The charisms and needs of singles are not based upon age, but upon state in life. What singles experience and need at age 25 is almost indistinguishable from what singles experience and need at age 55.
What singles need can be best expressed in these two key concepts:
1) To be drawn out of isolation and into the family life of the Church so to fully experience all of the grace, power and beauty of Christian life each and every day, beginning right now, rather than listlessly pining for some future state of marriage or consecration.The central charism of one who is married or who has become permanently consecrated in priestly or religious life (or similar consecration) is the charism of the vow, or promise. To differentiate from the single state, this can be termed the “avowed state.”
2) To be formed to the greatest appreciation of and preparedness for the vocations of both marriage and consecrated life.
The central charism of the single person is very different. It most naturally is and ought to be the charism of freedom. Freedom is what makes it possible to give and to love. As Pope John Paul II has expressed it, “freedom exists for the sake of love. Freedom is the means, and love is the end” (Love and Responsibility, p.135).
Those in the avowed state have used their freedom in order to make a permanent gift of themselves in love to another person or directly to God. For singles (we’re speaking now not of modern American single life, but of how single life should be taught and lived by Christians), this freedom of giving and loving is experienced very differently, according to our two key concepts above.
First, freedom is experienced by learning to discern anew and creatively each day how we are to make gifts of our selves. This takes place fully only by living within the family of the Church it cannot take place in isolation. Living as part of the Church family is not a formal thing, but is a deep-rooted commitment to sharing the most significant aspects of our lives with other Christians including living together as roommates, praying, attending Mass, attending holiday events, eating, working, frolicking all of the things that families should share.
Second, we strive through vocation formation to become so free as to be ready to make absolute and authentic gifts of ourselves to either marriage or consecrated life whensoever God may call us to do so.
To be continued in the final installment “The Revolution in Singles Ministry — Part 5”
(Dave Sloan writes and speaks across the country on God of Desire: From Dating to Courtship to Paradise. Dave has appeared on many radio and television programs, including CNN News and EWTN's Life on the Rock. His Twelve Principles Program shows how to begin every relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ, who can discover the wonder of one another without fear while growing ever closer to the God of Desire.)
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