The Permanent Single State Can Be Prophetic


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?


JR :slight_smile:


Here is a website you might find interesting, for virgins who intend to live their consecrated life in the secular world


This is an awesome site and organization for women. I’m glad that you shared it with us.

I’d like to remind men, that even though the Church has no provisions for male consecrated virgins, it has always had a tradition of men who consecrated their lives to a life of virginity. There were some great saints among them: St. Aloyisius Gonzaga, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasatti, Ven Matt Talbot, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Francis of Assisi.

Let me take this time to say something about Maximilian and Francis. Most people remember them as religious. They were, in the latter part of their lives. But they were not born friars.

Raymond Kolbe, who later became Friar Maximilian Kolbe, prayed to the Blessed Mother and asked her what was to become of him. She appeared to him and showed him two crowns, a red one and a white one. She asked him which he wanted. Raymond asked what they meant. Our Lady told him that the white crown was the crown of purity and the red one was the crown of martyrdom. Raymond said that he wanted both. Eventually he joined the Friars Minor and followed the footsteps of St. Francis.

John Bernadone, who is best known by his nickname Francis, prayed before the crucifix in an abandoned chapel, San Damiano. He asked God what he wanted him to do. He heard the voice of Christ coming from the crucifix. “Go repair my Church. Can’t you see that it has fallen to ruins.” Francis committed his life to the service of the Church. It was several years later that he would found his own religious order. He had no intention of joining a religious order, becoming a priest (which he never became) or getting married. He only wanted one thing, to serve the Lord by living the Gospel literally.

Pier Giorgio Frasatti was a young university student. He was not interested in marriage, nor did he feel a call to the religious life or the priesthood. He heard Christ’s call to serve the poor and to bring the Gospel to his friends and those around him. He joined the Lay Dominicans. While he was dying he gave one of his friends a list of the sick, elderly and poor who had to be visited and items that had to be delivered to them and when.

These are just three of thousands of males whom Christ has called to a life of celibacy to share his love with the world.

Are there more of these men out there?


JR :slight_smile:


I am not a virgin, but I am a single person (divorced with annulment) over an almost 30 year span and have lived under private vows to a specific way of life - under spiritual direction (priest). I feel a distinct call to the single state.



One does not have to be a virgin to live a permanent single life for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

We got onto the subject of virgins because of the link that was posted above.

The Holy Father wants to encourage perpetual virginity among secular women. He wants to restore a very ancient form of asceticism to the Church.

But the point of the thread is not perpetual virginity, but perpetual single state for virgins, divorced or widows as a prophetic way of life.


JR :slight_smile:


I followed with interest the recent gathering in Rome recently of those consecrated to a life of virginity.

Thanks JR. I only commented on my own status as the post prior to mine mentioned consecrated virginity. I have known for over 25years that the single state could be a vocation and call from God and embraced for the sake of The Kingdom…and I am unsure, but I think this has probably always been so? Just not well known. Certainly after my divorce and annulment the single state became an option for me while my first preference would have been to enter religious life, but I had impediments. As it turned out and now some 25years down the line it evolved and developed into a clear way of life - a lifestyle. A ‘religious’ (no canonical status) way of living in the single state.
I no longer look upon my impediments as limitations, but rather boundaries set by God within which He calls me to live and work.

So we are all on the same page, I wonder if you would share your definition of “prophetic”. As I understand it here, it is to proclaim The Kingdom by one’s way of living?

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.

The above comments interest me, JR. There are movements to have the status of widow recognized canonically and I have thought this too would exempt me since I am not a legal widow…but I think I may meet the criteria you give above for “real widow”, although I have never heard of this term before.



Time for me to once again mention an excellent bookrepublished by TAN BOOKS in 2005, a reprint of a book that first appeared in 1958.

THE MYSTERY OF LOVE FOR THE SINGLE is sub-titled “A Guide For Those Who Follow The Single Vocation In The World”. And that’s pretty much what this book is about. It offers background information, advice to entering the vocation, methods to maintain the vocation, and much more.

Indeed, on page 107, he writes about people like me. Those who have led a life of sin, have repented, entered the Catholic Church, and intend to live a life of chastity from that time on.

Highly recommended:thumbsup:


St. Josemaria Escriva also envisioned the vocation of the single lay person as one of the ways to live out the vocation to Opus Dei. Numeraries, Associates and Numerary Assistants all live the single life, some family-style in the centers of the Work, and others on their own in their own homes.

Although it is a bit more “organized” than some of the other ways discussed in this thread, it retains the lay character through and through.



The Single Vocation has existed in the Church since its foundation. The first single members were Mary and John the Evangelist.

Tradition tells us that Mary was widowed by the time Jesus founded the Church. John the Evangelist never married, as did his other brother Apostles. Neither Mary nor John were religious in vows, nor was Paul who came later or others.

The religious life evolved from the single life, not the other way around. The first religious were single men and women who wanted to live a more ascetic life and formed communities to do so. But many single Christians never joined these communities. Many lived as hermits, servants to the poor or a way of life that combined ministry and contemplation.

When Paul speaks of widows, he is obviously speaking of women. There is an historicla reason for this. In Judaism, widowed men did not remain widowed. They remarried very quickly. It was also a custom that the children of widowed men were raised by the extended family or clan. Women who were widows usually raised their children with the support of the community, but they did not surrender their children as males did. That’s why the diaconate focussed on widows and orphans as the target population for their early ministry.

But, if you look at Paul’s description of the virtues of a widow and the duties that went with this state, it is really a way of life that applies to anyone.


JR :slight_smile:


As someone who came to the realization a few years ago that the single life was my vocation, I remember being at peace. But it’s more than that. I realize now, upon reflection, that what I would think I needed from getting married I really needed or got from Jesus. (Okay, I’m not sure I worded that very well). I can take the time and energy that would go into a marriage and shift it into other activities and my career (I am going into law enforcement to help people).

I still love children and by going into law enforcement I allow parents to focus their attention on their marriage and their children while I am the one who deals with the scary monsters and the bad guys.

For me being single isn’t a deprivation but rather an increased outpouring. I can help more people in more ways than I could if I were married and a mother. Add to that my following of St. Benedict’s rule (I am not an Oblate though I am continuously discerning that path), which I find very helpful in not only dealing with others but my relationship with Christ as well, I have countless opportunities to help and follow Christ.

Now, being single seems to be problematic for some at my parish (that’s another thread) and my parents (who apparently think the only way a woman can be successful is by being married and haivng children and revolving their entire life around their husband) but that is their problem and not mine. If this is what Jesus wants of me, others opinions do not matter.


I’m not sure if it was you in a similar thread who mentioned this book, but I now have it and my best friend is waiting for it on order. It is an excellent reference for those of us who are called to lead a single life in the secular world. It defined a lot for me about the direction in which I’ve been going for a long time. After discernment and the proper steps, I recently made my private vow; and each day feel something that was not there before. :slight_smile: The vow of chastity solidifies a chaste life, assures and protects it (for lack of better words). Best to read “The Mystery of Love for the Single”. This book thoroughly says all that can be put into words about the single vocation. :thumbsup:


Before we get too wrapped up in the vocation to the single life, which really belongs on another sub-forum, I believe that it is important to meditate and share the spirituality of the single life, as this is the spirituality sub-forum.

We must first affirm that there is a true spirituality for the single life. The best place to begin looking for it is in the Scriptures. If we look at Jesus we see the spirituality of the single life in all its glory. It is a life that is lived not for one’s own sake, but for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Jesus constantly reminds us that those who see him, see the Father. The single person must embrace the Fatherhood of God as Jesus did. When we accept that God is our Father, we also accept that we are loved. We are not single, because we are not loveable, but because we have been loved like the Son. Like the Son, we have been reserved for the Father. We have been reserved to do his will.

Our lives must be a constant effort to do the will of God. If we recall Jesus got lost when he was about 12-years old, when Mary and Joseph find him he says, “I am about my Father’s business.” From childhood, Jesus was about his Father’s business, not the business of the world.

There are no records of Jesus’ life between age 12 and 30. There is a logical reason for that. His life was a very normal one. He lived the life of a typical Jewish man. The single life is not a call to stand out in the crowd, but to become anonymous. Just as Jesus lived the life of a typical and faithful Son of Israel, those of us who are single are called to live as typical and faithful sons and daughters of the Church.

As Mother Teresa always said, “There is often a vocation within a vocation.” Sometimes God calls us to do something out of the ordinary within our single state, something that other single people do not do or do not live. Whatever it is that God calls me to do or live within my single state is my vocation within a vocation. To understand this call and to respond to it, I must first go to the desert as did the first Christians who heard the call to the single life.

They went out seeking silence so they could hear the voice of God. They did not seek to enter into dialogue with God through lengthy prayers. That they could do with the rest of the Christian community during the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours, to which they were very faithful. But they knew there was more. Here, I must clarify that more does not mean better. It means just that, more.

These men and women knew that they must remain in close union with Christ and the Church through the faith of the Apostles, the teaching of scripture, the celebration of the sacraments and the Liturgy of the Hours. Bu they had a special inclination to listen for the Word of God. The only place where they could listen without the noise of the world was in the desert.

Each of us who lives the single life must develop a spirituality of silence. We must find that sacred space or desert where we can hear the voice of God. We are single, not because we are not married, but because we are single-hearted. Our heart belongs to the Word of God who speaks to us in the desert and asks us to carry it into the world.


JR :slight_smile:


Excellent post:thumbsup:


That was indeed me. Just felt it was a good thread to mention it again:D


This is SO worth a big bump to the top!

Thank you, all… for these pearls of wisdom… regarding the vocation of the Single Life.

I’ve been hurt, on occasion… by loved ones who can’t understand why a “domestic little thing” like me, never married. lol. :o

God bless!


I came across the following and thought it might be worthwhile to post it here.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled, “Rule of Life.” In it, I talked about my own experience in creating a daily prayer schedule. It occurred to me that there might be some who want to develop a Rule of Life but are unsure what exactly to do or include.
To meet this need, I decided to provide some examples. I am not suggesting that one should say, “Oh, that one looks good; I’ll follow it.” The purpose of the examples is to give you an idea as to how your own Rule of Life might look.
If you don’t have a spiritual director and are looking to develop a Rule of Life, look for the common elements in these examples. Those spiritual exercises that have a ubiquitous nature indicate that they have a universal importance. If you build your spiritual life around these, you can’t go wrong.
What Pope John Paul II Suggests
Though I can’t remember where I read this — come to think of it, I might have heard it in a talk by Fr. Mitch Pacwa — Pope John Paul II recommended all Catholics do adopt the following spiritual exercises:
*]Holy Mass (as often as possible)
*]Regular Confession
*]The Liturgy of the Hours
*]The Rosary[/LIST]The Marian Catechists
The Marian Catechists is one of Fr. John Hardon’s apostolate, and so the daily spiritual exercises of a consecrated Marian Catechists are those exercises he deemed most important for the average layperson.
*]Morning Offering (daily)
*]Mass and Holy Communion (daily)
*]The Angelus (twice a day)
*]The Rosary (5 decades)
*]Sacrament of Confession (twice a month)
*]Way of the Cross (daily)
*]Spiritual Reading (15 minutes daily)
*]Mental Prayer (15 minutes daily)
*]Nightly Examination of Conscience with Act of Contrition[/LIST]Opus Dei
I found this list from Scott Hahn’s Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace:
*]Morning Offering
*]Mental Prayer
*]Reading of the Gospel or some spiritual book
*]Some small act of penance
*]A short visit to the tabernacle
*]Preces (the daily prayers of Opus Dei)
*]Examination of conscience
*]Three Hail Marys at bedtime
*]The Sing of the Cross with holy water
*]Weekly Confession
*]Monthly Day of Reflection
*]Yearly Retreat[/LIST]A Basic Rule of Life
Here’s the basic Rule of Life outlined by Fr. Adolphe Tanquerey in The Spiritual Life. The section it’s under is entitled “The Exercises of Piety of Beginners”:
*]Morning Prayers
*]Night Prayers
*]Mental Prayer
*]Mass and Holy Communion (or Spiritual Communion, if unable to attend Mass)
*]Offering our actions to God
*]Spontaneous prayers throughout the day
*]Spiritual Reading
*]A short visit to the tabernacle (when able)
*]Examination of conscience
*]The particular examen

*]Exhortation # 1: “Less prayers and more attention is preferable”
*]Exhortation # 2: “A short attentive prayer is of greater worth than one lasting twice as long, and filled with more or less willful distractions”

[/LIST]A Catechist’s Rule of Life
Finally, here’s the basic Rule of Life that Sister Mary Michael Fox sketches in the most recent volume of The Sower Review.
*]Holy Mass
*]Liturgy of the Hours
*]Daily reading from the Scriptures
*]Daily reading from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
*]Devotion to the Holy Spirit
*]The Rosary[/LIST]Though most of you probably don’t define yourself as a “catechist,” I included Sr. Mary Michael’s “Catechist’s Rule of Life” to show you that a Rule of Life can be molded to fit *your particular vocation. *

Once again, I didn’t put these lists up to (a) make you feel daunted, (b) to make you feel inferior, © to give you an impossible standard, or (d) to make you feel like you needed to pick one.
Rather, I put them up so that (a) you can see what a Rule of Life looks like, (b) to give you ideas on what you might want to include in yours, and © to motivate you to develop your own Rule of Life.

After having one for two months now, I can say that you need a Rule of Life more than you think you do. I promise.



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