The decision to take part in religious life as a nun requires prayer, research and discernment to find out if God is really calling her to exercise her vocation in this life. Nuns are a group that is still admired and respected. If you think this is your mission, check out the following tips for responding to that special calling.
Method 1 of 4: Prerequisites for Becoming a Nun
Step 1. Be single
Here it is understood that you already know that you have to be a woman and a Catholic, but beyond that, you have to be single. If you are married, you must obtain an annulment recognized by the Catholic Church. Widows, on the other hand, are seen as single in the eyes of the Church.
When you become a nun, you receive a ring that demonstrates your marriage to God. That's why you can't have another relationship, which would be a distraction from God's call
Step 2. Respect age limits
In the good old days, most nuns came straight out of high school or college. Nowadays, any age from 18 to 40 is accepted. Under certain circumstances, women over 40 are accepted.
Normally, most religious communities encourage their members to have higher education. Life and professional experience are also taken into account
Step 3. Wait until your children are of age
When joining a community, you cannot have any dependents. Many nuns have children, but they are all adults.
Step 4. Be in good physical and financial condition
In other words, you should be debt free and in good health. Most institutions prefer candidates who are not involved in other issues that could hinder their devotion to God.
If you are in debt, don't let that bring your aspirations down the drain. If you find a community that you would really like to be a part of, seek the help of the Community Director to guide you through this issue
Method 2 of 4: The Initial Discernment
Step 1. Talk to the nuns
The more mentors to guide and give tips, the better. This makes it easier to get a clearer idea of what it is like to be a nun and what life is like for members of a religious community. If you are unable to access a group, seek information from your parish priest or the most active people in your church community.
- In general, you can choose one of three types of religious communities: Contemplative communities, traditional apostolic communities or non-traditional communities.
- Contemplative Communities focus on prayer. Your lifestyle is more serene, conducive to meditation. They are usually more isolated than the apostolics.
- Traditional apostolic communities work in the areas of health and education. Many nuns can be found in schools or helping at hospitals or health posts.
- Non-traditional communities provide services to the most marginalized groups, such as the homeless, prisoners and people living with HIV/AIDS.
Step 2. Search the internet
You will be surprised to see that convents have embraced technology! There are even sites that allow you to download music and follow blogs! There's even a Facebook page called Nun of Rap, which shows Sister Inês' work. She uses music to help young delinquents start a new life.
- The website of the Carmelite Monastery of the Sacred Hearts displays more details on how to contact them, the necessary requirements, and the doctrine to be followed. It is useful for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge about the subject before making a final decision.
- Other interesting sites: Canção Nova and Padre Paulo Ricardo. They provide courses and information on religious vocational guidance.
- It is also worth visiting the website of the Christian Congregation of Brazil and comshalom.
- For a picture of the impact young nuns are having on convents today, do an Internet search. There are several journalistic articles that show the day-to-day life in the convents and the news about the nuns' world.
Step 3. Attend the convent where the Mother Superior lives or the nearest religious community
Thus, you can get contacts and information about events - which will provide more contacts. And all without commitment: you are not required to be part of any organization. Attending this environment is an excellent way to open doors for you in the religious circle.
Wikipedia lists the 391 religious institutes and societies of apostolic life. Just check it out on this link
Step 4. Get in touch with the communities that piqued your interest
Each one is unique (not only in main purpose but also in size, routine, etc.). It is best to inquire directly with the institution so that you can choose the one that suits you best. Try to contact more than one institution as part of the discernment process.
If you know a nun within your community, take the opportunity and talk to her. Otherwise, you can contact the community director
Step 5. Try to get in touch with two or three directors
Once you are able to contact the leaders of the communities that piqued your interest, you will start participating in more activities. You have no obligation to join any yet.
You will likely explore the community campus, attend spiritual retreats, learn more about group activities and help with community events. You will meet the sisters and see if this community is the most appropriate
Method 3 of 4: The Initiation Process
Step 1. Choose a community you want to dedicate yourself to
With the principal to guide you, all you have to do is make it clear that you intend to commit seriously. The institution will then evaluate your case. Concrete matters such as dates, places and procedures will be discussed, as well as a meeting with the board.
The pre-selection process (in which both parties are interested and working together) can take 1 to 3 years. You need to be absolutely sure of what you want in life - this is a truly serious commitment
Step 2. Time to start the selection process
It is also known as a postulate. You will already be working with the other sisters, but at your own expense (which is why you should have a reasonable financial situation before starting).
To start the whole process, you must write a letter. She must make clear her interest in being part of the community. The selection process usually lasts from 6 months to 2 years and ends when both parties feel it is time
Step 3. Join the postulate
By now you will have become a member of the community, but without a definite commitment. You will be called "Novice". By Church law, this period lasts 1 year, but many institutions take up to 2 years. Part of the reason the process takes time is so you don't have any doubts that you're making the right decision for yourself.
- The second year is usually set aside for studies and work in the community. At the end of this phase, you can return to a lay life or continue with your religious vows.
- Some congregations of sisters ask the novice to choose the name of a saint when making public vows. But it may also be that you keep your baptismal name. That depends on the congregation.
Step 4. Take your first vows
A religious sister takes only temporary vows that are renewed each year until the final office. This can be done for 5-9 years (depending on the organization), but many do not use the maximum period allowed.
This is the stage at which you can have your hair cut. If you've had questions before, now is the time for the truth! You will receive a black veil, a new name and a hood with limpel after promising obedience and faithfulness to the Lord
Step 5. Take your final vows
If you are ready to make permanent vows to the Church, now is the time. An unforgettable ceremony will be held, in which you will receive a wedding band and other adornments symbolizing your promise to the world. Congratulations! Your new life is just beginning.
Method 4 of 4: Becoming a Buddhist nun (Bhikkhuni)
Step 1. Understand the prerequisites
In order for a woman to become a bhikkhuni, she must have several prerequisites. They are very practical.
- She cannot be pregnant or nursing.
- If she has children, she should be responsible for finding someone else competent to care for the children.
- She must have physical and mental health.
- She cannot have debts or other pending matters.
Step 2. Search the different monasteries
They vary in size (from very small to huge) and can be found in both rural areas and large cities. Once you find one that piques your interest, make it clear that you would like to train there. Each community has different rules, but most require training that lasts a few weeks.
Step 3. Beginning of the pre-postulate internship
If you enjoyed the monastery and they appreciated your presence, they may ask you to return after completing your training. It is during this time that you will learn the Buddhist precepts. There are 5 precepts for lay people, plus 3 more (known as upasika vows).
- No need to shave your head yet. But you will have to wear white clothes or white with black. This phase lasts from a few weeks to a few months.
- The precepts (or Garudhammas) are as follows:
- It must not harm any human or other living being.
- She must not steal.
- She must be sexually abstinent.
- She must not lie or cheat.
- She must not consume alcoholic beverages or use any type of drug.
- She should only eat at the proper times.
- She must not sing, dance or wear cosmetics or perfume.
- She should not sleep more than necessary, nor spend her time in luxurious places.
Step 4. Become a Candidate or Anagarika
This word literally means "the homeless," since you will have left your home to devote yourself to the life of a nun. You will have to shave your head, wear white garments and preserve the 8 precepts. This phase can last from 6 months to several years, depending on your situation.
- At this stage, you are still considered a layperson. You can still manage your own money and bear your own expenses. But some expenses will already be shared with other women in the same position as yours.
- Practice meditation. The "Brahma Viharas" of Goodness and Love (Metta), the Joy of Gratitude (Mudita), Compassion (Karuna) and Equanimity - the ability to keep emotions in check both in adversity and in moments of joy (Upekkhā). All are very important forms of meditation to be developed.
Step 5. Qualify to become a samaneri, or novice
This is the time when you enter the pabbajja, meaning the monastic life. Depending on the community, age and tradition requirements may vary. Some countries ask members to go through a probationary period before pabbajja starts.
Now you must commit to the 10 novices' precepts, and one of them is not to use the money. You may also be banned from driving. An older member will be assigned to be your mentor
Step 6. Take the Bhikkuni vows
They are also known as the highest ordering. With your mentor's permission (after a certain amount of time you have agreed with each other), you can ask to become a fully prepared Bhikkhuni. 20 people must witness the ceremony in which you will be ordained with the impressive number of 311 precepts.
Step 7. Become a Theri or Big Sister
After about 10 years, you will start to be a mentor too. Over time, you can go back to traveling wherever you like and work with different mentors, or stay loyal to the same mentor for the rest of your life. After 20 years, you will be designated as a Mahatheri or Big Sister.
- Most Christian orders require you to be at least 18 years old and no older than 40 (although exceptions can be made).
- One of the main differences between Catholic nuns and Orthodox Christian nuns (and priests) is the fact that Catholic nuns (eg Barnabites, Carmelites, Franciscans, etc.). Orthodox nuns are considered simply 'nuns.' They live in convents like Catholics but do not belong to any specific religious order.
- Most orders of Buddhist nuns ask you to shave your head.
- not getting a boyfriend does not mean that you must become a nun.