This life is a stage upon which we are all destined to play a certain brief sketch or role. Our parts have been assigned us by God, the supreme manager and director of the play of life. The best actor on the theatrical stage are usually eminent and highly successful in one manner of play, whereas they might fail completely if they attempted another. Similarly God has fitted and qualified each person for a peculiar sphere of life. Whoever adopts the life he is created for, and pursues it properly and fervently, will achieve great success and much happiness; whereas if one seeks to follow a life for which he is not adapted, he will necessarily incur disappointment and failure. Many a plant thrives wonderfully in the tropic zone, which is pitifully dwarfed and stunted in the temperate or arctic zone, In the same way many a person prospers immensely in a given vocation,who would be the merest bungler in another calling.
One of the Three is Yours: Which Is It?
It is evident, therefore, that if a young person wants to succeed and be happy in life and in eternity, the first requisite is the correct choice of a vocation. Here we are dealing with vocation from the spiritual and supernatural standpoint; hence only three kinds of vocation come under consideration. A young person may be called by God either to lead a single life in the world, or to consecrate him of herself to one in the priesthood or the religious life, or to be married. One of these three roles is fixed by God for everyone; and it is in the interest of every young person to find out his or her calling early in life, in order to prepare duly for it betimes, and thus to be the better qualified to play the role once the time comes to assume it.
Many young people are destined by God to lead a single or celibate life in the world. Some have no inclination to the convent or matrimony, or no capacity for either life; others, much as they might be inclined to marry, are constrained by circumstances to stay single, either because they do not acquire a proper mate, or because certain personal or family conditions are in the way! Others pursue the single state from definite choice as offering them the opportunities to dedicate themselves to a high career and noble ambition in a free and untrammeled manner.
The Relative Values of Vocations
The Church has declared, that the single, or celibate, or virginal life, when embraced and followed from motives of virtue, is in itself holier and more acceptable before God than life in marriage, since it involves a greater sacrifice of oneself. It must be observed, however, that the church does not here decide the respective virtue of individual persons pertaining to the two states. It therefore happens quite frequently, that a married person faithfully lives up to the duties of the married state , and is much better in the sight of God than a celibate or virgin, whose devotion to duty is not so loyal. There are married women who are more holy than certain nuns, and married men who are more godly than certain priests or friars; but this fact in no way changes the relative status of the vocation. The priesthood and the religious state are of themselves much dearer to God than the married state. It must again be remarked, that whoever stays single merely to be unattached to any serious obligation, and to pursue a life of libertinism freely and loosely, in the open or in private, is neither practicing virtue not deserving of anything but utter contempt and universal execration.
It Is No One Else’s Business
Why a certain person is leading the life of a celibate or a virgin in the world is no one else’s business. Vocation is a very personal and individual affair, and therefore a sacred domain into which others have no right to intrude. It bespeaks not a little arrogance and impertinence, if one undertakes to dictate to another what kind of a vocation he or she should espouse, or asks for an account why one calling was given the preference to another. Not even parents have a right to map out, let alone to interfere with, the choice of a vocation on the part of their children. In this choice everyone is free and responsible to no one but God. But while parents might cause great trouble and disaster to their children by an unwarranted assumption of power regarding the children’s choice of a vocation, or by wielding an undue influence over them directly or indirectly, they can also be of much service and material assistance to their children by their wise and unselfish counsel and advice.
“The Church has declared, that the single, or celibate, or virginal life, when embraced and followed from motives of virtue, is in itself holier and more acceptable before God than life in marriage, since it involves a greater sacrifice of oneself.”
I love your blog, and have posted it often on my page. But the above remark I have never heard of in any Church teaching or document. In fact, I’ve heard priests say that there are only two actual “vocations”: consecrated celibacy (as with priests or religious), or the married life. If a person chooses to remain single, it is not so much a vocation as it is a personal decision. Dietrich von Hildebrand has also written the exact opposite of the above: that the sacramentally valid married life is superior to the lay celibate life.
I would love to hear your feedback. Thanks. God bless.
AntoniA DI IORIO said:
IIm a single 59 y.o. layladylay (humor) …layperson, and I’ve read some of Rev. F. Meyer’s Uni Una book (which I got through a nun). I live in Montreal and I’m a Cdn. Italian 1st generation…I find as a Christian I am under Christ’s thumb alot and it doesn’t bother me.
I’ve sat in the orchestra pit (I compose on piano synth) and so I’m a new age thinker.
As long as we’re Xns or have the good faith and fight the good fight, it’s sacrament enough. The Holy Sacrifice was the Lord’s death which he dedicated for His better judgment and ours.
He is the Supreme Sacrament (God) and we should just try to be honest with ourselves and others in all of this. This is just feedback from a high school alma mater who once got 96 in a Religion Test. Im not the specialist.
Hello!! Thank you for your kind words. 🙂
Yes, I see what you are saying. I did a little homework on this.
I guess, first off, the book’s copyright is 1927 and there is a nihil obstat and an imprimatur in the front which is an official declaration that the material printed is free of doctrinal or moral error..
When Father is speaking of single, virginal or celibate life he includes the phrase “for motives of virtue” which, I would presume, means for selfless reasons.
After doing some research it seems the “vocation” to the single life is rare but is called by some “Blessed Singleness” or “the celibate state”. It is also a calling that needs much careful discernment.
Father Meyer continues on in his book (here he is talking about Maiden Ladies):
“Even as our Blessed Mother Mary they have had a strong inclination to a life of holy virginity from their very childhood. In the beginning of their life our Lord wooed them, so they might reserve all their love for Him, and let no earthly lover enter into rivalry for it with Him, Although they may have no call to the religious life, or be barred by circumstances from embracing it, they aim to present themselves ‘as chaste virgins to Christ’ (2 Cor., 11, 2).”
He goes on…
“To these maidens St. Paul refers in the glowing words: ‘The unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord: that she may be holy both in body and in the spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world: how she may please her husband,,,,He that giveth his virgin (daughter) in marriage, doth well; and he that giveth her not, doth better…Let marry to whom she will: only in the Lord. But more blessed shall she be, if she so remain, according to my counsel. And I think that I also have the spirit of God’ (1C Cor., 7, 34).
As long as they remain true to their divine Lover in purity and virginity, their life, although not consecrated by a sacrament as is the state of marriage, is much more agreeable, saintly and meritorious in the sight of God, and is also more blessed and happy for themselves than wedded life.”
I will put in here, that it seems there is some gray area pertaining to this, and differences of opinions.
This is from the excellent High School Religion Book from the 1950’s Our Quest for Happiness:
“We now come to the unmarried state in the world. This road is traveled by fewer people perhaps than any of the other paths to eternity, and with reason. It is not easy to save one’s soul when unsupported by the special graces of the state of perfection in religion or in the world, or the special helps and safeguards of the state of matrimony.
Virginity is a higher state than is the married life, but the unmarried state in the world is generally not to be advised. It is a matter, however, that depends on circumstance; and if God wishes a person to choose this state of life, He will supply the necessary graces to meet its greater temptations and problems. Fundamentally, the choice of this state is a matter of motives.”
I notice here that he does call it a “state of life’ which, I think, would allude to it being an actual vocation, though rare.