FAQ: What do nuns do?
Before considering what nuns do, it’s more appropriate to reflect on what nuns are: regardless of the congregation or religious institute to which she belongs, making Christ present in the world is the nun’s primary mission. She does this by conforming herself entirely to the Person of Jesus Christ through vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. In poverty, she gives God her worldly possessions in the sure knowledge that He will provide for all her needs; in chastity, she offers Him her undivided heart so that she might be free to spread the Gospel and love all people with His love; in obedience, she offers God her will (through obedience to her superior) so that God’s will and hers may be one. In short, just as Christ Himself was poor, chaste and obedient, so must she be. The foundation of everything she is and does is prayer. Her daily life revolves around it, and because of it she becomes a point of intercession for the needs of many. She is a sign of hope that this world is not the end of the story and she is a sign of the eternal beatitude to which we are all, ultimately, called. There are contemplative and active nuns (although these last are technically not nuns at all, but religious sisters). For the contemplative, prayer is her work, essential as it is, and she is often engaged in hospitality at her monastery. On the other hand, the active religious sister’s conformity to Christ is expressed more visibly through a particular apostolate, for example, teaching, nursing, crisis pregnancy work and care for the homeless. It is through these that she serves Christ.
May / June 2018
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