These Discalced Augustinian Sisters are sharing the joy of their vocation on YouTube and Instagram- - and one young girl already wants to join them!
They aren’t young women, but they could give lessons in the use of social media to many young people. This is the story of the Discalced Augustinian Sisters of the Valencian town of Benigànim.
These nuns—led in particular by Sr. Aurora, who entered this monastery at the age of 17 and is now 64—have achieved something impossible to imagine years ago: they are radiating the spirituality of the cloister into the homes and lives of thousands of people.
Sr. Aurora, who has a clear understanding that social networks are her community’s window to the world, took a few minutes to talk to Aleteia to tell us about the experience that has led this monastery to make the leap to social networks.
The cloister on social media
“The reason we jumped onto social networks was to make ourselves known: they say that, if they don’t know you, you don’t exist,” explains Sr. Aurora.
“It’s also a way to connect with the outside world,” adds the Augustinian nun, “And for them to see our inner world and how we live.”
In particular, this monastery manages to communicate through social media the meaning of the life of a cloistered nun: praying before God for all people, giving her life for all people.
On their YouTube channel (in Spanish – Agustinas Descalzas Benigánim), Instagram (@agustinasdescalzasbeniganim), Facebook (Agustinas Descalzas), or Twitter (@A_Descalzas) profiles, what we see are happy women.
Sharing contemplative life with the world
“We are nuns who lead a contemplative life,” Sr. Aurora explains in one of her presentation videos on YouTube.
“Maybe you don’t really know what we are or what we do,” she adds. “Surely you see us as useless or freeloaders. But that’s not how it is; our life is total dedication to love, and you are also within our heart, because as our fathers Augustine and Teresa said, God dwells within yours.”
New vocations through social networks
When asked how it occurred to them, being cloistered nuns, to dedicate time and effort to social networks, Sr. Aurora tells us that this work can inspire new vocations in girls called by God to the consecrated life.
“A vocation is given by the Lord, but these are the means we have to make our life known,” she clarifies. “And if we awaken the interest of a girl, that effort is worthwhile. Besides, the computer and handicrafts are like a vent for me. So it doesn’t weigh me down.”
Like other contemplative orders, this community, whose official name is Monasterio de la Purísima Concepción, San José y beata Inés (Monastery of the Most Pure Conception, St. Joseph and Blessed Agnes), is experiencing a lack of vocations and economic difficulties.
However, if you watch their videos or read their posts, you will discover that they aren’t sending a defeatist message to the world. They are joyful women who are fulfilled by their vocation. They want to transmit the joy and peace of serving the Lord for life.
They explain through their social media that they have nothing material of their own, but they share with the world their day to day life in the monastery. They show with the example of their actions the love they have for each other as sisters. The moments when they show their care for the older sisters are particularly special.
The experience of their presence in networks is gradually bearing fruit. A girl from Kenya saw their videos on YouTube, and now they are arranging the paperwork so that she can enter the convent.
They are not alone as they take this leap into the digital world. A seminarian from the seminary of Valencia is helping them to give more life to their profiles. It’s a sign of the great esteem in which they are held in the archdiocese and the value of their charism, founded for adoration and reparation, according to their founder, St. John of Ribera (1532-1611).
“God is the only one who can fill life, he fills us with happiness, that is what we want the world to see,” says Sister Aurora.
Their daily life
Personal and community prayer are at the center of the daily life of the Discalced Augustinian Nuns. At 9 o’clock in the morning, after the celebration of the Eucharist, they expose the Blessed Sacrament before which they remain in turns of prayer for half an hour each during the morning.
Then, each nun dedicates herself to her duties, which at the present time are centered mainly on the care of the older sisters.
In the afternoon, after lunch and rest, they once again expose the Blessed Sacrament and continue with the shifts of prayer, as well as with their work.
Throughout the day they meet several times to participate in the Liturgy of the Hours. Only after supper are they able to enjoy a time of recreation, a time when the community takes the opportunity to converse, comment on events, share, and laugh.
Yes, because laughter and joy are constants in these women whose faces undoubtedly reflect a life well lived.
The move to Benigànim
In her LinkedIn profile, Sister Aurora summarizes in a few brief lines what has possibly been one of the most important events in the history of her congregation: the transfer of the Discalced Augustinian Nuns from Alcoy (Alicante) to merge with their counterparts in Benigànim (Valencia), leaving behind the monastery that the order had occupied for 419 years.
“It was a difficult decision because it meant leaving the motherhouse, a convent with a very important history. Every year the miracle of the theft and finding of the Blessed Sacrament, in 1568, is celebrated there. We left a town in which we were deeply rooted, on both a family and a social level. However, charity prevailed over stones. The sisters of Benigànim kept calling us asking for help because they were very old. In the end, the lack of vocations forced us to move.”
Taking care of the elderly sisters and attending to other commitments does not leave much time for the Internet. But, even so, the sisters will continue to publish on various social media platforms so that we can know the beauty of their vocation and the happiness with which they live in their monastery.