Glimpses of Carmel 1 – Why a website
Why a Website?
Recently, the directors of our web design program made a policy change which forced us to re-design our website from the ground up, with the result that you now see. It was a learning curve for our Sister Webmistress, and there is still work to do to get the site to correspond to what we want. It also caused us to consider anew why we are doing this. Why do we have a website? Should we have a website? What made cloistered contemplative nuns decide to have a website, and to have this website?
People have questioned the whole idea of nuns posting on the World Wide Web. Aren’t cloistered nuns called to live a hidden life? A life of silence and solitude? Why have an enclosure wall and shutters and Turns so that we are not seen, and then post our thoughts and photos on the internet?
The answer is simple: we are called to be witnesses to the world of the power of hidden and silent prayer. Yes, we live a hidden life, a silent life, a life of prayer and communion with God and with one another. That is our vocation. And as religious, we are called to witness to the world that this life has the power to radiate God’s grace into the lives of other people. All religious are called to be witnesses of God’s love and power, and we are not excused from that call by the wall which enfolds our hiddenness. This is part of the challenge of the cloister.
The cloistered life has always had a certain mystique even within the Catholic Church. In past centuries, however, most Catholics knew about nuns and the vocation they were called to live. Most Catholics had heard of St. Therese of Lisieux or had read her biography, “Story of a Soul.” In this way they came to have a certain understanding of what she was and of what she was called to live. People knew about monasteries and they visited them and talked with the Sisters at the Turn, or they wrote to them, asking their prayers. Cloistered nuns lived a hidden life, but it was not an invisible or unknown life.
But this familiarity with the cloister has greatly diminished and almost disappeared among American Catholics. The ordinary witness of our lives given in the past to family members is greatly reduced. This however, does not excuse us from witnessing. We just need to discover new ways to do so. A website is one of those ways. Like the Turn, where we converse with visitors without being seen, we can express our thoughts and make known our lives without losing our hiddenness. It is a powerful means of witnessing and that witnessing is all the more needed as people find their lives sliding into meaninglessness.
Pope Francis understands the importance of cloistered nuns and the witness we are called to give. In his Apostolic Constitution, “Vultum Dei Quaerere,” he writes, Dear sisters, …The world and the Church need you to be beacons of light for the journey of the men and women of our time. This should be your prophetic witness.
A beacon is meant to shine out and radiate light. We hope that our website will help to accomplish this.