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There are many individuals who have personally resolved to fully commit themselves to single life, even in the event that they do not take formal vows. Such a commitment may be an individual choice, geared toward achieving freedom by the person in order to serve his or her Lord in a particular manner or in pursuit of a particular path. However, the decision might be reached by the desire to accept singlehood through personal decision or be conditioned by certain circumstances (Pable, 2013). As long as this commitment remains, these individuals are in an equal measure called upon to display their love for Christ through their lives, as well as to place their own freedom at the service of others, not only in their work, but also in their prayers. In this way, the committed single life is precisely regarded as a vocation. It is crystal clear that each way of life has its additional attractions. Women, as well as men, in their religious lives often live as celibate individuals; priests and deacons likewise are passionate of serving with dioceses and parish communities. On the other hand, eremites desire seclusion with God (The USA Council of Serra International, 2013).
At the present time, society is ever changing and it is widely believed that becoming a committed Christian is an act of going against the tide. Moreover, religion nowadays has been personalized. As a result, people tend to seek help from social workers, counselors and psychiatrists rather than from priests. Society is presently faced with tremendous problems including unemployment, poverty and homelessness. All these hardships of people’s life lead to a sense of hopelessness, which, in turn, gives rise to division and racial prejudice among communities. Consequently, this is likely to lead to violence. Cases of one-parent families and broken marriages are on the increase due to a life’s attitude grounded on self-interest and materialism (Wang, 2012). Moreover, both personal and social moral values are increasingly declining among individuals. As a result, it is quite challenging for an individual in society to resolve to any form of lifelong commitment and celibacy.
The present day’s society is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and a multi-faith society. This aspect has also been posing challenges to the vocation for committed singlehood. Both spiritual desolation and consolation are central parts of the spiritual life of any person. Nevertheless, the influence of the secular culture is wooing a big percentage of individuals to crave for immediate sensory experience and satisfaction. As a result, both the flow and the ebb of consolation and desolation affect the individual’s felt experience for God and such a person struggles to harken to God’s voice (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2010).
Each and every person who claims to be a Christian and has undergone baptism is believed to have been called to follow Jesus and live the way Christ lived. Such a person also ought to be equally dedicated to living a life of surrender and self-giving to the will of God. It is notable that the Christian vocation denotes a life that brings great joy, as well as personal fulfillment, though it, though, at times, entails a number of difficulties and challenges. This is what the Christians term to be the way of the cross. The call to holiness is ordinarily termed to be universal. However, as the lives of the saints make it clear, there are various ways of living the Gospel and being faithful to Christ in our everyday lives (The USA Council of Serra International, 2013).
In the secular spheres, on the contrary, being single means not showing commitment to obligations and/or responsibilities to any other individual except oneself. Contextualizing the secular singlehood to biblical incidents, secular singlehood can be likened to Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. Singleness in the secular realms is a selfish way of living. It is characterized by loneliness, bitterness and regrets, as a result of a life lived solely for freedom, pleasure and/or selfish gain, which is unsatisfying (Berdon, 2011).
It can be noted that the dedicated single life can be a real vocation; a calling to be an authentic follower of Christ in certain circumstances of life. In addition, it is a commitment to be open to the will of God, serve freely and generously even when there is no obligation or prerequisite to do so. It is the recognition that the call to holiness received by individuals during baptism entails free choice and an open heart.
The full and permanent commitment known in the religious life and priesthood is deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition. According to these traditions, the general qualifications of becoming a priest and committing to a religious livelihood entails having a suitable level of spiritual life, physical and emotional health and a quantifiable level of intelligence, as well as academic accomplishments. All of these requirements were consistent with the vocational life. An individual could even be ushered into training at a high-school age. Alternatively, any man or woman wishing to commit oneself to singlehood had to undergo a formation program after high school or college (Pable, 2013). Vocation meant to be work for God and some of those who made choice to commit singlehood had to even forego marriage. In the history of Catholic singlehood, it was a requirement to uphold the doctrine of the magical presence following the trans-substantiation. Moreover, any believer who felt oppressed by the load of his/her guilt had to confess to the creator. This was an act that made such an individual a good believer. Apart from this, it was held to be a prudent thing to make confession of the sins that an individual had committed to another human being (The USA Council of Serra International, 2013). It was believed that in doing so, one would have the elevated effect and probably be comforted. On account of a certain sin, a person would be heart-broken to such an extent that he or she would hardly believe in the forgiveness of the committed sin. This notwithstanding, the modern society is bringing about some transformations and priests are getting to learn how to dispense God’s grace.
St Elizabeth Ann is an example of a Catholic who was committed to singlehood. Ann was a Catholic nun who lived between 1774 and 1821. Ann originally was from an Episcopal family. She was married at first but after her husband passed away, leaving her with three daughters, she surrendered her entire faculties to the service of God. After her conversion to Catholicism, Ann, living in New York at that time, dedicated her life to singlehood and became a nun. She was later to start the sisters of charity in America. The work of Sister Ann, which centered on aiding the poor in society, was helpful to her and the Catholic Church (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 2013). At a personal level, she was relieved of the sense of personal loss since her strength increased in the face of the trials she encountered.
Singlehood had advantages for Ann as a committed nun. To begin with, single life is characterized by freedom and independence. In the event that an individual remains single, such a person has more freedom since he/she is answerable for no one else. Moreover, one is not under obligation to let any other person know any decision he or she makes. Singlehood gives an avenue to spontaneity in one’s life. It permits an individual to be his/her own person and always do what pleases him or her (Wang, 2012). Additionally, one has more control over his or her time when he/she is single. Society is considerably busy and most individuals always complain of the commitments they have in their busy schedules. Most likely, such people are not single. Ordinarily, a single person has more time for activities. Such people usually set up their own schedules and, as a result, they are likely to have more time for relaxation, hobbies and being with their family and friends. Singlehood also provides an individual with more time to better oneself. A person who happens to be single can utilize his extra time working on his career, taking classes and volunteering in community service (Berdon, 2011).
Being single is also likely to give a person a deeper awareness of who he or she really is as contrasted to a person who is in a relationship. Ordinarily, the very initial stages of a relationship are characterized by efforts of making oneself as good-looking as possible. This, as well as doing and saying things that may not be done or said at any other given time, is done for the purpose of impressing the other party (The USA Council of Serra International, 2013). Being single makes and allows an individual to be who he or she is and promotes personal development. Singlehood has no emotional roller coaster riders. A life in singleness helps to stabilize a person’s emotions. Individuals in relationships are more often than not have their emotions out of control. Singlehood on the contrary, makes an individual appreciate his ability to be emotionally relaxed. To the church, Sister Ann facilitated the creation of over twenty sisters of charity communities, who operated in many states of the United States, running many orphanages, hospitals and boarding schools (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 2013). These are institutions where the interests of Catholic Church were advanced.