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it’s not the Church’s responsibility to see to it that you have a fulfilling social life…

it’s not the Church’s responsibility to see to it that you have a fulfilling social life… February 23, 2012

… My previous Patheos column was about married sex and last week Simcha Fisher wrote about single Catholics and asked them what they needed from the Church. Talk about role reversals.

I can write about being single, and I do from time to time, but too much just starts to sound like whining. It’s also not good for me to continually harp on the obvious fact. Harping won’t change the situation other than to call it into attention. I don’t want to write it anymore than you want to read it. Besides, I think Lino Rulli has the copyright on the “will I ever get married” shtick. I can’t afford a lawsuit.

Back to Simcha’s article; she writes, “I can see how a continual emphasis on marriage and family life could make unwillingly single people feel really crummy. True, single people are at least theoretically free to enjoy all sorts of delightful activities which I don’t have the time or energy for—choir, Adoration, pilgrimages, and even just being able to stay inside the nave for the entire hour of Mass, without having to take anyone to the bathroom or drag them away from the holy water (which is stored in an irresistibly shiny but inexcusably rickety metal tank).

So many of the church-sponsored activities I enjoy wouldn’t even exist if there weren’t single people around to make them happen. But I suspect that pointing these advantages out to to an unwillingly single person smacks of a second-rate consolation prize, like when I tell one of my kids, “I’m going to make the cake, but you can be my special helper.”

I don’t want to do that to anyone. I want to be sympathetic when I hear this comment I hear again and again: “The Church does nothing for single Catholics!” Someone inevitably makes this lament any time a writer complains, even jokingly, about marriage or childbearing or any aspect of family life: “You have no right to complain—at least you’re not alone. The Church does nothing at all for single Catholics!”

So, single people, if you feel neglected or misunderstood, here is your opportunity.”

Well, since she asked… aside from the fact that the Church exists to provide the sacraments necessary for my eternal salvation what more do I need?!

I don’t really expect the Church to do anything for *me* specifically outside of these sacraments. Theology on Tap is fun – it has booze. Young adult groups are also fun, if only because I’m so much older everything I say sounds sapient – like I’m Gandalf, but without all the wizard-y powers and junk. And the beard.

As a single woman in the Catholic Church I am quite contented. I’m going to be perfectly honest here when I say it’s a bad idea to expect the Church to fulfill your social life. Prayer groups and adoration don’t require specific age ranges or marital statuses. All that other stuff, well, that’s what hobbies and interests are for. I just think it places unrealistic expectations on priests and parish staff to think they should be providing a social group for every individual and their individual lifestyle. It seems crazy and futile trying to please everyone.

If I were to ask anything, all I’d ask of the Church is Her prayers. Could we include single people in the litany of petitions during mass like we pray for an increase in vocations? Something like “Remember single people and single parents that they may live holy lives. Lord, hear our prayer”. Or better yet, “We pray for the chastity of single men and women that they remain strong against the Three Date Rule. Lord hear our prayer.”


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