By Elizabeth Krump
"What's a Nun Run? Do you dress up as nuns and run?" Last year, new interest was generated in religious life among my single friends when a few of us decided to organize a Nun Run. The day-long event was an opportunity to visit local religious orders in Vancouver to get to know their way of life better. While many of us knew religious Sisters by sight, we had never had the opportunity to have a conversation with one of them.
Incredibly, nearly twenty beautiful young women attended our first Nun Run to visit the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and the cloistered Poor Clare Sisters. We prayed with the Sisters and laughed with them, but the best part of the Nun Run was hearing the stories of these ordinary women who had made the choice to live in an extraordinary way for Christ.
Nuns and sisters are what we call consecrated vocations. Consecrated life takes many forms (priests, nuns, monks, etc), but is ultimately a way of life which strives to imitate Christ through chastity, poverty and obedience. Blessed John Paul II describes consecrated life as "the choice of total self-giving to God in Christ (Vita Consecrata)." It's a radical path to take in the modern world, but contrary to popular belief, it is neither lonely or stifling, but joy filled.
On February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus, the Church celebrates the consecration of Jesus to God by his earthly parents. It is fitting that the Church also designates this feast as World Day for Consecrated Life. Pope John Paul II established this day in 1997 to recognize consecrated life as a treasure and a gift in the Church.
What is the treasure of consecrated life? Pope John Paul II said, "the consecrated life is not something isolated and marginal, but a reality which affects the whole Church (Vita Consecrata)." Therefore, we should not think of it as separate from the lives of ordinary (lay) Christians. In fact, he goes so far as to say that, "the consecrated life is at the very heart of the Church as a decisive element for her mission, since it 'manifests the inner nature of the Christian calling' and the striving of the whole Church as Bride towards union with her one Spouse (Vita Consecrata)."
What does he mean by the 'inner nature of the Christian calling'? John Paul II is speaking about the fact that consecrated individuals are in a life-giving relationship... with Christ. They are living outwardly what we are all invited to experience inwardly: a relationship with Jesus.
Judith Ameresekere, a fourth year Psychology student at Simon Fraser University is open to the call of consecrated life. She describes nuns as, "A witness: they believe so strongly that they are willing to lay down their lives for [Christ]." The treasure of consecrated life is their example of selfless love. They show us how to love others and they also reflect the total, self-giving love Christ has for us.
On our Nun Run, someone asked one of the Sisters what the best part of her vocation was. This young Dominican, a convert of atheism, still in her twenties and radiating with life, answered, "I get to wear my wedding dress every day." This was a young woman in love: in love with Christ, living as a Bride.
On World Day for Consecrated Life, pray for the men and women who are living this call to selfless, true love. Their radical call deserves our unceasing support in prayer
Elizabeth Krump is a student at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, where she has been involved with Catholic Christian Outreach. Elizabeth has written for the B.C. Catholic and with two friends started Live 31 Vancouver, a blog/social group/discussion group for women trying to live their faith in the modern world.