1658: People Who Are Single

I think single people are among the most forgotten in the Church. Here’s what the Catechism has to say about them:

I’m just gonna put in the whole thing first, and then we’ll break it down!

“We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live–often not of their choosing–are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family, often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the “domestic churches,” and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden.'”
-Article 1658, Catechism of the Catholic Church

How do we know that Jesus wants to extend peace to those who suffer? Here’s the Scriptural evidence:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11: 28, New American Bible, Revised Edition

Alrighty, then. Ready to break this apart?

We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of their particular circumstances in which they have to live–often not of their choosing–are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors.”
-Article 1658, Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • There are a great number of single persons. Honestly, I get why people forget this. It’s really hard to go to mass all by yourself. It’s daunting. It can feel lonely. Plus, Catholics are so darn good at having big families, that it kind of dominates the types of folks you see in mass. We shouldn’t forget that there are more people who are alone than we know, and they shouldn’t feel forgotten. We should help people, single or not, to remember that they are important and loved. And we should remember that while we are at mass on Sunday, there are probably more people than we can count who are at home, fearful and sad at missing out, but just not being up to the task of being judged and devalued by you.
  • There are particular circumstances in which they have to live. So mind your business. It’s not their “fault” that they are single, and you are not doing anyone any favors by insisting on finding some “reason” for them being single! Being a single person is difficult. But “difficult” and “bad” are not interchangeable terms. Being single is sometimes hard, not bad! It’s not your job to understand or agree with their circumstances, it’s your job to love them. 
  • They are especially close to Jesus’ heart. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve often wondered why we don’t honor those who are single more often. To me, it seems a huge opportunity–while their circumstances do not provide a human family of their own, they could very well use the time to study and read and develop in ways that you’ll certainly never have time for. Single people may well be the most under-utilized source of scholastic theological contribution that we have as a Body, but we can’t get it together enough to invite them to mass?!?! What is wrong with us? Jesus knew what it was like to be alone. He couldn’t even get his closest friends to sit with Him in His hour of need. And this was when He was about to make the ultimate sacrifice–how often is this taken for granted?
  • Single persons deserve special affection and active solicitude of the Church. Quick, tell me: How readily would you invite a single person to dinner at your home? I’m not talking about just kind of circumstantial “hey why don’t you just stick around, I’m literally putting food in front of a bunch of other humans soon anyway, so you can have some too.” I’m talking about inviting someone. Including someone. Yeah, maybe their home is cleaner because they don’t have children running around, but that’s not the point. People’s lives are NOT somehow easier just because they are all by themselves, and they certainly aren’t dying to cook and clean for you. Yeah, you heard that right, they probably don’t even want to cook or clean or entertain for you–it’s just that those things are a small price to pay in comparison to not getting to show love to another human. It’s a sacrifice, and most people are so willing to make that sacrifice for you, even after having it taken for granted time and time again. But apparently it’s too big a price for you to pay, since you already have humans to love? So you don’t “have” to? There is a suffering in being alone that you can’t know unless you are alone. They deserve special affection because they are human beings, carrying the weight of the human experience by themselves. Some folks don’t have familial relationships to balance their daily experience with. They are bravely carrying it all, without help, without an ally in the world, and often without recognition. They deserve for YOU to cook them dinner. Invite them. Invite them. What, does this get in the way of your super fancy dinner party where you and another couple sit around and congratulate yourselves on being the best wives/husbands/parents/chefs that ever lived? Get over yourselves. I’m not saying it isn’t the job of single persons to extend love. I’m saying that they often already do, but it is taken for granted. Loving people is their job, and many feel great joy at doing it (!) but it is ALSO your job, and you should feel great joy in the Christian value of hospitality as well.
  • Especially of pastors. I understand that priests so often have to deal with teaching and guiding people on reproductive issues, marital issues, and familial issues, that it can seem that the congregation is made up entirely of different tribes. But seriously, folks, pastors are supposed to be a way for everyone to get to Jesus, not just married people.

“Many remain without a human family, often due to conditions of poverty.”
-Article 1658, Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • There are bills to pay. Don’t you find it heartbreaking that someone with so much love to give, and so many things to teach to, say, a child, can’t even entertain the idea of adopting a child into a loving home because of today’s high cost of living? What are they gonna do, ask the Church (who constantly belittles or forgets them) for help? Wake up, people.
  • Single parents are often cheated of the opportunity to be with their own child or children, because somebody has to work to pay the bills. Why aren’t we doing more for them? They were open to life, they work hard, they love hard, they do all the things we tell them they should do, but somehow it seems that, in general, they are punished and excluded because they don’t have family units that look just like yours.

“Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion.”
-Article 1658, Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • You better believe they do. Thank God for single persons. Single persons have so much love to give, and I know for a fact there would be so many people who would not get the love, support, and encouragement for their own families without single persons who are able to come around and add to their lives. I can think of plenty people that I actually know. Can you? Are you someone who has benefited from the love of someone who is single? Do you know how lucky you are? I know people who have so much love to give that they are even able to apply it to their careers. For example: the professor who takes time and energy, thinking about and praying for his students. If he didn’t take the time to pray for them, who would?! Or, perhaps consider the medical professional who gives her love to each and every patient, literally saving lives because of the love she has to give to other humans. “Exemplary” is the absolute correct word to describe people like this. They should be thanked, recognized, and included in places of honor. 

“The doors of homes, the “domestic churches,” and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them.”
-Article 1658, Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • Ok; do I even really need to explain this part?

Do single persons really suffer? Some people are single because they don’t actually want to get married! And guess what: if you don’t WANT to get married, you shouldn’t get married! These people are certainly making the right choice for them. I am wanting to highlight the fact that single persons are burdened with trying to extend love in a society that often excludes them. This most often results in hard labor to live up to human virtues and Christian charity, in ways that are often completely invisible, or taken for granted by society as a whole.

We are so quick to put people into little categories. Single or married. Fat or thin. Good or bad. It’s ridiculous. Who are you to judge anyone, based on whether or not they are “alone”? Jesus loved those on the margins. He never forgot the poor, the sick, the lonely. Have you ever thought about people around you? Who do you know who might perhaps feel lonely at times?  Don’t patronize them. And don’t force them to admit to loneliness. Just include them. See them. Love them. Encourage them, and honor them. Why? Because Jesus loves them, and that is absolutely 100% good enough reason for you to love them too.

What do you think about this article within the Catechism? What kinds of things would you suggest for Catholics who want to give more love to the single persons in their community? Let me know in the comments!

Maggie

Source for Adventurous Reading:
Catechism of the Catholic Church: Modifications from the Editio Typica. English translation (United States, 2nd edition) United States Catholic Conference, Inc., Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 1997. Print.

(C) 2017 www.maggieothevalley.com

*This post was NOT sponsored

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-J. K. Rowling

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