What is the difference between being a Consecrated Sister and a Nun in a convent?
Being a Consecrated Sister who serves within the Church community and becoming a Nun who lives within a convent are two, separate, distinct paths. Nuns mainly live a life of prayer and contemplation while Consecrated Sisters mainly live a life of prayer and service. Both sisters and nuns take the three monastic vows – poverty, chastity, and obedience (see sisters.suscopts.org/sisters) – while sisters also take an additional vow of service. Consecrated Sisters serve within a diocese, according to their assignment, while nuns typically do not leave their convent. Therefore, while the internal life for both involves the same concepts, the main difference between a nun in a convent and a consecrated sister is the manner in which the external life is lived out: a consecrated sister serves, a nun does her work in the convent. Lastly, becoming a consecrated sister is a calling; choosing monastic life is a decision the individual makes.
Are all Consecrated Sisters extroverted?
Each one of the children of God has his/her own distinct personality. Amongst consecrated sisters, one would meet both introverts as well as extroverts. The path does not determine one’s personality. Rather, each one of us is asked to use our talents that we have been given in order to serve our Lord (Matthew 25:14-30):
It was told of a brother who came to see Abba Arsenius at Scetis that, when when he came to the church, he asked the clergy if he could visit Abba Arsenius. They said to him, ‘Brother, have a little refreshment and then go and see him.’ ‘I shall not eat anything,’ said he, ’till I have met him.’ So, because Arsenius’ cell was far away, they sent a brother with him. Having knocked on the door, they entered, greeted the old man and sat down without saying anything. Then the brother from the church said, ‘I will leave you. Pray for me.’ Now the visiting brother, not feeling at ease with the old man, said, ‘I will come with you,’ and they went away together. Then the visitor asked, ‘Take me to Abba Moses, who used to be a robber.’ When they arrived the Abba welcomed them joyfully and then took leave of them with delight. The brother who had brought the other one said to his companion, ‘See, I have taken you to the foreigner and to the Egyptian, which of the two do you prefer?’ ‘As for me,’ he replied, ‘I prefer the Egyptian.’ Now a Father who heard this prayed to God saying, ‘Lord, explain this matter to me: for Thy name’s sake the one flees from men, and the other, for Thy name’s sake, receives them with open arms.’ Then two large boats were shown to him on a river and he saw Abba Arsenius and the Spirit of God sailing in the one, in perfect peace; and in the other was Abba Moses with the angels of God, and they were all eating honey cakes.
(Ward, Benedicta, trans. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection. Revised Edition. Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1984)
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