Is the Single Life a Vocation?


I agree.


A 'vocation'? I say emphatically, NO WAY!

It's a 'state of limbo', especially for those of us 'beyond 35'. I'm in my mid-50s, and I feel that I will be single for the rest of my days.

People like Mary Beth Bonacci can write and say all kinds of words about the single state being 'a vocation'. NOT! I'm alone nearly all the time because it's a combination of CHOICE and CIRCUMSTANCE. I never had any attraction to marriage-didn't want to be a 'drudge' and a 'breeder'-and I can't be a religious because 'the good Orders' won't look at a woman of my age, my uncertain health, and my debts that I can't pay.

I'm not a feminist-I'm just a very 'ordinary, nondescript' woman who will be a despised spinster and 'old maid' till it comes time for me quit this miserable and ugly earth.

Sorry for my rant-but that's the way it is....:( :mad:


Before I say anything, I would like to point out that I am a single man.

For those who are separated from their spouse and are unable to get an annulment, the single life is a vocation. Widows may also have a vocation to the single life; they may not want to remarry after the death of their spouse and may not able to receive Holy Orders. I also think some people are called to a celibate lay vocation in Opus Dei.

However, apart from the situations described above, I do not believe the single life is a vocation. I believe there are three types of vocation: the married state, the religious life, or the priesthood.

I don’t know if I am called to the priesthood, the religious life, or the married state but I do know that I am not called to be single. I am now single, but I have no intention of remaining this way. I will discern my calling and follow the will of God, either into the married state or the religious or priestly state.

I do not believe the single life is sinful, but I think there are better states of life. I do not believe God calls anybody to be alone without any purpose; I believe he wants us to be married or to serve him by receiving Holy Orders.


You forget that the religious life is not Holy Orders. And the diaconate is also a unique calling as well, which is what I feel called to after many years away from the seminary to become a priest. I know absolutely without a doubt in the universe that God specifically called me to marry my wife. And there is very little doubt about the diaconate. I’ve always felt called to the ordained ministry. On a different note many times I feel that God meant for me to be a priest but life’s situation put me in a situation where an alternative called was presented to me and why I received it in such a profound way. This July it will be 21 years and I am very happy with my spouse, not longer the super model she used to look like but now the mother of our children. I truly love her more than I can express in words.


As a single, never married woman in my fifties, I total disagree with the postings of this thread. Single life IS indeed a vocation. I have been called to serve others, from elderly relatives to my siblings and their children to total strangers since my early twenties. To totally give myself away in ways no married person or religious could possibly do or even imagine.

However, it is a hidden vocation and as such not for the faint of heart. One must also be very opened to the voice of the Holy Spirit in this vocation or they will miss God’s call.


No, the default state in Cathlocism is being single. If you read St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he actually expresses a sentiment that it is better to be single because you can focus all your attention on God and serving Him. You receive all the grace you need at Confirmation to live as a single person.

You can chose to live out your Christian life in special service through the vocations of marriage, Holy Orders or consecrated life.


Possibly - Catholic Corps -


Being single is a state of life, not a vocation, but that doesn’t mean that single people are in any way “inferior.” Just don’t call it a vocation though, because that has never been the Christian understanding.

And I’m single.


The Church says that EVERYONE has a vocation… a call to Holiness. I think all of you are missing a great deal of graces and blessings, not mention joy, in viewing singel life as some sort of default state in life instead of the true vocation that it IS.


That’s a different usage of the word.


No, it is a modern, post Vatican II use of the word. I just think some of you, for reasons known only to you, can not bear to let go of your arcaic notions about single life and embrace single life as a deeper calling. Again, God calls EVERYONE, individually to a specific vocation He chooses just for them.Single life does not have to be filled with so much of the lonliness, depression and frustration (and some bitterness) that I see in what so many of you write.


The meaning of the word “vocation”:

**VOCATION. **A call from God to a distinctive state of life, in which the person can reach holiness. The Second Vatican Council made it plain that there is a “Universal call vocatio] to holiness in the Church” (Lumen Gentium, 39). (Etym. Latin vocatio, a calling, summoning; from vocare, to call.)

No reason why God could not call a person to the single state in life and a particular way and/or means to holiness within that state.



Perhaps some have a “vocation” in the single life, but I’d wager that for the vast majority of single people it is not. I have a hard time buying the notion of a vocation that is not discerned and chosen but forced upon you by circumstance. Holy orders, the consecrated religious life, and marriage are choices about a path in life. For many people, being single is just the state of life they’re stuck with, not a choice.


[quote="MFTM, post:9, topic:196921"]
The Church says that EVERYONE has a vocation.... a call to Holiness.


Wouldn't this mean that there's only one vocation, then? Holiness?


The Church has always taught that a vocation involves responding to a call outside of oneself. In other words, making some sort of a sacrifice and a vow/promise to someone else (to a spouse) or to something (to the Church).

You can't be born into a vocation.


Hi friends–
I just wanted to point out that in the article which the OP linked, Mary Beth Bonacci emphatically states that the single state is NOT a vocation (so Barb Finnegan, you and MB Bonacci actually agree:)).
While the article takes a sympathetic tone to contemporary Catholic singles and our circumstances, the author is pretty ‘faithful’ to the Church’s historical definition of ‘vocation’. I myself am single, 40, getting older every day, and I would LOVE to say ‘Gosh, I just love living out my vocation of singlehood!’. But I just can’t say that. I’m with Barb & MB – logically, I can’t be called to marriage AND be called to ‘singlehood’ at the same time. It actually gives me comfort to know that even though I still haven’t found my spouse (and I may never find one), that I’m still ordering my life toward marriage and preparing to be a good spouse.

Whew! long post for a first-timer, and thanks for the link to the article…


The article that the original poster submitted is very enlightening, but to me it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. While I agree that there are many people who are single simply because they are still waiting to find the right spouse. I can see that for these individuals, their vocation is not to the single life vocation, but rather they are still in preparation for their marriage vocation.

Now I am not personally aware of any specific individuals in this situation, but I could ponder the possibility of a person feeling called to serve God in the "single vocation". Such individuals may have professions such as an FBI agent or an undercover police officer to name a few. I am sure numerous other professions would fall into this category.

Obviously these individuals could not also be priests or live the consecrated life. While someone in this profession could be married, in my opinion it may be difficult to fulfill their marital and parental duties while still being dedicated to their profession.

Does anyone else agree with me, or am I missing something?


One other area to consider -- what may a person with same sex attractions be "called to"?


“Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2359)


A couple of posts have really touched on what I am thinking in a way, and several others seem to be misunderstanding each other. Let me just throw my thoughts out there.

It is true, being single is a state of life, and not a vocation in and of itself. A vocation is what you are called to. The vocation of marriage naturally entails growing in holiness with another person, and raising children in the Church. Holy orders consists of a great sacrifice, whether deacon, priest or bishop, to serve the Church. Your vocation may be parish work, teaching, working in the seminary, serving as a chaplain, etc. Religious life is a total sacrifice of self by way of the vows, and again would naturally include service to the Church, either by apostolic ministry or a more contemplative life of prayer for the Church.

While all of these vocations, these callings, involve a state of life (either single and consecrated, single and secular, or married) the state is not the essential part of the vocation. Your vocation is based on HOW God has called you to serve Him and His Church, and to grow in holiness.

So, is the single life a vocation? Not by itself, no. Because simply being single is not a path to holiness, or a way to serve the Church. But can a secular single person who does not receive Holy Orders have a vocation while remaining in that state? Of course! Just being a miserable single person who wishes to get married is not a vocation. But, for example, a good friend of mine, she is around 30, has chosen to remain single. She has more time to serve, and does not feel called to marriage or the religious life (she has discerned both). She teaches CCD at the parish, helps instruct adult religious education at the parish with me and several others, is fully engaged in the music ministry, and is a wonderful and essential part of our church. Is her vocation to be single? No. Her vocation is her various ministries that she engages in at our parish.

It is not singleness per se that is a vocation, but there are certainly people who are called to serve the Church as single lay people. Can you imagine if our parish volunteers were ALL people called to marriage? The married vocation is first and foremost concerned with keeping a loving, holy family. Single laypeople who feel they have a vocation to serve their parish with love and dedication are absolutely essential! Thank God for them, our parish would not be the vibrant, wonderful and active community that it is without happy, single people.

In Christ,

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