Catholic sisters and nuns are such a wonderfully diverse group which is a great gift to the Church and world. Over the past few months we've seen the release of two one-hour documentaries featuring Catholic sisters. The two films offer a view into the world of women's religious life. While there are some similarities between the documentaries -- both follow 5 Catholic sisters, both have the sisters themselves tell their story -- there is much diversity (good diversity!) such as how the sisters express their relationship with God, how they engage they world, how they view religious life, etc. In both films, I love the sisters' honesty, passion, and evident love of God and religious life.
The juxtaposition of these two films is significant. At times, we in the church and in the general public have created stereotypes of what "nuns should be" ... or not be. We might be tempted to look at these two films as examples of one "side" or the other. I cringe at any type of labeling of nuns as liberal or not, orthodox or not, faithful or not, habited or not, authentic or not. These are divisive categories that denigrate the Body of Christ. We may tend to forget that religious life has since its inception been a wonderfully diverse sisterhood (and brotherhood) with a variety of charisms, missions, spiritualities, and cultures. It has never been monolithic.
An added note to how we perceive religious life ... Just as we do in the rest of life, we have to take account of "layers" of perception that affect how we engage religious life. Age, culture, experience, personality, etc. can influence how we as religious understand ourselves and express this understanding, as well as how we as the general public apprehend religious life -- what aspects or expressions of religious life that appeal to us more than others.
As you experience these films and reflect on them, I invite you to share your thoughts on the films and on the diversity of religious life. This is an invitation to dialogue, not to "sides."
Sisters is the most recent film to arrive. The film is a one-hour documentary, the vision of Sister Carol Rittner, RSM, who worked with director and producer Robert Gardner that was just released this Fall 2013.
Light of Love is a one-hour documentary produced by Lighthouse Catholic Media and Imagine Sisters. The film also follows five Catholic Sisters and begins with the sisters responding to why they feel called to religious life.