Why I Am Not a Nun

With next week’s sober Easter Tridduum just around the corner, I paid a final Lenten visit to my spiritual director. … Continued

With next week’s sober Easter Tridduum just around the corner, I paid a final Lenten visit to my spiritual director.

In the five months that we have been meeting, Sister B has helped me to laugh at myself, to learn from myself and to seek wisdom within Catholicism’s spiritual depths.

She makes me believe that it is possible to be an active Catholic who questions, who may even agitate, but who remains profoundly Catholic. For me, the long spiritual trek is much more enlivening when it is walked with a partner, and occasionally, a leader.

In another life, (not that we Catholics believe in that sort of thing), I might have become a nun. So many of my favorite people are women religious! I am drawn to their purposeful living, their spiritual community and their lives of service. I am not so much drawn to their unforgiving haircuts or tragic wardrobes. Vain, these women are not. So that’s at least one impediment to my becoming a nun.

Yes, I might have become a nun, if not for the persistent sense that without a family of my own –a caring husband and real, flesh and bone children that will obey me and love me and call me Mommy –I would not fulfill my potential as a human being. Catholics say that in this call to family life we live out the ‘domestic church,’ meaning that in this vocation, God is made present to each family member and to the world. All of which is a fancy way of saying ‘Mom and Dad are in charge and you kids better be good.’

In this pause between single and married life known as engagement, I could wax poetic for hours about my hopes for my future family. But I’ll suffice it to say that when I do eventually have children, I hope I can incorporate the sense of meaningful service that so many Catholic clergy and faithful families live. I also hope to invest in an efficient coffeemaker and Hazelnut coffee beans by the boatload.

Jesuits talk about “finding God in all things.” So did the note on the tag to my pomegranate Yogi Tea teabag which read “If you cannot see God in all, you cannot see God at all.” But in the living out of vocation, God is not just found “in all,” but in particulars: in the love of a parent, the miracle of life, the loyalty of a friend.

The glory of a good haircut.


Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
  • Norrie Hoyt

    “… real, flesh and bone children that WILL obey me…”I assume you meant this humorously or ironically.If not, all I can say is, “Good luck!”

  • spiderman2

    “She makes me believe that it is possible to be an active Catholic who questions, who may even agitate, but who remains profoundly Catholic”.Question the false doctrine and remain in that false doctrine? Im not surprised coz Catholicism teaches it’s flock to be stupid. The Vatican is the seat of satan. If you search hard, you’d come to that conclusion. Read the Bible. It’s there.

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