Other people are single because of the situation they find themselves in. This may be a temporary or permanent situation. For example, a young person who is still discerning his or her vocation - whether to marriage or the religious life - is still called to live their life for God while they are single. A person who feels called to marriage but has not yet found their future spouse can be living the single vocation at this time. A person who has been widowed or divorced and thus is no longer living the vocation to marriage may now live out the vocation to single life. A person who is same sex attracted is called to live their life as a single person.
The choice to be single is not simply the “default” when other options fail to materialize. Everyone has a vocation, and our vocations cannot be reduced to a checkbox for marriage, single life, or religious life. Discovering one’s vocation is more than deciding whether to get married, join the seminary, or enter a religious community
Could it really be a choice?
The vocation to the Single Life may be lived out either from choice or from circumstance.
Some people choose to remain single because they believe this is how they can best serve God and his people. They do not feel called to join a consecrated community or the priesthood. They may be a lay missionary - teacher or doctor - who can more easily respond to need, wherever it is perceived, if they are not tied by an intimate relationship or family responsibilities. But equally they may be a carpenter, office worker, scientist, dentist, train driver, who has a fulfilling personal relationship with Jesus which they feel able to live out more fully if they are not tied by other relationships.
The state of being single is what we’re all born into and remains the default situation for those who have not found a vocation to marriage, priesthood or religious life.
Building on the universal call to holiness, the church’s understanding of vocation provides a wide vision for singles. Whether we are single or married, male or female, old or young, gay or straight, our fundamental call as Christians is the call to love.
To the person making the choice to be permanently single as a lay person, the Church can offer support. This support might come through a decision to seek deeper involvement in the life of the local church community; some lay people in the single state lead lives of outstanding service to their local community.
Finding one’s vocation in life answers the question, “How is God using my life to share love with others?”
The greatest gift the church offers to single people is a place to belong. God calls us and takes us as we are, and singles need to be reminded that their presence among the body of Christ is sufficient on its own. For single people in particular, there is great comfort in knowing that God beholds the entirety of their lives. We each bring a unique set of gifts, passions, personal history, and a myriad of relationships. There is so much more to a single person than their state in life. Their belonging to God, their holiness, is certainly not dependent upon their marital status.
All of these people can have rich, fruitful and fulfilling lives, witnessing to their faith and serving others as followers of Jesus. Many of them would tell you that they are free to do this because they are single, even when it was not their first choice to live alone. A married person must always consider their spouse and children. A priest must consider his parishioners. A consecrated sister or brother must consider their community. But a single person can give all their allegiance to God and his will for their life.