Is the Single Life recognized by the Church?
Dear Fr. Anthony,
I myself am a married man, who at one time seriously considered a vocation to the priestly life. During my time of discernment, I recall being taught that there are three states of life in The Catholic Church, Priestly or Religious Life, Married Life, and the Single Life.
I have been in discussion with extended family members who have been told that they must either marry or join religious life and that there is not a single life option. This concerns me as some of my relatives are very good faithful Catholic young adults in there upper 20's and early 30's.
Is the single life a state in life recognized by The Church as I was taught? Does this single life vocation have to be a formal consecration only? I understand a formal consecration, or commitment such as Regnum Christi (of which I am a member and was as a single man into his 30's, before marrying my wife.) is a wiser choice for those who may be called to single life. What I need clarification on is, are we all not called to live faithfully The State of Life as a Single person always discerning further, until God may or may not call us to another state in life, and is this recognized by The Church as one of the Three States in Life?
Ever Thankful for you and so many other faithful priests I have come to know over the years,
It is true that for most people the Single, non-consecrated vocation is a transient state, until they discover their ultimate calling either in the married or the consecrated and/or priestly life. What I don't understand about the position of those who spoke to your relatives is their quickness to limit God's workings in individual souls.
Now, granted, when you take Canon Law for example, you don't find a section on the Vocation to the non-consecrated, permanent single state of life, and I would guess it is simply because there is nothing to regulate there beyond the normal living of the Christian Life. I do, however, know people who for a variety of individual reasons have reached the conclusion that God's will for them is simply to remain single, without making any formal consecration beyond their acceptance of this fact with great faith, humility, trust and love-and they order their lives accordingly, accepting it as their permanent state in life. For such people it does help if they can belong to a group or a Movement, but even that is not necessary. If it is the prudent judgment of their spiritual director that they are right, in my opinion they have there all the validation they need.