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10 Nuns reveal the meaning of life


Photo credit: Scooter Lowrimore via / CC BY

Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble - published on 09/20/16

When I asked these religious sisters "the big question," what I learned was pretty amazing

Nuns are amazing.

And someday when the shock wears off that I am a nun (or more accurately a religious sister), I will start talking about nuns as if I am one.

In the meantime, since nuns have such acute insight into the world around us and what is actually important (at least the ones I know), I thought I would ask them to share with us all about the meaning of life.

And I asked them to answer in 1-3 sentences.

Yes, I know that is ridiculous. (And most went over.) But I knew that I would get some amazing zingers back and that they would be helpful both to me and to my readers. And they are pretty great.

Here are their answers (you’re welcome):


1. Sr. Lucie of the Trinity,  OCD, Carmel of Dijon at Flavignerot, Dijon, France:

The meaning of life is:

To let myself be loved and to love:

To let myself be loved infinitely by God and to love God

To let myself be loved by my sisters and to love each of my sisters

And through each one, the whole world.

(This prayer is based on the spirituality of soon-to-be-canonized Elizabeth of the Trinity and Saint Teresa of Avila. In the last line of the prayer I say that through my sisters I love the world. I say this because I’m cloistered. But if I love the sister next to me, in the Lord, I can reach out to love the whole world.)


2. Sr. Therese Maria Touma, MSCL, Maronite Servants of Christ the Light, Dartmouth, MA:

A prayer to live the meaning of life:

Help me to serve and seek what is Good, True and Beautiful, and “hunger and thirst” for you, the Hidden One, the Radiant One.

Help me to remain undivided in loving and following you, my sweet Jesus, despite what “persecutions” may come….

You are my life

You are my all

My eternal home is with you!

To read the rest of this beautiful prayer, please visit this link.


3. Sr. Helena Raphael Burns, FSP, Daughters of St. Paul, Toronto, Canada:

If you really wanna know the meaning of life (and not just make it up or give up on it), get down on your knees and ask God. Really “mean” it. That’s what I did. I prayed the agnostic’s prayer when I was young: ‘O God, if you exist, please answer me because I don’t know why I’m alive.’ God is faithful. He will answer. No doubt.

“You will seek Me and find Me
when you search for Me with your whole heart.”
-Jeremiah 29:13


4. Sr. Madeleine Miller, OSB, Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing, Norfolk Priory, NE:

For me, the meaning of life is to give it away in love. When we give our “yes” to the Lord’s call in our lives, we enter deeply into that love story that never ends and demands everything. With this “yes” comes peace beyond understanding.


5. Sr. Brittany Harrison, FMA, Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, Halendon, NJ:

What I have experienced in my life has led me to believe that the meaning of life is really a journey of coming to accept that we are totally and completely loved by God, not because of what we do, but because of who we are. Many of us walk around, totally unaware that the Creator of the universe passionately loves us. Even though He is constantly sending us invitations to relationship, we tend to ignore them. As we come to believe that we are loved, we in turn become more loving people. As we love others, we discover that God’s love doesn’t exist in some separate bubble but in the little things of every day, the opportunity in which we can make loving choices.


6. Sister Carol Mary Nolan, O.Carm., Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, Germantown, New York:

What is the meaning of life? The motto of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm sums it up perfectly: “The Difference is Love!” Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa, our Foundress, said, “Be kinder than kindness itself.” Spreading the love and kindness of Christ to our elderly residents is what gives meaning to our lives as Carmelite Sisters.


7. Sr. Lea Hill, FSP (aka the “

”), Daughters of St. Paul, St. Louis, MO:

The meaning of life is simply that we are alive. And we will never cease to be alive. So, we must do everything with enthusiasm, with intention, with purpose, with grace, with joy so as to be united to the Lord of Life who not only gave us life, but renewed our life in his Resurrection. God’s Spirit is our true life.


8. Sr. Jeana Visel, OSB, Sisters of St. Benedict, Ferdinand, Indiana:

The point of life is to participate in the life of God. God became human so that we might become divine, say our patristic writers of the tradition. Yet just as God did not lose his divinity in becoming flesh in Jesus, so we do not lose our humanity as we become divinized. Holiness isn’t just some spiritualized idea outside of our real, concrete life, but is lived and seen in the everyday stuff of living.


9. Sr. Virginia Herbers, ASCJ, Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Hamden, CT:

The search for the meaning of life is in itself the means to discovering it. Watching—listening—seeing—perceiving all that God gives to us each and every day opens us up to receive it all the more fully and often. When we recognize that all is gift…..the meaning of life ceases to be a question and becomes a celebration.


10. Sr. Carly Paula Arcella, FSP, Daughters of St. Paul, Toronto, Canada:

Remain in His love. Return this love with love in love.

Is the meaning of life clearer now?

Did any of the responses really help or inspire you?

Please share in the comments. And if you can sum up the meaning of life in 1-3 sentences, share that too!

Read more: A light from the East grows in Massachusetts

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