Is it OK for me to choose to be single for the rest of my life?


#1

So I’m in my early twenties, recent convert, with my conversion and baptism I felt drawn to live a life alone with God, I never have desired marriage although at times I get lonely, but I think more Catholic friends is what i need.
I’ve prayed a lot about my vocation, which has recently led me to take up studies to become a nurse - which is perfect for me because I want to spend my life helping and caring for others. I am now the only one of my friends who isn’t in a relationship or married.
I was at first drawn to religious life as a nun but my family aren’t supportive and it’s not convenient for my life - but it is more appealing than marriage to me.

So my question is, is it OK for me to choose to be single, or is it a sin? what if God wants me to get married? I don’t think he does but I’m not quite sure. My priest wants me to get married when I mentioned this to him (I made a previous post about this)
Any advice would be appreciated, thanks :slight_smile:


#2

You should save up some money and book a trip to spend a week with Blessed Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. That would be a life changing experience for you.

motherteresa.org/07_family/Volunteering/v_cal.html


#3

There are many good Catholic singles. You don’t have to be married

americancatholic.org/Newsletters/EDC/preview.aspx?id=239

God bless and guide Gemma


#4

One of the many reasons I converted is that singleness is seen as a vocation, alongside marriage - it is a recognised state, not a failure to marry, and thus approved.


#5

Singleness is just as valid a vocation as matrimony or the life of a consecrated religious.
However, I’d recommend some prayer before dismissing the consecrated life because it is “inconvenient”. If you DO have a calling to that vocation, it will work out. If not, you’re current plan sounds WONDERFUL :slight_smile:


#6

It is a possible calling, to be single, a vocation to be a virgin. It is not a sin: it is commendable, and a sign of contradiction to the world, for those who are not called to marriage, just as the priest is not called to marriage, the monk not called to marriage. To be single is a vocation among "many gifts...one [mystical] body".


#7

I have lived the single vocation under private vows with spiritual direction for over 30 years. I really would not advise the single state as one's life vocation, with or without private vows, without first seeking sound spiritual direction on the matter. It is not an easy vocation as some seem to think. It is a radical commitment to one's Baptism as well as to The Gospel. It is also a consciousness or awareness that one is called by God to the single or celibate state and as a vocation in life. It is not a default position (as a life vocation) because no other vocation is attractive. It takes spiritual direction to my mind to discern, as do all vocations.

Of course if one is in the single state while discerning to which vocation one might be called, it is a different matter. This is in itself a state of discerning.


#8

Do you suggest talking to my priest about this further?
I don’t have a spiritual director but I have one priest who knows me better than others… how am I to talk to him about this, in confession or just when I talk to him ‘as friends’?


#9

[quote="_Gemma, post:1, topic:332404"]
My priest wants me to get married when I mentioned this to him (I made a previous post about this)

[/quote]

[quote="_Gemma, post:8, topic:332404"]
Do you suggest talking to my priest about this further?
I don't have a spiritual director but I have one priest who knows me better than others.. how am I to talk to him about this, in confession or just when I talk to him 'as friends'?

[/quote]

Would you be talking to the same priest who wants you to get married? If so, you might choose a different priest (or deacon) to talk to. The best thing to do is call the parish office and make an appointment during business hours with the priest you want to talk to. Or call your local diocese to see if they can recommend a spiritual director for you.

As for remaining single and celibate, it's definitely not a sin. I've had several talks with one of the deacons at our parish about this. Ever since I was a little girl, I've never had the desire to get married and have children. NEVER. I like men, but none of the ones I've met have "wow'd" me enough to tempt me to be anything more than friends with them. After talking with the deacon, I realized that becoming a nun wouldn't be a good idea either (although I'm more attracted to this than being married) because of issues I have with authority figures and discipline.


#10

I spoke to my priest, the same one, he still wants me to get married. He doesn’t think being single is a choice. He said that you get married or you become a nun (or priest/religious) and pretty much said God made me beautiful and therefore I have to “use that” which has really upset me now.

I really like him as a priest, he is a good man but I just wish he understood that I don’t want marriage.

I will pray about this.


#11

Gemma,

It’s not about what the Priest wants, it’s what God wants. The Priest has no right telling you that he wants you to get married, frankly.

Continue to pray… and maybe talk to another Priest.


#12

There are three basic signs of vocation:

Attraction to the life
Ability or qualities needed to live the life (includes health and motivation)
Acceptance into the life

You do not have an attraction to marriage it seems. The priest who has advised you has not given you sound advice.

The single state is a vocational state - it is the Baptismal state, which is that state that is a call from The Lord to follow The Gospel. Whether The Lord grants a vocation to a different state in life, building on Baptism, is up to The Lord. We are accepted into the life of the Baptised to follow Jesus and His Gospel by the very fact of Baptism. Baptism does not happen willy nilly, but through Divine Providence, whether one is baptised as an adult, child or baby. Baptism also confers attraction to the life -it is up to us whether we are faithful to that Grace or not. And Baptism also confers the necessary Graces to have the ability and qualities necessary to live the life of the Baptized and again we need to be faithful to these Graces…as we need to be faithful to the Graces of a further vocation should The Lord call one.

I would suggest you carefully and prayerfully read "The Decree on The Apostolate of The Laity:
vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651118_apostolicam-actuositatem_en.html

  1. The laity derive the right and duty to the apostolate from their union with Christ the head; incorporated into Christ’s Mystical Body through Baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit through Confirmation, they are assigned to the apostolate by the Lord Himself. They are consecrated for the royal priesthood and the holy people (cf. 1 Peter 2:4-10) not only that they may offer spiritual sacrifices in everything they do but also that they may witness to Christ throughout the world. The sacraments, however, especially the most holy Eucharist, communicate and nourish that charity which is the soul of the entire apostolate.(3)…
    …This plan for the spiritual life of the laity should take its particular character from their married or family state or their single or widowed state, from their state of health, and from their professional and social activity. They should not cease to develop earnestly the qualities and talents bestowed on them in accord with these conditions of life, and they should make use of the gifts which they have received from the Holy Spirit.

#13

quote=SHoJ

Would you be talking to the same priest who wants you to get married? If so, you might choose a different priest (or deacon) to talk to. The best thing to do is call the parish office and make an appointment during business hours with the priest you want to talk to. Or call your local diocese to see if they can recommend a spiritual director for you.

I tend to agree with the above. No priest, no person whatsoever, should try to force a person into a vocational state to which they feel no call. God's Calls and Vocations are only ever invitations, not Divine Commands, therefore one is not forced morally into any vocation whatsoever other than faithfulness to the vocation that one freely embraces.

As for remaining single and celibate, it's definitely not a sin. I've had several talks with one of the deacons at our parish about this. Ever since I was a little girl, I've never had the desire to get married and have children. NEVER. I like men, but none of the ones I've met have "wow'd" me enough to tempt me to be anything more than friends with them. After talking with the deacon, I realized that becoming a nun wouldn't be a good idea either (although I'm more attracted to this than being married) because of issues I have with authority figures and discipline.

It is theologically ludicrous and totally lacking in theological common sense, in fact ludicrous and lacking common sense FULL STOP, to suggest that the single state is sinful, which is simply another way of saying (GOODNESS!) that our Baptism is sinful!

As I think I stated previously, as one's vocation in life, the single or celibate state is a very serious call to live out one's baptism in Union with Jesus and His Gospel.

I think either one of two ways. Either other vocations than Baptism are surrounded by too much ritual fuss and bother, or choosing to remain single and celibate as one's vocation in life is not surrounded with enough of the same. It could be said that it is our cultural consciousness that Baptism is not a call and vocation from The Lord, which is incorrect.


#14

[quote="_Gemma, post:10, topic:332404"]
I spoke to my priest, the same one, he still wants me to get married. He doesn't think being single is a choice. He said that you get married or you become a nun (or priest/religious) and pretty much said God made me beautiful and therefore I have to "use that" which has really upset me now.

I really like him as a priest, he is a good man but I just wish he understood that I don't want marriage.

I will pray about this.

[/quote]

He is wrong, if that is what he is saying. Two priests disagreeing - what is new?

Some priests are less than good at some of the "pastoral stuff". I'm not very good at it at all. Now, you may be (not saying you are) misinterpreting what he is saying, or he is misspeaking what he means, when he intends to say that most people have a vocation to marriage, and he thinks you may be one of them, but denying it (this is many times what a confessor or spiritual director will do, to help you see past yourself). Some people in general miscommunicate more frequently than others.

But if he truly is saying something with the same semantic content as your interpretation - which, beyond dismissing anything beyond the religious life (what about the millennia-old tradition of consecrated virgins? or the order of celibate widows spoken of in the NT itself?) strongly implies that if one is physically attractive, one must be called to the married life, of which a corollary is that only ugly people are called to be celibate, religious, or clerical life. And, if this is what is actually being said, it is wrong.

Ask him to clarify his statements, and state your interpretations of them back to him, and ask him if you're interpreting his meaning properly.


#15

Yes, it is okay for you to be single for the rest of your life. Perhaps you might think of it differently, though: instead of deciding here and now to be single for the rest of your life, decide to be single unless God indicates reasonably strongly that you should continue as a single woman (in which case, you might consider, with the approval of spiritual director, making vows as a consecrated virgin living in the world) or follow a different vocation--i.e., by meeting Mr. Right or seeing a religious community which would be ideal for you.

I discerned that if I had a specific vocation, it was to marriage, and I followed the steps to be open to that if it was God's will: I made a point of spending time in circles with a fair number of Catholic bachelors, I became part of the Catholic (and local) communities, and joined a Catholic singles website. I did know that I probably wasn't called to religious life because I am very introverted: I would have been miserable being around a large number of other people all day, every day. I wanted to get married and have children, but I also knew that with my personality type (strongly introverted, somewhat intellectual, a few close friends, genuinely happy in my own company and in my own little apartment with my books and music), if I never got married I would still lead a very happy life. And I did for several years--until Mr. Right came along. :D

Spend time in adoration, and ask God if he wants anything specific of you in regards to vocation right now. Talk to your spiritual director. If you hear "wait" or nothing from God, then wait, and build a good and happy life for yourself. You never know what He might have in store for you, whether as a single woman and nurse who can do great good in her community, as a wife and mother, or perhaps even as a nursing sister.


#16

Though I am married myself, one of the things I find really endearing about the Catholic Church is that being single is a perfectly valid vocation and it should command the same respect as being married or being a religious. I remember being in Catholic school as a kid and hearing the teacher talk about how single people have a lot to offer in their vocation because they have the flexibility to be able to take on responsibilities and risks that married people cannot do due to their home obligations. She sort of talked about the flexibility of the single life like it was a superpower of sorts. (She was single, so I guess she was quite partial to that vocation!) While I have never seen myself as anything but drawn to marriage, her take on the single life did make me understand the great opportunities for people that are in that vocation.

Catholics do not have the same pressure to marry because being single is seen as something that could be a person's calling in life. Like any vocation, seriously discern it and be open to whatever path you are ultimately called to.


#17

[quote="Iheartcoffee, post:16, topic:332404"]
Though I am married myself, one of the things I find really endearing about the Catholic Church is that being single is a perfectly valid vocation and it should command the same respect as being married or being a religious. I remember being in Catholic school as a kid and hearing the teacher talk about how single people have a lot to offer in their vocation because they have the flexibility to be able to take on responsibilities and risks that married people cannot do due to their home obligations. She sort of talked about the flexibility of the single life like it was a superpower of sorts. (She was single, so I guess she was quite partial to that vocation!) While I have never seen myself as anything but drawn to marriage, her take on the single life did make me understand the great opportunities for people that are in that vocation.

Catholics do not have the same pressure to marry because being single is seen as something that could be a person's calling in life. Like any vocation, seriously discern it and be open to whatever path you are ultimately called to.

[/quote]

There is much truth in what you state. I recall a parish priest saying that he wished he could live the way I did (at the time I was giving teenagers a bed and meal or two if in need). I asked him why he couldn't and he said that the Archbishop would not allow it. And having journeyed on from those days, I think that the priestly ministry is set out for them and like it or nay it is their life's occupation. The very same goes for me. I can sometimes wish that I was rather in this or that vocation than the one I am. I think that in every vocation at some point or points, the grass will always look greener on the other side. The 'trick' is to stay where one is called - to be fully committed to one's call whatever it might be and to deny passing whims or fancies. Well, anyway to date, mine have passed on and out.

Certainly, single people committed to their Baptism and all that it means do have great flexibility - very great flexibility and, indeed, can take risks denied to religious and priests. They can also be in places that religious and priests probably would be unlikely to attend. I think that The Gospel does need to be present anywhere and everywhere and I really think it very sad that if religious and priests (the very rare ones that I know of) that do attend these places and for good and sound reasons seem to find it necessary to hide their identity in Christ. I can certainly cop some flak in these places, but "they have persecuted me and they will persecute you".........and "whoever proclaims before men, I will proclaim them before My Father, who is in Heaven". And after all, flak is only flak - one just needs to learn how to deal with it interiorly and exteriorly.

Nowadays too, if one feels called, one can commit to a secular institute.


#18

[quote="Falco, post:4, topic:332404"]
One of the many reasons I converted is that singleness is seen as a vocation, alongside marriage - it is a recognised state, not a failure to marry, and thus approved.

[/quote]

My understanding is that while singleness is acceptable and absolutely not a sin, (and perhaps even a vocation with a little "v"), it's not on par with married or religious life, unless you become a consecrated single person. Is that correct? Here is one place I'm getting that idea from:
bustedhalo.com/features/pure-sex-pure-love-121-catholic-singles

Quote: "Is being single a vocation?

I posed this question to Dr. Theresa Notare, Assistant Director of the Natural Family Planning Program at the Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the quick answer is no: Being single is a state in life, not a vocation. Being single can be support for your vocation to follow God’s call to you to help others, to do good works, etc., but it is not a vocation in and of itself."

And here:
osv.com/tabid/7621/itemid/8196/Is-the-unconsecrated-single-life-a-vocation.aspx

Quote: "Although it’s increasingly equated with the vocations of marriage, priesthood and consecrated life, unconsecrated singlehood doesn’t seem to quite jibe with the traditional definition of “primary vocation.”

Remember, primary vocations are exclusive and enduring. Once you give yourself to another — God, the Church, a husband or wife — you can’t give yourself to anyone else. Ever. At least not without the intervention of death or a tribunal."

There is some advice in both articles if you're single and considering staying that way. I think it takes a lot of prayer and reflection. I'm currently single (after a divorce and annulment) and my vocation with a little "v" is to raise my daughter and focus on ministries for the Church. Once she's grown, maybe I'll be married by then or I'll consider religious or single consecrated life. I've got a few years left to decide... :)

I'll pray for you... :gopray: Being single is great in some respects, but it's not easy, though that's not to imply other vocations are easy either. St. Paul recommended staying single, but he also said he was a "slave to all" and that he "punish[ed] [his] body and enslave[d] it, so that after proclaiming to others [he] should not be disqualified."


#19

TeresaMarie24

My understanding is that while singleness is acceptable and absolutely not a sin, (and perhaps even a vocation with a little “v”), it’s not on par with married or religious life, unless you become a consecrated single person. Is that correct? Here is one place I’m getting that idea from:
bustedhalo.com/features/pure-sex-pure-love-121-catholic-singles

Quote: "Is being single a vocation?

Nowhere will you read anything like the above in Papal documents. However, in Via Consecrata (The Consecrated Life) we read under “Thanksgiving for the Consecrated Life” …"*Together let us thank God *for the Religious Orders and Institutes devoted to contemplation or the works of the apostolate, for Societies of Apostolic Life, for Secular Institutes and for other groups of consecrated persons, as well as for all those individuals who, in their inmost hearts, dedicate themselves to God by a special consecration."
In these words, we understand that The Holy Father saw fit to include the single celibate state in a document on the consecrated life.

The vocation and call from God to the single celibate state in life can be a vocation, be it little v or Big V - whatever indeed that means because it is not Catholic teaching, nowhere in any sort of Papal Document etc… How can a call from God be anything but Big V! The single celibate state is both a state in life and a potential call from God. Just as the marital state is a state in life and a potential call from God - or the priesthood which is a state in life and a potential call from God. Religious Life is the consecrated state in life and a potential call and vocation from God.

Those that denigrate in any way the single celibate state as one’s life vocation misunderstand their Baptism, which is a state in life and a potential call from God to this state for one’s life’s journey. Our Baptism is also a sign that we are chosen by God for His Son and His Gospel “[1] I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God” (Paul to Romans)

And here:
osv.com/tabid/7621/itemid/8196/Is-the-unconsecrated-single-life-a-vocation.aspx

Quote: "Although it’s increasingly equated with the vocations of marriage, priesthood and consecrated life, unconsecrated singlehood doesn’t seem to quite jibe with the traditional definition of “primary vocation.”

Remember, primary vocations are exclusive and enduring. Once you give yourself to another — God, the Church, a husband or wife — you can’t give yourself to anyone else. Ever. At least not without the intervention of death or a tribunal."

Again, the above is probably to some degree Catholic cultural thinking, but it is not Catholic teaching. At Baptism we are consecrated to God as a living Sacrifice in Jesus - and God could call a person to retain this state for their life journey - and not invite them to change their state in life.
Certainly, pre V2 only priesthood and religious life were considered in Catholic cultural consciousness as vocations, marriage arrived lateron the scene. And the single celibate state in some ways still struggles to be recognized as a call and vocation from God. Certainly Rome recognizes the legitimacy of the single celibate state in life as a vocation and call from God, but the vocation still struggles to be recognized generally in Catholic cultural consciousness.
The single celibate state as vocation is by its very nature an openness to God to a further call. Some receive such a call, many do not.

There is some advice in both articles if you’re single and considering staying that way. I think it takes a lot of prayer and reflection. I’m currently single (after a divorce and annulment) and my vocation with a little “v” is to raise my daughter and focus on ministries for the Church. Once she’s grown, maybe I’ll be married by then or I’ll consider religious or single consecrated life. I’ve got a few years left to decide… :slight_smile:

I’ll pray for you… :gopray: Being single is great in some respects, but it’s not easy, though that’s not to imply other vocations are easy either. St. Paul recommended staying single, but he also said he was a “slave to all” and that he “punish[ed] [his] body and enslave[d] it, so that after proclaiming to others [he] should not be disqualified.”

I don’t think that any person should consider the single celibate state without sound spiritual direction and on an ongoing basis. It is not an easy vocation and like all vocations will have its ups and its downs - its consolations and its trials and sacrifices. It is a wise and prudent move, to my mind, to consider oneself as only discerning the vocation in life until the actual call and vocation from God is affirmed by sound spiritual direction.

What those who denigrate the single celibate state as a call and vocation from God fail to take into consideration also is that some do have impediments to all other states in life and potential vocations - does The Lord then leave them floundering without a call and vocation from Him leaving them in ‘little v’ whatever indeed THAT means??? Such thinking also totally misunderstands the absolute dignity and nature of Baptism. Such thinking can also fail to recognize impediments to some vocations as positive factors permitted by God and not negative factors at all - but another subject entirely.


#20

Ok, good to know. Like I said, that was just my understanding of what I’d read. So do you think the doctor from the USCCB is simply wrong in her answer in that article?

I looked around some more on the boards and found several posts from an apologist. To her knowledge, the Church has not come out with an official definition on the state of being single as an official vocation. Apparently there is a lot of disagreement on the issue. See forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=101004 and forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=288650&highlight=vocation

I am in no way trying to denigrate the single life. Like I said, I myself am single and some days I think I should stay that way. I’m still relatively young, and haven’t done enough discernment to make that call just yet. What I meant by vocation with a little v is the current work you are doing in life to get to sainthood, versus what the Church might officially call a vocation. And I apologize if that wasn’t clear and of course it’s not in any Papal documents; it’s just my way of keeping the two separate in my mind. :slight_smile: So in other words, I feel my vocation right now is to be a parent to my child, but you won’t find “single parent” listed as a vocation on the webpage of a diocese. It can, however, as can any vocation or Vocation, help you get to sainthood! :wink:

My apologies if I upset you in any way TiggerS. It was not my intention.


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