“The Young Nuns”

In the post below, I wondered:

How often do we complain about the church (or praise it) or seek something from it, but do little-to-nothing to raise up a new generation to serve it?

If our kids are serving the church, they’ll never get rich. And they will struggle daily on that wire between earth and heaven, along with the church — and sometimes they’ll slip because that struggle is maddening and certainly humbling — but they will grow a perspective of Eternity that will prevent their ever becoming slaves to a moment or a passing trend. They will understand the futility of building a society that is prosperous and over-materialistic but so profit-obsessed and spiritually bereft that an economic downturn leaves them all-undone and anxious.

They will understand that possessing MacPro’s but not the Master, being dependent on the iPhone, rather than the I AM, leaves nothing to fall back on.

They will have escaped the trap of finding their consolation in material things, because they will not have conferred upon their things the power to reassure and to affirm their self-hood.

Which means they will be free in ways that too many of us — and particularly our young — are not.

Speaking of encouraging our children to serve the church, the BBC is looking at the slow but steadily-increasing numbers of young women investigating the consecrated life:

Catherine describes herself as “a girly girl” who loves to be pampered. She has also wanted to be a nun since she was four years old.

Like many of her contemporaries, the 25-year-old has spent the last few years travelling, partying and studying for a degree in languages at King’s College in London.

She also worked as a model, but for her it was an unfulfilling experience and left her thinking again about devoting her life to God.

“I went to castings, they always wanted me to do catwalk shows,” she says. “I remember after my first professional paid show, going home and feeling really empty. Feeling like ‘is that it’? ‘That’s not great as I thought it would be’.

“I love people and I love having a good time, but that’s not all there is.”

The program is airing tonight in the UK, and hopefully we’ll get to see it online, or something. As some are realizing that our lives have become cluttered by empty this all sounds pretty interesting:

Producer Vicky Mitchell spent six months filming women such as Clara, 24, as they prepared to become nuns . . . In the programme, Clara is seen graduating, socialising, praying and shopping for long-sleeved, blue nightdresses and slippers that won’t squeak in the convent’s corridors.
Before she researched Young Nuns, Mitchell assumed that the current generation of women would be looking for a more “relaxed” and “modern” style of religious life. “What was surprising was that most were actively seeking something much more traditional. They wanted a lifestyle radically and distinctively different to everyday life.” But, she adds, they didn’t meet the pious stereotype. The women had friends, strong family bonds and active social lives. They dated and had career prospects. “What surprised me was how much like me they were.”

More information here.

Speaking of youth and service, Patheos is launching a look at the Future of Seminary Education, which you might want to check out. Currently it is pretty “Protestant-packed” but expect some Catholic perspectives to be added over the next few days, from both clergy and layfolk!

At First Things: Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez writes on “Defending Our First Freedom”

Catholics have always believed that we serve our country best as citizens when we are trying to be totally faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church. And since before the founding of the American Republic, Catholics—individually and institutionally—have worked with government agencies at all levels to provide vital social services, education, and health care.

But lately, this is becoming harder and harder for us to do. Just last week, the federal government declined a grant request from the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services agency. We are not really sure why. No reason was given. Our agency has been working well with the government since 2006 to help thousands of women and children who are victims of human trafficking.

Recently, the government had been demanding that our agency provide abortions, contraception and sterilizations for the women we serve. We hope our application was not denied because we refused to provide these services that are unnecessary and violate our moral principles and religious mission.

And this is not an isolated case.

Indeed, it is not. We’ve been talking at this site about the government encroaching on religious freedom for a while, now. We keep getting told we’re “alarmist”.

Also related: One way to support young people who want to pursue church service — from the consecrated side — is to help them pay off their student loans. Sadly, the world still demands cash up front.

And of course, we help their communities when we purchase their Christmas Wreaths, their soaps and lotions, their Coffees and Teas!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://www.hermitofbardstown.com Stephen Taylor

    Student loans are the biggest problem. I would have been a Trappist for 35 years now if I hadn’t had huge loans.

  • carole

    I wish people would take the lay vocation as seriously, and help lay people who are called into lay leadership in the Church–or other lay ministry– to pay off their student loans. I work for a struggling Christian radio station serving the new evangelization, in a foreign country that desparately needs it, in a role that nobody but me has the training and experience for. Ask me about the delicate nuances I have to deal with every day, for which a sound theological education is absolutely vital! Then ask me how much I get paid and how much my monthly student loan payments are, while I keep a roof over my head, and delay planning for my old age.

    I’m not suggesting that student loans should be abolished as Mr Paul seems to suggest. I don’t regret taking them out. But many Christian ministries are not prepared to pay a lay person the professional wages that their service requires, and so…… we too need help to fulfill our vocation in the church.

    [I agree; I personally think colleges should do some "loan forgiving" in the form of rebates applied directly to loans, because some of them have really taken advantage of the ease with which loans could be obtained. But I also think that these organizations that help men and women pursue religious vocations should consider extending the help to layfolk who serve the church as well. That might be something you should write to them about! The problem, I suspect, is that things being as they are, their would not be a marked increase in donations, and the same scant amount of money spread thinner. I am not sure how the Laboure Society works, but Mater Eccl. pays the loan down for up to five years. If the man or woman does not persist in religion, the loan reverts back to them; if they make profession, ME pays it off. I'm not sure how that would translate to a lay situation -- there is not a similar gauge/measurement -admin]

  • Sal

    I love their goats milk soap- best I’ve found. So pure and mild.
    We all know how good the coffee is, but I have to recommend the tea, too!

    We just had our former sacristan leave to try his vocation with the Benedictines at Clear Creek and a member of my church cleaning crew can’t make it this Saturday- her daughter is having her wisdom teeth out before entering Carmel.
    We are blessed and thankful.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    I admire young people who can think and reflect on experience like that 25 year old woman. I’m not sure I would say I was pure superficial at 25 but I certainly didn’t have that wisdom. I would love to see this show.

  • Ellen

    THere are times I wonder if I missed my calling. But I came of age in the nutty 70s, when most orders were jettisoning what I saw as precious.

  • AnnF

    I just sent BBC America an email asking them to show Young Nuns in the U.S.

    Go here and do the same:


  • Mike Lyons

    Being on both sides of the spectrum, both “in” (Franciscans) and lay minister, many of the colleges in the NY area, Fordham and Seton Hall to name two, give significant discounts (50%) to people pursuing Religious Ed/Theological Studies/Ministerial Studies. You just have to look into it. A lot of parishes will help pay for your graduate degrees as well. Of course that means you are already working for them. It definitely is more difficult to ask for help without a position. I am a firm believer that all of are called to some form of ministry within the church, (for example this blog), but the older I get, the more I would still like to see younger men and women religious and priests as part of what makes us all as Church continue to help Her grow.

  • Greta

    Great stories. I love the younger folks today who are really moving to take up their cross and end the groping for cheap grace so many seem to want to find and are so angry if the Church holds to certain beliefs or requirments. The all are welcome folks cannot seem to accept that the banquet requires Catholics to be in the state of grace to Eat of His Body. If you argue on why things like this are important and that the Church is trying to help us arrive at holiness for our salvation, you are attacked. thanks for the stories on the nuns who take all Church teaching very seriously and want a Church that calls them to make strong sacrifices and to take up the cross. Many are called, but few are chosen. I live each week for my time with the youth group where this 77 year old woman works to serve them as a grandmother and strong supporter. They tell me that they can say things to me that they cannot say to their parents and ask questions about the changes in the church and country over the last 7 decades. I point many of them to blogs such as this to read and learn. Thanks…

    And I am starting to get ready to go out to your favorite sites to start getting ready for Christmas and do some shopping.

  • http://www.toldyouyoucoulddoit.blogspot.com John

    Inspiring story from the man perspective. Live strong nuns!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    It seems we’re getting a mixed message from the church here.

    On one had, we get a paper from an organization at the Vatican, calling for one-world government, and centralized banking. On the other, we’re hearing stories—all too true, I fear—of Catholic services being denied funding, or even being cut off, from working with the government on issues such as sex trafficking, and adoption, because they don’t follow the government line on abortion, birth control, etc.

    Now, the question is this: Does the church really want to ally itself with
    Caesar in this fashion? Because, trust me, if really does want one-world government, because it believes that this is the best way to help the poor, such demands will come more and more frequently. (And they will all be couched in terms of helping ever useful “Poor”, of course. Those who hold back will be denounced as heartless, and too conservativ.)

    And would one-world government/banking really be friendly to the Catholic Church, even if originally installed with the Church’s approval? At some point, the church is going to have to decide who it truly serves. Because it might not be possible to both push for more and more big government, and hold true to its teachings.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Caesar, remember, runs the Legions (the armies) and the lawyers. In any showdown with the Church, Caesar will have all the worldly power on its side, and the brute strength to enforce its own views.

    I really think that, for the Church, this one-world, one-government, one-banking system thing is sort’ve a “Young Lady of Niger” situation.