I have a question about OFS. Is it considered a vocation as religious life/marriage is? I am asking this, because as far as I know (please do correct me if I am wrong), the Church, does not recognize single life in itself as a vocation. I was always told - marriage, religious life or priesthood - something like this.
Where does OFS stand in all of this? I hope I made my question clear enough.
1699 Life in the Holy Spirit fulfills the vocation of man (chapter one). This life is made up of divine charity and human solidarity (chapter two). It is graciously offered as salvation (chapter three).
A single person who does not enter religious life (even a third order) or priesthood can certainly fulfill the vocation of life in the Holy Spirit, to which man is called.
It is incorrect to say the single life, well lived, cannot be a vocation.
But I would like to clarify a little because it really depends on how the word “vocation” is used in the sentence.
The reason why the single life (non-religious, non-consecrated, non-priesthood) is historically not considered a “vocation” is because the term typically implied a PERMANENT change in life status. We are born single, therefore no change has taken place.
Being single means we still have the option of getting married, being ordained (if a man), entering religious life, or the consecrated life.
In the past, very few practicing Catholics (if any) CHOSE to remain in the same state they were born into. Instead, if they determined that they were not to marry they would make the choice to:
become a priest (if male)
Take vows to join a religious order
Take vows to become consecrated
also widows/widowers making the choice to
Today, the reason why “single-hood” is being called a vocation by some is because (mainly due to the breaking down of traditional Judeo-Christian morals in society) far more people are finding themselves to be single without choosing to do so.
So in order not to make these people, who cannot find a spouse (at really no fault of their own) feel like something is wrong with them, their type of single-hood is being considered a vocation.
And honestly, I would say rightly so, because these single people are often single because they are (in a way) martyrs in today’s society. They are often committed to living a chaste life, and with the small % of people living Out the Church’s teaching on sexuality, it makes it harder for them to find a spouse.
So in a way, these single people have chosen, what I call) the new vocation of “single martyrdom.”
In reality, many single people don’ t have all those options.
A single woman cannot be a priest.
Many people are not suited to the religious life for any number of reasons, such as age, infiirmity, family responsibility, or just not having a call. A call comes from God and there are many single folks whom he simply does not call.
Many people are also either not suited to marriage or cannot find a suitable partner, again for any number of reasons.
Marriage is not necessarily a permanent change in life status; a lot of people are widowed at some point, and are back to the single life.
We need to stop acting like marriage or religious life/ priesthood/ consecrated life etc are the only ways of a person serving God.
I was taught that we all have the primary vocation of serving God as a member of the body of Christ: life in the Holy Spirit.
And most people are also called to a secondary vocation: most to marriage, others to priesthood, religious or consecrated life. I think that a secular order such as OFS could be this kind of vocation, but that’s only my opinion.
Single life in itself is a secular state of life but not a secondary sacred vocation in its own right. This would be someone with the primary vocation only, and that’s a valid, legitimate way of living as a layperson in the church.
I’m not sure if you read further down, but I addressed this in my post. I was giving historical background for clarity.
I also mean “option,” as in it’s allowed. I didn’t mean opportunity. Every single person has the option to get married, but not every single person has the opportunity or calling to get married. That’s what I mean by “option.”
Historically (and Biblically speaking) singles and widows/widowers are not completely same. While they are both allowed to remarry, widows/widowers were historically considered their own “category.” For example, chaste widows are not allowed to become consecrated virgins, while chaste singles have all options still available to them, if they have a calling & opportunity.
Never said otherwise. As @neithan said above, everyone has primary vocation to serve God & the Church.
St Paul himself said that the single life was the best because married people have to worry about earthy things, while single people can dedicate their whole lives to Heavenly goals. I think we often think St Paul was only talking about men becoming priests, but he goes on to mention women staying single to serve God too (and this is long before religious orders).
There is nothing wrong with the single-hood, and most single people can serve the Church far better than married people. I highly respect the single people I know who work for the Church and/or constantly volunteer. Without these single people (and widows/widowers), many things wouldn’t get done.
They are truly fulfilling their primary vocation to God & His Church. Some of them may one day be called away to a secondary vocation of marriage or the religious life. And if they are, their parish will miss them because they will no longer be able to provide the same level of service they are currently giving.
So single people do have a primary vocation to God, we all do. However, they simply don’t have a secondary vocation pulling them away from their primary.
I’m married with kids. So I can’t spend 6 or 7 hours in Church every Sunday. I have responsibilities to my wife & kids.
However, I know of a single woman at our local FSSP parish who spends about that amount of time in the Church every Sunday (before COVID-19) praying. Because she has no secondary vocation attachments, she is free to serve God as she sees fit.
In closing: it’s all about context. Vocation HISTORICALLY referred to the secondary vocations that some are called to, but we all have a primary vocation to serve God.