I often wonder if many single Catholics ever think of the single life as a vocation. I realize there have been other threads on this topic, but I would like to take it in a different direction and encourage others to go along for the ride and see what we discover about us.
We all know, should know that chastity is part of every man and woman’s life, married or single. We also know that in marriage husband and wife share a very exclusive relationship speaks to us of Christ love for the Church and her love for him. It speaks about a relationship.
But do those of us who are single (never married, divorced or widowed) ever consider that Christ may be calling us to a life of perpetual chastity? Obviously, this means a life of celibacy. All too often we associate celibacy with clerics and religious men and women. But the first celibate men and women in Christian history were not always clerics or religious. They were lay people.
In St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy (Chap 5: 3-10) he writes about widows. He says that we should honour the real widow. The real widow, male or female is a person of good works, who has raised children, sown hospitality, washed the feet of the saints, helped the afflicted and devoted him or herself to doing good.
If we look at this very carefully, Paul is writing a Rule of Life for those who are single, our way of life. Just as married people are called show the love between Christ and his bride the Church, those of us who are single are called to show the best of Christ to the world.
Christ does not ask us to give up our sexuality, because our sexuality is good. Genesis says that God made us male and female and he saw that it was good. There is no need to cease being a man or a woman, because one is never to be married. On the contrary, we are called to show the world how to love and live as men and women. Only a man can love the world as a man and the same applies to a woman.
Our single state may be Christ’s way of calling us to increase our commitment to others in the various relationships of our lives. As a celibate man who was once married and knows the joy of marriage, I know what a challenge it is to transition from one state to another. But I have also discovered the joys of living alone.
My kids are now adults. My mind, my time and my space is now mine to give away to God and to his people. What I enjoy the most is the time I spend alone with God. The moments of silent prayer, spiritual reading, attending mass on my own, living for the disabled whom I serve, and my Franciscan community take up so much of my time and fill my spiritual life that I cannot imagine being married again, I had a wonderful marriage. That’s not the issue. But now there is something else that God calls me to do.
What is more interesting is that my 24-year old daughter and her spiritual director have decided that God has called her to a celibate life in the world. It seems to run in the family. When on person shows others how much God can love us and how much we can love in return, there seems to be an electrical energy that is contagious. Maybe I should say a spiritual energy.
I believe that the permanent single state can be prophetic, if we embrace it with our entire sexuality as a way of giving to God the best of ourselves and let God use us to love in every relationship in which we may find ourselves.
Has anyone else experience this too?