Growing numbers of educated Italian women are throwing away their high heels and lipstick and opting for the austere life of nuns in closed convents.
A surprising 550 women in Rome chose to withdraw to cloisters this year compared with 350 two years ago, it emerged at a conference organised by the Vicariate of Rome and Italy’s Union of Mother Superiors (Usmi).
Most of the country’s 7,500 cloistered nuns have traditionally come from regions such as the Marches, making the sudden rise in the city of la dolce vita even more surprising.
Until recently, most women entering closed convents in Rome were third world immigrants with little education. Now the recruits are all Italians with university degrees.
"They are realising that what the world has to offer to them is not all it is made out to be," said Sister Pieremilia Bertolin, the secretary general of Usmi.
"They are starting to reason with their heads and not just believing the messages advertising throws at them." [Source]
This is pretty interesting, though it should be no surprise. All the promises of a materialistic culture are always unkept and ultimately unsatisfying. Though it doesn’t keep us from endlessly trying again that perhaps the next time it will work. We keep telling Rocky that this time we are going to pull that rabbit out of the hat.
I had been thinking recently about how we react to the reduced numbers of people answering to their vocations. Most progressives groups talk about this problem of the shortage of priests and and coming up with the solution of married and women priests. I have noticed though that there is never any talk about the shortage of those answering calls to the religious life. Priest in the U.S. are now at 73 percent of the level as 1965. Religious brothers and sisters are now at 35 percent of the 1965 level. [Source Data]. The bigger crisis really concerns religious life and yet all the talk is mainly focused on vocations to the priesthood. Religious life is open to both sexes and yet there is still a major decline. Unless you want to advocate for male sisters and female brothers for progressive argument consistency sake. Why has there been no call to open up religious life to the married to solve these problems? Or do they recognize that a married life would get in the way of those religious who are purely contemplatives? This is not to say that all of us can’t become contemplatives cooperating with grace since we are all called to holiness, just that those with less distractions and more time for prayer can do more to hold up the Church.
I had wondered why progressives seem to not be concerned about the decline in religious life and then I realized that we are all guilty of this to some extent. Think of a vocations program and we pretty much associate this with only priests and not for also those vocations to religious life, single life, and marriage. Contemplatives in many ways are the furnace that run the Church. We so easily forget that St. Terese is a patron saint of missionaries even though she lived a hidden life in a convent. We always focus so much on physical activity. We see the actions of priests via the sacraments, but do not recognize the effects of the prayers of those in religious life. Why do we not recognize the signs of decline in the Church without seeing that one of the reasons is the lack of the prayers holding it up? Of course not all orders are pure contemplatives, but the best ones are grounded in contemplation first. Blessed Mother Teresa has her order spending at least an hour each day before the Blessed Sacrament. She use to say that when she would get really busy she would have to then spend two hours instead.
There has always been a Martha/Mary dichotomy where we see Mary as doing nothing and not that she has chosen the best part. Secular life sees contemplative religious as a wasted life and we are in danger of doing the same. This is not to let ourselves off in praying for the Church. We can all do our part, but let us add prayers for an increase answering of the call to the religious life.