Author laments criticism women face for becoming nuns

.- Spanish author Jesus Garcia said that although women in modern society can aspire to any number of careers, being a nun is considered “taboo,” even in some Christian families.

“Not a single girl who says she wants to be a nun is told, 'what a great nun you are going to be, that’s great, that’s your future,'” Garcia said.

His recent book, “What’s a Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?” (Libro Libres), features a collection of individual testimonies from women who have chosen the convent over a career and marriage.

In an Oct. 6 interview with Europa Press, Garcia said the decision to be a nun is met with rejection while other women “morally strip themselves” at their jobs “to the applause of everyone.”

Garcia said that people view a woman's decision to become a nun as a “contradiction,” since she “is denying herself the chance to have children, and this is incomprehensible to many.”

“Society has advanced greatly with respect to women’s choices, their independence, … and yet we react in horror when our daughters or the daughters of our friends say they want to be a nun,” Garcia said.

He noted that the women he interviewed for his book where all “adults who freely made their choice.”

“They aren’t crazy or stupid. Something happened. Find out what it was. They have an answer,” he said.

Garcia said he wanted to write the book because women’s religious life is something “very unknown” within the Church, compared with religious life for men, who have greater visibility.

“A nun becomes a nun out of love, enormous love. Each one is a witness of immense love. Without that love, what they do makes no sense,” he observed. “It’s the love of God that overwhelms everything, destroys their plans for the future, for having a family, a career, and yet it makes them very happy.”

In fact, their “overflowing joy and happiness” is what caught Garcia's attention the most.

“To me, an authentic nun is a testimony that God exists, because apart from the existence of God, this would be incomprehensible,” he said. “They could not be joyful and they would be frustrated.”

Jesus Garcia has already sold 10,000 copies of his book, which he credits to his inclusion of Sister Teresita's story—a Spanish nun who holds the record for the most number of years in the cloister.

Sr. Teresita, of the Monastery of the Buena Fuente in Sistal, met with Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Spain for World Youth Day and gave him a copy of Garcia’s book. The author later met with her to ask her about her impressions of the meeting and to thank her for giving the book to the Pope.

He said Sister Teresita apologized to him because before meeting with the pontiff, she was “very nervous” and thought that Garcia had gotten her into a “mess.”

“I said to myself: Jesus forgive me, because I was mad at you because of the mess you got me in to, but now I am very happy, very content, and this is has been a great gift for me,” the nun told him.

A few weeks later, on September 16, Sister Teresita turned 104, and employees from the book’s publisher came to celebrate with her. According to Garcia, she told them that her meeting with the Pope was “a gift from the Virgin Mary at the end of her life.”

Garcia said the experience taught him that “even at 104 years old, having seen everything that can be seen in life, you can still dream and dream big.”

He said that he has encountered nuns in the convent who are like every other person and who have their “virtues and their defects.”

Ultimately, the world needs to know about these women, Garcia remarked. What they do is something that is “greatly needed,” he added, convinced that “the world is being sustained by the prayers of these cloistered nuns.”

Garcia said he doesn't buy into the idea that there is a crisis of vocations, saying attention needs to be paid not to the “quantity” of vocations but to their “quality.”

Nuns today have a very different life than they did in the past, he pointed out.

“Today’s world offers you nothing for being a nun,” he said. He noted that while there are “less nuns today than there were 30 years ago, there are more novices now than before.”

Garcia went on to say that in this sense, World Youth Day has always been a boon for vocations because the Church has a kind of “visibility that she doesn’t have at other times of the year or in history.”

He said the greatest satisfaction he has received from this book has been the help it is giving to the parents and families of nuns who were not able to understand why their daughters went to the convent in the prime of their lives.

Through these interviews, he said, they have found out that what happened to their daughters “was true and not a whim or the result of brainwashing but rather an experience of real love.”

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