Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Lessons from Nuns

Last week I had an inspiring visit with three nuns, members of the Franciscan Sisters of Charity in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. I went with a good LDS friend of mine whose father, a faithful Catholic, was served by the Sisters of Charity during his last days. My friend makes it a holiday tradition to visit the nuns, partly as an expression of thanks for how they helped his father. These compassionate women minister to the elderly and the terminally ill as they complete their mortal journey. I have met the sisters a few times and have been deeply impressed with their goodness. These are strong, intelligent, and happy women (even jovial) who have sacrificed much to serve others. I salute them, and thank them for the opportunity to talk with them and be uplifted by their goodness and humor (and I really made friends with their dog, Amber).

Most Latter-day Saints understand a basic fact of life: we do not have a monopoly on truth, on godly service, on Christian living, nor on divine inspiration. There is much we can learn from our brothers and sisters in many other faiths (that is so basic and obvious, but a few people may need to be reminded). For me, I've found Roman Catholic nuns to provide a relatively rich vein to mine when looking for inspiring examples of saintly character. Of course, I believe that we have much to offer that our fine sisters among the nuns may yet wish to receive - things like the blessings of authorized priesthood ordinances and especially the Temple - but I believe that these blessings will be added to them in the Lord's own time, probably after their mortal missions are completed.

As for the rest of us, we need to learn lessons from these good sisters now before it is too late. Merciful, loving service for the sick and the dying is so urgently needed. May we magnify our callings and reach out more to those who suffer and despair. May we focus less on material and carnal pleasure and more on blessing the lives of others and building the kingdom of God. And may we shun selfishness and the vile sins of the world, seeking instead to repent and follow Christ. There is so little time left before our eternity begins. Let us repent now and serve Him. Take that first step now - and rush!

Oh, one final suggestion: youth leaders, you might consider taking your young men or young women to visit a convent or another church or religious organization of some kind to broaden their horizons. One of my favorite experiences when I was bishop of my ward was taking the priests one year to visit one of the Kaukauna nuns that I had met at a local interfaith meeting. She gave us a tour of their beautiful church and explained much about her work as a nun and some of the basics of Roman Catholicism. The young men really enjoyed it, and so did Sister Goodman, the fine nun who helped us and treated us so kindly.

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