Ask the Wannabe Nun

Not to answer questions directed to MissMossie, this is the daily schedule for the local order of Dominicans.

Nashville Dominicans

Shirley Ujest - The Nashville Dominicans have about 16-20 postulants per year. They recently had to expand their motherhouse because they have so many nuns. They are a full-habit teaching order, and the median age of the sisters is 35.


I’ll most likely just be Sister Mossie. Most of the women in that community have just kept their birth name. I know of one exception, but I don’t know the back story on it, just that she was raised with one name and now has another.

MissMossie - If you can understand kids, you’ve broken the biggest code of all! Honestly, cryptography sounds so cool. Unfortunately, I hate math.


Nope. Once a woman enters as a postulant, she is entirely dependent on the community for all of her needs. If you have a lot of personal debt, you’re supposed to get rid of that before you can enter, but exceptions can be made.

I know there are groups who still do the full set of hours. I’m going to have to plead ignorance on this question though. I just don’t know the answer. WAG is that Benedictines are, if nothing else, practical. When St. Benedict was planning out a prayer schedule, it was one that fit the lives of his monks. As the times that people woke and slept changed, some orders may have adjusted their prayer schedule in order to keep with the spirit of practicality in the Rule of Benedict. Again, that is a total guess, an informed guess, but a guess none the less.

You mention the rules of Benedict.
What are these rules? And, like the Pirate Code, are they more “guidelines” than “rules?”

The former nun I know had a “nun name” as, it seems, did all her fellow sisters. (It was one of those big time nun names, too, with a man’s name in it and everything.) Has that changed or is that just a difference in orders? The order also provided her education, which included a Bachelors and two Masters degrees, received at three different universities. Does this order do that for its sisters? It doesn’t seem as if she just decided, hey, I want to go back to school and they did it, but she had to make a case for it.

Many of her stories are really fascinating to me, like the time, as youngest nun in the house, she had to go massage the hands of an elderly nun, at the order of the Sister Superior. Also, she had to help a sister finish her grades in the closet with a flash light once after lights out. It was amazing to me that grown women, professional teachers had lights out. I know that she had to sew her own habits, which consisted of these drapey dresses with many pleats so that they were one size fits all. Will life be like that for you?

Because of her, I know of several former nuns who received great educations and went on to very successful and prominent careers in their non-religious life.

The order was founded by St. Benedict of Nursia. The founding year is commonly stated as 480AD, but that’s actually the year he was born. During his life he wrote a book for monastics entitled “The Rule of Benedict”. It’s broken up into 73 chapters and is a guidebook for living in community. Most Benedictines would call them rules rather than guidelines, but there is also some level of interpretation. For example Chapter 30 is entitled “The Manner of Reproving the Young” and says

Now, being the youngest part of OSBVA, this is a rule I’ve asked about. If I mess up, will they starve or beat me? Nope! (Thank you Jesus!)

According to Sr. Joan Chittister’s commentary, it was pretty common for boys to be sent away to monasteries for their educations. This means that communities had lots of different ages in them. Benedict was providing for proper (according to the time period’s standards) discipline for all members of the community. The lesson that modern Benedictines take from this part of the Rule is that there is no one way to treat every single person. We are each different individuals and the way you may approach a situation with one monastic is different then how you may approach it with another.

If you’re interested, here is an online copy of The Rule of Benedict. The quote I offered above came from a different translation with more gender neutral language, but this link gives a good view of the rule.

The Rule of St. Benedict is a fifth-century document about how a monastic community should b run. It’s available online. All Benedictine orders use some form of it. It’s almost more a spiritual text than a rule book. Sorry, MissMossie, don’t mean to crowd you. :smiley: My Mom’s an oblate at a Benedictine Anglican convent here, and we both have serious Kathleen Norris obsessions, so I know a little bit about the Benedictines.
Congratulations, and I’ll be praying for your vocation!

So far as I know, this is not what life will be like for me. The idea of a grown woman doing her grading in a closet strikes me as bizarre and a bit cruel. If I find that the sisters of OSBVA are treated that way, I doubt I will make professions with them. In my visits, I have not seen any hint of this sort of treatment though.

As far as continuing education, I know that it has been done. I don’t know how sisters go about doing it, but I would imagine that there’s prayer and discernment of the decision with the prioress. I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up going back to school to get my teacher’s license. The prioress has already noted my love of children. Once I’m a member of the community in a more official capacity, that will be worked out.

Lissla Lissar, I remember when you got confirmed and now, when ever I see your name, I think about that and offer up a quick prayer for you. I hope your faith journey is still going well. Thank you for your prayers!

Thank you! It is going well, although we haven’t been to Mass a whole lot recently due to a baby who refuses to be awake at the right times, or sleep in his stroller. :rolleyes: :smiley:

If you’ll indulge me as we head into the weekend…

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

I’m not sure. How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?