In my illness, I have been blessed to discover the prayers of I think THREE different nuns! Which is incredible to me, and I want to share!
Do you know what a cloistered nun is? She’s a woman who gave up marriage, a family, and contact with the outside world, to give solemn lifetime vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Then she willingly goes behind a screen for the rest of her life. No personal contact with family, outside of maybe letters with permission from her superior. Total isolation from the outside world, like my beloved Carthusians.
I knew two of these nuns prior to their entering the convent, one in my very youth, and the other only in passing as an adult. But each left a different mark.
First though, we should explore why. Why would any woman choose to do this, especially in today’s society where women are equally opportunitied to men, the sex is free and the consequences can be aborted, and the stigma of working mothers is virtually gone? And communications are easy, the world at your fingertips, why shut off the world?
Well, I don’t know for sure, but I will take a stab at explaining what I think.
In simplest terms, that I can understand, these women did get married, but to God.
Whoa. When I think about this, it makes my head spin a little bit so hear me out and correct me as needed. By giving up all worldly things including reproduction, they have consecrated their lives to Christ as King and husband. And all focus is then diverted from worldly things to focus on God, through prayer and penance. Now, not all nuns are cloistered, but you have to compare the two kinds to Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus in the Gospel. Jesus said both jobs are important. Some types of nuns are Martha’s, like Saint Theresa of Calcutta, and some are Mary’s, like St Clare.
Cloistered nuns lead that life of contemplation and prayers and penance. They meditate on the Lord and pray for the world. Inside the cloister, all is not silent, however, like the Carthusians, or at least that’s what I think. Because I’ve never been in a cloister, obviously. But since they live in a community I imagine so.
It’s not really that hard to understand when you get down to it. Athletes give up so much to become the best at their sports. Scientists do the same, musicians, artists, they all give up things to give more attention to their chosen thing. We celebrate that they do this, we praise them for it. Nuns, especially cloistered nuns, do the same thing, but we often think, “what a waste.”
How Godless we are. They have chosen the worthier part, but we don’t think about giving God our best, do we? Is He a guy we visit for an hour every Sunday? I’m in awe of their vocation, knowing that my own is different, but they have the great Joy and great trepidation of focusing solely on God. The worthier part, indeed.
The two that I have known, especially the one I knew as an adult in passing, she is beautiful and she radiated a special something every time I ran into her. I had no idea she was going into a convent, only the joyful smile she gave to those of us who interacted with her. That is who I will always remember! I believe she joined the Dominicans, and I am pretty sure she’s cloistered but I know her family reads this so please correct me!
The other, Sr Rose Marie, I know is a Poor Clare, because I was at her vows. She was an extremely successful basketball player and gave it up. But before she joined, she was my first-grade teacher. I was homeschooling, and she came over to teach me. I had no clue she was famous, I didn’t know how to tie my shoes for goodness sake! But I remember being able to understand the way she taught. I especially remember when I stepped on a wasp barefooted, that she helped me deal with that too!
Like I said though, I was at her vows. And I got to briefly say hi to her, she was behind a screen. But you know what I remember most? The giant, joyful smile she had, not from seeing us, but of her marriage to God. It’s incredible to see, and humbling, because how do I treat the all-powerful creator of all things who wants me to be with Him for eternity!?!?
I’m linking the article in the Catholic Herald about Sr Rose Marie, and in respect for her private life, I won’t share the pictures here but they are at the link. I just want to say, she’s praying for all of us. We need to pray for her too!