Reasons for Prolonged Singleness Part 6

Hello! I hope you are doing well. It’s hard to believe we have moved into 2023 already, it being halfway through the month of February. There is so much to look forward to with God. I want to thank you for staying with me, bearing in patience as I have missed several month’s blog posts. I won’t bore you with all the details of my difficult year; suffice it to say that 2022 was a challenge for me. I am looking forward with hope as this new year gets underway.

As you may recall, I have been doing a series on the reasons for prolonged singleness. The next topic that we are going to cover is the failure to act. This subject concerns our duty to carry out an action or behavior that we either have a responsibility to do, or we need to do, to further a desired goal.  

The Big Picture

God has many attributes. Every Sunday at Mass, we proclaim his characteristic of power and might when we state, “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” (The Profession of Faith; The Nicene Creed) (emphasis added)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) expounds on this feature of God as follows:

“Of all the divine attributes, only God’s omnipotence is named in the Creed: to confess this power has great bearing on our lives. We believe that his might is universal, for God who created everything also rules everything and can do everything. God’s power is loving, for he is our Father, and mysterious, for only faith can discern it when it “is made perfect in weakness.” (CCC §268)      

What does this mean for us? It is a reminder that God is in control of everything, regardless of how out-of-control the world or our lives seem. And regardless of how hopeless a situation or the circumstances in our lives may appear. It is in these situations that we find an invitation to believe the scripture in Luke 1:37, “for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Whose Role Is It?

As it is with everything in this life, God has his part, and we have ours. This dynamic was built into the world by God at creation. We cannot ignore it; if we do so, it is to our disadvantage and even our peril.

We have a role to play in creation and in our own lives, collaborating with God in a life-giving process. This is because God created us in his image, with dignity and free will. We can choose to cooperate with his plan and participate in bringing forth goodness. Again, the CCC provides a wealth of insight for us on this matter:

“God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ cooperation….For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, …, and thus of cooperating in the accomplishment of his plan….God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and of their neighbors. Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers, and their sufferings. They then fully become “God’s fellow workers” and co-workers for his kingdom.” (CCC §306-307) (Emphasis added)

We normally participate with God to effectuate his will regarding our jobs, obtaining food, regarding healthcare for our bodies, and many other needs in our lives and in the world. Marriage is part of the original creation (see Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25) just like food, water, animals, and work.  It makes sense, then, that one would collaborate with God to marry.

Participation with God for Marriage

One of the biggest lies I faced as a single person was that it would “just happen,” that I would meet my future spouse and get married if it was God’s will. And this does happen for some folks. But not for everyone.

Just as there are some individuals who never struggle to obtain meaningful employment, regardless of the economic environment, there are others who pound the pavement relentlessly seeking to earn a living wage or work that is aligned with their educational pursuits. Regardless of whether a job offer comes easily or with sweat and toil, prudent counsel would advise a weary job seeker to not give up. We all know that the failure to act regarding the need to work would eventually lead to no occupation at all.  

Since we can see the foolishness of the above example, how much more dreadful are the consequences if one fails to act on their own behalf in the seeking of a spouse? (See three-part blog series,  “God Loves Marriage: How Come?”)

What actions, then, can one take to participate in his or her journey to the altar? As stated above, the CCC states in §306-307 that individuals “can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers, and their sufferings. They then fully become “God’s fellow workers” and co-workers for his kingdom.”

Our actions, our prayers, and our sufferings. What can this look like for a person struggling with prolonged singleness who desires marriage?

  • Our Actions: This looks differently for men and women, as well as for the individual. (see three-part blog series, “Can the Bible Teach Us to Date?”) Are you putting ourselves out there to meet new people? Are you being open to opportunities that God may send your way? Are you following God’s moral law, trusting that God will still perform a miracle and bring a about spouse despite societal pressure to do otherwise? If you are a man, are you pursuing? If you are a woman, are you responding?
  • Our Prayers: It may sound like I am preaching to the choir on this one! However, prayer is essential to get married because it evidences your dependance on God for his help, demonstrating your trust in him. Back in the day, there were protocols in place to assist people in the courting process. These have since long passed away. In my day, there was dating. It is my understanding that even this structure has now gone away. Prayer is the lifeline that will help you get married, as you are beseeching heaven for assistance.
  • Our Sufferings: Prolonged singleness is a burden. There is something here to be mourned (see blog post, “No Wedding Song”) By acknowledging these sufferings, you can offer them up to God and with the prayers of getting married. Also, offer the sufferings of dashed hopes and rejections. These can include ghosting via online dating websites, failed blind dates, a broken relationship, or a disappointing event you attended. All these hurts represent actions you took to see God’s will birthed into your life, along with real emotions of sadness, gloom, and discouragement that make you human. It is right to feel them and bring them to God. Then, remember, “The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ (Jesus) will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.” (1 Peter 5:10)  

It will always remain a mystery to me how God’s divine providence and our actions meld together to accomplish, achieve, and create. Still, we must act while trusting God to do his part, which is the miraculous. If we do not step out in faith, there will be nothing for God to work with.

In the next blog post, I will address how the fear of commitment contributes to prolonged singleness.

Julieanne M. Bartlett           All Rights Reserved           Copyright 2023 

2 thoughts on “Reasons for Prolonged Singleness Part 6

  1. “If you are a man, are you pursuing?”

    People ask me now that I’m into middle age, “Gee, you’re good around kids and you still go to church every weekend. Why didn’t you ever get married?”

    I’ve lived in the east valley of Phoenix for over 35 years after college. I’ve attended every parish in the area and if any eligible single Catholic women had ever crossed my path (the bar being set quite low, only that they try to attend mass every weekend like I do), so that I might say “hello” or “can I buy you a coffee” or “can I give you a ride to mass sometime”, you can be 100% no-doubt-about-it sure that I would have done so. No retreats, no novenas, just what used to be an ordinary Catholic.

    But there never were any. Never ever. So my answer to the question is simply to say “Why? Do you know of someone?” and the reply is a litany of all the people they know that left the church over the years. To which I say “Well if you ever hear of anyone, please keep me in mind.” Which was futile to ask for in 1985, and it’s just as futile now.

    “Pursuing” is a total non-starter. And that’s not “suffering” or “a burden” or something to be “mourned”. It’s just the way it is.

    1. Hi Larry,

      I definitely hear your frustration. And anger, disappointment, and hopelessness. I guess my question for you is, “Do you want to get married?” Or, do you want to remain single and stay in your anger and disappointment? From the things that you say in your email, you sound very gentlemanly. I think you would make a very good husband. All of us get a gift (something we don’t need to struggle with), a purpose (something God wants us to do), and a problem (something that does not come easy to us and we either can’t resolve or need God’s help o resolve). For some of us, prolonged singleness is that problem.

      I absolutely agree with you that the Church and the world is not what it used to be. The Church used to be a place where one could meet their spouse. But that usually is not the case any more. However, that does not mean that God will not help one get married. It just means that we have to seek God more, harder, and deeper for this need. Praying a novena is show of dependance on God for his help. It demonstrates our reliance on him to help us when the natural ways of doing things just are not working.

      It sounds like all of the natural ways of meeting someone have not worked for you. They didn’t for me either. I had to go deeper with God. He is after this type of relationship with all of us. If he didn’t use prolonged singleness, he would use something else to go after it. The bottom line is, will you engage in the struggle with God and ask the tough questions of him and of yourself?

      Best to you!

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