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Prof. speaks on marriage

Liz Harter | Thursday, October 18, 2007

A wedding is not the most important day in a person’s life, a religious studies professor said during Wednesday’s Theology on Fire discussion at Saint Mary’s.

“You’re the same person the day after your wedding,” Religious Studies professor Anita Houck said. “Your financial status is different, your sexual life may be different, but you’re the same person and your husband is the same person.”

Instead of focusing on the wedding, she said, society should begin to focus more on the vocation, and, more specifically, on the vocation of the single person.

Houck defined vocation as a calling, the path to heaven, God’s will, and a direction. She specified that there are two different types of vocations: The universal vocation, which is the overall calling that all people have to live in the image of God, and the particular vocation, which relates to work that you do or the four life states of single life, marriage, vowed holy life and priesthood.

“I had spent some time chasing a vocation [when I was younger],” Houck said. “I had wanted a vocation in my life, but it just didn’t seem like it was for me.”

Houck was single for 44 years and after one of her relationships failed, she began to view being single as her own vocation.

“Singleness was not a burden but something to give the world,” Houck said. “I had the clearest sense in my life of vocation, everything that I had and everything that I was, whether I was crazy about it or not, became something to give to the world.”

A vocation does not have to be a permanent state, Houck said, and for many people, including herself, singleness was not permanent.

“Single life rocks,” said Houck, who married a little more than a year ago, “Marriage, when you’re with the right person and it’s the right things – as far as I can tell – rocks.”

One of the greatest capacities that human beings have is the idea of permanent commitment, she said.

“It’s a tremendous thing and it’s too bad that we don’t have that for single people,” Houck said. “Not that you want to commit yourself as a single person permanently because most people don’t.”

She added that the greatest gift a single person has is the time and ability to focus on their spirituality.