A father argues that children won't consider the kinds of life they cannot see
As my four-year-old daughter and I arrived early for the Holy Thursday liturgy, we saw three religious sisters enter and sit together. My daughter immediately took notice and got excited: “Daddy, look, it’s nuns! Maybe I can talk to them after Mass! I want to find out where to get a nun outfit like that, and maybe they can tell me. I can talk to them and tell them I want to be a nun!”
After the Mass we had the chance to talk to the sisters, and it was a joyful encounter. Sister Veronica, the veteran of the group, praised my daughter for her behavior at Mass and especially for how she sang every word of the Gloria. When I told the sisters my daughter liked their outfits, one replied, “Well, if you want an outfit like ours, sweetheart, you might have to become a nun!”
The conversation lasted all of two minutes. But already in that time, my daughter saw firsthand the joy and beauty of the religious life. While most of us get to see a priest on a regular basis (unless you live in a mission territory that is sparse on priests), it’s a plain fact that for most people, monks and nuns are rarely seen.
There are all kinds of reasons for this, not the least being the general reduction in the numbers of religious in our country. At one time most Catholic schools were fully staffed by nuns, and it would have been an odd thing to not see someone in a habit on occasion. Today, we need more presence from religious. We need to see the humility and the witness of devoting one’s life to service and prayer.
I feel blessed and grateful that my daughter had that chance to talk to nuns and, hopefully, we will interact with them more in the future. This isn’t just because I think it would be awesome if she becomes a nun. It’s because religious are a valuable part of the Body of Christ.
Men and women consecrated to God do work that is often hidden from the world. But the lives they lead are even more important than the service they carry out. The joy and powerful witness they give by living as a sign of the eschaton has a transformative power. I don’t know anyone who’s met a monk or nun and been totally nonchalant about it. They are radical figures in a world that tends to treat religion as increasingly irrelevant.
And they have great outfits.
Luke Arredondo and his wife, Elena, recently relocated to Florida after he earned his MA at Notre Dame Seminary, studying under Dr. Brant Pitre and Dr. Nathan Eubank. He is currently enrolled in a PhD program in religion, ethics and philosophy. Find him at www.lukearredondo.com.