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


I feel like I’m far too self-centered and selfish to be either a husband or a priest.


I have felt the same, that I am to selfish to be a mother. But I feel that God can work with anything. It really just depends on in what environment we flourish best.

I know that St. Rose was in a Third Order and lived a single life as a layperson. Maybe you could look into that?


If you didn’t mean to be hurtful and were pointing out a Church position, there’s no need for you to take it personally, because you didn’t invent it.

It’s still not a great position for the Church to take with respect to single people, who in my experience are often feeling a bit left out or lonely already.

Assuming you were just pointing out the Church position, there’s no reason for you to defend yourself so vigorously and say I accused you of something. A simple, “Hey, the Church came up with this, not me” is sufficient. I’m sure you, like me, are aware that it can sound kind of high-handed for married people to be making pronouncements about singles, but I didn’t see your post as you, AdamPeter, talking down to single people; I saw it as perhaps the Church being a bit tone-deaf in its ideas about how people can have a “vocation”.


This to me is a very mature view. Most people do not think in terms of the amount of giving they will have to do as a spouse and parent. They just think in terms of how great it will be for them to have a nice spouse and kids running around, that they will be fulfilling some dream of their own or some expectation of their family or society. If you are actually thinking in terms of giving, this suggests to me that you may well be able to expand your horizons of loving and giving to others in a serious way.

Give yourself a few years and the right person, you may find yourself growing into the idea of being able to care for others in a way you can’t appreciate now.

If it doesn’t happen, then I’d refer back to my previous post about being single.


I’m also afraid of dating. I have trust issues. I’m working on it but I don’t feel ready to put myself out there and ask anyone out anytime soon. Maybe after law school


Hey, the Church came up with this, not me


Law school is NOT the best time, place or environment for dating anyone. You are wise to put it off. Just concentrate on getting through school in one piece.


I have read a number of books on vocation and personal vocation etc.

The best way to look at it from what I’ve learned is that vocation is at three different levels.

#1. We all have this vocation. It’s the “Universal Call to Holiness.” (There is a cool mural on the back wall of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception that represents this. There have been church documents on it.

#2. Then there is state in life. Single, Married, Religious.

#3. Then there is personal vocation:

It has a trickier definition that people flesh out in their own unique way. It has to do with your own unique mission in the world. What God has brought you here for. Each person has a unique mission when it comes to personal vocation.

(Mine is to post lots of pictures / cartoons on CAF, some will hate, others love, others just find tiresome. :slight_smile: )


I’m almost done. One more semester.


I don’t see it that way. There are plenty of vocational options open to singles in the Church.

There are also sound theological reasons that the vocations are seen as such. If you think the Church is tone-deaf about how people can have a vocation then I think you probably don’t understand the deeper theological meaning of vocation.

The one vocation we all have is the vocation to be Catholics and witness to the Gospels. The baptismal vocation.

Not everyone gets a vocation beyond that.


I’m not single, so this is not my issue now. I do however remember what it was like to be single, not sure if I wanted to marry, certainly not having any children yet as I wasn’t even married, and not feeling called to a religious vocation that was open to me. I felt like the Church didn’t want me because I did not have a spouse and kids like you were “supposed” to have. I felt left out. I’m sure there are other single people who may feel the same way.

Now the Church can either tell them “that’s your hangup, single people, and you just don’t understand the meaning of a vocation till you either get married or join the priesthood/a religious order” or it can try to find a more loving approach that is also likely to keep a few of them from feeling isolated and estranged from the Church on top of perhaps already feeling lonely and uncertain about their lives.

it would be wise to take the more loving approach, especially since there is nothing inherently sinful about being single.

Mary Magdalene was single, and not a member of a religious order, nor can she be seen as a priest, being female. Matt Talbot was single. Dorothy Day, though she had a couple of lovers and a child, was never married, and lived most of her life as a single mother - edited to add, she did become a Benedictine oblate at some point, but had been working in Catholic social justice areas for years before that happened. It’s hard for me to see these people, and many others who put in a lot of effort praying, teaching or caring for others, or working for social justice, as being without a vocation.


I remember what it was like to be single too. I also remember not whinging about feeling “unwanted” by the Church. A feeling is not an objective fact.

They aren’t remembered for being single though. They’re remembered fot their exemplary holiness, which anyone can rise to. You don’t have to be married or a priest to be holy. That’s the whole point of what I’m saying.

This debate really irritates me because the whole “single vocation” arguement is based entirely on the subjective feelings of people. But not every single person feels like this.


They have a vocation. Their baptismal vocation as Catholics. Which they lived to the full.


That’s pretty harsh. I think Jesus would want us to be a little more loving to our brothers and sisters and not just tell them “stop whining” and “I didn’t whine, neither should you” and “your feelings aren’t facts, so just stop it already, shut up and sit down.”

Seriously, do you really think that is a loving way to talk to people? In some cases they don’t even WANT to be single. They may have not happened to meet Mr. or Ms. Right. Their Mr. or Ms. Right may have been killed in a war.

Please think about how your viewpoints sound when you express them.


This would seem to directly contradict your “singleness is not a vocation” posts.


I didn’t really want to be single either. I’m not now so it doesn’t bother me. But I don’t see how this is so offensive. Nothing I’ve said has actually devalued single people. I’m simply stating that the Church can’t worry because a few single people feel left out.

I just don’t see how they feel left out. I never felt that at all. I actually felt like it was more on me to get myself out there and date or do work for the Church and make myself useful in some way.


How so?

I said “singleness was not a vocation” not that single people don’t have a vocation.

Baptism gives us all a vocation. This vocation should be lived out by everyone, regardless of state of life. This is a vocation everyone has and must fulfill. Baptism places that obligation on us.

Everyone has this basic vocation. But the point I was making is that the single life, while it can have a deep meaning, is not seen as a vocation in the same sense that Priesthood, Religious Life, and Marriage are. If you think of Baptism as a Bachelors Degree then Matrimony and Holy Orders are the Masters Degree. They “specialise” the original baptismal vocation into a set way of living.


I live a vocation of singleness. I’ve been married, have grown children and grandchildren. I think singleness can be a vocation in certain circumstances. It’s not for those who just aren’t called to marriage at this time but more to folks who have been around a bit longer and choose it over marriage or religious life. I’m still open to either but do not feel called to either one so I live a chaste life and focus on my work as a youth minister and caring for my aging parents.


I see. You are fortunate that you didn’t feel “on the outside looking in”. Maybe you just have some gifts of the Holy Spirit that way, or maybe you happened to be in a parish where for whatever reason you felt more welcome and “at home”.

I know it was a struggle for me to keep going to Mass and participating as a Catholic when I was single. I didn’t want to leave the Church as I didn’t want to be away from Jesus, but it was a big struggle to get myself to go to Mass, and not because I wanted to spend that hour out having fun with my friends, but mostly because I just felt very self-conscious, anxious and not involved in the parish life.

This was over 30 years ago, and a lot of the programs around today for young singles, such as Theology on Tap, didn’t exist, at least not out in the suburbs and away from a college. We also didn’t have the Internet then, so it wasn’t as easy to just take yourself over to some other parish nearby offering activities one might enjoy. I did briefly volunteer for a couple of things and was in a Bible study (that turned out to be with a couple of nice old retired people) but there didn’t seem to be much happening or many people my age in the parish who weren’t already married with children.

I think the Church in USA has come a long way in trying to reach out to all different groups of people including singles, and with the internet there’s much more awareness of activities at the diocesan level, or at other parishes that may be more active with particular age groups. So maybe single people today would have an easier time. But I also think we need to keep working very hard on making sure the Church presents its welcoming face to everybody, as much as we can.


To me, my singleness is just a state in life. :thinking: I’m more or less a K-I-S-S kind of person. We are all called to love in one way or another regardless of our state in life.

It is easier to be self-centered, I think, as a single person, so that is something to be guarded against.

I’m still open to marriage.

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