My sentiments come from two sources.
First, I am a little unsettled, I suppose, over something that happened yesterday at church. I was reading in the library, when a man came in. He looked a little surprised that I was there, then let me know that they were having a meeting for the Evangelization team at 7 pm. He said not to worry and to take my time, since we had over 20 minutes until the meeting was to begin. He said he was going to go to the chapel to pray and left. He was very warm and friendly.
Then. A woman came in and set her things on the table. She looked over at me and demanded, “Who are *you*? You aren’t attending this meeting are you? I didn’t think there was going to be any newcomers at this meeting.” Clearly, I was unwelcome in the library. I was a little surprised at her behavior, but didn’t really say anything. The meeting was still more than 20 minutes away. I started packing up my things and I guess she realized what she had sounded like, because she apologized for being rude, offered me some of the cookies she had brought and left the room. I didn’t really feel like having any of her cookies at that point and finished putting stuff in my bag. She and the first man came in as I was leaving and she apologized again. There was still 15 minutes until the meeting and in the meantime, another woman had wandered in to look at the library books.
I was a little hurt by her rudeness, but more amused at the irony of being made to feel unwelcome in my parish by a member of the parish’s *Evangelization* committee. What if I *hadn’t* been Catholic? What if I were considering becoming Catholic? I’m not sure that I would feel comfortable joining that community. And it might just push me away enough that I don’t continue to look for the truth that is found in the Catholic Church.
The second reason why I sometime feel like a second-class citizen is a sore spot with me. I’m sure I’m probably just sensitive to it, but it pushes my buttons:
I’m single. And apparently this isn’t okay.
Let me explain. The Catholic Church thinks this is just fine. In fact, the Church recognizes the single life as a valid vocation. God can *call* people to the single life. Singles generally have more time to do his work (over people who have obligations to raising a family) and live in the world where there is usually greater access to people for the purposes of evangelization, apologetics, and witnessing to the faith (over consecrated religious).
However, people who *attend* the church often act in a way that gives the impression that singles are not as important as consecrated men and women or married people. Worse, they treat us as if we are in some sort of “holding pattern” and that one day, if we are lucky, God might remember us and call us to the married state or the consecrated/religious life.
As if we were God’s forgotten, neglected step-children or something.
No, I don’t have a husband to love me, support me, or help out when I am tired, stressed, or just can’t handle projects on my own. No, I don’t have cute children.
This doesn’t mean that I’m not a valuable member of society. And it certainly doesn’t mean that I couldn’t have anything to contribute to a discussion on kids and family life. I can’t tell you how many times friends, even good friends, have left me out of wedding planning or pregnancy talks or advice about kids because I am single. They just don’t think of me.
Even in the parish, there is a lack of attention paid to the needs of singles. Don’t get me wrong. I really, truly understand that the value of a stable, faith-based family life is under attack. And I know how important solid marriages are for society in general. I know that it’s important to nurture and protect these marriages and families. And I pray for them.
But have you noticed that if there is any events directed towards singles in the parish, they are usually “social gatherings” which seem to be mostly directed towards “meeting people” and dating? What? So that us poor single people can *finally* meet someone and then be able to get on with our lives as married folk?
A couple years ago, the parish put out a special bulletin, highlighting the various vocations. It had articles written by a nun, a deacon, a married couple and a priest. There was nothing, zero, by a single person. I complained about this, and … was invited to write an article which they would run in the next bulletin to remedy the oversight. 🙂 Which I did.
I am a happy person. I usually don’t dwell upon things like this. I suppose feeling this way helps me to learn humility. It’s NOT all about me. It’s about others. I should be willing to pour out my life for those around me. But sometimes I pout, and jump up and down and yell, “I’M LOVED BY GOD, TOO!”
Good thing for me that Confession is tomorrow. I certainly need it! 🙂