This week, America Magazine published another piece by Jessica Keating on singlehood. In this piece, she makes an argument that whatever a “single vocation” consists of, it is really just a concrete way of living out a vocation to holiness in the world. And even if she is among the many young women and men who have not chosen this vocation, she is still called to live with holiness in the world:
Things do not always work out the way we expect. Life is precarious. We are thrown into situations over which we have no control. Married couples experience infertility. The person one falls in love with may not return that love. A religious order may ask a member to leave. We are all vulnerable. Yet we are called to holiness precisely in the circumstances of reality as it is, not as we would like it to be.
But I did not discern a call to single life. In fact, I am deeply skeptical that unconsecrated single life is a vocation at all, any more than infertility is a vocation, or chronic illness is a vocation. I suspect our inclination to call the unvowed single life a vocation comes from anxiety about putting people into categories, about making the suffering and the scandal of our unfulfilled desires a bit safer, about comforting ourselves with the idea that God will always act according to our will. Which means that perhaps my single life, like so many others, is not a vocation.
Yet I am also called to holiness today, now, here. Not at some vague time in the future when I may get married. I feel this tension every day.