Thursday, December 30, 2010

Celebrating the Single Life -- a book by Susan Annette Muto

I am currently reading a fabulous, captivating book. It's called "Celebrating the Single Life" by Susan Annette Muto. I picked it up at the library where I work, because the title piqued my interest immediately. I am always looking for inspirational reads to shed light on this state of life in which I find myself, hoping to gain new insight from others who have walked this road and strength for the journey.

In Muto's book, I have not only found insight and strength, but also a new found and genuine joy.

While the dated cover of this book (it was written in 1985) made me skeptical of it's relevance, I have been so pleasantly surprised at the depth of wisdom that Muto imparts. When I actually finish the book, I want to write a book review on IOG, but for now I want to share some of my favorite quotes as I read them.

I can honestly say that this is one of the most refreshing items that I have read on the topic of Catholic/Christian single life. Why? Because most things that I had read focus on helping the reader to cope with being single; most authors and speakers on this topic treat singleness as a transitory phase to be remedied as quickly as possibly, even if they do not explicitly state this. Granted, singleness is a transitory phase for most people, but there are a small few who God calls to the single life for a lifetime. Whether or not one wants to be single, there are beautiful callings unique within the life of a single person which deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated.

What Muto does in this book is describe what it means to live the single vocation not as simply a deprivation of some other good (such as marriage or family), but as it's own beautifully dignified state of life. Some of her insights on the special duties, responsibilities, gifts, and characteristics of the life of a single person are aspects that I had never even thought of before. However, as I read each chapter, it's like I am internally nodding my head, thinking "That makes so much sense! Of course that is one of the unique gifts of the single person!"

For example,

"This option to live in tune with reality in a more reflective way has to be chosen at some point by single persons. They simply have more time to confront life's limit's and possibilities than does the person who is committed to family or institutional life. This confrontation with reality happens in common ways. For instance, because there is no one face to whom the single person is bound by marriage, he or she may perceive more sharply the faces of other people. I walk along a busy street or sit observing travelers in a station, aware of the emotional scars on their lines faces. Life's limits are written there for one who takes the time to read them. So too are life's small, fleeting joys as revealed in moments of reunion. "
Stay tuned for more!
Maria's sidenote: Just a little disclaimer...although it seems as though Muto is solidly Catholic overall, at some points in her book she seems to be a little more liberal leaning. Just thought I should mention that -- I would still recommend that all Catholic singles check out this book for its pearls of wisdom.


  1. I can relate to the challenge of facing the single life. It is not what I wanted or pursued. I never pictured being divorced and alone and yet here I am. Why God?

    I would like to think that my singleness is a transitory stage to something better (ala Job?). My 40 mile commute has taught me that the road often contains traffic jams but these usually clear out. So perhaps....

    I have mixed feelings about celebrating the single life. On one hand, I appreciate the existentialism of it (i.e., it is good and proper to give thanks for blessings of the moment, the present). On the other hand,I don't think being single is what God intended for us. He made us male and female for a reason, to be in his image.

    I am concerned that to celebrate being single in some way surrenders to the present corruption of our society which hates the family and sanctifies the individual. Being a radical today involves being married and having a family and committing to that ideal.

    Eph 5:21-33 talks about marriage being a reflection of Christ and the church. I wonder if there is some relationship between the current problems of the church and the decline of marriage and family in the USA today. I suspect there is.

  2. Uncle Rick,

    The beauty of this book is that the author focuses on how one can be single and live an others-centered, self-giving life. She specifically rejects and cautions against the temptation for singles to be self-centered.

    It is one thing to celebrate narcissism, but another thing to celebrate the reality that by being single, we have more time to devote to others and opportunities to serve others in our midst.

    You should really read the you can tell I highly recommend it.

  3. Maria, have you read anything by Dorothy Cummings (aka, "Seraphic Single")? She recently came out with a book:
    I found her Seraphic Singles blog to be very helpful once upon a time--although she recently got married (and moved to Scotland!), right about the time I started dating / got engaged, so while her blog still tries to be helpful to singles, it has definitely changed a bit in scope! :) Definitely the same idea, though--while wondering why you're in this state in life, trying to find the joy and fulfillment present there, too.

  4. Lauren,
    I really enjoy the Seraphic Singles blog! I find her posts very refreshing, entertaining, and thought-provoking. Thanks for stopping by my blog!