my sister

I've spoken of my sister here before, but never with any details. i have been reluctant to share her life with my readers for fear of... well, i'm not quite sure. i guess just the fear of people not understanding and perhaps criticizing it. but, after seeing her on saturday, i decided i would talk about her regardless of my hesitations. theirs is a way of life that is very fascinating and pretty much unheard of to most people today. so, i will do my best to explain-
Sister Mary Magdalene (Jennifer) is a Cloistered Norbertine Nun. i think when most people think of a nun they think of teachers and nurses and working nuns. cloistered means vows of poverty, chastity and obedience have been taken. their lives are spent in prayer (i believe about 8 hours a day), meditation, work and sacrifice. they also observe silence for most of the day and unless necessary, they do not leave the convent. unlike working orders, they do not interact with the public, but they do pray for us :D my sister entered the first Norbertine convent in the U.S. about six and a half years ago. the Norbertine Order is almost 900 years old, but until recently there were no convents in the United States.

my sister and my dad
over the weekend the first nine sisters made their final vows. this is something that takes about nine to ten years to be ready for. the ceremony was incredible! unfortunately, i could not take pictures. my favorite part was when each sister received a ring. the Abbot General said to each, "I espouse you to Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High Father, that He may keep you unharmed. Therefore receive the ring of fidelity, the seal of the Holy Spirit, that You may be called the spouse of God and after you serve Him faithfully, you may be crowned eternally in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".
it also meant that for the first time all the sisters were out of the cloister. when we go visit her at the monastery, she is behind a grill. the only physical contact you can have is holding hands
. so the fact that we got hug her and be next to next her was a very big deal.
<span class=
my mom, sister and me
i'm so proud of my sister. her life is a difficult one, but one filled with many hidden blessings. it's hard to not have her with us, but we are always connected through prayer, our faith and of course letters. knowing that she and all the sisters are there praying for us and the whole world is a big consolation for me.
i hope i did an okay job of briefly explaining this kind of life. if anyone has any questions i'd be happy to do my best to explain.

♥ anne


  1. The first photo is amazingly beautiful! I can imagine that living as a nun in a cloister is hard, you need the will and faith to stick to it I guess. I'm not a religious person but I respect the people that make it to live religious, be it "only" a prayer before going to bed or praying half the day for others. For others! I cannot name one single person I know that would pray for other people.
    Your sister is cool, I like it when people live after a firm conviction. It's good that you write about her, in my opinion there's nothing to fear. People who don't understand it are dorks ;)

  2. so lovely. as i mentioned before, my mother in law was a nun for many years before leaving her order and my grandmother was a novicia in portugal, but never took her final vows and chose to live a laypersons life. when i was 5 or 6, i was certain i wanted to be a nun, and i remember praying my rosary over and over after school. i had a feeling your sister was a nun when i first started reading your blogs, because of the way you referenced visiting her. she must be a very special person, and she has a sweet light in her eyes. i imagine it must be so hard to be apart from her, but also give you a lot of pride in her that she is such a special and brave person. thanks so much for sharing this with us.

  3. I can't even imagine how excited you and your parents must have been to just grab on to her and HUG!!!! That is super cool that you got to be there and I love that you shared about it! That first shot of Jenn is so gorgeous!

  4. Wow. Thanks for sharing. Everybody has their calling, you know. If your sister feels this is right for her, then more power to her. Though, I can understand that sometimes it's sad for your family not to be able to see her as much or hug her.

  5. I have incredible respect for you sister! Her faith is amazing. I'm not a religious person myself, but was raised catholic and have seen my fair share of nuns. I always thought it was sad that most nuns were older women and that so few younger women felt what previous generations had felt enough to join and become nuns themselves. Congratulations to your sister for a such a big and important step in her life!

  6. Thank you for this very moving post. Your sister leads a life that few of us would ever dare to approach: devoting your whole being and existence to what you believe in. A life of prayer and meditation, a selfless life is one to be admired. Though not a Christian myself I've always been a firm believer in faith itself being at the center of what it means to be human. Prayer in all forms heals. So thank you to your sister for devoting her life to prayer and her beliefs and thank you for sharing it with us.

    Lots of love and blessings and light

  7. wow. this was a really special post to read tonight. i feel blessed just to have read your words and seen these images. your sister emanates serenity. what a huge responsibility and i admire her devotion and your gracious way of explaining your sister's life, so lovely and caring. what a wonderful family you have; i'm so touched to have gotten to share in it a little bit.

  8. I'm completely transfixed by that first photo. It's such a stunningly captured moment and it speaks volumes as to what a special person your sister is. Thanks so much for sharing her with us, you did so beautifully :)

  9. I think that is a wonderful and hard decision that she made. It is one I was thinking about a lot when I was 14 but I'm protestant so that would not work out too evenly. I am so in adoration of nuns and the amazing work they do and the sacrifices they also make. My husband's best friend from high school has been in seminary to become a priest for the past 5 years, and he is extremely dedicated and we have him over for dinner when he is out of school. It is really wonderful to learn about what he does in his time and the love he has for God that we all wish that many people had and we strive for as well. May Jesus continually bless your sister for the beautiful life she leads. I'm very proud of her and you for posting about her.

  10. The first picture of Jen is so incredibly beautiful. I love that you posted this special experience because it is a world few of us know anything about. Everything here intrigues me. On a separate note, you two are adorable together. It must have been such a thrill to touch and hug her.

    (so happy to hear you like the books! J. Didion's words on grief are wiser than anything I've read before. Love her to pieces. Rev. road deserves a full night's discussion. We need a book club!)

  11. Loved this post! While I never seriously considered becoming a Catholic nun, the thought of joining a Shaker community always fascinated me. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Anne, I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing. It sounds like the weekend was amazing!

  13. Anne....thank you for sharing this! So very much! I have such respect for your sister. I believe her heart is in the best of places, I am sure she enjoys rewards of the spirit daily that I can't even imagine. It is true there is a love and a light that these photos capture coming from her eyes.

    Blessings, love, sweet kindness, Jesus magic


  14. Wowwww. It is so easy to forget that people actually live lives like this. So far removed from what most of us experience, and think about, every day. Very beautiful. I'd love to know more about what moved your sister to walk this path. And what made your lives so different that she has taken a vow of chastity and you are reproducing like a bunny ;-)


thank you so much for stopping by. please feel free to leave a comment! i love reading them :)