She was a new face, but the story she told me was one I had
heard many, many times before.
Over a cup of coffee and a piece of Key Lime pie, she told
me of her desire to be married and have a family. She confided her frustrations
with searching for so many years and not having the right man come into her
life. While she hated to admit it, she was beginning to feel the pressures of
the “clock ticking,” and the shrinking pool of eligible single Catholic men. It
really wasn’t necessary for her to verbalize to me what her eyes told me before
she said a word: she was fighting feelings of sadness, loneliness, and even
desperation…she was struggling to hold her head up high as the single woman
she had never planned to be, “at least
not at my age!”
I can relate to her frustrations and her pain, and so can
many of you.
If you feel a strong call from God to the vocation of
marriage, living the single life and waiting on God’s plan and His timing for
your life can be hard. Sometimes really hard.
I know that I am always in need of reminders that God’s
dreams for my life are much bigger than mine are for myself, and that God will
be faithful to me if I am faithful to Him. Family, Christian friendships, and
my church young adult group are vital support and encouragement in my life. In
recent years, I’ve discovered another source of inspiration to be faithful as a
single Catholic. The person who most gives me hope and courage is a woman who,
ironically enough, got married when she was still a teenager.
She is our Blessed Mother, Mary.
Tradition has long maintained that Mary was betrothed to her
husband, Joseph, when she was a young teenager, maybe even as young as thirteen
or fourteen years old. What would a girl who got engaged, married, and had a
baby that early on in life have to teach single adults who are two or three or even
four times her age? Plenty.
Mary was uniquely chosen by God to exemplify in her life
what each and every Christian should be striving for in their lives. Her faith,
virtue, and grace-filled example are a model to all her children, no matter
their age, race, or state in life. However, there are several specific aspects
of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s life from which single Catholics can take
particular solace and encouragement.
Submission to the Will of God
My mom is an amazing anchor in my life. If she ever hears me
complaining about life or some situation, she says to me: “Steph, remember: trust and obey!”
Regarding the fact I am still single and waiting for the fulfillment of
my vocation to marriage, Mom has had to remind me of the “trust and obey” motto
The Catechism of the Catholic Church and many other Church documents
talk about the responsibility of Christians to respond to Christ with the
“trust and obey” attitude, which the Church calls the “obedience of faith.”
The Catechism states: “By faith, man completely submits his intellect
and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the
revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God …‘the obedience
of faith’ … It participates in the ‘Yes’ of the Son become servant and the
Fiat of God's lowly handmaid” (sections 143, 2716).
More than any other human being,
the Blessed Virgin Mary exemplifies for single Catholics this call to submit
our intellect and will wholly, entirely, and without compromise, to God. She
believed without seeing, and said yes with a supreme act of faith. The
Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary
welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that
‘with God nothing will be impossible’ and so giving her assent: ‘Behold I am
the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.’ Elizabeth greeted her:
‘Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was
spoken to her from the Lord.’ It is for this faith that all generations have
called Mary blessed” (CCC section 148).
As a single Catholic adult, God is asking you to have the
perfect faith of Mary and trust that His promises for your life will be
fulfilled. If you feel called to the vocation of marriage, the waiting and
searching part of the journey is hard…but if you trust and obey, God will in
turn be faithful to you.
I never thought too much about the patience of Mary until my
brother-in-law, Dan, brought it up during a talk he was giving to a group of
college students. The Archangel Gabriel and the prophet Simeon revealed very
specific promises to Mary. Gabriel told her that her Son would be the promised
Messiah, the Savior of the world. Shortly after her baby boy was born, Simeon
told her of sorrows to come that would pierce her heart. And what happened
Thirty years passed.
Thirty years of silence. Thirty years of observing her Son
working alongside his father in a carpenter’s shop in Nazareth. Thirty years of cooking for him,
cleaning up after him, taking care of him. Watching. Waiting.
The Bible does not mention much about those years. We have
no record that Mary ever complained, ever questioned, ever began to wonder if
God’s promises to her would actually come true.
As single Catholics, many of us struggle with the “waiting”
part of following God’s will, particularly in the area of searching for a
spouse. In those dark hours, take courage from the example of the Blessed
Mother, who knows what it is like to wait on God’s timing. She will be with you
and comfort you.
need for friendship and support
Mary understood the importance of friendship, community, and
support during difficult times. Shortly after discovering her role in the
divine plan of salvation, Mary traveled to the hill country of Judah to stay
with her cousin, Elizabeth. More than any other friend at that time, Elizabeth could understand
and relate to what Mary was going through. She too was carrying a child who had
been conceived in fulfillment to the word of the Lord.
If you are single, follow Mary’s example: do not “go it
alone” through difficult times. Form solid friendships with other single
people, particularly those who share your faith (this website is a great platform
for meeting like-minded singles and forming solid, faith-filled friendships!).
Get involved in service and outreach opportunities. Attend singles
get-togethers such as Theology on Tap, Frassati Society, and the many local and
regional singles events posted on the 4Marks Events Calendar.
The Bible says, “And though a man might prevail against one
who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken”
(Ecclesiastes 4:12). Surrounded by the support of other single Catholics, and
with the Blessed Mother interceding for you, you will have a strong shelter
from any storms of discouragement or loneliness that might blow your way.
Mary’s courage in difficult times in unparalleled. She could
have denied Him. She could have chosen to stay home, or stand back on the
sidelines and watch at a safe distance. But she didn’t. She did not leave her
Lord in the hour of his brutal agony, but instead followed Him even to the foot
of the Cross.
The very fact that you are single and a Catholic in the year
2007 demands courage. In our relativistic, moral wasteland of a culture, you
are standing for truth, living your faith, and thus giving God glory. It takes
courage to follow what you believe and live your faith without hypocrisy.
There is one aspect of the single life that I believe demands
an extra dose of courage today. That is, avoiding the temptation to compromise
your high standards for what you are looking for in a spouse because you are
starting to feel hopeless, helpless, or desperate since Mr. or Ms. Faithful
Catholic does not seem to be presenting himself or herself at your doorstep.
Don’t compromise! Your dream of lasting love in a
god-fearing marriage will be realized in God’s perfect timing. Don’t give in to
pressures from the world or temptations from within to let your standards slide
because the journey is difficult. Be inspired by your Holy Mother’s courage,
and remember that she is praying for you.
A Radical Suggestion
(But I Really Hope You Go For It)
I have discovered a devotion to our Blessed Mother that I
think has very special merit for us single Catholics. It is the 54-Day Rosary Novena to Our Lady. The
54-Day Rosary Novena consists of a series of six consecutive nine-day novenas.
Three novenas are first said asking Mary for your petition, and this is
followed by three novenas said in thanksgiving for Mary hearing and answering
I first learned of the 54-Day Rosary Novena when a couple I
knew from the Midwest discerned their courtship
by praying the novena. They had been friends and partners in apostolic work for
years, but it wasn’t until they prayed this novena that their hearts awoke to
the feelings they had for each other. After a successful answer to prayer, the
couple then invited single Catholics from all over the country to join them in
praying for godly spouses for all who prayed this novena. Success stories of
the Blessed Mother’s favor abound for those who have reverently prayed this
I know that our Mother Mary has a special place in her heart
for her single-and-still-waiting children.
I challenge you, during this Month of Mary, to honor your heavenly
Mother by praying the 54-Day Rosary Novena for your special intention of
finding a pouse. [Note: The 54-Day Rosary Novena is available in booklet form
under the title Rosary Novenas to Our
Lady, and is available here .]
Whether or not you choose to pray the above novena, I hope
that as we honor mothers, and especially our Blessed Mother, this month, you
will turn to Mary as a source of encouragement and inspiration for your life.
She will give you the courage to believe that “with God nothing will be impossible,” and to pray “Let it be done to me according to your
word” (Luke 1:37-38).
Stephanie is the coordinator of
™, a youth and young adult division of
Family Life Center International
She has been a frequent guest on several Catholic programs, including
EWTN Radio's Faith & Family, which she currently co-hosts with her
father, Steve Wood, and EWTN Television's Life on the Rock and The
Stephanie hosts the first worldwide radio show for Catholic youth,
, which airs weekly on the EWTN Radio Network.She also
writes a monthly
for teens and young adults. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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