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