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Answering the Call to Holiness in the Single Life

Luanne Zurlo’s Single for a Greater Purpose is a book that fills a tremendous need. For various reasons, our world is filled with unmarried men and women of marriageable age, many, if not most of them, yearning for a suitable spouse. For Christians such a deficit can be experienced in an especially painful way, since many have dreamed of serving God through loving a spouse and raising children together; they have viewed marriage and family as their particular path to holiness and happiness. Not feeling called to the religious life (often after careful discernment), they are frequently filled with frustration and envy and a sense of having missed out big time, not to mention their loneliness and confusion about what the heck they are to do with their lives.

Zurlo’s book proposes that such individuals seriously consider that God may be calling them to the dedicated single life, not as a vocation that is a Plan B for those not called to marriage or the religious life, but as a beautiful way to achieve intimacy with the Lord and live a life dedicated to him. Indeed, the circumstances in which one finds oneself might be one of the biggest indicators of one’s calling. While Zurlo doesn’t speak of the widow, widower or abandoned spouse, or the person born with or who has acquired a condition that precludes marriage, such individuals may find that because of their life situation, they are living as a single; and as they embrace it, they may find it to be a life of many graces and opportunities for self-giving. The phrase “bloom where you are planted” (attributed to St. Francis de Sales) has some force here, I think.

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