Esteemed Calling – The Single Vocation in the World


Painting by Gregory Frank Harris

by Fr. Dominic J. Unger, O.F.M., 1958, The Mystery of Love for the Single

The high esteem in which this calling was held in the life of the Church will be illustrated later on the bridal concept of this life and in the history of virginal life in the Church.

One can easily demonstrate how such a vocation is in complete accord with right reason. Let us begin with those who for some cause are hindered from choosing the married state.

There are many people of both sexes who because of special circumstances of health or character or temporal needs must remain single.

Many men and women are not meant for the priesthood or for the religious life, or even for secular institutes, either because of unfitness through sickness or a peculiar character, or because of circumstances which necessitate their staying at home to support aged parents or orphaned brothers or sisters, or because there was no opportunity for marriage, or because for reasons of study or a career they passed by opportunities of marriage until it was too late.

Those that are unfit for the priesthood or convent life should not be pushed into married life if they are not qualified for that either. Because of character or sickness they might not fit even in the married state.

A mother, in particular, is often at fault in wanting to marry off her daughter at any cost after she could not take the convent life. To marry one off just so he or she will not be an old bachelor or an old maid is erroneous theology and foolish reasoning.

Celibacy and virginity are not a calamity to be avoided at any price. It was precisely for those who after the late war had no opportunity of marriage that Pope Pius XII, as we saw, said their lives need not be useless.

They too have a vocation if, in their singleness, they devote themselves to social works and, of course, observe perfect chastity. They need not be mere reluctant bachelors or spinsters.

True, if such had been fit or had had the opportunity for marriage, they would have chosen this vocation; but since that is out of reach for them, they should consider it God’s will that they live a single life in the world devoted to works of charity.

They must live in perfect chastity in any case; they might as well get the most out of it for themselves and mankind by their charitable services. That such a vocation is pleasing to God and willed by Him is clear, or else He could never permit situations to arise in which one is forced to remain single.

Perhaps it was in the design of Divine Providence to permit the late war and its aftermath that deprived many of the opportunity of marriage in order to teach the modern world that a single life in perfect chastity is according to His will and can be most valuable for humanity.

We must, however, establish that this vocation of perpetual perfect chastity in the world is legitimate even for those who are not forced to remain in it, even for those who would be qualified for one of the other vocations but who wish to choose this form of life as more suited to their inclinations and loves.

Such a vocation would be unlawful only if all men and women were obliged to be priests and/or religious or to get married. That not all are capable of being, much less obliged to be, priests or religious needs no proof.

And we showed above that God’s command to Adam and Eve to make use of the marriage rights binds the whole race as such, to the extent that some always must marry and have children for the continuance of the race.

But there never will be any danger that too many will forego marriage or the having of children so that the race would become extinct. The instinct of fatherhood and motherhood was planted too deeply in the hearts of men and women by the Creator Himself.

Those, comparatively few, who wish to forego marriage will in no way jeopardize the preservation of the race. They are quite free to choose the single life of perfect chastity.

“We can change the world within our own families. We do not need heroic deeds, exceptional intelligence or extraordinary talents. Every day, our daily duties, our interactions with our family, our living out the Faith in the small ordinary things, will be the thread that weaves the beautiful rug that future generations will be walking upon and building upon….” -Finer Femininity

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Here is a complete guide to mature, responsible, even noble behavior in our complex modern society. Written in the 1930s by a wise Jesuit priest and steeped in the wisdom of the ages, these pages teach the timeless principles that have led countless souls to true success and lasting happiness….

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