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Definition  A woman that commits to follow the rules of a religious order, devoting herself to a life of prayer and meditation. To become a nun, a Catholic woman enters into a six month period of testing called postulancy. If it is determined that she might have a religious calling, a two year novitiate period allows her to live the life of a nun without taking vows. Then, she becomes a nun by taking temporary vows usually lasting one to three years. Finally, permanant solemn vows are made. The vows are: stability (to remain in the same religious order for life), obedience (to the abbess or mother superior), chastity and poverty. Nuns who are cloistered observe “papal enclosure” which bars them from contact with the outside world (though they may receive visitors).

Discussion: The taking of permanent vows is a great danger for young women. A person does not know if they are gifted by God for permanent singleness. Like the sex scandals that have rocked the Catholic priesthood, the sexual abuse of women in Catholic religious orders is a serious problem. It is compounded by their vows of obedience and stability.

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