The first thing God saw, and identified as "not good" was the human He created, alone.
If that's first thing that really concerned the creator, shouldn't it matter more to the Church?
As it stands, if a long-time, unintended single expresses their pain and burden of being alone to a representative of the Church, they are met with either uncomfortable laughter, or stoney silence.
The Church is woefully unprepared for the effects of the sexual revolution on the faithful. The latest data indicates, that for the first time in history, single adults nearly outnumber married adults, yet the Church continues to serve the married, with families, nearly exclusively. Isn't it time we acknowledge the single elephant in the room?
Two years ago, on Valentine's Day, Catholic writer, Simcha Fisher got a taste of the fury of the slighted single when she dared to grumble about the overwrought holiday in her column in the National Catholic Register online.
The unveiled response from singles: ”You’re married. You don’t get to complain about Valentine’s Day.” This either amused or irked Mrs. Fischer, so in response in a subsequent column, she asked what it is that singles need from the church.
Whoo boy. Then it blew up. There were hundreds of responses from single Catholics, explaining their marginalized status in the Church and in society.
There, in one place, were tons of suggestions, reasons and ways for the Church to reach out to single adults. (Let’s be clear, we’re not talking about singles in terms of twenty-something’s. We’re talking prolonged singleness for which there seems to be no cure. Other than a call for all the divorcees to get annulments and a heart transplant.) If one or two churches in every diocese would have implemented just one idea, the plight of Adult Catholic Singles might have eased, just a bit.
The singles flooded the comments with descriptions ofthe agony of their single life, the loneliness and isolation. The lack of accountability, as daily, they return to an empty house, where it would be nice to just have someone to bounce their thoughts back and forth.
Sadly, among the wealth of suggestions from those experiencing prolonged singleness, were glib - nay ignorant - condolences from the smug marrieds;
Soon? Many singles have been anticipating "soon" for more than 20 years. Every year or two, one thinks, "This is it! God can't hold out much longer. I'm sure I'll meet someone soon and my waiting will be over." Rinse and repeat. Suddenly you're over 40 and invisible to the world.
Soon may never come.
All of this, makes it clear that the Church does not see the adult singles. In the minds of Church-going Catholics, all single people are in their 20s!
Insert flashing arrow pointing to obvious problem right here.
Worse yet, the smug marrieds who think all adult singles are perverted, lazy slobs:
Wait a minute, after we're all done being gravely insulted, we need to finish laughing at the absurdity of this comment!
No distractions yet?! Har har. If we're not counting the ticking biological clock, does a mortgage, or burying one's parents, or sitting all by yourself in an emergency room count?
So, what has happened since Simcha’s figurative olive branch? Well, the National Catholic Register promised a single’s column – of which I’ve seen two (2) offerings. One by Emily Stimpson and another by some guy who never managed to complete his thought. (Although, I was recently at a friend’s house – married of course – who showed me a column by Emily that was really quite good… so maybe the NCR has been publishing these columns in the hard copy, leaving the easily accessible online version to play cricket reruns… ignoring the fact that the single’s scene is online – but I’m glad my one married friend and someone’s grandma got to see it.)
Where was I? Oh yes, what happened after Simcha extended an olive branch to Adult Catholic Singles? After the roar died down? Pretty much nothing. At least on the NCR, there's not been another word about it.
All the smug marrieds went back to their Creighton charts, the mommy bloggers went back to writing about the tribulations of mothering. The Catholic husbands who insist that their single brother or nephew or cousin isn’t suitable for a relationship with a Nice Catholic Girl, went back to being okay with that.
It’s time to stir things up. How can you help?
(I'll share thoughts on that in my next post, but I'd love to read yours in the comments.)
Read part one of this series here.