As they made their vows to one another, I was struck by a realization of the finality of their chosen vocation. They pledged their lives to each other, quite literally, “until death do us part.” The bond between them is now forever, and cannot be broken. (Mark 10:9)
On reflection, this is a terrifying thought. For my two friends pledged themselves to love each other forever, irrespective of what trials or tribulations may come. Disease, financial trouble, disaster: whatever may come, my friends must face those trials together, and not "quit" each other when the going gets rough, so to speak.
All vocations, by their nature, are final. The married man is bound to his wife, and the wife to her husband. The priest is married to the Church. Nuns become "brides of Christ."
The single man, by contrast, is free in ways that others are not – he is free to do as he pleases, and not bound by vow to serve another person.
Now, of course, the single can and should live out a life of service to God and neighbor. The beauty of the single vocation is that one can choose to serve others in whatever manner best suits his talents, without being bound to another's decision.
But the world has adopted a principle of radical individualism. From the mindset of an individualist, there is no specific obligation to do serve others - an individualist seeks primarily his own good.
This is a mentality violently opposed to the very concept of vocation. A man who seeks only his own good does not concern himself with serving others. The individualist chafes at the bonds of vocation, and seeks the freedom to do whatever pleases him.
The current crisis in vocation is in large part the fruits of the modern world’s attempt to flee the bonds of vocation and adopt a spirit of radical individualism. The hook-up culture is an expression of this trend - casual relationships without obligations replace the bonds of marriage.
Instinctively, however, people do not wish to be free of the bonds of vocation - most men and women still wish to give themselves completely to another in marriage, even if they do not fully understand the sacrifice which that entails.
This call to vocation - to give ourselves to God and to our neighbor - is part of the beauty of humanity.