Nuns on the Run

I would have preferred the statelier ‘Gad-abouts and Gyrovagues’, but given that language is about communication, using monastic jargon, even humorously, has its drawbacks.

Yesterday we went to Douai to join the community for Mass and a festive meal which was very pleasant and a world away from our usual humbler liturgy. Today we have a few deadlines to meet, then tomorrow we are off again, in the metaphorical sense. BBC 1 Breakfast TV may give you a glimpse of part of the monastery not usually open to visitors while Digitalnun makes her way to the Great Wen to take part in Radio 4’s ‘Midweek’ programme. We’ll never know what the TV shows or doesn’t except by hearsay, but Quietnun may well listen in to the radio in order to add prayer support. That’s what she says, anyway.

All this begs the question: why do many people regard an occasional egress from the cloister in order to take part in serious discussion or engage with others on subjects of common interest as somehow not quite right for nuns? One of the long-range effects of the 817 Council of Aachen and subsequent canonical additions by Carlo Borrromeo (to mention only the most important) has been to make the lives of Benedictine monks and nuns diverge on this point. Given that there is no ‘Second Order’ among Benedictines (Benedictines antedate the whole concept of a Religious Order) one wonders whether this is something that we shall need to address in coming years. As William remarks in one of the ‘Just William’ books, ‘Girls aren’t so mere as they were in your day, Dad.’

 

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5 thoughts on “Nuns on the Run”

  1. I guess that earlier, strict enclosure was, at least to some degree, prompted by ‘policing’ concerns, in what a very different social context from today’s, and one that included very different views of women — whereas now, we think primarily of it in terms of what best helps to sustain a life of contemplative prayer (work included). Being a gyrovague, on the other hand, surely must involve unfocussed wandering and escapism — poles apart from the (still occasional) prayerful and constructive visit to Douai or to the BBC.

  2. I just listened to Midweek on Radio 4 and felt inspired to write as I think your approach is wonderful. I’m looking forward to your online retreats.

  3. Another ‘Midweek’ listener surfing in.

    As an English teacher I’m always happy to have my vocabulary extended, and ‘gyrovague’ is a new one on me.

    I look forward to keeping an eye on the growth of your online and app-based ministries. The internet, so often derided for its ills, has played a great part in preventing me from drifting away from the Faith completely, so I’m immensely grateful for people and communities like yours that are bringing the riches of our spiritual inheritance into lives into the digital age.

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