Question on the single life


#1

Hi all,

I'm trying to discern my vocation, my calling, in life. I know I'm not called to be a priest (or if I am it will be very far down the road). I'm getting older, though I'm still young by any standard, however I feel nothing for the priesthood. It just doesn't appeal to me. I respect the clergy, but I don't feel I could be a part of it.

So that leaves marriage or the single life, and that's where I'm confused and trying to sort things out. I am currently in a relationship (as my username implies I am a 'dude' so I have a girlfriend :p). I have been in one relationship or another for the past 2- 2 and a half years with hardly a break between (I can explain...) This may sound strange but I feel as if I've forgotten what it's like to truly be single. For the past 2 years I've had someone * there for me, to talk to me, to stay up late with me, to hang out with me on the weekends and to talk to in school. I feel as if I've forgotten the single life and what that entails. So, what is the single life like exactly? Like I've said, I haven't known it for quite some time and I believe it's leading to some confusion in regards to figuring out my vocation. I need some perspective but I don't want to break up with my girlfriend just to experience single-ness and see if it's for me.

I hope this makes sense to you all :o Feel free to ask questions and make suggestions for me :)

Thank you,
Coolduude*


#2

There is one thing you did not mention. Have you considered the religious life? It's not priesthood, nor is it marriage, nor is it simply being single. For all you know, you are called.

Now as for experiencing single life, one shouldn't break up just to experience being single. However, if you begin feeling a genuine call to something other than marriage, you should break up simply because dating is for discerning marriage, so you wouldn't be acting honestly towards God and whatever He is calling you to if you continued a relationship.


#3

You need to ask yourself if you can see yourself married to the woman you are currently dating. If the honest answer is NO, then you have a responsibility to break things off with her. It is not fair to her to continue in a relationship that you know has no future. If however you do see "forever" with this woman, then I think that answers your question about a calling to be single. Before you can be a husband, a Priest, a Brother or single, you need to know who you are.

In my opinion, it will be easier to discern your true calling without the complication of a relationship.


#4

There are several reasons a person might be single. Here's a few of the major ones:
1) The person is not able to marry (i.e. there is some impediment to marriage)
2) The person is selfish and wants to live a life focused on the self (not recommended)
3) The person is not yet marriage material (immaturity, certain faults which would cause havoc in marriage, etc.), but hopefully by grace is growing towards the ability to make a sincere gift
4) The person simply hasn't found their spouse yet or is unsure of his/her vocation
5) The person is in love with God, feels called, and wants to dedicate him/herself totally to Him by a vow of celibacy. In effect this person marries God by taking such a vow (which can be done privately by the way).

The advantage of #5 is that the person is making a sincere gift of self out of love, whereas #2 is not. If one has the option of any vocation, then if one were to choose the single life I think it is best done as in #5. That definite commitment is important because we are all called to be totally given to another.

If you are really called to a dedicated single life you'll find deep in your heart that anything short of belonging to God in a totally undivided way would be a betrayal in your heart of a gift God has given you. To dedicate oneself in this way is a love gift of God that is accepted and lived. It is not the same as remaining single just because one doesn't feel called to marriage, priesthood, or religious life. I'd recommend reading "...And You are Christ's" by Fr. Dubay for a good understanding of the celibate vocation, in whatever form it takes.

God will show you were you belong. Keep praying!


#5

I will only answer your remark on having "forgotten" how to be single. I can completely sympathize because about 7 months ago my girlfriend of 4 years broke up with me. It was soon after this that the Holy Spirit took my hand and guided me (felt more like a friendly SHOVE though haha) into the Catholic Church (I'd been atheist for 8 years). It was certainly difficult to not have that person to talk to each night, etc. and I depressed at times.

What I will say now though, is that I've found myself praying more, and more, and more! Some evenings I can't get enough, I'll pray the rosary, but want more so, I'll read scripture, and then sit and pray to God, just wanting to be in his presence. I can honestly say now that my Holy relationship with God is so much more fulfilling to me that my sinful relationship with my ex-girlfriend. Maybe that viewpoint will help! You'll be "single" if you join the religious life, but I think the companionship you mention will be deepened in Christ.


#6

I'm more than a bit older than the OP, and so I have this to say: there is no such thing as a 'single vocation'. I know this from experience.

I'm in my mid-50s, and have resigned myself to being single for whatever length of life God is giving me. I didn't want to get married (had no desire for it) and am not able be in religious life due to my age, my health, and my debts (which I can't pay back).

I 'did' Third Orders (Franciscans, then Discalced Carmelites)-they didn't work out for me.

There are ONLY TWO vocations: married, and priesthood/religious life. Singlehood is NOT A VOCATION-it is a state of 'limbo' until one makes up their mind as what they're going to do with their life.

Besides that, the older one gets and is still single, the Church I'm sorry to say kind of writes us off. Unless one is a 'leader wanna-be' and is involved in all kinds of activities ('ministries'-how I cringe at that word sometimes), the Church will pay attention to you. But if one lives a humble, hidden life, and believes (as I am now at this stage of my life) that one doesn't have anything to offer (and is not that good at 'organizing' and 'initiating' to boot), then that person is 'persona non grata' and invisible as far as any support or encouragement in the Church is concerned. Think I exaggerate? Just check out your average diocesan paper, parish bulletin or website. Nearly everything is for married people, families with kids, priests and religious- a BIG ZILCH on single adults, especially those over 35! And most especially on Catholic single adults who are more 'traditional' in their thinking, as I am now! A big fat ZERO, ZIP, NADA! :mad:

I want to make this clear, however-I WILL NOT LEAVE THE CHURCH. I will remain a Catholic until I die! I live a quiet, humble and hidden life, trying to 'stay under the radar'. That's all that's left for a single person like me.

OK, end of rant....:rolleyes: I know that I am but a voice crying in the wilderness. I don't expect anyone 'with skin on' to really listen, anyway. Or much less understand....


#7

I learned at my retreat last night that there is another option. You could become an Oblate. I can't remember the exact definition of it but I believe you have to be single and you can dedicate yourself to a specific Order but you're not officially a part of it. I thought it was rather interesting.


#8

[quote="AllyC1991, post:7, topic:230207"]
I learned at my retreat last night that there is another option. You could become an Oblate. I can't remember the exact definition of it but I believe you have to be single and you can dedicate yourself to a specific Order but you're not officially a part of it. I thought it was rather interesting.

[/quote]

This is a good point. As the poster above you said, 'singlehood' isn't exactly a vocation. The Church recognizes the single life if one is single but part of the religious life, be that the priesthood, being a nun, or being an Oblate. But unconsecrated single life isn't really accepted by the Church... :o


#9

[quote="coolduude, post:8, topic:230207"]
This is a good point. As the poster above you said, 'singlehood' isn't exactly a vocation. The Church recognizes the single life if one is single but part of the religious life, be that the priesthood, being a nun, or being an Oblate. But unconsecrated single life isn't really accepted by the Church... :o

[/quote]

POST-SYNODAL
APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
**VITA CONSECRATA **
[size=2]vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_25031996_vita-consecrata_en.html[/size]

"Thanksgiving for the consecrated life
2. Because the role of consecrated life in the Church is so important, I decided to convene a Synod in order to examine in depth its significance and its future prospects, especially in view of the approaching new millennium. It was my wish that the Synodal Assembly should include, together with the Bishops, a considerable number of consecrated men and women, in order that they too might contribute to the common reflection.
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,
[quote]as well as for all those individuals who, in their inmost hearts, dedicate themselves to God by a special consecration.............."

*
[/quote]

A vocation and a call from God is a call to a specific way of living out one's Baptism and call to The Gospel - it is also a guarantee that God will grant all the Graces necessary to live out that vocation; hence, it is not to be taken lightly.
If one is in a process of discerning where God is calling one, the wise and prudent move is to seek a spiritual director - and most especially if one has confusions about one's likely vocation.
As for embracing the single life as one's vocation and call from God, personally I would never recommend that one does this without a spiritual director and on an ongoing basis. The call and vocation to the single life also includes a call to live out the single vocation in a particular manner embracing celibacy "for the sake of The Kingdom" and it takes wise and sound spiritual direction to work out how one is to live out that call to celibacy in the single lay state - its specifics. Very often possibly it is a quite hidden life in that it is not generally known that the person has embraced the lay single celibate state as a call and vocation from God, although this does not always apply.

Certainly pre V2, "vocation" was restricted to the priesthood and religious life - not even marriage was included. Nowadays marriage post V2 is included and in many ways, the celibate single lay state as a vocation and call from God still is struggling to integrate into the general consciousness of The Church - while The Church does recognize that it can be a call and vocation from God, but certainly not a common call. This has come about because the understanding and then definition of "vocation"itself has undergone change and it is understood that it is not restricted to the priesthood and religious life only. As a vocation, it is a call to embrace the single lay state for "the sake of The Kingdom", not as some sort of default state for some reason, or a state that one lives in simply because one has no other option due to impediments - these are negative reasons. As a call and vocation from God, the single lay celibate state is embraced as a call and vocation from God for very positive reasons that are for"the sake of The Kingdom".

For one on the outside of the vocation to the single state, or to one who is not called to it, it could have the 'feel' of living in a limbo type of state. For the one who is called however, it is experienced as a call and vocation from God and experienced quite positively with a certain conviction and it would be impossible to live out this call and vocation without the Grace of God; hence, even with spiritual direction, 'the proof is in the pudding' and the spirit needs to be tested to see if it is of God. This has parallels with those who do not understand "vocation" and the religious life for example, and consider religious life in negative lights and with negative concepts that are certainly not experienced by those in religious life.

TS


#10

But it’s really hard to find a good spiritual director-sometimes even they don’t understand what it’s like for single people who remain in the world. And the older one gets, the worse it is.

I’m single ‘by default’ because there’s nothing else left for me. It IS a state of limbo. I don’t think of it as a vocation. You never hear much about it from the pulpits of our churches.

There’s all kinds of events that honor married couples (World Marriage Day), students (Catholic Schools Week), grandparents (Grandparents Day), clergy (I’m not sure what the name of the day that honors them is). But singles? NOTHING! We are the ‘great invisible demographic’ in the Church!

As Lily Tomlin’s character Edith Ann says, ‘And that’s the truth…:p’


#11

[quote="barb_finnegan, post:10, topic:230207"]
But it's really hard to find a good spiritual director-sometimes even they don't understand what it's like for single people who remain in the world. And the older one gets, the worse it is.

I'm single 'by default' because there's nothing else left for me. It IS a state of limbo. I don't think of it as a vocation. You never hear much about it from the pulpits of our churches.

There's all kinds of events that honor married couples (World Marriage Day), students (Catholic Schools Week), grandparents (Grandparents Day), clergy (I'm not sure what the name of the day that honors them is). But singles? NOTHING! We are the 'great invisible demographic' in the Church!

As Lily Tomlin's character Edith Ann says, 'And that's the truth...:p'

[/quote]

I am sorry you are finding things so difficult, Barb - and I hope you will be able to find a good spiritual director. We all have a vocation. It can take good spiritual direction for us to insight just what it is. My director for some years has been a religious and ex novice mistress in her Order. I did find a resistance amongst priests to direct me and I think because I was single, they were perhaps even fearful to direct me because I was single and here possibly the celibacy of the priesthood comes into the picture and the dreadful scandals that have surrounded our priesthood and priests are very naturally very cautious and perhaps at times over cautious. Sometimes too I can think that while we uphold the Parable of The Good Samaritan and it is proclaimed from our pulpits i.e. the person suffering on the wayside helped by a passerby - very often the intrinsic lesson of this Parable is not - and very very sadly - lived out in The Church as prime. Sadly, The Church has a power structure and it has a prestige structure and at times it is power and prestige that is defining many matters within Church structure - and sad and not at all as Jesus intended things.

God bless and I will keep you in prayer. May The Lord take guide you to His Place for you.

TS


#12

[quote="TiggerS, post:11, topic:230207"]
I am sorry you are finding things so difficult, Barb - and I hope you will be able to find a good spiritual director. We all have a vocation. It can take good spiritual direction for us to insight just what it is. My director for some years has been a religious and ex novice mistress in her Order. I did find a resistance amongst priests to direct me and I think because I was single, they were perhaps even fearful to direct me because I was single and here possibly the celibacy of the priesthood comes into the picture and the dreadful scandals that have surrounded our priesthood and priests are very naturally very cautious and perhaps at times over cautious. Sometimes too I can think that while we uphold the Parable of The Good Samaritan and it is proclaimed from our pulpits i.e. the person suffering on the wayside helped by a passerby - very often the intrinsic lesson of this Parable is not - and very very sadly - lived out in The Church as prime. Sadly, The Church has a power structure and it has a prestige structure and at times it is power and prestige that is defining many matters within Church structure - and sad and not at all as Jesus intended things.

God bless and I will keep you in prayer. May The Lord take guide you to His Place for you.

TS

[/quote]

Thanks, Tigger (I like your screen name-makes me think of Winnie-the-Pooh's tiger buddy ;) ). I appreciate it. :o

I've kind of given up trying to find a spiritual director, though. Most of the priesta around here are liberal. There are no monasteries of religious here, either. The closest ones are between an hour-two hours' drive from my home. I don't like to bother priests too much-they have so much to do every day, they have no time to deal with a middle-aged spinster like me. And just because I'm a woman, they have to be very prudent in these scandal-scarred times; one never knows if there are parish gossips waiting to pounce!


#13

Hi Barb - I had similar experiences in my thirties and forties and I sensed that priests were reluctant to direct me because of my single status and a potential risk to their reputations. I could understand this, even appreciate it in the times then, but it left me hanging cold as it were. Put your trust in God and I know it is easier, far far easier, to write than to effect - I read during my own difficult years that St. Teresa of Avila wrote that if one cannot find a good director then one should put one’s absolute trust in God who will not confound them and also to continue to ask Him for a good director. For quite a few years, I struggled that He was not listening to me. Some 8 yrs or so ago, I came across (through our diocesan spirituality office) the nun that now directs me. I had not been aware that our imposing even intimidating “Spirituality Office” had a list of spiritual directors with phone numbers and one could get the office to send out the list.
This liberalism that seems to crop up everywhere with some face or otherin The Church is very concerning - and I can certainly appreciate your difficulties and a dreadful position to find oneself in. But God has reasons that very often totally defeat our reasoning powers and sooner or laterone looks back with hindsight and realizes He knew what He was about after all:D I am wondering if you have any convents or monastic communities within reaching distance - nowadays it is not unusual for religious and nuns in these communities to undertake spiritual direction; meanwhile, trust in God as hard as it can be. If you do have these within reach, were it me, I would be contacting them and explaining my difficulties and do they have anyone who would be willing and sufficiently experienced to undertake spiritual direction.

I will be keeping you in prayer and may The Lord continue to hold you close

Tigger :slight_smile:
“TiggerS” I pulled out the blue from somewhere or other:o
I have thought now and then that we need some sort of association for those who are called to the single celibate state as community and mutual support. But the problem I can see as a very real potential is that it becomes bound by all sorts of rules and regulations and may loose that particular type of freedom that I think is intrinsic to the single celibate state as vocation and become bogged down in all types of legalities. A mark of this particular vocation is a certain freedom for the sake of The Kingdom as my particular call anyway.

I dont know your location, but have you looked into Carmelite Ancient Observance (O.Carm) “The Leaven” which is a consecrated state of secular life in The Church of single women who live in their own homes without any sort of habit etc. They will consider “distant members” when I looked into it. carmelite.org/index.php?nuc=content&id=81


#14

Hi Tigger-thanks for y our message.

I think I may have mentioned in my previous message that there are two monasteries that are between an hour to two hours’ drive from me. One is Dominican, and the other is Discalced Carmelite. I’m more familiar with the Carmelites, because I thought of entering that community from 1970 to 1977 (between the ages of 15 and 22) when they were in another city to the east of me (I live in Upstate New York). They moved in 2005 to another city west of me because the neighborhood they lived in was getting very crowded and very noisy.

I consider the nuns as friends, and not as potential spiritual directors. I would prefer to go to a priest instead of a nun-even a cloistered one. A nun can’t hear confessions!

You mentioned the ‘Ancient Order of Carmelites’ and their Third Order. I know someone in my city who is a member of it. But I have no wish to be part of a group right now. I’ve ‘been there, done that’ with two Third Orders in succession-Franciscans, then Discalced Carmelites-and neither of them worked out in the end. I’ve become rather ‘gun-shy’ when it comes to groups!


#15

I am a celibate single lay person. I am divorced and I know I much prefer to be single and celibate. I feel it is my calling.

You will know if you are called to be single. Its not a feeling of having no options...such as "gee I guess I'll have to be single":shrug: Its a peaceful feeling that you get from contentment with your life and your deep relationship with our Lord.


#16

Cooldude - I do not want to be offensive - but one thing that I do want to say is something that will add clarity IF you are not already doing it (I don't want to make the assumption) is to make sure you are practicing chastity.

Also you may want to examine third orders. It is not something you DO. It is something you are.


#17

[quote="barb_finnegan, post:14, topic:230207"]
Hi Tigger-thanks for y our message.

I think I may have mentioned in my previous message that there are two monasteries that are between an hour to two hours' drive from me. One is Dominican, and the other is Discalced Carmelite. I'm more familiar with the Carmelites, because I thought of entering that community from 1970 to 1977 (between the ages of 15 and 22) when they were in another city to the east of me (I live in Upstate New York). They moved in 2005 to another city west of me because the neighborhood they lived in was getting very crowded and very noisy.

I consider the nuns as friends, and not as potential spiritual directors. I would prefer to go to a priest instead of a nun-even a cloistered one. A nun can't hear confessions!

You mentioned the 'Ancient Order of Carmelites' and their Third Order. I know someone in my city who is a member of it. But I have no wish to be part of a group right now. I've 'been there, done that' with two Third Orders in succession-Franciscans, then Discalced Carmelites-and neither of them worked out in the end. I've become rather 'gun-shy' when it comes to groups!

[/quote]

Hi Barb - I think that we need to go as we are led and we are all led differently. With negative experiences including those that have left me 'gun-shy', I dont actually think of them as negative, rather as The Lord saying "Not there" and therefore something quite positive......a clear indication to me of the road not to travel. :thumbsup:
With me personally, I had quite a negative experience with a priest who for a short time was both my director and confessor. He really alarmed me with a statement he made that indicated he probably had quite liberal beliefs. Certainly, the rejections I did get from priests of one kind or another while looking fora director have also contributed to a certain reluctance on my part to seek a relationship with a priest, even strictly spiritual, that is nevertheless a quite personal matter of face to face contact as with spiritual direction. Hence I am somewhat 'gun shy' of priests on a certain level and my personal experiences with cloistered nuns certainly have been a far more positive experience and over many years, my current director however is an active religious in an active Order. I have one very long term, over 30 years now,close friendship with a cloistered nun and though she has never been my director per se - she certainly offered me much support and sound spiritual advice during those years when I just could not find someone to direct me - and I must admit back then I was confining myself to a priest concept wise as a potential spiritual director.
With my current religious sister director, at first things were very awkward for me but I persevered and now some years down the track and I rejoice that I did and am thankful for that Grace. Just at the moment I haven't seen her for a couple of months due to commitments on her part and then on mine, but she did email me saying "Keep on listening to God" and that was really great encouragement for me. We don't do it often as we both prefer face to face, but email is always an option that we really use very little.

Be confident that wherever you may be, it is where The Lord wants and needs you and often in my life, I have wondered if He was getting things right:D as where I was seemed to me to be all negative. It is only hindsight and perhaps years down the track when I look back and see the fruits that came out of what I was experiencing back then as totally negative and all wrong.

Regards........Tigger
PS The secular institute I mentioned ("The Leaven") which is a Carmelite secular institute is not a Third Order, incidentally, it is a state of formally consecrated life to the evangelical counsels under vows and a community of secular women who do meet once yearly but live in their own homes in a quite normal secular and lay fashion responsible for all their expenses etc. etc.. It is a really hidden life very often since they do not wear a habit nor any exterior symbol of their consecrated state. The follow the O.Carm Ancient Rule of Carmel and have their own statutes I should imagine. I did not go into it in great detail in my enquiries. I rather quickly realized it was not my call and vocation.


#18

[quote="joanofarc2008, post:16, topic:230207"]
Cooldude - I do not want to be offensive - but one thing that I do want to say is something that will add clarity IF you are not already doing it (I don't want to make the assumption) is to make sure you are practicing chastity.

Also you may want to examine third orders. It is not something you DO. It is something you are.

[/quote]

I would most certainly encourage any person considering the single lay state as their call and vocation to not do so hurriedly at all - nor without spiritual direction and advice. Certainly, they should look into the priestly and/or religious vocations as well as Third Orders, secular institutes etc. etc. Those structures within The Church that are vocational states of life. Certainly the single lay state whether due to default or due to a vocational call from God is a call from God to live in the celibate chaste state for one.

Any vocation and call from God will unfold as something I am doing while I am being who I am and intrinsically to that who I am called to be. It is an interior something that flows outwards from within, something intrinsic, and has God as origin. "I am The Alpha and The Omega. The Beginning and The End" and all good of any kind whatsoever has God as Origin and End. Good flows from God embracing the journey back to God. St. Therese said that one can pick up pins for the Love of God and save souls.

Tigger


#19

[quote="coolduude, post:1, topic:230207"]
Hi all,

I'm trying to discern my vocation, my calling, in life. I know I'm not called to be a priest (or if I am it will be very far down the road). I'm getting older, though I'm still young by any standard, however I feel nothing for the priesthood. It just doesn't appeal to me. I respect the clergy, but I don't feel I could be a part of it.

So that leaves marriage or the single life, and that's where I'm confused and trying to sort things out. I am currently in a relationship (as my username implies I am a 'dude' so I have a girlfriend :p). I have been in one relationship or another for the past 2- 2 and a half years with hardly a break between (I can explain...) This may sound strange but I feel as if I've forgotten what it's like to truly be single. For the past 2 years I've had someone * there for me, to talk to me, to stay up late with me, to hang out with me on the weekends and to talk to in school. I feel as if I've forgotten the single life and what that entails. So, what is the single life like exactly? Like I've said, I haven't known it for quite some time and I believe it's leading to some confusion in regards to figuring out my vocation. I need some perspective but I don't want to break up with my girlfriend just to experience single-ness and see if it's for me.

I hope this makes sense to you all :o Feel free to ask questions and make suggestions for me :)

Thank you,
Coolduude*

How is single life?? I wil tell you my experience. My Aunt was single till she was 42 been married to the same man that is 22 years her senior. He is now 88 had stage 4 throat cancer. He had his wife (my Aunt) to take care of him with every need hospital visits and home care and emotional support. He survived it I think partly he had a reason to live. Now if he stayed single he I think would be dead. I am single and I either want to be a priest or married as I DON'T want to be alone. If God can provide me a way of NOT being alone then yes single celebate life is certainly for me. I just fear being alone. If you want to be alone and not be in the clergy then it is for you but I can't bear the idea of being alone living alone.and that is one of my biggest fears in life. My opinion.

[/quote]


#20

I am living the single life, I'm divorced for ten years+ now. I lead a single celibate life of prayer now, I'm pretty much a hermit with the exception of having to work. Do I think its a vocation, I don't know but I do know this, I feel God has directed me to be this way and I have been fighting it all my life. I have looked for spiritual direction but never had much luck, I think they are far few these days but if God gives me one someday great, if not I just go on. I live in a quiet secluded place in the country which I have from the Grace of God. I used to look for someone to date all the time but it never works out and truly I love seclusion and being alone the most. I do get lonely at times but I fill in the gaps with prayer, reading scripture and keeping busy plus I do have family and a few close friends. I tried joining religious groups but they never seem to work out so I decided to just live and quit forcing square pegs in round holes. I have withdrawn myself from being in church groups. I just want to live a simple Catholic life. I love going to mass and confession and I am an adorer at a local chapel. I am not selfish, I love my fellow man and spend most time in prayer for others and I help others when needed, I think God calls some of us to be this way because prayer is just as important as forms of being involved in community. I feel that living this way brings me closer to God and anymore I don't care what people think about me. I am very happy living this way. Sometimes I fight living this way but I always end up back to square one, then I feel peace. I hope this helps the OP.


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