Is "the single life" a vocation?

#21

Part 1
Baptism is a vocation and call in itself and does not occur only “in the context of one of the vocations”. As long as one is not called to another state in life (priesthood, etc etc.) as a personal call, all documents and texts of The Church relating to the Laity spell out for us the duties of the lay state in life, celibate or married. Baptism is the gift of Supernatural Life and a call to embrace Jesus and His Gospel and The Church, and in service for the salvation of souls i.e. “for the sake of The Kingdom”. It could be said that Catholic Baptism is God’s sign that this person is thus called. Our Baptism did not occur as any sort of accident of fate as it were for no such thing exists, but because we were chosen by God – no matter when our baptism occurred, i.e. baby, child or adult. Baptism is the call to be a certain type of person and this is a journey that only concludes in Heaven. A personal vocation or call in life (marriage, priesthood, religious life, single life etc.) is to be that certain type of person (Baptismal foundation of all personal vocations) and to assume certain duties of that vocation and call as one’s particular and personal role in The Church – and in carrying out those duties to be that certain sort of person gifted with supernatural life, notably the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity (Baptism) and the Gifts of The Holy Spirit :- Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of The Lord (Confirmation). Our journey from Baptism onwards is ideally a continual growing into the perfection of that certain sort of person gifted with the theological and Gifts of The HolySpirit – a journey finally arriving at perfection only in Heaven. These virtues and gifts enable us in Grace to grow into another Christ. To live one’s actual life on earth and just as it is today, here and now - as if Jesus would have lived it – again perfected only in Heaven. No faithful Catholic is exempted from this quest, no matter their state and vocation in life.

In an ideal sense we are all in a state of discernment at all times (while openness to God is probably a better term though the two are used interchangeably in our Catholic culture/language). No matter our personal vocation and call from God in life, we ideally remain open and discerning of His Will in each and every moment of each and every day. With marriage, priesthood, religious life and consecrated life, much of this discernment is settled through the defined (by The Church) duties of these states in life and roles in The Church. With the lay celibate vocation per se and a unique state in life and vocation of its’ own, one remains open to a further call from God on all levels, and this might (or might not) be to marriage, priesthood, religious life or consecrated life. The duties of the lay person, married or celibate, are spelt out in Papal Exhortationon THE MISSION AND VOCATION OF THE LAY FAITHFUL IN THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD (Christifideles Laici) Certainly, if one has embraced lay celibacy as one’s personal vocation in life one has no sense whatsoever of being called anywhere else but to lay celibacy, while remaining open to the potential one could be called out of the lay state into another state in life. This is in the very nature of the vocation. This is not so much a perpetual discerning in a broad sense of discerning what is to be one’s personal vocation as a daily openness to God and His Will, no matter what it might be The Church does define the duties of the lay celibate vocation in all documents relating to the Laity – and these are very serious duties and responsibilities extensively laid out in the various Church documents.
If anything has failed, I think it is possibly catechisis/adult education and those who may be responsible for such in The Church. For many of us, we do arrive at a point in our adult lives when we can be our own educator insofar as the duties of our state may permit, especially with a computer and internet access and putting aside some time now and then - if we can and not all by far can do so in our modern life of many time demands and stress.

Part 2 follows - wordcount problem

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#22

Part 2
Quotations from various Church Documents – and while I quote from some Documents, one really needs to read them in full – carefully and fully with prayer to The Holy Spirit – and might be best done in a number of sittings.

Lumen Gentium HERE
(Dogmatic Constitution on The Church)**
“Likewise, the holiness of the Church is fostered in a special way by the observance of the counsels proposed in the Gospel by Our Lord to His disciples.(13*) An eminent position among these is held by virginity or the celibate state.(231) This is a precious gift of divine grace given by the Father to certain souls,(232) whereby they may devote themselves to God alone the more easily, due to an undivided heart. (14) This perfect continency, out of desire for the kingdom of heaven, has always been held in particular honor in the Church. The reason for this was and is that perfect continency for the love of God is an incentive to charity, and is certainly a particular source of spiritual fecundity in the world”*
(Notice that the above is stated under the sub heading of “The Universal Call to Holiness” and not “The Consecrated Life” and there is no mention of vowing the evangelical counsels, nor virginity nor the celibate state, merely the faithful observance of these states in life responding to a singular Grace and for the sake of The Kingdom and in a response to “a precious gift of Divine Grace given by The Father to certain souls”)

Vita Consecrata (The Consecrated Life)
HERE
We are all aware of the treasure which the gift of the consecrated life in the variety of its charisms and institutions represents for the ecclesial community. 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***.”*
(Notice that the above is stated under the sub heading of Thanksgiving for The Consecrated Life and in a papal Document dealing with consecrated life only. Notice also that after mentioning the officially consecrated states, there is no mention of an official consecration by The Church in connection with those who “in their inmost hearts, dedicate themselves to God by a special consecration” – and this can be a private and secret from all dedication of their lives to God in the lay celibate state.)

Other reliable and sound Catholic resources of Catholic teaching

Catholic Culture* is a well known reliable and sound Catholic resource of Church teaching “*Lay celibacy was practiced already in the early Church. The men were called ………” read on HERE
This article is from Catholic Online and another known reliable source of Catholic teaching. The article is not long and worth a read in full. Title: “The Single Lay Vocation” HERE

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#23

Why do some still state that only marriage, priesthood, religious life and consecrated life are actual vocations per se?

See Phatmass Phorum post into a similar thread on the lay celibate life HERE

I dont quite understand why there is generally afoot a sense that one has to have some human Church or secular type authority figure/community to live responsibly, very responsibly and “for the sake of The Kingdom” all the way in every moment of every day and in love of God and active love of neighbour 24x7x365. Our human nature is Graced with Supernatural Life. We need, to my mind, to actively acknowledge the power of Grace and The Lord over human nature on the natural level. To be called to and to embrace a Church ordained authority in religious life and/or religious rule of life etc. as the Will of God for the person is an entirely different attitude.

Pre Vatican II, we were baptised Catholic and then sort of waited around until we heard a further call from God either to a vocation (in those days) of either priesthood or religious life, or to marriage, which at one point pre VII was not considered in general Catholic culture a vocation per se at all - interestingly, respectable general secular society outside The Church back then often frowned on the single person especially if living alone. And if one arrived at more mature years still single, it was generally regarded that the poor person was unable to find a marital partner in life. Marriage as vocation per se arrived later on the scene and accepted in Catholic culture as a vocation. Many do not seem to get over those days, not understanding as Vatican II adamantly pointed out in various documents, that the lay state outside of marriage is a state of life in itself, that Baptism is an actual vocation and call from God, and one of celibacy unless married - and that one could be called and embrace this state as their personal vocation in life. This was never something new, but an underscoring of what has always existed in The Church (see Catholic Culture prev post) from the very outset, from our beginnings, as a vocation per se.

Celibacy, no matter one’s state in life including the lay state, is a state of being in life highly valued and esteemed by The Church as a singular Grace of God enabling one to commit the whole of one’s being directly to God and “for the sake of The Kingdom” i.e. Jesus and His Gospel, The Church, and for love of God and neighbour (see Matthew Ch19 V12 – HERE)

As The Church developed, religious life was formed out of those who chose celibacy as a vehicle for self consecration to God, which developed into a stable form of life often in groups or communities. The Church recognized this in Canon Law. However, this consecration by The Church to a stable form of life etc. never did thereby cancel out the lay celibate state outside of such an official consecration. This is, often indirectly, underscored by Vatican II, while I do suspect :):):o that our heirarchy would prefer us to be in a stable form of consecrated life with an elected religious authority in the community governing and monitoring our daily lives. The Church has recognized however that not all are called to such a consecration/life and could be called to lay celibacy as vocation, rather than public consecration into a stable form of life in community of type - or to The Order of Virgins.

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#24

When The Church speaks about celibacy it is in the context of priesthood, consecrated life (religious life) and lay celibacy. One can commit onself to lay celibacy as one’s vocation in life and an invitation from The Lord - and “for the sakeof The Kingdom” quite secretly (you may have included this in your statement above, I wasn’t sure). See my previous posts and links to Papal Documents. It is a singular Grace of God to embrace lay celibacy and to remain faithful to it - it can be a very bumpy ride at times, although some may not find it so.

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#25

I think that probably the article following can bear repeating in part. It is about our Baptism as a vocation per se. The whole article is well worth the time reading and is not lengthy :

crossroadsinitiative.com/…d_Mission.html

(Crossroads Intitiative is a highly recommended sound Catholic resource site in line with Church teaching - see Catholic Culture review HERE )

[FONT=Arial]When I was growing up, we were urged to pray for vocations. That meant to pray for more priests and nuns. After all, they were the ones especially called by God. The rest of us had to figure out for ourselves what to do with our lives, what school to go to, who to marry, what job to get.
[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]This was a misunderstanding that the Second Vatican Council was determined to clear up.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial]It (Vatican II)emphasized what this Sunday’s second reading from St. Paul makes clear – that all Christians have a vocation (Lumen Gentium, chapter 5). The very first call we have is not so much to do something, but to ***be ***something. Each one of us is called to be holy. And holiness is not to be identified with any particular state in life. Whether we are students, full-time moms, nurses or bishops, our daily activities furnish us with plenty of opportunities to grow in faith, hope and love (see my note below). It is the perfection of these three virtues that make for true sanctity. Of course, there are many students, moms, nurses and bishops who fail to become saints. Obviously then, the activities are not enough in themselves to make people holy. People have to make a conscious decision not just once but each and every day to surrender themselves, their wills and their lives to God and allow Him, the potter, to use their everyday activities to shape them as if they were clay in His skilled hands.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial]When we are baptized, we receive that call to holiness. From that moment, our life is no longer our own. “It is no longer I who live,” says Saint Paul, “but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave his life for me (Gal 2:19b-20).” Like Samuel (I Sam 3), we are dedicated wholly to God, set apart to glorify Him in every aspect of our being, including our bodies. His Spirit lives within us and so we become God’s dwelling place and acquire a new dignity…"…more on above link.[/FONT]

Faith, Hope and Charity are the three theological virtues gifted at Baptism.

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#26

Here is an interesting comment I just came across from Fr. J. Hardon SJ (Real Presence Assoc. website) :
therealpresence.org/archives/Religious_Life/Religious_Life_033.htm

“There is a fourth category contemplated by the Holy See in anticipation of the new Code of Canon Law, so that something may be done for the thousands of women who seem not to want religious life yet seem to want to live especially dedicated lives in the Church. The secular institutes are a recent development of the Catholic Church. If there would be a fourth category, it would be some form of what we now call “secular institutes,” but the implications still have to be worked out.”

The above may relate to the single lay celibate state as a form of consecrated life in The Church along the lines of a secular institute. Very interesting.

Fr. Hardon has also mentioned the single lay celibate state as a potential vocation; however I am at work in a break and anyone interested needs to read the above link to locate where he mentions it. I plan to do so tonight. Father is a highly regarded source of reliable Catholic teachsing.

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#27

I sort of have a problem with this sort of emphatic pontificating especially when it comes to vocations. As far as I know there is no dogma on vocations. Unless I am wrong, there is nowhere that the Church infallibly teaches that all men are either called to marriage, the priesthood or the religious life, no exceptions, and that all women are called to marriage or the religious life.

I find it slightly offensive to assume that God has created all souls to fit neatly into one of these three categories. It feels like certain people in the Church don’t view me as being fruitful unless I am married or saying Mass or praying in a monastery, that being a single person in the world perpetually makes me a second class Catholic. Maybe, just maybe, the way that God will best sanctify my soul is not in marriage or in the priesthood or in a religious community, but maybe will be living out my life single and in the world, working alongside my fellow man being an example to them in the everyday life.

Jesus was neither a Levitical priest, nor a member of a monastic community, nor a husband, but nevertheless managed to please God quite well.

So thank you very much, but being a single person was the vocation chosen by our Lord and is just as holy, and sanctifying as marriage, the priesthood, and the religious life when lived in loving communion with Christ and abandonment to his holy will.

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#28

Good post I thought.
Our primary goal is holiness - what road we travel is our vocation. In the early days of Christianity some were dedicated lay people to a chaste life and The Gospel, from these flowed firstly enclosed religious life and then consecrated life in all its now varied forms. And of course conventual life with an apostolate or mission at times in secular life came after a struggle to establish it at a time when all religious were enclosed. Who knows what might lay ahead in Canon Law since over our 2013 or so years, it has changed now and then.
If I see a flower over a numberof weeks and it never changes, it is dead. There is no life in it - it is made of stone or something lifeless. “Lord, take our hearts of stone and grant us hearts of flesh” (LOTH Psalm and during the Lented Liturgy in the Universal Church also)

Pre V2 only priesthood and religious life were considered vocations, per se. Marriage arrived later on the scene as a vocation per se. But the subject of what is and what is not a vocation per se was never the subject of Faith and Morals (and a good point by normbetland)and therefore infallibility. The subject of what is and what is not a vocation per se has only ever been a matter embedded in Catholic consciousness/culture and like The Church, so slow to move and change if necessary - Catholic culture is the same…

We single people, dedicated to alife of Chastity and The Gospel can get ‘roughed up’ at times sometimes and by fellow Catholics - it is The Cross in our lives to my mind. Jesus too was rejected at times and it brought Him grief. To date,thankfully, our call from God, mission and vocation, to my knowledge anyway has not asked of us death, as with Jesus. Jesus indeed was a lay person who lived a life of Chastity as well as Poverty and Obedience to His Father. Again I will quote Vita Consecrata by Pope John Paul II (“The Consecrated Life”). Under the subheading of “Thanksgiving for the Consecfrated Life” we read these words:
HERE

[FONT=Arial]“** 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****.”*[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial](Notice also that after mentioning the officially consecrated states, there is no mention of an official consecration by The Church in connection with those who “in their inmost hearts, dedicate themselves to God by a special consecration” – and this can be a private and secret from all dedication of their lives to God in the lay celibate state.)
[/FONT]

There is also this from Father J Hardon SJ on The Real Presence Association site:

therealpresence.org/archi…s_Life_033.htm

**

"There is a fourth category contemplated by the Holy See

  • in anticipation of the new Code of Canon Law, so that something may be done for the thousands of women who seem not to want religious life yet seem to want to live especially dedicated lives in the Church. The secular institutes are a recent development of the Catholic Church. If there would be a fourth category, it would be some form of what we now call “secular institutes,” but the implications still have to be worked out."*
    If anyone interested goes back through my numerous posts on this thread, quite a few reliable and sound Catholic sources are quoted in relation to the single lay celibate state as a vocation and call from God. Those who claim that such a call and vocation does not exist are really fighting against current thinking in The Church by reliable sources. Of course, they may not be aware that the current thinking of The Church exists. Such reliable sources are worth putting in “Favorites” for easy access and quoting.

Secular institues came into being through pressure on Rome. Rome tested the spirit and included secular institutes in consecrated life officially - in Canon Law of course. The same could happen for individuals feeling called to live a life of Chastity and dedication to The Gospel, but not necessarily under the evangelical counsels of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, similar to Consecrated Virgins. We dont know at this point.

Catholic single lay peole in Chastity by call and vocation need to put some pressure on Rome (Institute of Consecrated Life) vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccscrlife/documents/rc_con_ccscrlife_profile_en.html that is if they feel they are aware of a call to be a publicly consecrated state of life officially recognized in Canon Law.
Personally, I have come to hold that the truly hidden nature of my own vocation to private vows (ev. counsels - poverty, chastity and obedience) under spiritual direction -and a specific way of life should remain hidden and outside of official Church recognition - and with a goal of being leaven in secular society in the lay state. But all may not have this consciousness.
I have been reading lately especially that Consecrated Virgins are seeking at times and by some to have a more public face in The Church and in society, recognized somehow as Consecrated Virgins. To me, this may jeaopardize a very important aspect of secular life and being leaven within it.

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#29

Many years ago now I thought about a private “public consecration” to a life of Chastity and to Poverty and Obedience (ev. counsels) and with a Rule of Life and spiritual director. One person told me it was always done in public. Another that it could be done privately. Another that it could only be to Chastity and in public. Since then my own thinking and awareness has undergone change and I have never fully researched the matter and dont know which might apply.
I do know a way round it all as Canon Law now stands or thus it seems to me (I am no Canon Lawyer), but further prayerful thinking revealed that there was an even a better path and to leave that all up to The Lord. If it is to be then it will be, if not then so be it.

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closed #30
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