My posts offering suggestions to single Catholic guys got a great response, both supportive and constructively critical. I think that Sam brought up a powerful counterpoint to my optimism when he said:
A great many of Catholic men or women will live their entire lives feeling called to marriage and never enter it. They will have been open to youth groups, volunteering, Church-going, adoration, asking friends/relatives for help, praying, trusting, etc… The whole gamut. They will have done all the “things” their married Catholic peers did with different results. Many would be just as “good” or better spouses as their married peers are. They will face various burdens or circumstances or trials that, for whatever reason, prevented the other gender from receiving them in marriage….They will ever in this life yearn for the sacrament they will never receive. Such will be the lot of some Catholics.
Only through the eyes of faith could they even begin to accept the suffering as something God wills them to bear––that they have been given the desire for the sacrament along the cross of its deprivation. And it doesn’t matter what they “do.” If it should please God that they remain in such suffering, no prayer or movement or condition can overturn it.
And I would say: Amen to that.
I recall my long years being single. Many days were spent in loneliness. My roommates would go visit their families on the weekends or during holidays, and I would have nowhere to go. So I’d sit in our apartment and read or play a video game or whatever.
I had spent two years considering the priesthood. I visited several religious orders, went on Come and See weekends, and to the diocesan vocations retreats. I ate lunch at the Serra club and attended Project Andrew with the bishop.
One day near the end of this period in my life, a priest friend of mine, Fr. David Konderla, asked me a powerful question: “How is God calling you to love?”
Have I been made to love one person in an exclusive relationship (marriage) or to give my love to a wider group of people (priesthood, loving the members of my parish or community)?
That question stuck with me, and as I reflected on it, I came to realize I was called to love one person in an exclusive sort of way. I was called to marriage. But God knew that I needed many years of deeper formation and growth, both at the natural and supernatural levels. So did my future wife.
But, contrary to some comments made on the other post, I did not spend all my time trying to find my wife. I spent it working a full-time job, going to daily Mass, adoration, St. Vincent de Paul, leading a boys’ group, being a Big Brother, and teaching CCD. In short, I was living my Catholic faith and loving it.
And through that long and sometimes lonely time, I was growing closer to Christ by His grace. It was good. But it was hard. Hard to work on faults; hard to maintain hope for entering into my vocation; hard to live in our fragmented and isolating American society.
All this to say to you: I get it. I know the heartache and frustration and longing and doubting. And I had it relatively easy. Others, friends of mine, have had it much tougher: annulments, single-parenthood, years and years without entering into their vocation: people who feel called to be priests but for various reasons are forbidden from it; people who feel called to marriage but haven’t been brought together with their spouse yet.
So I can only say: God bless you, in whatever state of life you are in, and whatever your hopes in Christ are. Our Lord is our ultimate fulfillment, and we live for Him always!