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A vocation can be described as a call from God to do a particular thing for the Lord and His kingdom. The most basic vocation to everyone is to seek holiness by loving and serving God, keeping His commandments and working with Christ, in loving and serving others. This fundamental vocation can be lived in different ways for the purpose of fulfilling God’s plans. The vocation to committed singlehood, which includes choice of celibacy, is a real vocation in the catholic Christian life. Committed singles can choose to serve God in various levels or ways in the community.
Committed singlehood is in itself an expression to the world that God is real and that it is worthy enough to live a life exclusively committed to serve God in the church and to serve others in the community for a specific period in the life for the rest of their life. A lot of people view committed singlehood as a very difficult choice, because of the restrictions that come with it, but it has also been shown that marriage is not easy too. Since all the vocations in Christianity have their demands and obligations that whoever chooses them must follow in order to live a fulfilling life. A committed single is a person who has voluntarily chosen to devote themselves to Christ by the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
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A person may choose a life to commit singlehood to answer a call within them to serve God exclusively. This may be as a result of hearing the voice of the spirit calling them to a single life, after reasonable prayer and soul searching. Other people might be fascinated by a life of singleness and could, therefore, opt to follow this path. This could be as a result of observing the lives of committed singles around them and hence desiring to live like them. A person may choose to be a committed single out of their great desire to serve the community around them. After observing the great need in the society for people who can help others in their spiritual, psychological or physical life, a person may opt to remain single in order to serve their community and the world at large.
Others might love the fellowship within the church in terms of prayers, service in church, retreats, among others, so much that they feel having a family could deny them time to do all these things. This is due to the numerous emotional, financial and physical responsibilities that come with marriage, which could create a clash of interests within oneself. Still, some people just like a simple lifestyle and would prefer a life away from the highly structured lifestyle that marriage brings.
There is no doubt about many benefits that come with actively embracing the lifestyle of a committed single. In order to start with, this lifestyle provides one with a wonderful chance to serve God without the interference of marriage. One is able to attend Christian seminars, prayers, adorations, retreats, conferences, Bible studies and Christian courses, all in the name of staying close to God. People who have chosen to commit singlehood are able to build many special relationships with other members of the society and extended family members, that a married person may not find time to build. For example, taking care of aging parents, visiting the sick, caring for orphans, among other community building activities.
Committed singles benefit from the social aspect, in that they always surrounded by life through friendships, parish communities and when serving, they are able to reach out to souls and demonstrate God’s love to all people. Research has shown that many people in committed singlehood at various levels lead more fulfilling lives.
Living in a secular world and surrounded by the mentality that being single is out of the norm poses a great challenge for people who want to live as committed singles. Since anything that is thought of as unusual raises so many questions within the individuals leading this life and still want to fit in the current society. There has been so much false publicity about Catholic committed singles, by the media, on issues that challenge the true face of celibacy and questions on whether these committed singles really do follow a dedicated virginity/celibate life. Moments of loneliness can emerge in a committed single’s life, especially when they get older, due to lack of close family members, and the fact that they never built a family for themselves.
What is the difference between committed singlehood as a Christian vocation and singlehood as a secular lifestyle? Committed singlehood as a Christian lifestyle means that one has chosen to dedicate their voluntary single status to God, to serve Him and the people in their community (Fulwiler 1). This implies that one has given up a life of marriage union for the sake of the kingdom. Even though perfect chastity is not publicly required as is the case for people joining the priesthood and other religious life vocations, a committed single makes a private promise or vow to absolutely abstain from marriage and sexual pleasures.
In contrast, singlehood as a secular lifestyle is a notion that has been brought about by people who want to remain unmarried and stay free of commitments that come with marriage. In addition, these people are neither committed to Christ nor committed to family life. Moreover, they also never make a promise to lead a pure life. Based on a Christian background, this kind of lifestyle can be termed as a selfish way of living and immoral.
There is a variety of support resources for committed singles in the world today and these support avenues continue to grow by the day. Therefore, events held on a national front such as Northrop’s National Catholic Singles Conference and mission trips like the Sloan’s Singles Serving Orphans, are all great opportunities for spiritual building, helping the less fortunate, etc. Other avenues through the internet include forums, blogs, newsletters, Catholic Church publications and books to strengthen committed Christian singles in their walk of life. Some like blogs, forums and pages on social sites create a virtual meeting place for committed singles to meet and discuss issues to do with their life today.
The life of Saint Genevieve is a good example of a life led as a committed single in the catholic faith. She was a consecrated virgin whose feast is kept on 3 January. Saint Genevieve was born in Nanterre in 433 to a Gallo Roman mother and a Frankish father. As a young girl about seven years of age, she met St. Germaine who came to her village to fight the heresy of Pelagius. Around the same time she also met Lupus of Troyes. Through encountering the two men of God she decided to live a Christian life. It is said that Germaine of Auxerre singled her out of a crowd of people and prophesied on her future sanctity. According to her own free will, she was led by Germaine to a church, with all the faithful, who dedicated her to God as a virgin.
At the age of 15, Lutetia, Genevieve’s godmother, took her in at her home in Paris after the death of the girl’s parents. As a matter of fact, her life is characterized by piety and dedication to many acts of charity that constituted corporal severities, and a vegetarian diet that let het dine only twice a week. It is important to mention that she practiced bodily mortifications for more than thirty years until her parochial seniors thought it their obligation to ask her to reduce her rigors. She was also faced with a lot of resistance and criticism for her works, especially before and after Germaine visited her again.
When it was known that Attila was about to besiege Paris, Genevieve with the help of Germaine, convinced the people of Paris not to escape but pray, instead. She is also known to have had the courage to cross the siege lines in a boat, to Troyes, during Childeric’s siege and bring grain to the city. Genevieve begged Childeric to show mercy to the prisoners of war and the ruler gave her a favorable answer. She also contributed greatly to the later release of captives and to the show of leniency to wrongdoers (Graves 2).
She was buried in a cloister founded by Clovis I in her regard, for her to minister in. At this same abbey, the faithful have been able to witness many miracles accomplished at her tomb. Genevieve is seen to have strengthened people’s faith in God while bringing others to Christ, through her sacrificial acts of love. Her dedicated service to God served as a great example for the Christians of today to desire to follow so that they may never lack a role model. Lastly, it is also seen that God used her to perform many life-changing miracles during her life and even after her death as the faithful continue to commemorate her life.