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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Single for the Sake of God's Kingdom


Yeah, it's an old, tired discussion, but for those of us who are single, it's not old or tired enough, because so many haven't gotten the message.

The Vocations talks are great, and we're all for chaste marriage and religious callings. Most of us who are single have considered those routes, and we have either chosen neither or have been chosen BY neither. So we are in a "no man's land" of singledom. So be it.

It does not help to ask us, when we adopt pets from the local animal shelter, why we don't just get married. Well, the short answer would be "free will."

We're waiting to be "adopted", too, but given our own "free will" to not choose guys (or girls if you be a male) who are not good for us, or the free will of the other half in a marriage, we're still waiting in the wings. It's better to not be chosen than to be chosen or to choose incorrectly. Just ask all the divorced couples out there, or the battered women, or the miserable men who were doing what everyone else wanted without considering what God wants.

I have dogs, and people sometimes condescendingly suggest they are a replacement for childen.

Apparently it simply doesn't occurr to people that I just like animals and I can identify with the "unwanted" in some way, nor does it occurr to people that to suggest "you should get married" can actually be a harmful comment.

People tend to go about their lives wearing a type of blinder that allows them to see things only from their relational perspective, thus, the options, if they are Catholic, are surrounding either the married or the religious life. We who are not married simply don't make sense to them.

But that leaves an entire section of the Gospel out of the mix, doesn't it? Jesus did indeed discuss the option of being celibate for the sake of the Kingdom, and it wasn't just in reference to the ministerial priesthood. He calls men and women of the royal priesthood to the same thing; we are not all destined for "someone", no matter how much Hollywood and Hallmark try to make us believe otherwise.

A couple years ago, in conversation with a new friend, he commented that, "obviously, you were set aside."

My initial knee-jerk reaction was to be offended, thinking he was suggesting I was "unwanted." Thus there must be something wrong with me, because that is the attitude expressed by the larger society. But I thought about what he said, and I realized that he meant "set aside" to be the highest compliment in his vocabulary; for from being "unwanted", he meant "chosen for something specific". The friend who suggested this was single himself and perhaps had come to a certain level of comfort with that.

Perhaps that's the perspective all we singles need to adopt. We are not in some strange form of "limbo", but rather, we have been "set aside" for a specific purpose. Maybe it is marriage or religious life...but later in life. Maybe we have certain gifts to offer at a certain time, and our singlehood allows us to live fully with those gifts and offer them without hesitation or obstacle as we have no family that clamors for our attention. Perhaps we all need reminders that we are all adopted sons and daughters of God, and He did not bring us into the world without a purpose or a specific Vocation.

I do think the Church needs to do a better job at including singles in some way. It's getting better, and yes, we need to be willing to step up on our own to offer our services, but sometimes we need to be invited. So much of parish life has to do with families, as it should. But sometimes, it would be nice if we as singles were specifically called or invited to participate in something.

I don't think any families or priests or anyone in the leadership of the church specifically means to exclude singles; far from it! They often simply don't consider us at all, given that most of them are caught up in their own vocations, seeing life from the perspective of knowing what it is they are called to do, and forget that there is an entire group of people who sometimes feels lost or perhaps needs their Vocation to the single life to be affirmed.

I once spoke with a priest regarding this, and his position is that there is no call to the Vocation of Singlehood. If one is not a priest or religious, then by default, one must be called to marriage. I considered this seriously, but upon a great deal of reflection, I have come to the conclusion that he is wrong. There are many people God has not called to either; does that mean that they will not come into full personhood if they do not go through a specific committment ceremony, be it Ordination or formal Vows? I can't believe that. I think this priest has missed something somewhere. Like everyone else, he means well, but he is forgetting that God has his own designes upon each life...and those who are "set aside" perhaps have another role to fulfill, no matter how humble or sublime.

I am single, I'm soon to be a year older, and I'm still not married. I don't think I'm called to religious life, and truth be told, I haven't figured out why I've been given the great gift of life. But I know, even if I remain single for life, God has a plan, He has always had a plan, and it is my job to seek his will and rely entirely upon him, making my way as I am able. That reality would not change even if I took Vows, for we all live our lives in reference to God.

If I may be so bold as to make a request; for those of you who are married, please do not suggest to your single friends and acquaintances that they have only two choices. To do so is to undermine God's will for them and send them upon a spiritual wild-goose chase. Just love us, be our friends, and be willing to be there for us in proxy for our families if we have none present. For those of you who are priests and religious, I say the same, although your role is a bit different with regard to how you respond to and guide us. Perhaps your role is to, not only to serve as "family" in whatever way you can, but to assist us in connecting with families in the same spirit of "adoption" shown by God to us all.

The greatest ministry to a Single is to affirm us in our Vocation, even if it is only temporary, help us to live it out to the fullest, and include us in whatever way you can. Sometimes you are the only family we have.

37 comments:

UltraCrepidarian said...

Brilliantly put, and exactly right.

And may I add something I have become really aware of lately? Hello Married People: DON'T give dating advice to single, or divorced people, okay, and don't say comforting consoling things, okay? Are we clear? Okay good.

Thanks.

+W+

Terry Nelson said...

I'm single of course, and I believe firmly it is God's will for me, and in that sense, a vocation. Single persons may remain independently in the world or be "called" to live in community - wherein they profess vows, which are in effect an extension of the vows every person makes at Baptism. Of course, solemn profession causes a religious to be placed in the "state of perfection" - nevertheless, this does not preclude the secular single person from reaching perfection - far from it- all of us are called to perfection, no matter our state in life.

Don't be too dismayed about this lame arguement however, since I have met married persons who worry about the fact that the religious state is often hailed as a more perfect state than the married state. For me it is all a stupid debate, it is like someone trying to figure out which saint is greater, or who enjoys the greatest glory in heaven.

Anyway - that is why I try to write about saints who were lay people, with special emphasis upon singles - working singles, poor singles, martyred singles, singles who refused marriage, etc.

We must know the same priest who told you there were only two paths to follow. In this case, Father does not know best. I can't help but wonder how many of the people who left religious life in the years since the Council never had a vocation in the first place? Or how many radical nuns may not have a real vocation as well?

Oh, and a bit of advice to married folk and priests, just because we are single does not mean we are gay either.

Rob said...

Actually, one can be single and be a "religious". There is nothing stopping you from living a life of great sanctity: praying the hours of the church and practicing virtue. History is full of saints like this.

Julian of Norwich is a favorite. She was not a "real nun": she was a "madwoman" who lived in a cell attached to a church and was "humored" by the clergy. But in that little cell she experienced magnificent visions.

Not that I am suggesting you should shut yourself up in a cell!

You could live in a tree, or in a sewer duct. :)

Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

There are many reasons why we remain single. In my case, as I approach 50, I am sad that I have had no children. But the reality of my life was that I had walled off a large part of myself until I had some grief counselling at about 30. There were many things I was hiding from that were too painful to contemplate, and I was not really in a position in those 'courting' years, to build a partnership with anyone.
I would also respectfully suggest that that priest is not right and being single is an option, for many in fact. Anyone who has done any genealogy could tell you that in the old families of 9 or more children they used to have, often about a third remained single.

Adoro te Devote said...

Warren ~ LOL! And you're SO right!

Terry ~ I agree, and I love the fact that you post on so many "regular" Saints.

Rob ~ definition of terms, here. In the context of this post, I am not using the term "religious" to suggest that Singles can't live holy lives - my point is just the opposite. "Religious" in this context applies to people who are called to profess formal vows. It was a lot easier to say "religious" instead of "nuns, sisters, brothers, monks, and friars". :-)

I am all for living in holiness, no matter what state we happened to be called to.

Kiwi ~ Good point about the geneology! I never knew that before, but it makes sense and definitely underscores my point that being Single IS a Vocation.

Ma Beck said...

Adoro,
The priest was wrong.
It is fairly common knowledge that some people do indeed have a vocation to the single life.
(People with deep-seated homosexual tendencies - what did the priest think they should do?)
Single people have a very important role in the parish - they, unlike marrieds, can spend more time teaching CCD, or assisting Father in planning retreats, etc.
Do you read the blog of Mac McLernon, Mulier Fortis?
She is a consecrated single. She's not bound by vows, but she does indeed renew them, each year, with the assistance of her pastor, Father Tim of "Hermeneutic of Continuity" and the support of the community.
I think this is such an important post. I wish ALL parishes could be as supportive of their single people as Father Tim is of Mac.
I know what it means to fall between the cracks, too.
(At my parish, it's marrieds without children who have no place.)
Sad that we can't seem to give EVERY faithful Catholic a meaningful place in the parish family.

Terry Nelson said...

I'm so pleased with your post and all of these supportive comments! Yayeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Fr. Groeschl says singles have a special mission, to their families and neigbors and Church. Often more expendable income allws us to be more generous in charity, as well as greater freedom of time permits us to be of greater service to the community or Church, etc., as Ma beck said.

The example of previous generations is also well taken, indeed, many large families had several bachelors and spinsters. Gosh, how many school teachers were single women in the past? Totally dedicated to their profession, passionate about their work.

This is such a great post! I wish I had done it! Thanks Adorable!

MJ said...

You are so right. I have a teenage son who is considering a religious vocation but who does not feel called to marriage (granted he is still young) but often complains that most people don't consider the single life a vocation. In fact if talk about vocations comes up he will always say that single life is a vocation whether he is talking to adults or young people. We all have gifts from God and God will direct us how to use these gifts if we just open our hearts.

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Opus Dei seems to be really into living a single life as a vocation without being (necessarily) a priest, but as a numerary.

Adoro te Devote said...

Thanks, everyone.

Yes, the priest was wrong. His intention was a good one, and perhaps he just wanted to encourage me and "sees" me married one day. Only God knows what is to be.

As far as Third Orders and Opus Dei, I don't currently feel called to one of those, either.

That seems to be the other "default" for a single person...for if one is single, then one must seek to join one of these communities. And I don't buy that, either. Each one is a calling in addition to a chosen Vocation, and many are not called to it at all.

Winnipeg Catholic said...

One can 'steal' the good ideas of an order without joining it. In terms of transforming your work into a life-impacting vocation offerred up to god and that sort of thing. I think OD draws a lot of inspiration from St. Theresa the little flower on the whole 'blending a godly life with a secular vocation' thing.

Adoro te Devote said...

WP ~ The issue under discussion here isn't whether a single can live in holiness. I see that as a given, for anyone who truly seeks to do so, no matter their state in life. Yes, there are great ideas for doing so which are taught in the third orders, but the point I'm trying ot make is that, to be Single is indeed a Vocation, thus people should not suggest otherwise or offer marriage/dating advice, etc., as though we are socially incompetent just because we're not married or a Vowed religious.

I actually was given a great book which I hope to post a review on. It's listed in my sidebar, "God Alone Suffices", and I recommend it for EVERYONE, no matter what your vocation in life. There is no marriage in heaven, and we all need to remember that.

uncle jim said...

see my comment under your previous post - i put it in the wrong box...sorry!

Pistol Pete said...

Fantastic reflection. You are indeed "set apart" for the work of the Lord. May you find it richly rewarding.

Melody said...

I am married, but would never dream of telling single people that they "missed their vocation" or "don't have a vocation". And of course it is rude to always be trying to fix up a single person with someone of the opposite sex, unless he or she has specifically asked for help of that nature. I have two aunts who were single. Both were teachers and gave themselves to their professions in a way that wouldn't have been possible for a married person with children. I have observed that sometimes the gift that single people give is friendship, to a degree that married and religious are not able to, because of their other commitments.

Adoro te Devote said...

Thank you, Pistol Pete.

Melody ~ I never thought of it that way before. Thank you. Friendship is indeed a gift, and I just never considered that particula facet of being single...to be able to offer that more fully to my friends. Hmmm.

onionboy said...

Our parish prays regularly for "those whom God has called to the single state" [as well as other named vocations] "that they might have the grace, courage and strength to remain faithful to the vocation to which God has called them."

Winnipeg Catholic said...

CCC 2231
"Some forgo marriage in order to care for thier parents or brothers and sisters, to give themselves more completely to a profession, or to serve other honorable ends. They can contribute greatly to the good of the human family."

I thought it woulf be helpful to bring the catechism in on the topic.

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Hi Adoro,

I decided to post about this because I agree with y right up to the point of affirmation.

As the catechism states I think that the church recognizes the single call of which you speak. But the church affirms how one impacts the world. The married are affirmed in parenting children, priests are affirmed in pastoral care, religious are affirmed in living an aescetic life and impacting the community depending upon the mission of their order.

So I agree that other folks can be blockheads, myself included, but I disagree that sexual status alone should be affirmed. One doesn't go down the street saying, "hey good job being a couple!" , "Good job being single!". But one does compliment and affirm others for good works.

Likewise, I can see it is rude to walk down the street saying "hey, how come you're single?", or "Do you have dogs instead of kids?". Sure, yep, that's rude.

The thing that makes singlness particularly challenging as a vocational crisis, I think, is that there is even less ability to reconcile with fate than there is with something like infertility or homosexuality, which might be slightly more difficult to debate with oneself, in many situations (not all).

All the Best, -B

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Great post, Adoro. I've been floundering about lately with what exactly I'm supposed to be DOING. I don't feel a call to religious or a lay order. I'm sort of exploring a relationship with someone but clearly we aren't talking marriage yet if ever.

Then, I realized that what I'm doing now could be exactly the plan. The evangelization thru the blog, working, praying, volunteering at my parish, regular Adoration. I'm striving to be content with my current situation in life.

I was going to say more, but I feel a blog post coming on!

Jean said...

"Leave your comment" has been a bit tough to do -- I must be doing something wrong as my comments don't show up, but I'll try again anyway:
At the risk of tee-ing your readers off, I think your priest was right. What is critical here is the definition of "vocation". The term involves a sense of being "called", and I have yet to meet a single Catholic gal who saw her singleness as a "calling" as opposed to a state of life (regarded with regret) that she was thrust into. They wanted to be married, but the "right guy" never came along and so they did without. Don't get me wrong: I appreciate the wonderful single and unconsecrated saints we have in our Church. The Catechism is correct to laud such individuals for their contributions to the Body of Christ. But to elevate this state to the level of "vocation" is, in my mind, wrong-headed. By this same logic, homosexuals are not individuals who struggle with a cross, but instead constitute a separate and legitimate "vocation", by virtue, I suppose, of their not fitting into the usual template. You're making hash of the definition of "vocation", and only in order to fit your particular circumstances into it. This is very subjective, and very problematic. Elevating individual experiences of various lifestyles into "vocations" ends up accepting premises that lead inevitably to relativism: since I'm "OK" with my...(fill in the blank) experience, and it seems to be something I was born with, it must be a virtue!!!A vocation!!
There are serious theological problems being advanced here, and I don't think they're being addressed.

Adoro te Devote said...

Hi, Jean.

I disagree (obviously). I do think that for some, being single IS a calling, because, as some have noted, there are people who are not called to the religious life/clergy, nor do they have an interest in marriage. Now, this may be, for some, a temporary condition which means that they are just waiting for their Vocation to be revealed. I currently think that is my state. Single but open to whatever God is calling me to.

But I DO know people who discerned and were not called to either, but who are living out their single Vocations wonderfully.

But maybe we are discussing semantics, and not the true heart of the issue; it doesn't matter whether we are defining being Single as a vocation or not, really. And you're right, I did not define the term.

But that said, it is still not appropriate to suggest what I outlined to a single, ever. God has a plan for each and every individual, and I firmly believe he calls some to remain his alone, for His purposes alone, and that this can be discerned.

I don't think that just being "single" is in and of itself a Vocation; any Vocation does require a certain committment or calling, thus for someone with a true Vocation to the single life, there is a requirement involved in living one's life in service to God and dedicating that status to His people, not in selfish gratification.

Hope that clarification helps.

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Hi Jean & Adoro,

Your comments were both helpful. I agree with Jean that the definitions are important. Being single, gay, married et cetera, ought to be referred to as a state of life. Vocation is more how you've committed yourself to impact the world within that state of life. Life is short, we don't have that much time.... How can I make my 'mark' while I'm here? What will my obituary say? To me that is vocation. I think that is within church teaching as well, but haven't studied it to be sure.

All the Best, -B

Jean said...

Hi Julie,
Please understand that I am NOT disparaging the single life or the contributions of single people: I am being precise with terms here, and because of that, I agree with the priest. The absence of calling to either consecrated religious life or marriage may be a fact with some people, but that absence does not constitute a vocation. A vocation involves a change: one is ordained a priest, one is married -- the person enters a way of life distinctly different from the life one lived before. Solemn vows are made, vows meant to be held until death. Holy Orders and Marriage are sacraments, and so the Church surrounds these changes of one's life with beautiful ceremony and reverence. And the Church surrounds non-sacramental consecration with ceremony as well to mark the change in life. None of this applies to the single life: it doesn't represent a change, but is a continuation of an already existing state. It may even be a temporary state, as you noted, which marriage or consecrated religious life are never meant to be. Again, I'm not trying to offend: obviously single people can and do contribute greatly to the Body of Christ. But one can acknowledge that and still not accept the notion that singleness is a vocation in the same sense as marriage and consecrated life.

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Hi Jean,

By your definition the vocation of the married state is probably parenthood. The coupled lifestate, if you will, is not in and of itself a vocation by that definition, just as celibacy is not in and of itself a vocation.

Does a sacrament necessarily make something a vocation? I don't have the knowledge to know if I am out of synch with the church here, but I would tend to think that a sacrament may imply a vocation but is not itself a vocation.

For many years, the church did not consider infertile marriages to be full marriages and they could be anulled, right? So I would tend to think that the actual vocation of marriage is parenting, and the life-state of marriage is as a couple. The life-state of a priest is currently mandatory celibacy, and the vocation of a priest is the priestly duties and life. But the church has always maintained that the Western rite could be changed to allow priestly marriage. That would then allow both the vocation of priesthood and the vocation of parenting to priests. The eastern rites already allow this within the authority of the vatican.

I am not sure if what I say above is in line with current church teaching or not (it is just my understanding) so please correct me if you know more than I do...

So in my understanding, infertile couples are called to discern a vocation to impact the world in some other way then parenting, if medical treatments fail. That could be adoption, foster children, charitable activities, et cetera.

Jean said...

Winnepeg Catholic,

I'm afraid I don't understand your statement, "By your definition the vocation of the married state is probably parenthood". Parenthood, (barring the unfortunate cross of infertility), is part of marriage but it is marriage that is the sacrament. Parenthood, you might say, is one of the "implications" of marriage, but marriage is the pre-existing state for parenthood. I'm guess I'm not sure what it is you're trying to say. I never meant to suggest that the "coupled lifestate", to use your words, is in and of itself a vocation. Obviously, two people could live together and have kids, but never marry -- but having kids doesn't raise their "coupled lifestate" to a sacramental level or vocation as the Church uses the term.
As for your statement, "a sacrament may imply a vocation but is not itself a vocation", I did acknowledge that in my post, as some consecrated religious are obviously not recieving the sacrament of Holy Orders.

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Hi Jean,

My question is this:

Does sacrament = vocation?

Eucharist, baptism, and confirmation, are not vocations right? But they imply a vocation to a christian life, to be in communion et cetera.

By extension,

Does marriage = vocation?
Do holy orders = vocation?

I am tempted to ask a priest, but my guess is no. Marriage and holy orders are sacraments that mark one for vocations just as the indellible mark of baptism is not vocation but marks one for a vocation.

This is a question/guess on my part not a statement.

All the Best, -B

Sanctus Belle said...

After reading all this...I only wanted to say one thing. I ponder this idea of not knowing one's vocation, whether to single, married or religious life. I've been single (although now married) and for the entire time I was single I longed to be married. Thus I never didn't know my vocation, it was only a matter of time before I met HIM. I was single, but in a state of waiting. If you a single person isn't waiting, looking or searching for a marriage partner, have no calling for religious life - then it makes sense they are most likely called to single life.

What I don't understand is - why all the fuss? Is it the pressure society places on single people? Or is is conflictedness within the single person??

My best friend and another friend are also single, never married and what they both have in common is a huge tendancy to be defensive about it. I don't get that either...

But what do I know... :)

Adoro te Devote said...

Sanctus,

I think they get defensive because of some of the attitudes outlined. I get really tired of people asking me when I'm going to get married and have children, suggest that there's something wrong with me *because* I'm not married (ie the indication of my "wrongness" is my single status), all the armchair psychologists who love to analyze why single people aren't doing this or that, etc.

When all that is inflicted upon us all the time, we get very tired of hearing it. Thus, that may be why your friends are defensive.

For myself, I don't know if I'm called to marriage or not. Yes, I'd like to get married, but there is no such thing as marriage in heaven. I am actually content with being single, and for the most part, I'm not looking. I don't feel my "biological clock" ticking, and actually, this is very comforting because I find that my truest desire is to be focued on God, who alone is sufficient.

Society tends to make relationships the be-all-end-all to everything, and suggests that anyone who is not seeking their next "partner" is defective in some way.

I would suggest that most of society is defective, but in this combox, I'd be preaching to the choir on that account! LOL.

Well, my lunch break is done, can't respond any further for the moment.

God bless!

Jean said...

Winnepeg Catholic,

In answer to your question: no, sacrament does not equal vocation, as vocation is understood by the Church.
In this discussion, I think that the word "vocation" has been broadened beyond what the Church typically means by it when it refers to marriage and the religious life as vocations. This makes any kind of useful dialogue difficult.

Winnipeg Catholic said...

From Mirriam-Websters:

Main Entry: vo·ca·tion
Pronunciation: \vō-ˈkā-shən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English vocacioun, from Anglo-French vocaciun, from Latin vocation-, vocatio summons, from vocare to call, from vox voice — more at voice
Date: 15th century
1 a: a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action; especially : a divine call to the religious life b: an entry into the priesthood or a religious order
2 a: the work in which a person is regularly employed : occupation b: the persons engaged in a particular occupation
3: the special function of an individual or group

I find this an interesting line of thought not only in the context of this discussion but in the conext of existential tension in general and vocation as it relates to identity.

Cleary what Adoro has expressed and what others chimed in on, fairly quickly was vocation as it relates to identity. Identity, who you are, is very complex of course, and of course is reduced by one philosopher to "I think therefore I am." Then there is of course the whole biblical "I AM" thing.

So with regard to vocation, as it relates to identity, and as that is further related to the church, I think I would agree with Jean that it is not just 'state of sexual being' eg. married/single/celibate, but what one tries to do with one's life in the context of others. Eg. parenting, helping the poor, teaching, protecting, employing, et cetera.

Anonymous said...

I have not had time to read through all the comments and will respond in more depth later, just want to add one thing:

* my post was both theological and secular; perhaps with a different perspective towards the secular, but I did not clearly define myself, so thus the term "Vocation" as used here could be taken on secular terms.

* However, the theological content still applies, and I did not define the theological terms.

So....I may need to post on this again to address it, but I want to read all the comments first.

Perhaps my post pertains more to, using the theological definition of Vocation, to those who are simply not called to a Vocation at all, and the reality that God still chooses for us a place which does not involve a Vocation. We are not all called to religious life. We are not all called to be priests. We are not all called to be married.

By elimination then we see that some are called to a life without a Vocation. Fine. And my point, ultimately, is, for those who have no Vocation, are still valueable and should not be forced by others to constantly consider something that has already been considered. Or have agendas forced upon us by people who are not living our lives or our discernment. (Clearly I'm still in discernment).

More later....

~~~ Adoro te devote

Jean said...

Winnepeg Catholic,
I am using the term "vocation" here as the Church uses it in a particular sense, which in this case corresponds to the dictionary definition you provided as 1a. Of course we all have the "vocation", in the broad sense, as baptized Christians, to be Christ to others -- the priesthood of all believers, in other words. But the Church also uses the term "vocation" in a particular, narrower sense, and it's the use of this sense applied to the single state that I am objecting to. If one takes the more subjective approach that this broadening of definition requires, then the various conditions of life that one finds oneself in become "vocations" on a par with marriage and the consecrated religious life. A gay person, then, might reasonably see his cross of same-sex attraction not as a cross at all but as a "vocation" to be celebrated. I think this is a mistake: if you are familiar with JPll's "Theology of the Body", then you see that the married state and consecrated religious life have eschatological significance that other states do not possess. This is not meant to disparage those other states, but it is a hallmark of our culture that we must make all things equal because otherwise feelings might get hurt. There is a great line from Dom Hubert van Zeller to the effect (can't remember the exact words) that we ought not to turn unavoidable emotions into virtues. It ought not to be this way: we all have a "vocation", here used in the broad sense, to be saints. To say that marriage and consecrated life are specific vocations, here used in the specific sense, does not imply that singleness is bad in and of itself-- it may be an unavoidable cross, it might be a temporary state, it might just be a state of life that one is perfectly comfortable serving God in. But that doesn't make it a "vocation" in the same specific sense that marriage and the religious life are.

Jean said...

Oh, one more thing, Winnepeg Catholic: if using the broad sense of the term "vocation", then I would say that though I would not equate, as you pose it, "sacrament" with "vocation", I would say that the sacraments do provide us with a vocation (baptism, confirmation) along with the necessary means to accomplish this mission (the Eucharist, confession. Hope that helps...

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Thanks Jean & Adoro,

What continues to tickle my mind is the notion of Vocation with regard to mixing a state of being eg. celibate with a mode of being/activity eg. priest.

I went through a long phase of intense interest in existential philosophy, Unamono, Heigel, Sartre, Herman Hess, and others. This discussion has really triggered a strong sense that the concept of vocation really captures an interesting slice of what they were talking about.

So of course you could define vocation very very broadly - living a good life, or you could define it with subsections, being a great parent, being a great cop, being a great witness to Christ.

You could also say that there are good vocations, like volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, and bad vocations, like frequenting prostitutes, drinking heavily, dominating someone, et cetera.

You invoke homosexuality. I would say that is a state of being rather than a vocation (act-of-being or mode of being).

Well thanks for the discussion everyone! You're probably tired of my belaboring this point!

All the Best, -B

Maureen said...

The fact of the matter is that our current Catechism recognizes three vocations: priest, religious, and laity. This makes a great deal more sense, as it doesn't make a false distinction between married people and priests, when priests can be married too. Just as there are both active and contemplative religious, there are both single and married laypeople, and single and married priests.

So there. No more problema.

Mac McLernon said...

Hi Adoro,

There is definitely a vocation for those who feel they are called to remain single for the sake of the Kingdom of God! It's not a state of limbo though, it is a permanent choice, as permanent as marriage, or priesthood, or religious life. I have been blessed in that my Spiritual Director was able to help me see it. Before that, I too met a priest who told me, in the Confessional of all places, that it was not good for a person to live alone, and I should get married!!

Come on over and have a look at what I've written on the subject some time here and here!