The single life, in so many ways, has become the forgotten vocation. So many people fall into the trap of believing that while they are “single and waiting” for a boyfriend or girlfriend to come along and perhaps one day marry, that this constitutes the single life. I believe that this is a trap that has led endless people away from their vocation to the single life. Truth be told, the consecrated or dedicated single life is a vocation to which many are called to. In Mark 12:25, Jesus says, “When they rise from the dead, they will take neither wife nor husband.” In Heaven, there is no marriage because we will find complete happiness in our total communion with God.
Consecrated virginity is a vocation specifically for women. It is the oldest form of consecrated life in the Church. In this vocation, a woman, under the authority of her Bishop, is consecrated for life into the single life. This enables the consecrated virgin to live her entire life for the Lord, in a marriage to Him, while still living in the world. One of her primary duties is prayer, so in the Rite of Consecration, she is presented with a Breviary, so that she may pray the prayer of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says regarding consecrated virgins that:
922 From apostolic times Christian virgins and widows, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church’s approval to live in the respective states of virginity or perpetual chastity “for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.”
923 “Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.” By this solemn rite (Consecratio virginum), the virgin is ” constituted . . . a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come.”
924 “As with other forms of consecrated life,” the order of virgins establishes the woman living in the world (or the nun) in prayer, penance, service of her brethren, and apostolic activity, according to the state of life and spiritual gifts given to her. Consecrated virgins can form themselves into associations to observe their commitment more faithfully.
The life of a consecrated virgin is a very beautiful life and calling, where one is able to serve Christ and the Church while living in the world. Many fear being lonely, however when espoused to the Lord, one is not truly alone because in serving others, they are serving their Spouse. The possibilities of how this can be done are endless.
While men are not able to become consecrated virgins as women are, men may still dedicate themselves to the Lord. Our Blessed Lord says, in Matthew 19:12 “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”
There is an incredible beauty to this vocation. It is not a vocation in opposition to marriage, but it is a different vocation. It is committing to celibacy for the sake of the kingdom. There is much joy to be found for anyone in living life as a dedicated single, despite what many may lead you to believe. The Lord will bless you and this life will enable you to invest more fully in the Lord and living your life for him in a different way than other people who are married, or a Religious, or even a Priest can. Do not be afraid to seek the Lord in a vocation to the dedicated single life. Should you decide to dedicate yourself, talk to your Priest or Spiritual Director about taking a private vow of chastity.
Resources and Links:
Theology of the Body – Pope John Paul II