What if you don't feel called to the priesthood or marriage?


Then what? I heard that singleness is not a vocation. Could your work be your vocation?


Consecrated brotherhood or sisterhood, consecrated virginity, and third order religious consecration are all options

@Cloisters if you could chime in here that would be great


do consecrated brothers live in community?


I believe so, yes… Similar to nuns I think


It’s perfectly fine to be single. Plenty of people just do not find anyone to marry, or the person they wanted to marry gets killed in a war or something, so they stay single.

Your “vocation” is whatever you feel God is calling you to do. Could be the life of “single blessedness” as my mother used to say. Could be some type of work, especially if you use your work or the money you make to help others in some way, which could be by mentoring them or teaching them in your profession.


Yes, there actually is a “single” vocation, but it never gets discussed.

No desire for marriage, and no attraction to the religious life or priesthood. Living and working as a chaste single person. I’ve known several people in my hometown who lived the single vocation. They maintained their jobs and lived lives of devotion, sometimes making it to daily Mass. One even held a civil servant position in either city or county government.

Persons with disabilities, for instance, are often forbidden to marry because of their disability payments from the government. If they don’t want to pursue consecrated virginity, they are usually content with the Single vocation, or third orders/oblatures/secular institutes.

There are religious brotherhoods who are the counterpart of women’s convents. While the priesthood is held up as the counterpart of the Consecrated Virgin, my organization has put forth a proposal of consecrated male virgins. This would fall into the New Movement category (as has our CCMM, but that’s for another post).

I also recall a Baptist newspaper article about a woman who never married, but served the church. They extolled her “singleness,” and said it never seemed to bother her.

Mrs Cloisters OP
Lay Dominican


Not sure where you heard that. St. Paul recommends it.


St. Paul recommends being like him (a religious)


Singleness IS a vocation. You must live a chaste Catholic life and be an example for all of the other single Catholics.

In my immediate family there are 3 single adults who live, work and have a nice life.

My friends there are 4 or more single friends who do the same.

It all depends on your state of mind. If you for any reason stay single MAKE THE MOST OF IT! Give of your time to your Church, your community, others in need. You will feel fulfilled when you do something for others. But you will still have your alone time to do the things you want to do.


Then you do what you are called to do. Discern your personality, background, and talents carefully and prayerfully and chart a course from there, letting the Holy Spirit correct it if wrong or guide you to a place you haven’t considered if needed. That, then, is your vocation, at least for the time being. No need to engage in fruitless navel-gazing over it, as many do when the question of an uncertain vocation is raised.


I’ve often thought that if everyone had followed St. Paul’s advice on this, Christianity might have died out long ago.


Well, I went to law school. :laughing:

It’s working out for now. Don’t recommend it for everyone.

Still don’t feel called to marriage, though we’ll see what God has in plan. Pretty confident I can rule out the priesthood thing though.


Currently in law school, lol. Perhaps that’s why I think this way haha :sweat_smile:


Hmmm. I heard once singleness wasn’t a vocation because you are born into it. That in order to make singleness a vocation you must become consecrated or something? :thinking:


That’s what I heard.


Well, if you want to take a very loose definition of vocation then yeah. In the mind of the Church a vocation involves 3 things:

1 - A process of discernment leading to an eventual comittment (both the individual and the wider community are involved in this discernment to some extent)
2 - A public comittment to a certain way of life (Vows)
3 - Publicly giving up some element of freedom to live a life of service

In marriage no. 3 is fulfilled by self-sacrifice for your family and in religious life by obedience to the Superior and living according to the constitutions of the Order.

When people say "singleness isn’t a vocation they don’t invalidate the single life, it’s just a statement of fact that it isn’t a “vocation” in that sense.

Work can be sanctified and can be a vocation, but again this is not on the same level as the “vocation” the church talks about.


Singleness as a vocation usually comes from the person not being desirous of either marriage or religious life, and lives a life of chaste devotion while holding down a job. There were at least three that I knew of after becoming Catholic at age 16. One was my Senior year homeroom teacher (who, incidentally, passed on this year); another was a substitute teacher who seemed to work for both city and county systems; and the other who was an elected civil servant.

Granted, the contracts for the teachers may have stipulated chastity because that was the norm for both teachers and nurses at one time. Two of my profs in college never married because their contracts said they had to ask the college’s permission to marry. One died celibate. The other asked the college’s permission to marry.

Persons with disabilities, even if they manage to get a good job with benefits, often chose to be celibate because of relational issues. Therefore, singleness is indeed a vocation.


This may be some official “definition” of vocation, but it’s pretty tortured, and is the kind of thing that is just going to make people feel bad about being single. This is not productive thinking, I don’t care if it is coming officially from the Church.

There are plenty of “sacrifices” involved in living a single life, whether you voluntarily choose it or not. You do not have the benefits of a helpmate. You do not have a family. You are not permitted by the Church to have sex outside marriage, so you’re essentially choosing a lifetime of celibacy unless you commit sin. Many people who are single do not end up that way by choice, but rather by circumstance as marriage does not work out for them, and their lack of a marriage is a HUGE sacrifice - perhaps more so than the sacrifice of a person who is happily married and has to make some sacrifices for spouse and family, but in return gets the benefits of having a spouse and family.

Most people who get married nowadays are not approaching it with a big attitude of “I’m going to sacrifice my life for my spouse and family”. They are happy because they are in love and they have found a soul mate and helpmate; they are also happy because they are fulfilling societal expectations (marriage is usually viewed as an expectation or an achievement). One could argue that maybe they SHOULD focus more on the sacrificial aspect, and then there would be fewer divorces. But seems to me that it’s the single people who make the larger sacrifices in doing something that is more against the grain of societal expectations, might very well be more lonely, and gets judged as “not a vocation” (and judged in other ways) regardless of whether the person is out volunteering to help the poor eight days a week.

I stand by my original post. If someone wants to make a vocation out of their work, for example, that to me involves discernment (you choose a career), a public commitment (taking responsibility for the work that you put out, committing yourself to an employer or to building a business, not to mention that some professions such as doctor and lawyer DO Involve taking vows of some sort) and giving up some element of freedom to spend time on doing your job, improving your skills and helping/mentoring others in your work.

Regarding a vocation of just being single, I think some of the others on this thread like CajunJoy and Mrs. Cloisters have expressed some ways to go about that very well.

In short - a vocation is all about making a commitment to something and putting time and effort into it that you could be choosing to spend on something else. If you do not want to absolutely commit to staying single, because you’re not sure if you might find a spouse later, then you can commit to being the best, most moral and most helpful single person you can be while single.


That’s a problem though. No point holding it up as an example.

Because it’s not a vocation. You can’t be called to a state of life that you are in by default.

This is the problem. I make a statement about what the Church means when they talk about vocation and you take it as a value judgement of the lives of single people. I’m just answering the OP’s question. You’re turning it into a battle about the value of single people.

Please point out where I say that the lives of single people are worthless and I’ll happily retract my statement.

Otherwise, stop accusing me of doing something I actually didn’t do.


This might sound cheesy, but wherever your heart pulls you to, follow it.

I was once in a similar position. Married life sounded okay, but it didn’t feel right. I never saw myself growing spiritually while living in the secular world because I can be very easily tempted. I have an addictive personality.

I looked at single life as hermit, (yes, those still exist) but saw that I couldn’t rely on myself. I needed a community to help me grow and to hold me accountable. I would never be able to make it alone.

Now I am in a discernment process finding out which community is best for my particular personality, which charism would help me grow to my best potential. This past last year I have been non intentionally closing myself off from my friends because they often can tempt me to do things that would hurt my soul. Now, for whatever reason, I have grown to like this isolation. It is strange but I see it as a way to prepare myself. This is how I also discovered that being a cloistered religious might be best. That and because I am naturally a very introverted person, very shy, somewhat empathetic, and introspective. I feel that God made me this way so that I can pray for others and help them in my special way.

The best thing you can do at this point is to pray. Mental prayer is best. Work on meditating on the Passion because through the Passion, you will come to love Jesus more and more. I say this as I have experienced it. You should also research. Do you feel you would be more content as a religious brother? Or a priest? Visit wherever you feel God is calling you to. If you feel at peace when visiting, or you could see yourself there, or you feel joyful, then that is a sign that that is where God wants you.

I do believe that your job can in a way be a vocation. It is a different type, but still a vocation. I’m not that well informed on Third Orders, but perhaps you could look into that.

Sorry for the long post; I felt I needed to explain my discernment because I would have liked to see others do the same to help me out when I felt troubled.

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