Why does a woman become a nun?

Why does a woman become a nun? It is something she freely decides to do, but as a response to God’s call. He initiates; she humbly follows. He plants the desire within her heart; she responds with a wholehearted, “Yes!” Thus the vocation to be a nun rests upon the “obedience of faith;” listening, in the depths of one’s heart, to God’s mysterious “Voice,” beckoning one to a life a prayer, a life focused totally on Him.

Why does a woman become a nun? When a woman seriously tries to give herself totally to God, sooner or later she discovers how imperfect she is at doing this. And if she actually enters the monastery, the picture gets worse! For stripped of the distractions and superficiality of the culture “outside,” she comes face to face with her own weaknesses and sinfulness. Resolutions made; resolutions broken. Here the monastic culture, with its Gospel way of thinking and doing things, comes to the rescue. For the heart of the Gospel is conversion: Repent and believe the Good News! The nun has an opportunity every day to begin anew; she discovers not only her sinfulness, but the wonder of God’s mercy and healing grace. She is called to be holy, called to be a saint!

Why does a woman become a nun? In touch with her own frailty and sinfulness, the nun’s heart opens up more and more to the needs and concerns of others, be it the sister she lives with in community or someone far away she does not even know. She becomes thirsty to show her love for God by bringing Him souls, offering her prayers and sacrifices, her hidden life with all its joys and sorrows, for the salvation of others. As Saint John Paul II once put it, ours is a “motherhood according to the spirit ... Spousal love always involves a special readiness to be poured out for the sake of those who come within one’s range of activity ... In virginity this readiness is open to all people, who are embraced by the love Christ the Spouse” (Mulieris Dignitatem, #21).