Saturday, March 13, 2010

For Singles and Vowed Celibates: Worth a Read

Or a reread... I skimmed this book a year ago, but today went back and closely reread the entire book. At 100 pages, it's a manageable feat for someone as uncommitted to books as I am.

Whether single by choice or by accident this book is an excellent guide to exploring the reasons for being single, and gives practical advice to the challenges of this state. A suggested alternative title for this book, is Chastity with Pizazz, which captures the spirit of Fr. Groeschel's writing which does much to uphold the dignity and potential joys and gifts of this state.

Fr. Groeschel presents the strength of the chaste single state as one stemming from the grace of a life rooted in Christ. A quote from the introduction by Dr. Susan Muto:

When our hearts are singly oriented to these transcendent meanings, we may find that gradually, over a lifetime, God's love begins to suffuse our entire being, to direct our whole life. The goal of this life, as [Fr. Groeschel] so frequently implies, is harmony. It is a style of living centered in Christ, in the Absolute Beauty, who is the source of goodness and the goal of our longing.
I think every single person would do well to read this book and reflect upon their journey in chastity. Fr. Groeschel presents chastity as more of a journey than a destination, and rightly so as human nature will attest. Anyone who has embraced chastity, or simple happened to find themselves single for reasons beyond their control, and has not taken the time to examine their state in life, would benefit from a careful examination of their motives and practices in this virtue, rather than to take things for granted.

I also applaud this book for presenting the single-state so positively. I have heard some debate in Catholic circles as to whether or not being single is a vocation. Some people seem to think that everyone is either destined for marriage or consecration. This black-and-white narrow view of the world does not recognize the messy reality in which most humanity lives, where many devout lay people find themselves single for very practical and good reasons. It's true that being single isn't a vocation in and of itself, the way perhaps religious life can be; surely if you are single you have all the more reason to fill your hours with charity, prayer, and hard-work, and therein lies your vocation. But I guess the same argument could be made for a religious. Simply taking vows does not a vocation make - it's how you live them out, and how you love God and your neighbors that will be the true sign of your vocation.

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