following, “We pray for vocations to the priesthood, the permanent diaconate, religious life, married life, and the single life.” I admit that the addition of “the single life” as a vocation has always troubled me: is being an unconsecrated single person really a vocation? It seems politically correct in many circles to make such a claim, but I can’t help but think that such a life, while capable of including a saintly way of living, is not really a vocation per se. But as a married person, I felt it was improper for me to make such an observation publicly.
So I was very happy to see Catholic author and speaker Mary Beth Bonacci, who is single, declare that the unconsecrated single life is not a vocation :
[F]rom the first time I heard it, something rubbed me wrong about the concept of a single “vocation.”
Reading the Holy Father’s letter on women, Mulieris Dignitatem, reinforced my suspicions. In that document, John Paul II says that God calls all women to give themselves in one of two ways – in motherhood or in consecration to Christ.
No mention of singleness in there.
In fact, I find no mention of an unconsecrated single “vocation” in Church teaching anywhere. As far as the Church is concerned, it doesn’t exist.
Here is the problem: “vocation,” in the sense the Church understands it, means “to give oneself completely.” The Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes says that man finds himself only through a sincere gift of himself. John Paul II, in Mulieris Dignitatem, speaks of the “spousal disposition of women.” We – women and men — were made to give ourselves, in love, to others. That’s where we find happiness.
Don’t singles give? Of course we do – often more than most. But vocation doesn’t mean “being a generous person.” It means giving our lives completely to another – either to a spouse in marriage or to God in consecrated virginity. And singleness doesn’t do that. In fact, the single state is defined by the lack of that gift. We are unattached, un-given.
Be sure to read the whole article here .
In our overly sensitive world, we try to avoid saying anything that might offend another. By saying that someone else’s life is “missing” something, we appear to be judging them unduly. But the fact remains that we are created to give our whole selves over to another. For married people, they give themselves to their spouses; for religious, they give themselves directly to Jesus. A single person is not able to do this. But that does not mean that they cannot achieve holiness; on the contrary, their cross gives them a unique ability to do so.
Let us all pray for single people during this week of Vocations Awareness; not that they embrace their current life as a “vocation”, but that they might bear their cross lovingly and in union with Christ’s Cross and one day find their true vocation.
Article printed from Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons: http://ericsammons.com/blog
URL to article: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2010/01/13/why-the-single-life-is-not-a-vocation/
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 declare that the unconsecrated single life is not a vocation: http://www.4marks.com/articles/details.html?article_id=437
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