God works in strange and marvel-filled ways! Whether an unexpected moment of grace, an event that rocks our world, a line from poetry, or a chance encounter, God can use anything to draw us closer to Godself -- even reality TV shows.
"The Sisterhood" is a new reality TV show that is airing on the Lifetime channel tomorrow evening. There's been quite a bit of conversation in the Catholic world about this show and it hasn't even aired yet! We've seen the trailer, we've read the background information, we've heard the conversations. Here's what we've got to say about it.
With the very genre of reality TV, its purpose of entertaining viewers, and the normal process of editing scenes, it is a challenge to make direct comments on the show itself. One might be tempted to dismiss the show immediately because it seems so public and such an unusual forum for the sacred process of discernment. Yet here is this show. How can we best situate it in terms of understanding it and being open to what we might learn from it and the conversations that flow from watching it.
One of the best ways to approach any commentary on the show is through
the doorway of discernment.
As Catholic sisters, we highly value the art and practice of discernment. Discernment is about exploring God’s call in our lives. At some points in life, we may feel God is drawing us to a path that’s different than the one we’re on. At other times, we may feel called to live more deeply into the life commitments we already have.
Discernment is a way to become more attuned to God’s call. Prayer, conversation with others, spiritual direction, volunteer service, and retreats are among the many ways people enter into the process of discernment in general. For some, discernment may lead toward marriage or parenthood or remaining in a particular profession. For some it may lead toward religious life.
The process of discernment, in regard to religious life, has informal and formal aspects. For example, initially the process is informal, as the woman and the congregation get to know one another. When a woman formally enters candidacy (also called postulancy), the process of discernment becomes more defined, as it is intended to deepen the relationship between the woman and God, and the woman and the congregation. The process continues through the next formal steps: the novitiate, first profession of vows, and final profession of vows.
Discerning God’s call is not a one-time event, although discernment may be more intense at some times than others. Discernment of one’s vocation continues throughout life.
As the young women and sisters of The Sisterhood on Lifetime Channel make this journey, let us keep them in prayer and trust that guide is guiding them just as God is guiding all the folks who are making the show possible and all those who will be watching.
For those of you who may have questions that arise as a result of watching The Sisterhood or participating in conversations about the show, come by and talk to us! We're Catholic sisters and nuns from a variety of congregations and we're here to help. Join us for chat, ask a question, check out all the stuff we have on becoming nuns and sisters and on discernment!
And be sure to join us when the episode airs on Tuesday! We will be live-tweeting the episode at http://twitter.com/anunslife ... tweet at us!
Photo Caption: Stacey with one of the sisters. Bonus Nun Commentary: It is unfortunate that The Sisterhood is perpetuating a chronic problem in popular culture (and many times in Catholic culture) with not identifying sisters by their name and congregation. It seems sufficient just to show "Sister" which denies each sister her name, unique personhood, and community identity.