The vocation to chaste single life
God has created you with a purpose. A mission. And no one can fulfill that mission except for you. It is a mission of love and relationship. Fulfilling God’s plan for your life takes your whole heart.
The vocation to the chaste single life liberates the heart in a unique way, “so as to make it burn with greater love for God and all humanity.” With one’s heart freed in love, the person committed to chaste single life “bears witness that the Kingdom of God and His justice is that pearl of great price which is preferred to every other value no matter how great” (Familiaris Consortio, 16).
Lived in a spirit of faith and gift, the chaste single life can be one of the many roads by which the grace of baptism is realized and a person may advance toward the holiness to which we are all called (Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, 90). While all people who are single are called to live a life of chastity, the person called to the chaste single life dedicates himself or herself permanently and privately to living celibately for the sake of the kingdom.
How do you know if you’re called to the chaste single life?
Figuring out what God wants you to do with your life is always a journey. It challenges you to trust and accept God’s plan. One of life’s great questions is, “what am I here for?” So how do you know if God is calling you in a special way to the chaste single life?
Questions to ask yourself
Do you feel called to discern your vocation at this time in your life?
Do you have a regular prayer life?
Are you open to following God’s will for you?
Do you have a desire to love God and His people?
Do you feel called to dedicate yourself to God entirely? In prayerful reflection, do you sometimes feel called to remain single?
Want more guidance? Check out this resource from bishops who gathered with priests and young people to discuss how to discern a vocation.
Understanding the chaste single life
Out of a desire to love God and His people, you may feel called to dedicate yourself entirely to the Lord without a desire to join a religious community. Therefore, you make private vows or promises to live in a permanent state of virginity or celibacy.
You may feel called to marriage or the consecrated life but through experiences, difficulties or circumstances have found yourself unable to fulfill that vocation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is the chaste single life unlike other vocations?
The chaste single life is distinct from the vocations to marriage or the consecrated life in that this vocation can be considered an anticipatory state in which all Christians are called for at least a time in their life. It is also not sinful to marry or enter into consecrated life after privately making vows to remain single.
What is the difference between the single life and the chaste single life?
The single life is simply the state of being single. It requires no discernment. However, it does require the commitment to live chastely and dedicated to a life of holiness to which all people are called. The chaste single life, sometimes referred to as the consecrated single life, is a life dedicated to God and His people through private or public vows. It requires discernment and occasionally may include informal formation as directed by a spiritual director.
What kind of formation is required for this vocation?
The person who feels called to the chaste single life may or may not have any formal formation, nonetheless, one should approach this discernment with prayer and much discussion with a good spiritual director
Have I missed my “true” calling?
Some people try to say the chaste single life is not a real vocation, however, the Church knows it is. Some people called to this vocation think they are failures because they have not been called to a different vocation — one that may seem more acceptable to society. Through the way they live out their vocation, people called to the chaste single life have an outstanding opportunity to show that it is possible and good to live a life in the world while remaining committed to God and His Church.
Paragraph 2340 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascesis adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God's commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer." This fidelity to prayer should also include reflection on one’s heart’s reaction to the vocation to marriage or the consecrated life and time spent in conversation with one’s spiritual director, family and friends.
Any person contemplating his or her vocation or who is discerning a call to the chaste single life may contact:
Articles that further explore the Church’s teaching about this vocation:
- Single Vocation? by Father Joseph Bolin
- Is Single-Life a Vocation? by Dawn Hausmann, director of Consecrated Religious Vocation and Young Adult Evangelization for the Diocese of Lansing
- Single by Default by Jessica Keating
- Called To Love by Carl Anderson and Jose Gradados
- Single for a Greater Purpose: A Hidden Joy in the Catholic Church by Luanne Zurlo
- Man and Woman He Created Them by Pope St. John Paul II
- Familiaris Consortio by Pope St. John Paul II