The Single Lay State Deserves More Attention

The Church recognizes marriage, the priesthood, religious life, and the single lay life as definite states of life. It happens, at times, that in the discussion and discernment of vocations the first three of these four dominate, and the single lay life gets placed on the back burner. Vocation websites have pages dedicated to spouses, clergy, and religious, but many lack comparable resources for single laypersons. This is fair enough, since marriage, priesthood, and religious life are the vocations that most are probably called to anyway. However, the Church should give more attention to the single lay life as a lay vocation, especially given the growing number of unmarried lay Catholics.

Since there are now purportedly more singles in the United States (just over fifty percent) than at any time since such statistics were first official recorded in the 1970s, and since we are facing a Western world with an increasingly anti-religious public square, perhaps the time has come for Catholics to more seriously consider the great potential inherent in the single lay state. What are some of the special characteristics of this state? How can committed single laymen and women serve the building up of Christ’s Body? How can the Church support singles in their struggle to live out their vocation?

Before answering these questions in more detail, a review of the nature of the lay state in general is in order. This will help to not only distinguish the single lay state from marriage, but also to show its fundamental difference from religious life (not all single lay people are reluctant monks or nuns!).

According to the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church, “What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature … the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God…. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven.” While, according to the same document, “It is true that those in holy orders can at times be engaged in secular activities, and even have a secular profession,” the Church’s ordained members “are by reason of their particular vocation especially and professedly ordained to the sacred ministry.” The religious life is also defined by a certain separation from the secular sphere: “Similarly, by their state in life, religious give splendid and striking testimony that the world cannot be transformed and offered to God without the spirit of the beatitudes.”

Though the laity are, by virtue of their baptism, “in the world, but not of the world,” they transcend the secular sphere by actually taking part in its affairs, guided by the Gospel. It is by seeking holiness in the midst of worldly activities that the laity fulfill their vocation as laity. This is because, as the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity states, “Christ’s redemptive work, while essentially concerned with the salvation of men, includes also the renewal of the whole temporal order.” This is why “The laity must take up the renewal of the temporal order as their own special obligation. Led by the light of the Gospel and the mind of the Church and motivated by Christian charity, they must act directly and in a definite way in the temporal sphere.”

These are some defining characteristics of the lay state in general. From there the Church further subdivides the lay state into two categories: the married state and the single lay state. In his Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, Pope St. John Paul II says that “within the lay state diverse ‘vocations’ are given, that is, there are different paths in the spiritual life and the apostolate which are taken by individual members of the lay faithful. In the field of a ‘commonly shared’ lay vocation ‘special’ lay vocations flourish.” Lumen Gentium, after talking about lay people who give themselves more fully to apostolic labors, states that “A like example, but one given in a different way, is that offered by widows and single people, who are able to make great contributions toward holiness and apostolic endeavor in the Church.” Apostolicam Actuositatem refers to the differences inherent in marriage and the single life when it says that the “plan for the spiritual life of the laity should take its particular character from their married or family state or their single or widowed state” (unless a widow plans on remarrying—in which case she is not really in a ‘state’—her widowed existence can be considered a form of the single lay state).

Clearly, then, the single lay state is a real vocation valuable enough to merit special mention by the Church. Shouldn’t it then be more fully explored in our own age?

What are some special characteristics of the single lay state? A natural one is that the single person is, well, single. And by this we mean actually living a freely chosen, dedicated single life. A single life that is open to the possibility of marriage is not really a state of life, but a transitional period in preparation for a state of life. This essay is not talking about the man or woman who is waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right. Their single life is a transitional stage. We are talking about those who actually choose to live a single life dedicated to God until death. This means a commitment to celibacy.

Still, as can be gathered from the nature of the lay state in general, despite his or her commitment to celibacy the single lay person is still fundamentally different from the religious, because he or she is still defined by a salvific mission which takes place within the secular sphere. Although both the single layperson and the religious are special signs of the coming reign of God and of the passing of temporal goods, the laity show this in a particularly explicit way by living it within the secular sphere and within plain sight of men and women of the world.

A brief note about lay celibacy in the modern world: unfortunately the current state of marriage has made the single life force itself on people almost by necessity. The difficulty of finding a good spouse is one of the hard realities of today. Yet we should certainly not give up on marriage. Given this challenge, the Church should offer more support so that such singles can live a meaningful, fruitful life.

The single lay state is also characterized by a freedom that is at the same time both healthy and dangerous. Because single laymen and women are free from the (good) distractions of marriage, the priesthood, and religious life, they are free to dedicate themselves entirely to whatever line of work God may be calling them to. This freedom also carries with it a certain danger. Because one does not have the commitments and social support of the priest, religious, or spouse, or the grace of a special sacrament, this freedom is more easily open to abuse and to the possibility of leading a selfish, double life.

What is a Single Person to Do?
We move now to the more practical question of what the single lay person can actually do. Given that the single lay person does not have the commitments of the priest, religious, husband or wife means that a huge window of opportunity is opened to a variety of special tasks.

Many lay saints and other singles used the freedom of their state to dedicate themselves wholly to their line of work. St. Giuseppe Moscati spent his life serving people through his medical practice. Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriguez was heavily engaged in the lay apostolate. C.S. Lewis did not get married until old age, so most of his life was spent as a single layperson. We are well aware of the fruits of his single life as an academic and writer through his many classic books. Many of the world’s greatest composers were single, even if this was not always by their free choice. Even some of the world’s most beloved fictional characters were single people leading fulfilling lives. One thinks, for example, of Bilbo Baggins or Sherlock Holmes.

Much can be done, but this does not obliterate the fact that the single lay state carries with it its own particular challenges. As mentioned above, priests, religious, and married couples have community support, a more or less established schedule (or at least a day filled with things that must be done), and (in the case of priests and married couples) sacramental grace.

The single lay state does not come ready-made with such aids. There is no sacrament to go along with it. The single lay person may not have a community of support on hand, or a structured religious life. As we alluded to before, the single lay state, in a sense, is the most dangerous vocation, and because of the lack of accountability and ready-made structure there are many more opportunities for falling into sinful bad habits. That is why it is critical that the single lay person establish a support system.

Because the single lay person, unless part of a society of some sort, does not have a ready-made prayer and liturgical schedule, establishing a structured prayer life and frequent participation at Mass should be among the top priorities.

He or she also needs a community to turn to. Good Catholic friends are really something of a necessity in this case. The single person can attach him or herself to a parish community, a Catholic community at school, or even join a third order or lay society. Unless the lay person really discerns a call to be a hermit, then this social dimension is critical, or he or she risks falling into unaccountable isolation and eventually being swallowed up in it. Dioceses and parishes should be welcoming to such individuals who are dependent on them as a source of strength and encouragement. A good spiritual director is also a must in order to weave around the numerous pitfalls accompanying such a state.

The single lay life offers great potential for the future of the Church. In this age of singles, the Church should tap into the riches such a vocation presents, and discerning men and women should include it alongside other states of life as a real possibility for serving Christ in the world.

Editor’s note: In the image above appears St. Giuseppe Moscati (r) and Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriquez.

Jared M. Silvey

By

Jared M. Silvey received his BA in philosophy in 2012 and his MA in theology in 2014 from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, CT.

  • Objectivetruth

    Excellent article.

    “The single lay person may not have the support of a community on hand.”

    On the contrary, I believe Opus Dei offers a wonderful means of sanctification not only for those called to marriage, but for the single lay person as well. Opus Dei offers the single person an opportunity to do “the work of God” in a spiritually directed and supported way. Christ calls the single lay person in a special way, who can take great joy in the fact the Jesus Himself led a single life.

    • St JD George

      We don’t need to view our priests as strangers either, only to be seen at Mass on Sunday. Particularly true with younger ones who may not be as established. They enjoy being invited over for dinner occasionally too, and engaging in things beyond just the business of actively preaching all the time. In other words, they are human beings too and sometimes it seems we forget that.

    • “…Jesus Himself led a single life.” There you’ve hit on the huge untapped possibilities about this vocation. I’ve concluded from experience that not only is this the most harrowing of vocations (being the most FREE of vocations), but also that there’s something uniquely godlike and creative to be found in giving oneself to The Other ANEW EVERY SINGLE DAY WHEN ONE IS UNDER NO PARTICULAR EARTHLY CONSTRAINT TO DO SO.

    • Joseph

      What if single people who opt not to marry enter a Consecrated Virgin state? It doesn’t exist for men (short of priesthood, permanent diaconate, or some religious orders), but something equivalent could be created. This might provide more single role models.

      Given reproduction replacement rates vs. Muslims, though, I find it hard to believe that God is calling fewer people to marriage. But having more consecrated virgins (male and female) seems like something reminiscent of the celibate Essenes and might more accurately reflect widespread beliefs that End Times are coming very soon.

      • Alexandra

        Joseph, why not an oblate?

      • Peter

        Joseph, I know exactly what you are talking about. I have been living in a Consecrated Virgin state of life for the last 6 yrs. We are very few – as far as I know it – but we exist. I am not part of any community, monastery, religious order, seminary, or anything of the sort. But I have taken vows.

      • fderf

        I think Opus Dei has that option. There are many of these types of communities available but not necessarily in a person’s geographic area or one that fits the person. These, too, require discernment.

  • JP

    There are record number of “single” people in the US; but, there are also a record number of “single” people cohabitating.

    • Except that the article is about single Catholics who, presumably, are faithful to the Church. It is not about seculars. Some of us are not co-habbing — despite the fact that we could certainly find many opportunities to do so. I could lay down my Catholicism at any moment if I wanted to live with a man and enjoy having someone to watch a movie with and cook for. I am intelligent and not unattractive. Perhaps I could stop whining and just go get a lover. But … that’s what seculars do, right? Not people who really love Jesus.

    • Ladasha Smithson

      Funny that the Church still treats over half of all adults as a resource for ministry rather than a group that needs it.

      • Blah Blaah

        Well put, Ladasha!

  • Blah Blaah

    “The single lay state does not come ready-made with such aids. There is no sacrament to go along with it.” I disagree with the second statement.

    As a single person (who always assumed that I’d get married and who had no vocation to religious life and who has NEVER felt ‘called’ to be single), I have found it very painful that the Church seems to respond to single people this way: “If you are not married, you must be in religious life; if you are not in religious life, you must be married. If neither of these is true, you must be patient.” Consigning people to an endless period of ‘waiting to find out what God is calling you to’ is both painful and wasteful. I completely disagree with the notion that people are in ‘transitional states’ between singleness and marriage, for example. They are SINGLE and need to live every moment of being single as fruitfully as possible, simply because they cannot possibly know that one day, twenty years from now, they will get married. And in the meantime? Call themselves ‘transitional’ and live in painful waiting for the ‘one day’ when God will remember that they exist and call them to a ‘real’ vocation? No thanks – been there, done that and suffered the pointless pain and the empty waiting.

    That all changed when I read an article (which I can’t find) by a bishop who called the Sacrament of Confirmation the ‘ordination of the laity.’ I’ve found references to this term going back some centuries. When you think of Confirmation as the ‘Ordination of the Laity’ everything falls into place. It means that no matter what your state in life – even if you are married or in a religious vocation or a priest – the sacrament of Confirmation is your ‘ordination’ to live and work in this world. There IS a sacrament to ‘go along’ with being single – and it’s Confirmation.

    I often advise married friends who are in painful marriages and struggling marriages to ‘go to the bank’ – draw on the graces of the sacrament of Matrimony to help your marriage. But what if the married person is happily married and the marriage is fine – but the married person’s parent has developed Alzheimer’s and needs constant care? The sacrament of Confirmation is the ‘bank’ where you go to draw the graces you need to deal with that; Alzheimer’s in a parent is not really part of the sacramental state of Marriage (even if it affects the marriage somehow, it’s not part of the ‘substance’ of marriage per se).

    Likewise, a priest can draw on the graces pertaining to his ordination from the sacrament of Holy Orders. But where does he go to draw the grace he needs to help him with family members who reject the Church and treat him with rejection and scorn? What sacrament can he rely on to help him with his own weakness for a little too much alcohol? Confirmation is the sacrament that can help him deal with those aspects of life that don’t directly pertain to being a priest (sure, alcoholism will affect his priestly life, but it doesn’t pertain to the vows and normal duties of a typical priest).

    Confirmation is where you get the graces you need to live as a single person, whether you will one day marry or not. It helps you – as a happily married person or as a single person or a widow or widower – to cope with the pressures of your job, to be an informed and active citizen, to relate to family and community, to volunteer productively in your parish or community, to do all the things that are not somehow ‘covered’ by the particular covenantal relationship of marriage. It helps the widow and widower to live in their state; it helps the young person to make key choices that will affect the rest of his or her life; it helps the person who has made bad choices – the civilly divorced, the unmarried parent – or who has suffered a life-changing illness or handicap to have the strength and grace to live out his or her life in the grace of God. Confirmation helps the priest to live all those aspects of life that are not particularly ‘part and parcel’ of the vocation to priesthood.

    If single people are the overlooked, ignored and untapped potential of the Church, Confirmation as the Ordination of the Laity is the overlooked, ignored and untapped Sacrament of the Church. Confirmation is THE sacramental state of EVERY adult Catholic that covers you with grace and makes you fruitful at all stages of your life and in any state of life. Confirmation covers you day by day, no matter what you are faced with. It helps you grown into Godliness in every aspect of your life, so no matter what state you are in RIGHT NOW and no matter what situation you are in – whether directly related to your vocation or not – you can be fruitful in building up the Kingdom of God on earth.

    The Church STILL needs to recognize and deal pastorally with the fact that most of the time, being single is not chosen and most people have NO sense of being ‘called’ to be single. I think in my search for information about the single life within the Church, I’ve only read about ONE person who said definitively, ‘I know God called me to be single’ with no other explanation. Every other single person I know feels left out, unchosen, uncalled, as though something is somehow ‘wrong’ with him or her that he or she was never called by God or chosen for marriage. Single people can feel deeply unloved and unwanted by other people, by the Church and by God, because THERE IS NO DEFINITIVE CALL and there’s no focus on EVERYONE living in a sacramental state by virtue of their ‘ordination’ as adults in Confirmation.

    I think that if the Church were to ‘sell’ confirmation as ‘ordination of the laity’ and speak openly about the state of life that most confirmands are in – that is, young and single – and say that they might very well remain single all their lives, then Confirmation would be more valued, more recognized for the power it gives us all – in every state of life – to live holy and fruitful lives.

    But the Church is still waiting for someone who can address the unchosen, un-vowed, un-called single life for what it really is: painful, difficult, dangerous and lonely. This article is one of the best I have ever read. I hope that pastors and bishops take note.

    • Peter

      I agree with your post – it’s probably the best expression I’ve ever read on what it means to be confirmed in the Catholic Church.

      But I am guessing I am probably the second person who is celibate b/c he knows it is a vocation, and it was not forced by any kind of outside pressure.

      I do have one question – as someone who has made a lay consecration, how many lay people have not only embraced celibacy but has also made vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience? Is this common? (I have never met someone like myself and I live in a VERY large Archdiocese).

      In Christ,
      Peter

      • eddiestardust

        Join the club Peter:) Best wishes!

      • I’m celibate, but not because it’s a vocation. I’m celibate because fornication is a sin. I wonder if Catholics ever consider what we single Catholics sacrifice every single day to be faithful to the Church while living a painful loneliness that we did not ask for. I could have had so many lovers by now … if I were a different kind of person. Catholics need to show more respect and compassion towards their single co-religionists.

        • Ronk

          Don’t confuse “loneliness” with “lack of sexual activity”. There are plenty of lonely married people. And plenty of married people who rarely or never take part in sexual activity, often not by their own choice. Marriage does not mean “sexual activity and companionship whenever and however I ever want it” as some unmarried people imagine.

          • I don’t need the lecture, especially when the lecture is off-topic and besides the point that I was trying to make. Staying on point is really helpful in open dialogue.

            • Scott Thomas

              Agree with Penny. Loneliness means no family, no one to go home to at night, no children, feeling left out of extended family celebrations because you are single and childless, feeling ignored by your parish, feeling locked out and left behind in social settings where everyone else is married, losing touch with your married friends, not being able to enjoy normal recreational activities because you are alone, and looking forward to an increasingly isolated and lonely old age. Who’s talking about sex?

              • eddiestardust

                Well put Scott! For many years I chose not to go to a favorite Aunt & Uncle’s house for Thanksgiving because out of the 3 cousins (one is in Europe) the other two are married with children. I know the feeling:(

              • THANK YOU, Scott Thomas, THANK YOU. You get it. The absence of sex is not even a fraction of burden of single life. I can live without sex. It is damn hard to live without love and companionship.

                • Keith Martin

                  You’re a woman. I’m tired of getting blue balls.

              • Keith Martin

                Porn is a good way to pass the time.

          • eddiestardust

            Ronk, I have been single ALL of my life, not my fault that there are lonely MARRIED folks!:( Don’t confuse the subject or try to mis-direct either! Penny is right on the money and you are not. I wish you well:)

          • Keith Martin

            Marriage doesn’t sound like such a great deal. Glad I’m not missing anything.

        • MHB

          Catholics do need to show more respect and compassion for single Catholics.

        • Jude

          I wonder if you consider what married Catholics sacrifice every single day. Neither is a bed of roses. Marriage and child rearing is very much about dying to self and putting yourself last.

          • The article is about SINGLE Catholics. If it were about MARRIED Catholics, then I’d surely not be surprised if an actual MARRIED Catholic mentioned the sacrifices involved in the wedded state. You know, like how I just did that with the topic of SINGLE Catholics.

            • Jude

              And what I am saying is that there is plenty of pain and sacrifice to go around. Singles haven’t cornered the market.

              • Oh for Christ’s sake. You are incorrigible.

                • Jude

                  Nice way to use the name of our Lord.

                  • No, I meant it literally. But I don’t expect you to understand that.

                    • Jude

                      With your pleasant demeanor, it is amazing that more people aren’t sympathetic and supportive. Manners matter.

                    • You’ve done nothing but shift topic and denigrate my opinions, and the feelings of single Catholics, from the start. You refuse to learn anything or try to see another perspective. You ARE truly incorrigible.

                      Done with you.

                    • John200

                      The one thing your profile tells us is:
                      “I’m surrounded by morons and sycophants.”

                      Done with yourself, I’d say. At the rate you are going, you’ll be single for a while longer, and maybe more than once in your life.

                    • Oh, another troll, I see.

                    • John200

                      That’s a mirror, madame.

                      Here is an experiment:

                      1. Collect your comments up and down this thread.

                      2. Show the collection to someone you trust, if there is such a person.

                      3. Ask them that they think of this “Penny Dreadful.”

                      4. After they answer, you can decide whether to reveal that she is you.

                      We’ll be waiting….

                    • If you enter a discussion with NO COMMENTS except to insert yourself into a disagreement that was taking place between two people and which had nothing to do with you, then indeed YOU MIGHT BE A TROLL.

                    • John200

                      That’s a mirror, madame.

                      I made an overall comment based on your self-presentation and your (thin) line of argument. As a courtesy, I even suggested a way forward. Try the experiment, if you trust anyone…. Perhaps you already know the results.

                      OK, maybe that’s it. I see.

                    • Keith Martin

                      If you whine about being single, YOU MIGHT BE A BITTER SPINSTER. Enjoy your cats.

                    • Ladasha Smithson

                      At least Penny had the courtesy to keep this from getting personal unlike you and jude.

                    • John200

                      Reconsider the identity of she who is making this personal. Here is a key question for your research:

                      Who is using her feelings (baring her soul?) in order to win an argument in a combox?

                    • Ladasha Smithson

                      That would be Jude.

                    • John200

                      … who entered when our Dreadful interlocutor called her opponent, “incorrigible” ‘for Christ’s sake.’

                      Truly, you two are on the side of the angels.

                    • Jude

                      Perhaps you need to read through the conversation again. However, if an individual chooses to marinate in bitterness, there is not much that can be done.
                      From The Imitation of Christ:
                      “If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry you and bring you to your longed-for end, where there will be no more suffering–though this will not happen on earth. If you carry it grudgingly, it will become a burden and a heavier weight for you to carry, and yet you must bear it. If you reject one cross, be sure that you will find another, perhaps heavier one.”

                    • Keith Martin

                      I’m starting to see why you’re not married.

              • fderf

                Perhaps it is difficult for you to hear and accept the very real pain of others. We are to relieve each others’ burdens. A single person could relieve something that is heavy for you, either by physically helping or being present some way as a friend. In turn you can help relieve the solitude or maybe lack of physical closeness single persons can experience. A hug from children, a game of catch, cooking together are some examples of adding joy to an often solitary or disconnected life.

          • fderf

            This is true for ALL Catholics. There is a misconception that single people have lots of time, and live selfish lives. Dying to self and sacrifice, in whatever form it takes, is part of the life of every Catholic no matter the state in life. How about inviting the single persons in your parish and family to your home, or shopping trips, or being available for a phone call. And treating single people as adults who aren’t missing anything. It’s time to stop compartmentalizing people.

            • Jude

              And that was my point exactly. Let’s not throw a pity party. I’d be willing to wager that most Catholics do have single persons in their lives that they spend time with, have over for meals and holidays and birthdays, and love. We don’t look upon them with pity, just as we don’t look upon our married friends and relatives with pity. Your state in life will always bring with it crosses to bear.

              • fderf

                It doesn’t look like a pity party. It looks like a group of often forgotten ( I think you’d lose your wager) people talking about their sufferings and hopes and acknowledgement of such goes a long way. If a priest wrote about how lonely he can get I don’t think we’d tell him, well, your choice, buck up, we all.suffer. We might say, oh, i didn’t think about that. I’ll make it a point to thank him for his service or chat with him more often. We respond to suffering by asking, how can I help relieve it? What have I not seen that I can now be aware of, and what can I do about it in my parish or personal life? From this article and the ensuing discussion comes – we hope – practical changes in an individual parish or life. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of letters floating in virtual space.

            • Keith Martin

              Being single leaves plenty of time for looking at porn.

          • Keith Martin

            Sounds like it sucks. Glad I’m not married.

    • fderf

      Love this, Blah Blah. Do you recall the name of the bishop? Anyway, thanks for the post.

      • Blah Blaah

        Sorry – I’ve searched my computer (thought I saved the article, as I’m teaching a course preparing adults for confirmation right now) and I couldn’t find it; couldn’t find it on the Internet, either, when I did a search with phrases I remembered. Frustrating – I usually keep careful records of these things because I know I’ll never remember where I found that website…

        • fderf

          Thanks for trying. It sounds abut the same as me! I just knew I saved that file somewhere….

      • Blah Blaah

        I’m not sure, but I have found this by John Cardinal Wright (not sure who he is…), so it was a Cardinal, not a bishop. The whole article is here: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=436

        Here’s the pertinent part: “Confirmation might be thought of as a kind of ordination of the young lay man or lay woman to a place in the total life of the Church, to a specific calling in the life of the Church. Pope Pius XI was eloquent on this point and stressed that Confirmation was the Sacrament of “Catholic Action”. He obviously was not speaking of any partisan political action, positive or negative, but he was merely underscoring that Confirmation more and more comes at the age when young people are choosing their life careers.

        After all, one can detect in Confirmation a kind of lay ordination or reception of the Spirit precisely for one’s part in the life of the Church. So many of the elements of Confirmation recall parallels with ordination: the imposition of hands, the signing with the seal, the special anointing. Lay people are on the way to a fuller consciousness of being organically active members, whatever the due subordinations, by right and in fact, in the life of the Church.

        • fderf

          Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Also my experience is that the American church puts a great emphasis on vocation as being very narrow whereas other cultures find the discussion ludicrous. We all receive our vocation at baptism, or like you beautifully wrote, our ordination at Confirmation.

  • Dan

    Would you be interested in dating my sister, she too has an MA in theology?

    • Keith Martin

      Is she hot?

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    “He or she also needs a community to turn to. Good Catholic friends are
    really something of a necessity in this case. The single person can
    attach him or herself to a parish community, a Catholic community at
    school, or even join a third order or lay society. Unless the lay person
    really discerns a call to be a hermit, then this social dimension is
    critical, or he or she risks falling into unaccountable isolation and
    eventually being swallowed up in it. Dioceses and parishes should be
    welcoming to such individuals who are dependent on them as a source of
    strength and encouragement. A good spiritual director is also a must in
    order to weave around the numerous pitfalls accompanying such a state.”

    Third orders? Every one I looked into were ‘Social Justice’ communist fronts. Spiritual Directors? Ha! That’s a funny one. Our priests barely have time provide our most basic sacramental needs. Wary, isolated individuals are EVERYWHERE and being one of them I assure you I gave up on ‘belonging’ to a ‘Catholic community’ a long, long time ago for a lot of reasons.

  • NickD

    Shouldn’t we be encouraging this record amount of single people to consider marriage more seriously?

    • eddiestardust

      Perhaps we should be asking why folks are single? Perhaps it’s pretty hard to meet the right person who has the same interests as you do.

      • If that is your criteria for getting married, then I for one would suggest that you’re missing out on a great adventure of being married to somebody who will expand your interests.

        • Ladasha Smithson

          Practically speaking the whole trope of “opposites attract” is a hollywood myth. It is far better that your prospective spouse be your best friend, that is share common interest, life experiences and goals with them in common.

          • My wife and I are the ultimate complement to each other. Things I am bad at, she is good at, and vice versa. Of course, part of that might be due to the fact that we were matched not by natural attraction, but by a 30 point personality profile.

        • fderf

          I do believe eddie means shared values, religion, goals, and other compatibilities and commonalities. Am i right? 🙂

          • There has to be a minimum- but there can be some differences. My wife is very into her soap opera. I’m very into deep philosophical sci-fi.

            • fderf

              Of course. It would be a boring and fruitless life otherwise! Single or married we need close friends or a spouse who can help us develop what is weak or fill in what we don’t do well. I’m surprised no one asked what 30 point profile you used!

          • eddiestardust

            You got it….

        • eddiestardust

          My first question Theodore Seeber is are you married?

          • Yes, 16 years this June, to a woman who shares very few interests with me. She is even a convert.

            • eddiestardust

              I could tell..you have all the answers but you don’t.

              • I know this though: happiness is not the reason for Marriage. Soon as you start thinking short term, the marriage will be short term. I have seen too many friends get divorced for trivial reasons.

                • eddiestardust

                  I think you might be right about being divorced for trivial reasons though..

    • Wow, blaming the victim (so to speak).

    • Ladasha Smithson

      It would be a start. All to often singles are treated as a resource for the Church rather than members of it.

      But encouraging isn’t effort. The Church will have to build a culture of forming marriages and actively create godly couples rather than waiting for them to show up asking for marriage prep.

      The best thing the Church could do would be to start with young singles and actually help them find spouses. The Church needs to stop pretending that marriage “just happens”.

      • Lykex

        That would be great if the Church and her values didn’t have their own spotty record when trying to set singles up. (At least, this was my experience.)

        Then again, the same seems to go for anyone with a stake in this spottier subject area. I’ve sent my own personal RFP to practically anyone who’ll care (besides myself) but excuse me if I refuse to hold my breath while I do it.

        • Ladasha Smithson

          Yeah. When the Church does think about marriage it’s to put a bandage on a bullet wound. It’s never about what’s best for those they are trying to set up, rather away to get it out of sight and mind.

          Instead of just trying to “set us up” the Church needs to rebuild it’s entire culture and make the Church a community again where singles have the opportunities to make friendships that can become marriages.

          • Lykex

            If you ask me, my ‘bullet wounds’ feels more like it came from an RPG/shrapnel blast. Meanwhile, I now hold the Church at least partly responsible for why I thought it was a bad idea to wear the proverbial kevlar or carry my own guns.

            But at this point, this is where I agree with you: If dating’s a battlefield then the Church is just the clueless little nurse who has no idea of what’s going on in the warzone.

            I’m not sure how rebuilding a community is going to really help though. Being a pretty lapsed Catholic myself, it’d be closed off to me and vice-versa. If you ask me, I’d rather it just stick to patching up wounds and not try to give any more advice on how to survive out there.

            My heart has suffered enough from letting people tell me who I can and cannot have. If my own religion really insists on intervention, it should know that the only kind I’ll accept is the kind that’s willing to concede to my own personal intentions. If not, don’t waste anymore time calling me selfish. The only reason I wound up in my own mess was because I wasn’t selfish enough.

          • eddiestardust

            I think you really have it right , Ladasha:)

            • Ladasha Smithson

              Thank you Eddie!

      • Jude

        The Church is not a dating service. Finding someone a spouse is not the job of the Church.

        • Ladasha Smithson

          It’s not. But it should start using its resources to do such things. I can see your age in all of your comments here.

          Three generations ago the Parish was the center of community for the Catholics in it’s neighborhood. Over half of the activities the Parish provided were aimed at singles because that is where family formation starts. It was once a propriety of the Church to get singles to their vocations. Look at what happened when that stopped. Now over half of all adults are unmarried. That is a lot of vocations going unfulfilled.

          • Jude

            Well, why don’t you tell me my age?

        • eddiestardust

          And why shouldn’t it be? Huh? You must be married…sadly it shows….

          • Jude

            And yet, when I was single, I don’t remember ever asking the Church to find me a spouse. Nor did I resent the happiness of those who were already married. Because I knew (having witnessed the marriages of my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends) that marriage came with its own unique challenges.

            • Ladasha Smithson

              As Christians we are called to help each other find and live out our vocations.

              • Jude

                I don’t remember seeing that one in the Six Precepts of the Church.

                • Ladasha Smithson

                  It’s part of the universal call to Holiness. We strive to make ourselves and others holy.

    • Jason

      Or maybe becoming priests. All too often the people who would best be priests don’t seem to realize it, and the ones who do become priests maybe shouldn’t have…

    • Lykex

      I’ll take your comment seriously when you find out what exactly is wrong with the horrendously disfigured landscape that is dating (oh and human romance in general).

    • fderf

      I think that is why many people are single. Because they approach marriage seriously which makes it more difficult to find a spouse. Also, we often forget that a person may be single for other reasons including health issues, ssa, unemployment, caretakers to a family member, younger widow/er, and so on. Plus there are people who are single by choice. No matter the why, the need for love and acceptance is still there. This is where the broader Catholic community can step in.

    • Blah Blaah

      I assure you, Nick, that faithful Catholics who are single probably consider marriage a whole lot more than you imagine. In fact, some of us at some points in our lives may even be obsessed with it. It’s pretty hard to reach 30 and see all your friends married off and too busy to spend any time with you – and when they do spend time, they are so ‘married’ that it’s not the same as before – and not think about marriage.

      It’s pretty hard to be ‘out there’ trying to meet someone and time and again the person turns out to be so worldly that you know, ‘this is not the one’ and you’re back to your loneliness and isolation. You think about marriage seriously then.

      It’s pretty hard to invest yourself in a relationship with somehow who – as far as you know – has all the right values and qualities and who turns out to be stringing you along. You think about marriage seriously then.

      It’s hard not to think seriously about marriage when people consider it a compliment to say, ‘You are so pretty and smart and have so much to give! Why aren’t you married?’ People like that don’t give you a chance NOT to think seriously about marriage.

      It’s hard not to think seriously about marriage when EVERY SINGLE FAMILY GATHERING has got someone in it asking, ‘When are you going to get married?’ In your 20s, they ask you to your face; in your 30s, they start to whisper it to your siblings and parents. But you know they are asking. They ask like you can just go to the store and ‘think seriously’ about which spouse to take off the shelf, choose one, check out and live happily ever after, leaving you to wonder if marriage makes people stupid or just tactless and insensitive.

      And then you get to your 40s and they stop asking, “Why isn’t so-and-so married?” and start saying, ‘It’s such a shame you never got married’ or ‘You would have made such a great mother; too bad you never got married.’ No, NickD, we never think seriously about marriage then, either.

      It’s pretty hard to want marriage and children with all your heart and not think seriously about marriage.

      It’s hard to see every immoral, atheistic, self-indulgent hedonist you’ve ever come across beaming with joy over his or her impending marriage and not think seriously about why God grants marriage to people whose whole lives are a rejection of him and ignores and rejects people who want nothing more than to create a holy, Catholic family.

      No, NickD. We don’t need to be ‘encouraged’ to consider marriage ‘more seriously.’ We need to be encouraged as we carry the very heavy and painful cross of wanting marriage, and feeling forever rejected and shut out from that – and defective and pitiable into the bargain.

      • Keith Martin

        Maybe your whole belief system is wrong. I’m single and loving it. All you single religious ladies just whine about how God made you spinsters.

        • Blah Blaah

          You do realize how nasty you sound? I’m not the only person you’ve been rude to or about in your posts. Do you think your unpleasantness is invisible to others? Or do you revel in your rudeness?

    • Keith Martin

      Are you nuts!

  • jlizm

    As a single person, I resent the way the church treats us as if our lives have no value. We help take care of family members who have difficulty helping themselves. In my parish, and indeed I would suspect most parishes, when there is a festival the people who work at it are KC, CCD, CYO, and other parish groups but none of this is ever offered to those of us who are not connected to these groups. The church doesn’t care aboiut those of us who are single either by choice or the fact they have never found anyone. There is no outreach to us and I think priests and parish councils could care less. It is all right to take our money but we are not ministered to. Go figure.

    • St JD George

      I don’t doubt your experiences are true, but don’t let those harden your heart. People can be funny, even those within the church who should open their arms to embrace and don’t. It may not be as overt as you imagine, it could be that people just naturally associate with other like families, rightly or wrongly. For what it’s worth, I have a son who is single but devout, and I know has some issues of awkwardness being more involved in his church. Sometimes people have blinders on and you have to be a little aggressive in getting their attention. If that’s not the case and there is truly a cold shoulder you are being given, consider finding another more welcoming parish.

      • fderf

        Thank you for these points. Understanding, fortitude, and forgiveness are needed virtues in the single life! Single men and women come in all shapes: shy, gregarious, far from home, big family, no family, sick, healthy, and on and on. It can be tiring for a person to have to push his/her way into parish or other group events, as if forcing his presence where maybe he isn’t wanted. Being forgotten, unacknowledged, and not even on the radar are extremely painful experiences. We need to be aware of those around us. Let us all live in a solidarity of kindness to all. Let us strive to live a less and less self-centered life and that includes families which often forget to look beyond themselves.

    • “The church doesn’t care aboiut those of us who are single either by choice or the fact they have never found anyone.”

      As somebody who married at an age beyond the median late 20’s average for males (and only then when the good Lord presented the same woman a second time in a way that even I could understand that He was saying “this one, idiot”) – I see no difference in the way I am “treated”.

      If you want to participate in the Parish festival, raise your hand-in the multiple Parishes I’ve belonged to- there’s never enough volunteers for such things.

      • Lecarne

        “this one, idiot” – that is so funny. Thank you for sharing! I wish you every grace and blessing…

        • See? THERE IT IS. You wish “grace and blessing” to the person who commented as a married person, but you wished NOTHING to the persons who commented as singles. THANK YOU for proving my point (above) that Catholics do not respect singles.

          • MHB

            That is unfortunate that this has been your experience. I wish you every grace and blessing! Christ is for all, AND He was unmarried. Singles have the benefit if being most like Him!

            • Thanks, MHB. I have actually been through all this in my 20’s and part of my 30’s, and frankly haven’t the stomach for it anymore. Thanks for the invitation, however.

              • I would have said the same thing at 35-but here’s the reality-you either take risks or you remain isolated.

            • NickD

              I’m pretty sure priests have that benefit, not singles…

              • MHB

                Oh don’t be so sure about that. Being a priest should make one most like Christ but there were plenty of single saints who were more like Christ than some priests, so that is not a ‘given’, unfortunately.

                • NickD

                  Oh yes, let’s compare the best of the laity with the lowest of the clergy and then form our ideas on who by their nature more imitate Christ, simply off of that. Not that priests act in persona Christi, are alteri Christi; no, no, of course, none of that

          • Hey Dreadful. I was single a lot longer than I was married. I fully expected to be single forever and I spent a lot of nights wondering why I was in a single bed. It was especially disconcerting when I lived in an apartment where there was no shortage of sounds early in the morning from the upstairs unit that indicated the pretty blonde was yet another woman of easy virtue.

            However, being married taught me a lot of things, including not to look for insults where none is intended.

            • eddiestardust

              And I’m still single and you are married..so what is your point?

              • That other people who spent time being convinced they were single know of what you speak. I didn’t lose my memory when she slipped the ring on my finger.

                • Ladasha Smithson

                  You seemed to have lost empathy and sympathy.

                  • You seem to have lost reality.

              • I married when I stopped being self-absorbed.

        • Jude

          That sounds exactly like something my husband would say.

      • eddiestardust

        Excuse me? YOU are married..I’m not..I’m 58 and you haven’t been where I have been so please go somewhere else. BTW I do not try to tell you about marriage..since I’ve never been married.

        • Yes, DE-173’s attitude (“just raise your hand”) is exactly what we’re talking about here. A demonstrated TOTAL lack of respect and compassion for un-married Catholics.

          DE-173: Catholics!! We are CATHOLICS. Think on that and let it simmer real good. I think your co-religionists deserve better than this.

          • What I’m simmering on is the fact that you interpret telling people that they need to get involved is a “TOTAL” lack of respect and that somehow that I dispute your status. None of that is true.
            Calumny on the other hand is a total lack of respect.

            • eddiestardust

              Why is it that marrieds have all the answers…but they really don’t….

              • What part of I was single than I was married did you miss?

                • eddiestardust

                  The part that says you are married. What I’m saying is that I have been single longer and never married. No sorry you don’t win on this one…

                  • I used to know a woman nicknamed “topper”. The nickname came from the fact that no matter what you said, you couldn’t “top her”, ad she never married either.

                    • Keith Martin

                      I thought she was called “topper” because she had big boobs.

                    • Keith Martin used to be respected news anchor and military officer in my old area.. oh but you aren’t him…

          • Fred

            How can you help someone socialize who refuses to be part of groups?

            • They don’t have to if they don’t want to. There’s some great research that’s been done recently — I think a woman wrote a book on this topic — about how introverts are so misunderstood, and how society has formed this warped idea that introversion has to be “fixed”, and how this is played out in the workplace (as one example) by putting employees in large rooms with cubicles on top of each other and enforcing stringent ideas of “team work”. Whether in social settings or in the workplace, there should be a way for different personality types to live and work in ways that are most effective — and sometimes that means NOT being “part of a team” and NOT being “forced” into social groups.

              To answer your question more directly: there are lots of things people can do to “be together” (socializing) that doesn’t require introverts to be “on” all the time. Outdoors activities are one way — hiking, going for nature walks, or visiting museums. These are activities people DO TOGETHER but don’t have to be interacting verbally the whole time. I will not go to a party but I’ll go hiking.

              • Fred

                That was a great reply, but I’ll bet that fewer than 1 person in 500 has any idea about what you were saying. To blame people for not knowing this, as the original poster seems to do, is not right.

        • No, excuse you. I went from being a confirmed batchelor, who fully expected that state to be my life, to stumbling across an old girlfriend and being married nine months later.

          While you appear significantly older than me, I was completely familiar with watching othes wed and start families and feeling isolated. Scott’s phrase above “It gets pretty old to be lonely all the time” was my personal anthem at one time.

          • eddiestardust

            I’m 58, I don’t know how old you are but I never got even close to being married and you are. No you really can’t see period…

            • I’m younger than you but like I said, I was sure I was going solo.

      • Ladasha Smithson

        Behold Exhibit “A”.

        Just because you’ve had a difference experience than him doesn’t mean his is invalid or untrue. Don’t dismiss other’s suffering because you haven’t experienced it.

        • I didn’t do either and I remember you peddling a similar story before. I’m not sure what either of you expect. Unless you take the initiative and make yourself known- you are just one of the 99% whose involvement at your Church is sitting in a pew on Sunday.

          • fderf

            Your assumption is single persons take no initiative. A parish festival happens what, once a year? So a single person experiences parish life once a year? If he or she will be included by the groups which normally run these things? The issue is the consistent lack of community and often unwelcoming atmosphere which is very real. Single people, like anyone else, need a church to walk with them in their unique life, especially when they are way beyond the young adult age group. Lack of acknowledgent and a dismissive attitude by those they hope would be understanding and encompassing is a real, common, and painful experience.

            • Jude

              And how much effort does it take to start a singles group at your parish? Not much. The parishes in our area have singles groups, groups for retirees, groups for twenty-somethings, men’s clubs, women’s clubs, etc… It’s all very, very social. Now does it lead to holiness? Questionable. It’s actually not part of the Great Commission for the Church to find you friends, spouses, or activities.

              • Ladasha Smithson

                Forcing singles to form their own single ministries never goes well. We don’t force alcoholics to form their own sobriety do we?

                The Church is supposed to be more than a service once a week. Read acts of the apostles. See how the early Church was once a community, not just a sacramental vending machine.

                • Jude

                  Oddly enough, I never met anyone in AA or running an AA meeting who wasn’t an alcoholic. And AA was started by two alcoholics.
                  Being a community does not mean finding spouses for someone or being a dating service.

                  • Ladasha Smithson
                  • fderf

                    Single people are not necessarily looking for a spouse. Love, companionship, acceptance: those are needs for everyone and often lacking in the life of a single person who expects and often does not find it in his/her own Catholic community no matter the effort put into it.

                    • Jude

                      Ah, sorry. Let me post the quote from Ladasha Simpson: “But encouraging isn’t effort. The Church will have to build a culture of forming marriages and actively create godly couples rather than waiting for them to show up asking for marriage prep.

                      The best thing the Church could do would be to start with young singles and actually help them find spouses. The Church needs to stop pretending that marriage “just happens”.”

              • fderf

                Did I ask someone to find me a friend? However, we Christians ought to be friendly toward each other.

            • I’m not assuming anything. I’m addressing this satement:

              “In my parish, and indeed I would suspect most parishes, when there is a festival the people who work at it are KC, CCD, CYO, and other parish groups but none of this is ever offered to those of us who are not connected to these groups.”
              To the extent that these things are “offered”, parish festival jobs is because they’ve already demonstrated involvement and commitment and they’ll be receptive.
              In my Parish, the existence and timing of these events is placed in the Bulletin, with the normal plea for any and all assistance. Some people understand that is the extent of the “offer” and others seem to wait for a personal invitation from the pastor.

              • fderf

                Your response states that the person needs initiative when there is no indication there has not been. And initiative is not enough. Acceptance by the group is also necessary. It’s hard to understand the resentment and blame in the comments rather than accepting legitimate experiences.

          • Jack

            It should also be acknowledged that the sex abuse issue has alienated many innocent men from taking part in many activities lest they be suspected of being perverts. Am I right in saying this? Isn’t it true that many priests have also pulled back in fear from any involvement with children or youth?

            • True, but what does that have to do with the above?

    • Ronk

      If you think that the Catholic Church treats single people “as if our lives have no value”, then take a look at the way secular society, and EVERY other institution that I can think of (even other churches and religions), treats single people. The Catholic Church is the one stand-out which says that being single is OK and a perfectly valid choice of lifestyle. Sure there are always things that we in the Church could do better, but please, you are blaming the institution which is absolutely the LEAST offensive to single people.

      Ironically from the point of view of your comment, most criticisms of the Church which we read concern the claim that Church is not understanding or sympathetic enough to married and de-facto-married people, and too focussed on singletons.

      • So far, none of us have stated we’ve left the Church because we’re single and are not treated with respect and equality with married Catholics. So you don’t really need to lecture us. The Church is BEST, without argument. But that’s beside the point here.

        • Blah Blaah

          Penny, I’m a little afraid of saying anything to you because you are so angry and hurt. I don’t want to get my hair ripped off (I have nice hair; I like it!). I want to say that I very much know how you feel. My feeling of what you feel was compounded by being in a foreign country where I don’t really speak the language well enough even to volunteer for the parish festival once per year. It was hard enough for me to switch from English in my head to my very poor and broken Polish and respond coherently when someone greeted me in church or after Mass. (You can read more of my ‘story’ below.)

          I want to say that being single – if it turns out that that’s ‘it’ for you – is a long journey. There is the extremely painful part of it, and I think that that’s – sorry to say it – most likely in your 30s (I speak as a woman; no idea about men). I think that in our 20s, there’s a sense of, ‘I still have time to get married’ because most people (especially if they went to university, I think), kind of ‘look around’ in life in their 20s: getting an education, trying this job and that, dating this person and that, travelling… ‘finding yourself’ as people used to say.

          But then you hit 30 or thereabouts and suddenly you look around you and EVERYONE you know is married. They have a whole lot less time for you (or if they are single, their lifestyle is a no-go-zone for you). Then they start having kids, and they have even less time. I had a period of about 3 years (remember, in a foreign country, not speaking the language well) when all of my friends either had died (car accident), moved abroad, or moved far away (to get married) and I literally had NOBODY to talk to personally, to open my heart to or share my life with. I went to work, I went home (no Internet in those days, even), and went to Mass every day. That was it – for a few years. I absolutely LIVED on the meetings I was able to have with my English-speaking confessor, but those were few and far between because he was extremely busy and scheduled, though when I really needed him, after a week or so he always could fit me in.

          I went deeper into my faith, meanwhile seeing all these people around me living deeply immoral lives and ending up ‘happily ever after’ with the ‘man of their dreams’ and children and the white picket fence.

          I ended up hitting a sort of ‘rock bottom’ when I thought, ‘God hates me. He must hate me or else why would he abandon me to so much pain and isolation and loneliness? Why would he abandon me this way while rewarding so many people who don’t give a damn about him or his love or his teaching? (At the same time I lost every friend, all consolations in my spiritual life had also ceased, just when I was mostly lonely and felt most needy.)

          It was a long, hard road. It drove me to confession (especially when I got to the ‘God hates me’ moment), to more prayer, and slowly, slowly to a deeper devotion to Mass and the Eucharist and a desire to give something back to the Church in a way that was meaningful to me (because to tell the truth, organizing the parish festival is ‘not my thing’). It took years and it was not always made easier by married friends whose attitude sometimes was, ‘Well, your role as a single person is to support us married people.’ One of my friends even went so far as to suggest that I become a nanny to her children, doing the ‘physical work’ of raising children that made her so tired, so she could have MORE children and enjoy ‘quality time’ with them that she was too tired to enjoy! Even friends can rub salt in your wounds.

          I think what some married people here are trying to say and failing to say well – or failing to say in a way that you can understand right now – is that it’s all hard. Single life is a long, hard journey with its seasons of joy and sadness, loneliness and (eventually – pray for it) feelings of belonging, joy and fulfillment (see my post below, answering Peter).

          The Christian walk means bearing our crosses and absolutely NONE of us has it easy. It is true that the Church focuses very much on marriages and families as the ‘core’ of parish life. It’s also true that marriage and family life can be extremely painful ‘roads’ to travel (I am close to four married couples; two of those marriages are deeply painful and lonely; one suffers from infertility; the happy married couple are in debt and exhausted all the time). It’s also true that being a priest can be lonely and isolating (especially in the US, where one priest may have care of several parishes with no other priest living in community with him). It’s also true that being a widow or widower is a hard, painful road.

          It does not diminish anyone to say, ‘Being a Christian means carrying your cross – and we all carry our crosses.’ And I don’t think that married people or priests are DELIBERATELY alienating unmarried people, or deliberately being cloddish and insensitive. I think they are clueless and should get a clue. (Then again, maybe giving them a clue is exactly what people like you and I are called to do? Or maybe if we are more articulate about the problem, it’s up to us to organize the singles in our parish, instead of expecting the clueless to do a good job? After all, they are off living their own lives, tra-la-la.)

          But my relationship to Christ and my membership in His Body – the Church – doesn’t depend on anyone else’s input in my life, really. It depends on me and Him.

          I found that the loneliness and isolation and the lack of interest and understanding (as well as being utterly alone in a foreign country without any friends and no easy way to make like-minded, Catholic friends) was part of my journey to a deeper relationship with Christ and a desire to belong more deeply to the Church, BY GIVING BACK SOMETHING TO THE CHURCH. It was a few years of praying (see below) before that ‘something’ was revealed to me – and it has been a source of great joy.

          I’m a couple of decades older than you – something I didn’t want to reveal at the beginning, because as a college teacher, I know that ‘You’ll feel different when you are older’ doesn’t convince anyone and certainly doesn’t make anyone feel ‘all better’! But I have to say it because I’ve walked your road, and I’ve felt your pain and alienation and yes – anger, resentment, though I think mine was more directed at God than at unfeeling people around me (I mean, I’m a foreigner and I’ve never mastered the language, so I can excuse people around me from not knowing my situation!).

          The pain you are feeling now – in your 30s – is intense, I think, because in our 30s we expect to settle down, to know what our life is going to be, to know, ‘This is who you will be married to’ or ‘this is what your work will be’ or ‘this is the community you are part of’ for the rest of your life. All human beings want love and home and belonging – and most people seem to find it in their 30s at the latest. And we don’t know and we don’t belong, and nobody seems to care, as they go on cheerfully with their lives, secure in knowing who they are and why they are here.

          But at risk of sounding like an old fart, it DOES get better. You’re carrying the Cross now, and it’s very painful, but it means that you are very close to the heart of Christ – He is so close to you, Penny! Who knows isolation, misunderstanding and feelings of rejection from his ‘faith community’ more than Christ? You are VERY close to him in this pain.

          Go deeper into your relationship with him. Keep remembering that there is NOTHING you could gain that would be worth anything if it meant losing him (not that you’d lose him if you married; but that you make him and only him your most important ‘possession’ in life). Try to let go of attachments – to your idea of how your life will be, especially (married people and parents and priests have to do it – why not single people?). Make your entire devotional life, ‘Christ, and Christ alone’, and if at all possible, step up your attendance at Mass and/or Eucharistic adoration to as close to daily as you can manage. Cooperate with his grace in giving you this cross. It is NOT easy. It is simple, but NOT easy. The pain of this cross will continue.

          But there will be Resurrection; there will be joy; there will be fulfillment and a sense of home and also an awareness that your life is and always has been a precious gift for the whole Church.

          I don’t discount your pain now. It’s real; it has real causes, and there are real things that people do and say that increase your pain. But it also has a real cure: total self-surrender to Christ alone as the only value that really matters in your life. Give him your life, with all its pains and sufferings – take it to the cross again and again and just dump it at his feet (there’s where Eucharistic visits or more frequent Mass help). He’ll take all the broken pieces and make something so beautiful and so satisfying that it will take your breath away.

          And you may just find yourself being the envy of your married friends (as I sometimes do – see below).

          God bless you Penny. You are definitely not alone, because nobody who takes up the Cross of Christ carries it alone.

          • Thanks for your input. I know this is heartfelt and took a long time for you to write, so I appreciate it.

            • eddiestardust

              Penny, you do realize that I’m right with you too?

          • Keith Martin

            Long story short, you’re a cat lady.

    • Keith Martin

      You should leave any organization you resent.

    • MHB

      I just visited a Catholic Church in DC that has a very active young adult group. They plan activities together. So why not start something for singles? You can approach a priest and talk about your experience of not being connected and see if you can do something about it for others like yourself.

    • Fred

      Why not join one of those groups? I understand you may not want/need insurance, so that cuts out KC, but all the other groups gladly accept volunteers.

  • Scott Thomas

    I HATE being single. If you want to help single people, you should make it easier for single people to get married.

    Let’s not pretend that faithful, devout Catholics who stay single into their 30s, 40s, and 50s do it voluntarily. Basically, dating and marriage is closed to you in this society if you don’t buy off on contraception, cohabitation, and premarital sex.

    The Church cheerfully marries cohabiting couples who have been shacked up for years up to and including the morning of their wedding day.

    Yet if you won’t cohabit and can’t marry for that reason, you are treated like a weirdo and loser, consigned to the singles group that supposedly meets in the basement but never has a quorum or the online dating ghetto.

    The singles problem is a marriage problem. Address the marriage issue first.

    • eddiestardust

      Scott, I’m old enough to be able to say that I’ve looked back on my life and realized some of the things I wouldn’t have been able to do..being there for my family ..if I had been married.

      • Scott Thomas

        It gets pretty old to be lonely all the time. I have done a lot of interesting things, and in retrospect, I would swap it all for marriage and family. I think it is self-indulgent and delusional to say that those great vacations you had as a single person (in your 20s) or those two weeks working for Habitat for Humanity somewhere can even remotely compare with raising a Catholic family

        • eddiestardust

          Scott, I wasn’t talking about great vacations or working for Habitat you know. Simply stating the fact that I can look back on my life and realize why I wasn’t married…because God wanted me to be there for my family.

        • Keith Martin

          That’s just that “The grass is greener..” nonsense.

    • Jack

      Amen brother. I hate being single, but the whole society and Church is a mess, as you rightly say. The Church is speaking out of both sides of its mouth.

    • Keith Martin

      Who needs a nagging wife and screaming kids?

  • M.J.A.

    The book ‘ True Devotion to The Holy Spirit ‘ by Arch.Bishop Louise Martinez can be of good help , to any one who feel the need to grow closer , in the one relationship that alone can answer our need to find true rest , from trusting deeply who we belong to and even more profoundly , who belongs to us , that we have a God who wants us to call Him ‘My God , My Father ‘ ; while waiting for the suitable spouse , if single people can use that time, may be in front of the tabernacle , reading the scripture and good books such as above, being ready , to deal with the many situations wherein that relationship is going to be challenged , in any marriage or other state .
    Asking the Holy Spirit to help find the right spouse ..other than the custom of having parents arrange marriages , like done in countries to this day ( and not a bad system either – no pressure of dating and all that !) , having spiritually very astute . gifted persons , who can take the place of the parent , to help in the process , accepting that marriage is mostly also about helping each other, to grow in the relationship with God and it would take effort …
    well, may be The Bl. Mother …Arch Angel Rafael.. can take the place of the spiritually gifted , to help take the leap , not letting excessive fears play god ;
    repenting for and asking for mercy , on the ones whose choices might also be the reason for one being left alone ..and who ,thus would have to even answer for that too !
    The Lord in the tabernacle can be visited even while at home …and surrounded by a ‘cloud of witnesses ‘ , none of us are truly alone !
    Putting on a C.D of the Gregorian Chant , one is like in an abbey ..going for a walk ..to be an occasion for a prayer walk , for all those in the neighborhood ..
    In married life too , there are occasions for precious solitude …if the heart is free of any resentments towards God or others whom one might see as the reason for the loneliness, that too can help !

  • Peter

    I love this article. I am not only committed to the Lay State, I’ve actually taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as a lay person – so celibacy for the rest of my life is a moral certainty.

    As far as treatment by the local Church goes, I have had an enormous supporting cast which has helped me persevere in my vocation, which was extremely difficult at first because I was taking care of my ailing father, who has gone to be with the Lord.

    In my life, my commitment is to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I am heavily involved in it’s youth and young adult ministries, and I have found that to be a source of joy. I am also beginning to do more and more Catholic Apologetics with a focus on youth/young adults.

    jlizm, I don’t know the life of your local Church, but what I do know is that you have one thing you can give the Church, and that is time.

    Is there a local apostolate you can be involved with? In our Archdiocese, we have a relatively large charismatic renewal but we have other things such as ACTS retreats, Cursillo. There are any number of opportunities in such groups.

    More mainline things such as joining the Legion of Mary are also possible. If you like working with youth or children, there may be a youth group you can become a service to by being a mentor to help them grow into a mature spirituality. Or you can be a Catechist, or work with RCIA. Or you can begin a Bible study. Or a Rosary or Divine Mercy prayer group.

    If I were you, I would also consider calling the local Pastors and ask them what areas you can support the Church in. There may be something that you could really do and only you might have the time to do it.

    Don’t forget – as a baptized member of the Body of Christ, and even more so – a Confirmed member of the Body of Christ – you have been given charisms and other gifts for the upbuilding of the Church. There are many different charisms. There is a charism that we both have and that is Celibacy. (Btw. I don’t engage in any sort of the imagination that everyone has one charism and without it we don’t have Holy Spirit).

    I will keep you in my prayers.

    In Christ,
    Peer

    • Blah Blaah

      Good advice, Peter. I have not been called to a consecrated life. My confessor (a bishop, just by the way) offered me information and all support for that and… it wasn’t me somehow. Didn’t resonate. So here I am.

      However, several years ago (maybe as many as 10 years ago), while attending daily Mass, I found myself drawn more and more to a desire to ‘give something back’ to the Church somehow, for the rich and beautiful treasure that the Church has been in my life. This presented a problem, as a I live in a country where I am not a native-speaker of the language and while I am a college teacher in this country, I am not proficient enough in the language to have been of any help in my parish.

      I prayed for about two years for God to show me what I could give back – in the sense of practical service – to the Church. Slowly, over time, my prayers took on a particular shape: helping priests was what I wanted to do. I just didn’t know how. In the meantime, I worked on a Catholic website based in the US, but wasn’t particularly satisfied: I knew that that was not ‘what I would give back to the Church’ that I was praying for.

      Within a day of quitting the website work and within 45 minutes of asking God to send me some way to work with priests, I received an e-mail asking me if I wanted to help Franciscan priests create and prepare for an English-language Mass in this country. Everything fell together in a single moment (since I am a highly qualified teacher of English language and literature and teaching is definitely a gift from the Holy Spirit for me).

      I cannot begin to enumerate the enormous gift that the Franciscan priests have been to me. It is amazing to me that Franciscan spirituality and focus on poverty – which I had never given much thought to, having been brought up in a family that regarded material wealth as the be-all and end-all – is so right for me, suits and inspires me.

      It also means that I have formed some incalculably precious friendships with Franciscan priests – they are my friends, true brothers, fathers, teachers and sometimes sparring partners. I know that the Church is my home; the Church is my family. And when it comes to the pastoral work with English-speakers, I find myself something like the spiritual ‘mother’ and ‘sister’, praying, encouraging, keeping people ‘in the loop’ with what’s going on, and generally being the one who ‘keeps the family together’ even when our current priest is transferred and we begin again with a new one.

      Single people should never stop praying, ‘Here I am Lord. What is your will for me?’ If we put ourselves totally at his disposal – while learning to rejoice in other people’s joy as they marry and have children, etc (NO pity parties allowed!) – I am sure that he will show each single person the contribution s/he can make to other people’s lives.

      I recently re-read a letter from a married friend who wrote that she never understood how anyone could be a ‘spiritual mother,’ that she was sure that only if you gave birth and had children could you be a ‘mother’ to anyone. She then went on to enumerate the ways I’ve ‘mothered’ her over the years (not that I was conscious of doing anything of the sort) and said that thanks to me, she understands ‘spiritual motherhood.’

      It’s hard for me (and perhaps many single people) to look back at their lives and say, ‘I did that and that and that for the good of the Kingdom of God.’ I can’t look at children and say, ‘I brought up those faithful Catholic children’ or look at my life and say, ‘I baptized all those people and reconciled those souls and aided all those people at the moment of death; I built that church from the bare ground.’ Maybe it’s just me, but I am not able to look back at my life and say, ‘I’ve achieved so much.’

      But from time to time someone says something that startles me and makes me realize, ‘It is necessary that I be here. It is good for me to be here. My life does have meaning and purpose.’

      At this stage, I’m not only at peace with being single, I see the great advantages to it. I forget sometimes – until a married person reminds me – how much time I’ve been able to devote to the study of my faith. I forget how really easy it is for me to attend daily Mass (fortunate to be in a country where the average parish has 4 Masses per day and up to 10 or more on Sunday; and to live in a city called ‘the city of 100 churches’). I forget how much it shapes my life to be in daily contact with really manly, holy, devoted, prayerful priests – until a married friend says she envies me my great friendships with so many holy men. Then when I remember how much I’ve been able to focus on God in my life – while my married friends scarcely have the energy to have a conversation with one another, still less God, and while they haven’t been able to be quiet and focussed in Mass since before the first child was born – I realize that like Mary (contra Martha), I may have been chosen for ‘the better part.’

      I’m poor. I don’t own anything. I have no savings to speak of and will soon face homelessness and joblessness. And I’m not in the least bit worried – still less miserable because I have no husband to share the burden with me. God has always provided for me and he will provide again – abundantly – the moment I need a job and a new place to live.

      Not bad. It turns out that single life is really not bad.

      • Lee Anne Bruce

        Thank you,you have given me hope.

        • Keith Martin

          Your hopes will be crushed in the end.

          • Lee Anne Bruce

            Well sweety, that pretty much depends on what my hopes happen to be.

  • eddiestardust

    First, I want to say Thanks for this article:) I am Single, 58, never married, never engaged without any children. Now, having said that, I do want to take you to task as defining lay Singles who are open to marriage NOT Singles? As I said, I am 58 and you are younger than 30? I’m a Single Roman Catholic and I deserve the right to be counted and you do not have the right to say I don’t!

    • Scott Thomas

      The point is that the single state is not a terminal vocation for most people. It’s a dead end that we are stuck in. More a missed vocation than a real one. Sorry, but there are 2,000 years of Church teaching that there is no “single vocation” as such. We are called to marriage on the natural or the supernatural level. We are called to communion. We are never called to be single just to be single.

      • eddiestardust

        Scott…St Paul did indeed have a few words for us remember that he said he would rather be single….I don’t look at it as a vocation but I also realize I haven’t died because I never married either:)

  • Nice article, nice sentiments … but it is a TOTAL pipe dream. Unfortunately, Catholicism’s love for family and children (wonderful things!) has created a bias against single individuals. And this bias is worsened the older the single Catholic gets. Singles are NOT respected within cultural Catholicism, especially older singles. On the one hand Catholics acknowledge that marriage is a gift and a blessing … but on the other hand Catholics look down on unmarried Catholics for NOT BEING MARRIED. “When are you going to get married?” is the dull, battering cry of the Catholic who really must think spouses can be plucked off trees like ripened fruit. And as a single Catholic woman I can absolutely confirm that married women with children are treated with 1,000 times more respect than those of us without children. When Catholics start treating all the Church’s members with respect REGARDLESS of their state in life we will certainly grow more vibrant, loving communities that seculars and non-Catholics will find worthy of emulation.

    • Blah Blaah

      I think that we do – in fairness -have to factor in the fact that in the past more people married. I’m talking the Church’s past, not the past in the sense of living memory (when the Church says the ‘past’ it might be thinking about the age of Thomas Aquinas, not the 1970s). Hundreds of years ago, small towns, small villages, seems like people just somehow wound up married. Maybe in some ways – thanks probably a LOT to movies and the media – we have unreasonable expectations of marriage; or if not ‘unreasonable’, then perhaps we expect something, at least, that previous generations didn’t expect, perhaps.

      Two stories come to mind. My paternal grandparents’ story is one. My grandfather, J. was married to a woman; his brother was married to another woman, M. My grandfather’s wife died; his brother died. So my grandfather, J. was a widower with 2 kids and big farm to run. His sister-in-law, M. was a widow with two kids and a farm to run. They got a dispensation to marry, joined families and had 8 more kids. Were they ever ‘in love’? Was it more than a marriage of practicality? I don’t know; I never met them. I know that my grandmother treated my grandfather with respect as the head of the household but that he deferred to her as the heart of the household (her tenderness for the children tempered his discipline, for example). I have no idea if they were ‘best friends’ or ‘lovers’ or even especially attracted to each other. They do seem to have respected and honored one another, though, and certainly honored their vows and did everything to raise faithful children (including one religious sister and one Trappist monk). I think that nowadays two people who entered into marriage like that – a marriage that lasted at least 40 years, until death – would be considered somewhat cold-blooded and strange. Maybe, though, people looked at marriage more simply, as for company and companionship and for raising children – and didn’t expect it to be as ‘deep’ as we tend to expect now. I remember a story of George Burns cheating – once – on Gracie Allen. At the time, she was lobbying for a new coffee table, and he was saying ‘no’ to the expense. They never discussed his extramarital ‘fling’ but he bought her the coffee table and she accepted it as an act of contrition and the episode was closed. They had a loving relationship until her death. I don’t think modern people would react at all the same way or be able to maintain a relationship without profound pain and a sense of alienation from the spouse.

      Another story comes to mind, and this one my father told on himself and his generation. He was born in 1917. As he grew up, movies were becoming the rage. Up until the 1960s, most Americans went to the movies at least once a week; sometimes several times per week. My father told me once – and insisted vehemently that it was something he and his generation experienced – that the movies taught them that love and marriage was meeting a ‘nice, sweet girl’ or a ‘handsome man’ and having a few conversations and a meal or two and deciding you were in love and getting married. People lived in small towns and on farms (the big suburbs of the post-WWII years had not yet been built) and the most in-your-face model for fashion, interior decorating, American values, womanly beauty and behavior and masculinity and strength and indeed ‘love and romance’ was the movies. My father said that when he and his generation went to the movies, it was something glamorous and magical and it was taken as ‘how it should be’ because everything was pretty and elegant and everyone ended up happy (except the bad guys, who were justly punished). His generation – and succeeding generations – got married to people they hardly really knew, with images of happy ever after ‘just like in the movies’ and then woke up to the reality of being with a real person who didn’t usually act like s/he did on dates. Watch the old movies from the 30s and ’40s and you can see how absurd the plot lines are when it comes to human relationships, bonding between men and women and marriage – really, maybe one page of dialogue and they are ‘meant for each other’ and ready to marry. And then consider how absurd the plot lines are of modern films on the same subject and see how the culture is shaped by that (meet someone, have sex with them five minutes later, and somehow this leads to marriage and happy ever after).

      If I want to be charitable, I could say that perhaps in the Church’s memory – which is long – spouses COULD be plucked off the tree like fruit: not that many ‘fruits’ to choose from and your parents probably had a big role in nudging you toward this or that person, and you went along with what was expected and normal – and at a young age. And perhaps people just didn’t expect the same things or as much as we do.

      Things have changed very rapidly since WWII, though. Millions of men who would never have got higher education before the War went to university on the GI bill afterward, and raised their kids to aim for university – which delays people getting married. The feminist movement means that women tend to take it for granted that they should have a career, or establish one before they get married; it also means that men are no longer expected to woo a woman ONLY when they can afford to support her and children: women are expected and themselves expect to bring in a salary along with the man (and consequently, the rising cost of housing and living from so many two-paycheck households means that a one-paycheck household will have a hard time surviving). Contraception has led to easy sex – no need for commitment – and easy divorce laws mean many more damaged and fearful people who cannot and will not risk commitment…

      A LOT of what channeled people into marriage (no sex until you commit; no dating unless you were ready to support a wife; no easy divorce and good examples of committed marriages everywhere; people marrying young and women expecting to stay home and be supported by their husbands) has simply been torn down to the ground.

      The Church is still reeling from the cultural disorder and decay and destruction that happened in the 1960s. And I think that single people who want to find a chaste and faithful spouse are part of the victims of this cultural revolution. We’re like the dispossessed aristocrats after the Russian Revolution: we’ve got our values and standards, but they no longer fit into the current reality. As you’ve said yourself, if you wanted to go with the immoral flow you could have had lovers and live-in arrangements. But if you want to live like a true Daughter of the King… how do you fit into post-cultural-revolution western civilization where women are expected to ‘put out’ and men are not expected to stick around?

      We have to admit – don’t we – that there’s really no strong cultural support for marriage anymore, no social pressure or expectation for anyone to marry, and no strong reason why anyone should marry to get the ‘benefits’ of marriage (which once meant sex was only for marriage). The culture is bound to affect the Church negatively, and perhaps to cause the Church to ‘push back’ by focusing much more on marriage and putting married people on a pedestal, as an example to be admired and emulated.

      I think the Church just hasn’t yet got its bearings; there are too many fires to put out. Perhaps – if anyone has even thought it through – the focus on marriage makes sense: where the children are, there is the future, and our only hope is that children in faithful Catholic families will be able to set the culture right again.

      If many of us have fallen through the cracks; if our potential spouses were aborted or contracepted out of the running as our spouses (as I believe really IS the case for many people born post-Pill and post-abortion – all of those snuffed out lives had a vocation, including possibly the vocation to be your husband), then what can we do, but ask God, ‘Where can I help? USE ME to rebuild the culture in any way I can’?

      • salesgirl

        I think your dad was definitely on to something. When people go to the movies more than go to church or read….well, as computer programmers say, garbage in -garbage out.

    • Keith Martin

      So basically you’re a bitter spinster. Enjoy your cats.

  • M.J.A.

    Having watched the movie, on EWTN , based on life of St.Guissppe Moscati and recognizing the author’s noble and worthy intent , do hope that there would be good organizations if not set ups in our churches and communities , to recognize and support the role of the singles , esp. women, since they might be feeling more at a disadvantage .
    Think St.Moscati could be the right patron for such a group ; the movie showed how his sweet heart was sort of cheated away from him ; a skilled , noble physician …what many a parent would love to have given their daughters to, in marriage ..and may be in God’s infinite mercy and wisdom, St.Guiseppe is to have many sisters and others who are to be inspired by his role and ideals ,his prayers to help protect them from the wars and volcanic eruptions that are around us ..
    Would G.M .S. be a good name for such a group ..and until things do happen at a visible level, any single women, who feel disrespected, could take in the dignity and respect of knowing who she is , from such internal relationships ..while also praying for those who yet do not recognize same in her ; St.Guiseppe went through misunderstandings too ,esp. from the one he thought was his best friend !
    St.Guiseppe , pray for us !

  • RufusChoate

    I think the segmentation of ministry is a very bad inclination that destroys community and solidarity among the faithful. This goes double for gender and age based ministry.

    Because of my career and persistent inclination to a vocation to the priesthood, I married later than most and I never thought or sought a special consideration for myself as unmarried/single as a requirement for being Catholic or needing ministering. I attended daily mass and participated in the life of my parish and support the elevation and focus on the family and children in the church. It is the family that creates Community, Societies, Cultures and Civilizations not the unmarried . A family is not the American concept of an atomic family but the whole range of relatives from Great-Uncles to third Cousins removed.

    We need to return to the idea that families are communities of relationships by blood and spirit and as Catholics that blood is Christ’s

    • eddiestardust

      Rufus, I’ve always considered family to include Aunt’s, Uncle’s and Cousins etc. But sadly, I have lived so far from them for so long that I have lost touch with one whole side of my family…

      • RufusChoate

        I understand exactly what you mean and I experienced the same with my consulting job for almost 20 years. Living away from family is rough and travelling constantly makes you a social zombie.

    • fderf

      I agree fully with the first paragraph. Also love the third where blood families are defined by the blood of Christ. And this is where the problem lies. It is very difficult for single persons, as much as they want and try, to become intergrated into a community. There is not much room in the lives of families and long established friendships to include another. Catholic communities can be cliqueish and unaccepting despite their words which state the opposite.

  • MHB

    Good points!
    Single Catholics, check out this new book!
    The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition): Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On
    Published in: Ave Maria Press; Catholic Edition (January 26, 2015)
    Author: Dawn Eden
    Published: January 2015

    • eddiestardust

      Actually I know her a little bit from one of her blogs…Let’s just say I don’t listen to her anymore….

  • John Flaherty

    I think your article has some decent intentions, but mostly misses the mark when it comes to offering wisdom. I think most people who’re still single are so mostly because we want nothing to do with the disaster that has befallen the idea of marriage in the last few decades. I regret to say that the Church has failed miserably in terms of defending marriage, the value of a life, and the value of having a worthwhile influence on society.

    For the first, whether by neglect or by best intentions, the Church has, I think, allowed the proper, Catholic, idea of marriage to suffer horridly. Due to easy(ish) annulments, due to gay “marriage”, or due to the notion of one man and one woman being married for life has been flatly assaulted for decades, I think much of society has only the very poorest idea of what marriage really should be. When couples may break up almost for no reason at all, I think it very difficult to make a case for the value of married life.

    Then too, I could’ve smacked Pope Francis some months ago when he uttered his comment about “being obsessed” with marriage, abortion, or whatever. He doesn’t seem to comprehend–or didn’t then–that our “obsession” with such concerns mostly comes about from the lack of willingness in society to address such issues in the first place. When the Church will not insist that every life has value and should not be aborted, when the Church wrangles its way into tolerating abortion, I think the case for marriage is severely undermined again. If it’s not very difficult to “undo the consequences” of a one night stand, the case for marital fidelity takes a severe beating, because both men and women become more free to engage in philandering. Married or single, there’s far less practical consequence for a person if the conceived child may be summarily disposed at will.

    Lastly, I think if the Church wishes to see more people living worthy lives as Catholics, the various bishops’ councils will need to admit, even to themselves, that they have inherently political roles as well as inherently spiritual. If they can’t say definitively and publicly that abortion is sinful, that gay marriage–or gay behavior in general–is sinful, if they can’t say that this or that person must repent or suffer public excommunication, I think they may as well resign from their posts and retreat to monasteries.

    These all ultimately have a huge impact on the state of all persons, whether married, priestly, religious, or single.
    I think many men and women today have been living lay, single lives in no small part because society’s general expectations for marriage and family have become so poor that they literally have entirely too little value for the vast majority of people to have any interest.
    We men will never bother with trying to love any woman if any woman would be likely to simply walk out the door on a whim when life becomes difficult for her and the law says she may.
    Women will never bother with trying to love any man if any man may be allowed to walk away from his alleged beloved when he comes across some young, pretty thing who catches his eye for a minute and the law says he may.

    Then too, I consider our society to hold a great deal of feminist sexism. Either men and women are interchangeable or women should be given preferential treatment. Either view means that it’ll be much more difficult for a man to consider himself likely to be able to support a wife and family.

    Whether these circumstances come about from fair means or foul, the result is the same: Marriage will not be an attractive idea for most people.

    Stated much more briefly:
    Fix marriage and the “gender inequality” attitude that run through society and the Church, and much of the trial of rampant singles will likely fade.

    • Lykex

      “When couples may break up almost for no reason at all, I think it very difficult to make a case for the value of married life.”

      Not that I completely disagree (or agree) with you but I actually wish that this madhouse society were only that simple. Yet sadly, reality paints unrequited fidelity in such complex, confounded ways that push me to the edge of philosophical insanity/absurdity.

      I certainly would give a lot to see a particular couple break it off so people would finally quite telling me to ‘move on, let go, open a new door’ and all that defeatist bollocks. “Don’t get so hung up!” they said. “There are more flavors of ice cream out there.” they said. But if I decide to finally stop being ‘so attached’ the Church declares me incapable of being faithful because I’m eyeing one girl after another like a Don Juan. I guess the old fable was right, “Ya can’t please everybody!” Jesus Christ.

      No matter what anybody says anymore, the idea of dating one person after another is really just a prototype for divorcing one person after another. Then again, I feel like I’m still just scratching the surface!

      • eddiestardust

        Dating one person after another…hey that’s what I wondered about too..but then again folks do get married and stay married though…

        • Lykex

          Again, it gets more complicated than that. That goes especially when the happily married types have actually never had their hearts broken (or at least hammered), then proceed to act like people like me are making such a huge deal.

          What a world eh?

          • eddiestardust

            I always thought that most of us do get hurt, Yes, for me that’s part of it but not the reason I haven’t been dating. I got tired of not meeting women who were interesting….Then I got outsourced…then my Mom needed to be taken care of…so I did that for 2 years and hopefully the house gets sold this year. So I had family issues …usually these things are taken care of by those who are Single….When I moved in October I came across a group…actually several “Meetup” groups and I’m having a great time meeting nice folks..Now , after a long time I have a social life:) I know that when I do start working ( and I’ve been praying a lot for a job) that will broaden the scope. But even with all the family stuff ( I happen to be the oldest ) I still didn’t really meet the right person. But I am learning to trust God and I’m not really so afraid anymore about being Single for the rest of my life..It didn’t kill me…although there are times…..

            • Lykex

              My story is a bit similar actually but with more of a “fight now, while you still have it in you” sort of angle. It’s why I can no longer stand anything that intervenes in a manner that runs opposite to my intention. They only add more to the Gordian Knot when I feel more and more inclined each day to forge myself into the blade that cuts it all.

              As I said, in my other post: The Church, God, or whatever else in the cosmos is listening has already been given the message. They’re all free to help me but what I want is no longer open to interpretation.

              • eddiestardust

                I think I understand what you are saying. As I look back, I realize now that all the girls that I liked, especially the few relationships I had , really didn’t work out because they weren’t the right ones. Right now, I know this girl and we click on many levels …which I’ve never had with a woman…but there’s one thing missing…not the kind of thing you want missing either…And I take it to mean she isn’t the right one either…

                • Keith Martin

                  She’s a dude?

          • Jude

            If you think the break-up of a relationship is hard, try being one of those happily married types who has gone through the death of a child or multiple miscarriages or a variety of other problems. They may not have experienced your exact situation, but truly, no one is spared pain in this life.

            • Lykex

              It’s more like the amount of pain coupled with the lack of a next step.

              And really, I would think my own parents would feel for parents of dead children even though they’ve been blessed with me and my other three siblings. It’s just not the same with somebody who wound up marrying the right person to just tell a struggling single to ‘lighten up’ without knowing the latter’s situation.

              It’s all just too damn complicated.

            • Ladasha Smithson

              Why do you always have to bring back the conversation to
              “how hard married people have it” ?

            • eddiestardust

              But we are NOT talking here about married stuff or children….

            • fderf

              If this is your personal story, I, all of us here I am sure, share in your pain. Why some people have more suffering than others is a question I can’t answer. Comparing pain is never a good idea. We don’t know each person’s experiences and makeup. And suffering doesn’t come more or less based upon a state in life. I am sorry you are carrying so much.

              • Jude

                I was replying to Lykex’ comment that the happily married types have never had their hearts broken. Heart break comes in many forms. It’s not about comparing pain. It is about understanding that no state in life is going to exempt you from pain.

  • Lykex

    If I were to sum up this article, the single lay state only ever really needs is more of the same in the local diocese: more access to a spiritual director, more access to confession etc.

    But seriously, I have yet to meet anyone who wants to live the life described here. I for one am too lapsed and ultimately too tired for it myself. In fact, with a straight face, I will even tell you all that the only way I’ll even desire to meet such a lay person is if they turn to be exactly the kind of person I need to end my single state in the way I firmly, specifically intend to end it. Too long have I refused to struggle for control over this area of life when I should’ve just trusted myself above anyone else.

    • Keith Martin

      You sound high maintainance.

      • Lykex

        Nope, just firm and assertive over what I want after suffering too many people who thought they knew what that was better than I did.

  • Tony

    I agree with Scott Thomas below. ALMOST EVERYONE is called to the married state. We are HORRIBLE at getting boys and girls together in a healthy way. We don’t even have chaperoned dances anymore. We have Theology on Tap — fine, but not to the purpose here. Let’s start paying attention to the losers in the Lonely Revolution.

  • TheRani

    I am 42, and I’m Catholic and single by choice. In my case, it is absolutely voluntary. When Mr. Right proposed, I politely declined. I make a good friend, but I’d be a lousy wife. It’s not my calling. I don’t think I have the appropriate personality or skill set to be a decent nun, either. But having a home with space in it meant I could make room for my aunt who needed a place to stay. Having a lot of time on my hands means I’m available to help people who need a hand. I’m not the least bit sad or lonely or dissatisfied with the life I live, and I hope that it will help me become holy, just as the other vocations are intended to do.

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