The Single Life is Not a Vocation – Part Two

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May 7, 2019 by lucieromarin

I’ve written already about why the single life is not a vocation and should not be thoughtlessly described as such.

Two more thoughts occurred to me today.

First: irrespective of any brochure published by any Vocations Office, no Catholic event designated ‘Singles’ is held in the hope that all attendees or participants will remain single. Singles events are always conducted with a sidelong glance at the possibility of somebody’s singleness ending. This is obviously not the case for any vocation-group in the Church. No event for married couples, mothers-to-be, or parents, are conducted in the hope that participants will break up or lose the baby. You can say that the single life is a vocation if you really want to, but I’ve yet to see anyone in the Church host any form of anything with the sole objective of encouraging single people to persist in singleness.

Second: no one talks of the single life as something that is lost or broken. A priest can fall. He can throw his vocation away on a minor if he wants to. But even if a single man does commit some terrible mortal sin of the same kind, we only think of that man as losing his virtue. No one says, ‘Oh, the tragedy! A single man slept with a teenage girl and lost his vocation!’ On the contrary, marriage can be slapped hastily over the sin like a respectability-coloured band-aid over a wound, and the sinner can spend the rest of his life talking about his vocation. A couple can break up and a marriage can break down. But even the single person who lives in some form of community and publicly talks about how great-it-is-to-be-single-and-have-time-for-street-evangelisation is never considered to have broken his vocation if he gets married or becomes a monk. We might say that the single life is a vocation, but neither its termination by admittance to vows nor its pollution by sin is ever actually treated as a vocation loss.

There is no formal period of preparation for the ‘vocation’ of singleness, no public ritual of commitment to the single life, no anniversaries of this commitment, and no sense of loss if singleness ends. A single life corrupted by habitual sin is never, ever, described as the breaking or loss of a vocation. And that’s because a state-of-life-in-which-sanctity-can-be-achieved is not the same as a vocation. And that’s why not even the persons who have to promote the single life as a vocation actually treat it as such in their dealings with singles.

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