November 30, 2002
Renewing the Church and the
Vocation to the Single Life
"Some men are incapable of sexual activity from birth; some have been deliberately made so; and some there are who have freely renounced sex for the sake of God's reign. Let him accept this teaching who can." Matthew 19:12
The Holy Spirit is renewing the face of the earth (Ps 104:30). Throughout history, the Lord has renewed the earth by renewing His body, the Church. The Church is in constant need of renewal, but at some points in history the Church is in greater need of renewal because of her sinfulness and the severity of the world's condition. We live in one of those times when there is an urgent need for the Church to be renewed so as to displace our culture of death with a civilization of love and life.
As critical as renewal is, it is not all there is to life. God has planned that the maintenance of everyday life should consume most of the energies of most of His people. Therefore, married people, lay single people in the world, and parish priests historically have not been the main agents of renewal but the beneficiaries of renewal. Throughout history the Lord has raised up religious orders to take the great initiative called for by the Lord to renew the Church and, through the Church, the world. The religious orders are still called to do this today. However, the Lord seems to be doing something new (see Is 43:19). The Lord is raising up certain lay single people to renew the Church. This is a rare calling but not as rare as it used to be. The raising up of lay single people to lead and work in transparochial, national, or international ministries may well be the key to renewing the Church.
Are you called to be single for the Lord? If so, are you called to be a priest, religious, or lay single person? If you are called to be a lay single person, you are probably called to work with secular society. This is the calling of most lay people (see Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People, Pope John Paul II, 15). You are called to take initiative to discover or invent the means of permeating our culture with the Gospel of Jesus (The Catechism, 899). As a lay single Christian, you are more likely to be called by God to own a business in which you take on extensive responsibilities and serve in a decision-making capacity. Many lay single Christians have the calling and availability to be Christ-centered leaders, honest owners, evangelistic managers, and prophetic decision-makers in order to bring under Jesus' lordship our businesses, neighborhoods, politics, mass media, education, health care, entertainment, and arts. The lay single Christian in the world can be a major influence in molding and re-molding our culture for the glory of God.
However, there is a minority of lay single Christians who are not called to focus their lives on being light, salt, and leaven to the secular society (see Mt 5:13, 14; 13:33). These lay single Christians are called to serve the Church directly and extensively. A few of them are called to be the heart and pillars of a parish church. They are our pastors' most important collaborators. However, because the parish is rightly preoccupied with the marriages, births, deaths, joys, sorrows, sicknesses, and problems of the parishioners, the parish is rarely a major force in renewal. Therefore, most lay single Christians who are not called to the secular world should consider giving their lives to the Lord by leading and working in ministries of renewal which are not confined to the local parish but are reaching out to renew the Church throughout the world.
Are you called to be single for the Lord?
Are you called to be a lay single person?
Are you called to be a lay single person but not called to serve in our secular society?
Are you called to renew the Church and thereby renew the face of the earth?
If you may be able to answer "yes" to these four questions, contact us at Presentation Ministries. You may be called to work with us. If not, we will help you find where God is calling you. Those called to be single for the Lord, the Church needs some of you to bring renewal! You are needed first, most, and now. Answer the Lord's call.
(For more teaching on the single life and other vocations, order our booklet, Who Am I In Christ?)
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn,
September 21, 1998
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, September 23, 1998.