Nuns are having a moment in the media. Lifetime television recently conducted extensive studies to identify the unmet desires of its viewers and found that what young women want ismore Christian programming. The network responded by creating the reality series The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns to follow five surprisingly relatable young womenStacey, Claire, Christie, Eseni, and Francescain their discernment to be Catholic Carmelite nuns.
Nuns, who make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, typify the life of self-gift. Francesca explains, “I’ve never been a part of something bigger than myself. I feel like I’ve lived a selfish existence up until now.” Those who hear and answer the call to serve must trust that “he who loses his life will find it.” And faith like thatthe kind that makes you change (or exchange) your lifeboth befuddles and intrigues viewers.
The young women in The Sisterhood are not quite saints, and their pre-convent identities often clash with their new lives of devotion to the Lord. Francesca has anxiety over wearing no make-up; Eseni worries about ruining her manicure. But as Stacey says, “That’s the beauty of the Catholic Church, we take everyone!” The invitation of Christianity really does mean “come as you are.”
In watching The Sisterhood, viewers are invited to reflect on the purpose of, and the commitments in, their own lives. What is it all for? Why does what I do matter? Am I doing anything that matters? People, it seems, want to know that there is something more important than they are; they want to be freed from selfishness. The Sisterhood provides a hopeful portrait of ordinary people with extraordinary faith in something greater than themselves.
I recently spoke to The Sisterhood’s Stacey Jackson, who told me, “When you put your trust in Him, He gives you more back than you could ever imagine. New avenues open up that you never could have dreamed! . . . Honestly asking God what He wants instead of what you want will take your life on an adventure that you could not dream up yourself!” According to this Christian reality TV star, we all would benefit from thinking like nuns and fostering their habits, even if we never wear one.
Ashley Crouch is CEO of Appleseed Communications, LLC, a PR company based in Manhattan. Brendan Carr is a military officer and native of the state of Maine.