(OSV) ‘Survival guide’ for single Roman Catholic women

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More and more young Catholics (and Americans in general) are delaying marriage than ever before. Some 43 percent of Americans are unmarried, and 61 percent of those have never walked down the aisle.

That has spawned a host of challenges for parish ministries, but also for singles themselves — there’s not much wisdom to turn to for guidance.

That may be changing, with books like “The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years..."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexualityWomenYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

Posted March 2, 2012 at 9:01 am

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1. sophy0075 wrote:

I pray it will give young women some comfort and reassurance. I know many Anglican women late 20 and early 30-somethings who are unmarried. They express frustration that (1) there are so few eligible single men in the pews (2) most men their age want sex without commitment and (3) most women their age are willing to give #2 what they want.

March 2, 1:49 pm | [comment link]
2. Teatime2 wrote:

It seems like this is yet another book that treats singleness as a “holding pattern.” She says in the interview that people will be upset by her treating singlehood as “a cross.” Well, YEAH! I certainly don’t consider it a cross. There are good and bad parts of every state in life—nothing is perfect.

It boggles that the only Church which requires celibacy of its clergy (except for imported Anglicans and Lutherans) can reinforce the message to everyone else that being single is horrible.

March 2, 5:23 pm | [comment link]
3. the roman wrote:


The Catholic Church does not require celibacy of it’s clergy. It simply chooses to accept only men who have had a true calling to serve Christ and also the gift to make themselves “..eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven..” One is always free to serve as a deacon or layperson if one is unable to receive the gift Christ describes in Matthew 19:12.

Also I’m not aware that the Catholic Church “reinforces the message to everyone else that being single is horrible.” Maybe there’s some evidence I’ve missed somehow and somewhere.

Rather I think Ms. Stimpson has a good point for everyone to remember when she says,
“Holiness is the purpose of our life, not finding a husband, and confusing the two is dangerous.”

We are after all called to be saints are we not? Especially during this Lenten season.


March 2, 10:47 pm | [comment link]
4. Teatime2 wrote:

#3—The RCC doesn’t require priestly celibacy?  Send out a memo—some of the lads would be very interested in spinning your semantics.

Yes, this woman and her ilk portray singlehood as an unfortunate, second-class existence. Did you read the entire article? She calls it a “cross” to bear. First off, I find her comparison to the cross of Christ offensive and (hopefully) hyperbolic. Secondly, if she’s so dang miserable being single then perhaps that is precisely why she still is, and unhappily so.

As for “evidence,” consider how much (or how little) the church does in specifically ministering to singles. When I was still RC, we did have a young adult singles group at my parish but when we got a priest moderator for the group, he decided that it should be divided into separate male and female groups. And he named the female group “the Magdalenes.” The name referred to St. Mary Magdalene’s fallen woman reputation, not her role as supporter and evangelist.

Sophy is right. There isn’t a large pool of outstanding marriage prospects. Thank God folks increasingly are OK with being single and aren’t expected to “settle.” It would be nice if religion actively supported singlehood but not by calling it a “cross to bear” as this woman is.

March 3, 2:06 am | [comment link]
5. Sarah wrote:

RE: “As for “evidence,” consider how much (or how little) the church does in specifically ministering to singles.”

I agree that the church in the US—of all denominations—is doing a lousy job with singles.  The interesting thing is that the conservative churches are [understandably] focused on married couples with children—and as a single I have to agree that married couples with children are the central organizing unit of a healthy [and unhealthy] society and culture.  And then the liberal churches [heh] don’t know anything healthy to do with singles either [other than urge them to go before Congress and ask for other citizens to fund the birth control for their sexual activities], and spend most of their time working to actively defeat the Gospel and tear down culture as much as possible—they have little time for dealing with the Christian state of singleness.

But I in no way think the state of singleness as second-class.  While the family is the central societal organizing and formation unit, single people get to buzz about actually getting things done!  ; > )

As a single person myself I am able to run wild and uncivilized and focus like a laser on projects and activities that NO responsible married parent could possibly engage in to the extent that I do.  Every single day I’m reminded of this when I talk with parents—they simply can’t do as much “other stuff” when they’re rightly immersed in the care and raising of their kids.

There’s a place—which should be honored—for both the single and family unit in culture.  Both should be treated as Godly callings in life—and *both* are temporary states as well, usually.  Marriages aren’t “forever”—eventually and sadly, even if a couple is able to avoid the peril of divorce, one or the other dies and the remaining person is single.  And most Christian single people—though certainly not all—end up married.

I just think that churches are so scattered and disorganized and confused about their mission that they basically focus on “the easiest” part of their congregation—and the part that actually provides the youth and the plate and pledge too, incidentally!  Most young singles don’t have the money to give a lot, and the older singles aren’t as stable as the middle-aged families—so *the* fruitful demographic for “stewardship” [sic] are families and older wealthy people who might remember a parish in their wills!

In the meantime it’s up to single people to take their state as a vocation, to recognize that their mission involves their singleness—until it doesn’t!—and to be thankful for it, as well as to work at becoming the people God meant them to become—just as those who are married should do.  If somebody’s viewing being single as some sort of “cross” to bear, they probably haven’t learned what they need to learn from it.  Maybe they’ll learn it once they achieve their much-desired married state—or maybe they won’t.  Either way, marriage doesn’t end their personal problems; it exponentially expands and intensifies them.

March 3, 3:45 pm | [comment link]
6. Karen B. wrote:

Agree with Sarah that healthy families are essential to a healthy church and culture, and ALSO that there is great blessing in being single and the productivity and creativity it can allow. 

I for one have considered my singleness a true vocation and it has allowed me to serve and pour myself out in very comprehensive ministry work that just would not have been possible if I were married.  I have been blessed to have incredibly supportive and wonderful colleagues who have blessed me, and also for close contact with families and children who deeply enrich my life.  (I currently share a home with a local African family with 6 children and the kids delight my heart!  I get the best of both worlds in a sense, the freedom and independence of being a single, with the joy of being part of a joyful, chaotic household and many hugs & stories & play - but not having to parent or change diapers!!)

So, I can recommend that single women join a missn team and come work overseas - it’s never dull or boring!! Ahlan Wasahlan (a local phrase in Arabic meaning, you’re all welcome!)

I’d pretty much long ago stopped reading books on singleness, especially as I’ve not struggled with my vocation to singleness, but I got asked a few years ago to write a review for my organization of a book entitled “Revelations of a Single Woman: Loving the Life I didn’t Expect”

I really enjoyed it and thought it dealt with some important topics that aren’t often covered in books on singleness - things like “life coaching,” relating to your parents as a single adult, the issue of sharing a house or apartment with roommates/housemates and the challenges of those relationships…  In all, I’d highly recommend it.

For younger women considering BOTH singleness and dating, I know of no better book to recommend than Elisabeth Elliot’s Passion and Purity.  Absolutely must reading for any serious Christian woman of high school or college age!

March 4, 11:39 am | [comment link]

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