From the e-mail bag: what about single people?

From the e-mail bag: what about single people? February 12, 2011

Someone took issue with my homily for World Marriage Day, and noted in the comments:

*bitterness alert*

All well and good, Deacon, but when will the Church celebrate World Single Day? Makes me not want to go to Mass tomorrow ’cause I’ll have to hear about the vocation to marriage – fun times – *eyeroll*

Am saddened and frustrated when there are blessings for married people, the moms the dads, the veterans, the sick and us single people get shafted. (Then I feel guilty for begrudging these lovely people their blessing)

The worst slap in the face ever? The Parish Valentine’s Dinner for Married Couples. I was asked to help serve dinner. Yeah, that’s how I want to spend Valentine’s Evening – single me serving dinner to married people.

Now I’ll try to beat down the Green Monster of Jealousy again. There we go Deacon – when’s my day?

I gotta say: the reader raises a good point.  The Church doesn’t do nearly enough to minister to those whose vocation is the single life.  I’ve heard from a number of people who feel left out and excluded from a lot of parish events that are geared primarily toward families.

(For my part, I’ve recently become the moderator for my parish’s Single Adults group.  Maybe I can see what we can do about that…)

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15 responses to “From the e-mail bag: what about single people?”

  1. I hope you are successful, Deacon, in helping find more activities for the singles. Many folks are very happy being single and have no desire to marry. :o)

  2. This is an important point and sadly not much is done to address this demographic of the Church. It is like once the youth become young adults after 25, or even before that if there isn’t a Youth Ministry, what’s there for us?

    Even so, youth groups aren’t exactly places to find potential mates. Some priests will from the get-go say “no dating” with good intentions. As for others, you may find out that the young women in them aren’t 100% Catholic (that is they skip mass or have liberal views on Church matters and doctrine) or just aren’t plain interested.

    Seriously, if it wasn’t for services like AveMaria singles and Catholicmatch, there wouldn’t be anything to mend the lonely hearts club of single, devout Catholics of both sexes.

  3. I agree. As a single (no longer young) person it is often very frustrating. Single people (especially single women) often form the “troops” in a parish, but fall between the cracks. How to treat us? After 30 years of involvement, I am getting more and more annoyed by this. After all, why should I always be seated with the nuns at parish functions? If it’s a matter of even numbers, then seat two single women at a table with the couples. After all, I’m a single person, not a nun.

  4. The Church doesn’t do nearly enough to minister to those whose vocation is the single life. I’ve heard from a number of people who feel left out and excluded from a lot of parish events that are geared primarily toward families.

    So true-and even if you are married the Church doesn’t do nearly enough to minister to infertile couples who also feel left out and excluded from those same parish events focused on families.

  5. On Busted Halo there was a discussion about singles in the Church. The commentator noted that the USCCB has said that being “single” is not a vocation. I didn’t have time to pursue that comment. As a single person I felt punched. I did go to the Vatican Web page to find that in many documents they mention singles have a vocation. Anyone else out there know what the Busted Halo person was talking about?

    Meanwhile, I agree – as an “older” single person we get marginalized. In my thirties when I was still dating – I was told that there must be something wrong with me and I continue to hear it. When people find out I never married nor have children, they talk to other people about “things”. I get told I had a “choice” about marriage by others. Knowing the men I went out with, etc. I don’t feel I really had a choice. I wasn’t compatible with their values, hopes and dreams. I guess I was supposed to just get married to whoever.

    I admit I may have had too high standards in the beginning but having gone through a desperate stage – I don’t think that is totally true. It’s not that I mind my singleness anymore – I mind the judgmentalness of others who have also had their share of pain and disappointment in life who seem to think I, as a single person didn’t. Or, the judgmentalness of those who think there is something wrong with my personality or as you get older – your sexual orientation. And, if you say anything in defense of yourself about sexual orientation the psychobabble people weigh in or the liberals call you homophobic.

    So, you remain silent, on the fringe – getting along but not really connecting to anyone anymore in the Church. Yet you stay because faith and God are part of the most important things in life. And, that leads to those that told you that you “should” have been a nun and you think – may be they were right. But then you know they are wrong because you never felt drawn to it, didn’t have the discipline, didn’t have a call. And then you wonder even more about what the message is people really are saying about faith and Church.

    A friend of mine once told me that I had no status in life – only people with partners did – didn’t matter the gender but that you had to be partnered.

  6. Oh my. I got married at 49, so I completely feel this. There is a vocation to the single life and it is painfully easy for the world to ignore and marginalize this.

    I say this as someone who sat silent and single in many a pew in many a church for a long, long time.

    Prayers for the single -that God helps them to find their partner, that they say yes when the partner is found and that if they are single, that they are supported with friendship, love and respect.

  7. I was 40 when I married so I spent a good portion of my adult life as a single Catholic. Here are some reflections for what they are worth.

    I am not sure that I would have ever considered being single a vocation even if I had never married. Of course in my era there was a lot more prejudice about being unmarried. (When I was in my 30s my mother said to me: “I used to think that there was something wrong with because you weren’t married, but now, when I look at all of the divorces, I think there was something right about you.”- That is why I love her so much even though she is no longer with us.)

    Our post-modern society is far ahead about the single state as a lifestyle choice, even though I have big-time problem with what we used to call the “swinging singles.”

    There are many opportunities to serve. You just have to look for them. (When Saigon fell in the 70s, my parish took on the responsibility of settling a Catholic Vietnamese family. At the first meeting one of the men said: “I would like to nominate HM (moi) to coordinate the program.” Then he said to me: “Don’t let my wife volunteer for anything.” I suppose he thought that I, being single, had a lot of extra time on my hands.) You almost have to create your own sense of vocation. You can hook you wagon to groups who will facilitate you. (For a short time, I was a lay missionary affiliated with a religious community who ministered in Africa.)

    With respect to singles groups, I think that the most successful are ones initiated by singles themselves. I know of a very vibrant singles group in my diocese. Their website says that their goal is to create an extended family of faith-grounded friends.

  8. Every time you celebrate the Eucharist, you celebrate the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of One who did not marry.

    Celebrate the vocation of following Him. It’s not “all about me” anyway.

  9. Respectfully, no, the single life is not a VOCATION. It is a legitimate state of life, there is no problem with being sinful, but let us not compromise accurate theology for the sake of inclusiveness:

    Mary Beth Bonacci, a relatively famous single Catholic, addressed this in a column a few years ago. She makes significant reference to our Church’s teaching…

  10. @Deacon Jim – Oh that it were that easy. I’d like to think I would be happy to focus all on following Jesus.

    It stinks to follow Jesus alone. When participating in church life I often feel like the gimpy leg attached to the body of Christ because I’m not a religious or married with a family. I don’t fit anywhere because I’m 37 and single.

    I try to focus solely on Jesus and then I get distracted by loneliness. I _want_ to share my love for Christ – being told I’m acting like it’s “all about me” is unfair – and kinda hurtful.

  11. HMS – It was, I apologize. I meant to say “There is no problem with IT (the single state of life) being sinful”.

  12. To start with, I am not Catholic, and I am 52 years old. Being single and older is not easy for me. There is a group for seniors in our church, but I am not old enough, nor do I care to be involved with them. Most of them are married with children/grandchildren. Very few, if any, are single. Yes, there are widows and widowers, but most of them have grandchildren! I just can’t relate to them.

    I don’t go to pubs or clubs. And I live in a small town in the Midwestern USA. Not easy to find single men. Especially men who take their relationhip with God seriously.

    As a former church secretary, being single was even harder. I knew everyone and their kids, yet was never invited to participate in church related family outings, never invited to dinner with anyone, because I didn’t have a spouse. I truly felt discriminated against for being single. It hurt deeply.

    Forgiveness is a gift from God, and I have chosen to forgive those who, probably without even realizing what they were doing, have hurt me.

    As a single adult woman, I feel very isolated. There is nothing for me to be involved in. I am not a teacher, never taught Sunday school, it is not my calling. I am a trained pianist, yet they have ousted the use of the piano for a *band*. God has been gracious enough to grant me with many talents, an here I sit on the sidelines, not able to use them.

    Ah, more than one issue here, sorry! But God is good, always. He meets my need – I truly lack nothing in Him. These are the burdens I bear, but they are not nearly the burden Jesus bore on the Cross. I need to keep my focus on Him.

    Thank you for lettig me vent! God bless you!

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