Yesterday we posted the first half of an article written by Ms. Dawn Hausmann, Vocation Coordinator of the Diocese of Lansing. Today she attempts to finish clarifying her statement yesterday (and the teaching of the Church) that the single life is not a vocation but rather all vocations require a total gift of self for another.
Let’s begin with the beginning. We are made in the image and likeness of God who is Love. This God comes to earth and takes on flesh to show us the ultimate calling and fulfillment of man: to love, and what it requires of us. We see this as we contemplate Christ on the Cross. He gives a total and irrevocable gift of himself to us, his bride, the Church. People begged him to get down from that cross, to save himself, but he went to the end for us, gave his life for us. Therefore, we see in Christ that the greatest response to the calling of love begs for a total and irrevocable gift of ourselves. He shows us the fulfillment of man is in the sincere gift of himself. Guadium et Spes states, “Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear…” (#22) later it writes, “…Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”(#24) The way we as humans can totally and irrevocably give ourselves away in love is through a vocation that requires a vow or promise for life, a commitment that promises to remain faithful to the unknown future. How else could we promise our future away besides in a permanent commitment?
Even in light of the truth revealed in and through our bodies, we see the call to love. The complementarities of the man and woman’s bodies reveal the vocation to be gift-of-self, to another in love. Fulfillment is not found in ourselves but by being given away to another. Salvation is relational. The calling of love is relational. Blessed John Paul II said this in Familiaris Consortio, “Christian revelation recognizes two specific ways of realizing the vocation of the human person in its entirety, to love: marriage and virginity or celibacy. Either one is, in its own proper form, an actualization of the most profound truth of man, of his being “created in the image of God.”(#11)
In the vocation to marriage, we see a living image or icon of God as love, as Trinity, faithful and fruitful love. As stated in Ephesians 5:21-32 “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ…This mystery has great significance but I am applying it to Christ and the Church.” The love of spouses requires a total, faithful commitment to one another. The total self-gift of the spouses, ”…in good times and bad, sickness and health, till death do we part…” reveals God’s faithful love to us. Marriage also reveals the fruitfulness of Love, of God, through the reality of the spouses’ continual openness to life.
In the vocation to consecrated life, virginity or celibacy for the Kingdom of God, we see the person give a total and irrevocable gift-of-self to God and His people, anticipating in a bodily way, the reality of the Kingdom to come, where we will all be united to Christ as his One Bride. This vocation reveals the true destiny and dignity of the vocation to marriage, the ultimate goal of union with God in heaven. Consecrated men or women live out their love for God in and through the gift of themselves to the Church. This vocation reminds us of our greater family of God that includes all of God’s children, not just our immediate families. They love and serve the people of God as Spiritual Mothers and Fathers, helping them get to heaven by growing in knowledge and love for God.
Both of these permanent vocations reveal who God is as Love and who the human person is meant to be as love, as gift. God reveals the call we have by being in His image, the call to love and life, the faithful and fruitful love of God. We are gift and our fulfillment is found only in and through making a “sincere gift of ourselves”(gs 24). We are given this capacity to love like Him from the gift of our Baptism and it is our responsibility and task to respond to this call. This call invites those of us who are single to remain open and ready to make a committed gift-of-ourselves to God in the marriage or consecrated vocations while still continuing to live out our Baptismal call of love and holiness here and now. God bless you.
For further research of this topic, please see the following resources:
- Called to Love by Carl Anderson and Jose Gradados.
- Familiaris Consortio: Online|Book
- Article: www.pathsoflove.com/blog/2008/08/single-vocation-marriage-or-religious-life/
- Blessed John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body”
- All the General Audiences that make up ToB
- Great resource for articles and further reading: TheologyoftheBody.net
- ToB Teaching with Christopher West: theTheologyoftheBody.com
Today’s guest post comes, once again, from the desk of Ms. Dawn Hausmann who is the Vocation Coordinator in the Diocese of Lansing, MIentering and about to enter formation to one day, by the grace of God, take vows to become a consecrated virgin. This is the third post in this series. Read more about Dawn’s vocational discernment here and get the introduction to consecrated virginity here.
This particular post, which will most likely raise some questions in your mind, is part of a two part article. The second half will be posted tomorrow.
What is the difference between remaining single and becoming a Consecrated Virgin or Consecrated man or woman in the church? Why not just be single?
Well, there truly is a difference.
The “single state” is an anticipatory state, awaiting a fulfillment, waiting to be given away totally and irrevocably to God in love either through a spouse, in the marriage vocation or directly to God, through a commitment to celibacy or virginity for the Kingdom. One doesn’t permanently commit to the single state. There’s always an option to enter marriage or consecrated life without it being sinful to do so.
God doesn’t “call us” to be single as such, however, due to the reality of not living in a perfect world, some of us, even many of us, may remain single in this world. Some may live as singles because of not encountering the spouse we have been waiting for, others because of family emergencies, life situations, a disability, etc. that may prevent us from entering and committing to a permanent vocation. This doesn’t mean that we are called by God to be single permanently, as an actual calling. It can be quite the cross that we are given to bear in this world. Of course the question of “why would I be designed for a vocation that I was not able to live in this life?” may come to mind. Unfortunately, the answer to that question will most likely remain a mystery (like so many other questions of “why this” or “why that”). Although this is so, it is important to realize that no matter what chapter of the journey of life we are in, we are all called to live lives of love and holiness, from the grace of our Baptism, to the best of our ability, as sons and daughters of God. That being said, we must get back to the task at hand and answer the question of “Why is single life not a permanent calling from God in light of His revelation of the truth of vocation?”
What would it mean theologically if we were to say that single life is a vocation? Well, first off we must see what God reveals to us in the light of the callings to marriage and consecrated life to see where we are going with this. What do these two vocations reveal to us about God, our calling, our destiny, and the meaning of life? Wouldn’t the “Single State” lead us to believe that we can be self-fulfilled or self-sufficient somehow? The truth is that fulfillment in ourselves is not possible. Our destiny is union and communion with God and one another. We see this by looking to God who is Trinity, Love itself, and community.
To be continued…
For those following that Twitter feed over on the lower right sidebar, you’ll see I have been spending the last few days at the University of Notre Dame attendinga conference and symposium on Priestly Celibacy. With addresses from Archbishops to priests in formation work, even to a Vocation Director; the amount of information covered has been tremendous and will take several weeks to process and integrate into our work both here in the Vocation Office and in the Seminary.
A few highlights include the appreciation of the origins of priestly celibacy in both the Old Testament priests and, especially, in the spousal virginity of Christ. Also, there was a clear emphasis that priestly celibacy does not demean or diminish the Church’s understanding and love of the sacrament of marriage. Rather, priestly and religious celibacy enriches and enhances the understanding and theology of Marriage.
Luckily, the works of this symposium will be published by the University, which will give all of us an opportunity to reflect more deeply on the gift of ceilbacy for our Church, for our priests and for the ongoing work of salvation accomplished the priest lives out his celibaate life with great fruitfulness.
What is the true nature of freedom? Being totally unchained from everything? That’s a notion that the secular world likes to present.
However, in this article, the opposite is argued:
Discourse concerning mandatory celibacy, the Cardinal believes, must not begin with the assumption that freedom is the absence of ties and permanent commitments. Instead, this discourse must begin with the assumption that freedom consists in the definitive gift of self to the other and to God. Every human being, in freedom, must understand and welcome one’s vocation and must work every day more and more to become what God created that person to be.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a great take on the priesthood: celibate vs. married. It is something he knows well, for, as a convert from the Anglican priesthood, he is married, has a family, and is a priest. He addresses questions that are not always considered when this topic is raised.
Last night, Ruah Woods sponsored Jason Evert to speak at the Underground, a Christian based club in northwest Cincinnati. Jason is a well known Chastity speaker, traveling throughout the country, as well as internationally. Listening to him, you can tell he speaks ALOT, and he speaks quickly, b/c he has a lot to get in.
He speaks in a way that young people can understand and appreciate; not condemning, but challenging them to live up to the standards that God has set for us, for this is the only way to achieve true happiness in both this life and the next. Weaving in a mix of encounters he has had with teens across the country, Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body and the wisdom that comes from experience; he held the teens captive for an hour and half; no easy task.
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