Over 30 years ago, our Mother Marie Rosaria, O.P., one of the foundresses of of our monastery in Cainta, Philippines, wrote a pamphlet entitled, "These Mysterious Nuns." I remember receiving it when I first wrote the monastery, and it is one of my favorites. Its wise message is still timely (albeit with a few slight revisions). (Mother Rosaria recently celebrated her 99th birthday in Cainta!). Here is the first excerpt:

"Who are these cloistered nuns? What is their purpose and what do they do? Why so much waste of energy and talent and weird lifestyle? Wouldn’t the Church today be better served in the New Evangelization if these women served as teachers or nurses or catechists and actually did something instead of shutting themselves up in a monastery?

Are these 'way out' questions? Not at all! You’ve probably heard them a hundred times over. Perhaps you have raised them yourself.

We aren’t going to dispel the mystery of the nun, for her vocation is a mystery. But we can tell you who they are, and we can explain their way of life and mission in the Church.

First of all, these nuns are women, just as you are, or your wife, your mother, sister, or girlfriend. They share the same human nature, the same feminine qualities of mind and heart and the same weaknesses and inadequacies. Some have college degrees, some do not. Some have been homebodies; others globetrotters. But one thing you can say, they are not angels. They are human; they are for real. But there is a difference. At the Lord’s call (for that is what vocation means) they have freely given themselves?their minds, their wills, their bodies, their energies and lives to their Divine Spouse, Jesus Christ. They exist no longer for themselves but solely for the glory of God and the salvation of souls by public worship and prayer, and by voluntary acceptance of the labors and hardships of life. Incredible? No?a mystery."

(To be continued...)