Three short months before my best friend was to be married, we boarded a plane — with two other single college friends — for Spain. It was a last hurrah for my soon-to-be-married friend. Once she took vows, her vocation would be to her husband and, next, to their children. But for the moment, she was taking advantage of the time that God was giving her as a single Catholic.
My best friend encouraged me not to sit at home and pine for all the things I don’t have, but start doing the things on my bucket list and cherish the things I do have. For my friends and me, that meant traveling.
"For those of us who are single, we have the opportunities that our married friends don’t have right now," said Lino Rulli, host of The Catholic Guy show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. "God is asking us to look at the blessings and not what we are giving up. He is inviting us to do something great for God, and it is up to us whether we want to do it or not. God is not going to force you to take advantage of this state of your life; he is going to invite you to do it. He puts these desires in our hearts for a reason."
Rulli, and many single Catholics like him, still desires to be married with children, but he recognizes that there are many special opportunities within singleness. Rulli is a frequent international traveler and recently took his radio show on the road.
"I may gripe about being single, but I take advantage of this invitation to travel; and, through the radio show and social media, I get to bring all these experiences of the world to people who might not have a chance to do these things," said Rulli.
Single Catholics have a special opportunity to travel to the holy sites that help us grow in the knowledge of our faith. God invites us to journey to the places that help us to know his Son more deeply. If you are booking a trip, why not consider a Catholic pilgrimage?
Where Jesus Walked
I have been to many holy sites, but there is no trip that made more of an impact on my faith life than when I visited the Holy Land.
We can read in Scripture about Jesus teaching the apostles on the Sea of Galilee, but nothing compared to the peace I felt as I boarded a small fishing boat on the actual Sea of Galilee.
As we glided across the calm water, I thought about the fact that this was the same water that Jesus walked on and the same sea that obeyed his commands.
Steve Ray, from Footprints of God pilgrimages, explained that "Pope Paul VI called the Holy Land ‘the fifth Gospel.’ It illuminates the written Gospels and brings them and all of Scripture to life. This is the reason that millions of pilgrims have been taking the often arduous journey to trace the footprints of the early Christians. There are many sacred sites around the world, but only in the Holy Land is there holy ground where God actually walked."
Visiting the holy sites completely changed the way I read Scripture, pray the Rosary and pray at Mass. The words at Mass had new meaning when I visited the town of Capernaum, the place where the mystery of the Eucharist was first proclaimed. Capernaum is also the place where Jesus was asked to heal the centurion’s servant.
Due to the responses from the new translation of the Roman Missal, this verse in Luke’s Gospel — "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof …" (7:2-10) — is very familiar to us. Normally, I would glance over this response, but when I said those words at Mass in the very town where Jesus first heard them, I was brought to tears.
Our group was also able to visit the Holy Sepulchre, the church that houses the place where Jesus was crucified and buried. We walked up a steep staircase to the place where Jesus was crucified. I knelt underneath the altar and reached my hand into a hole to touch the rock on which Jesus’ cross stood. Steve Ray reminded us that if we put our hand there 2,000 years ago, it would have been sticky with blood.
The Tomb Is Empty
Father Frans Berkhout of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla., served twice as a chaplain on the Footprints of God pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Father Berkhout spent extra time outside the entrance of the tomb of Christ and reflected quietly on the reality of what happened there.
"Mother Teresa said, ‘Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the risen Christ.’ One of the things that I took back from the trip was that the tomb is empty. Christ is risen from the dead, and nothing can be the same anymore. There will be sorrows and sacrifices that come into our lives, and when those crosses come our way, that’s the time we need to reflect and remember and be consoled by the fact that the tomb is empty," said Father Berkhout.
‘To See the Face of God’
Single Catholic Lucien Bechard had fallen away from the Church for many years. He had an intense journey back to the Catholic faith and traveled to the Holy Land to see if the story of the Bible was really true.
"I went to the Holy Land to see the face of God. I felt there would be no better place for me to go. If I left the Holy Land believing and seeing that the story of the Bible is real, then I knew I had to change my life."
Single Catholics are called to take advantage of this special time that they may not have for long. It may be difficult to understand — when you desire married life and pray for it daily — why God would make you feel so uncertain about your singleness. But he is asking for us to trust him and to grow closer to him each day.
As we wait for God to speak and point us further ahead on life’s journey, Rulli advises Catholic singles not to stay in their comfort zones, but to make leaps of faith.
"The desires in our hearts are there for a reason," he said. "Sometimes God’s invitation comes with fear and unknowns. Many times, we don’t like the unknown because it is easier to stay inside our bubble. But if that desire is there, take that step — not because you know what is coming next, but because you trust that God does. We can’t see what God has in store for us if we refuse to get outside our own little bubbles."
Robyn Lee is managing editor of CatholicMatchInstitute.com.