I hope that readers here in Australia have taken the time to watch (or at least record) The Abbey.
This is one of the most intelligent and inspired programs that the ABC has produced for Compass in a long while. The Sisters of Jamberoo Abbey are to be applauded for the brave decision to open their enclosed monastery for this “invasion” of the media.
On the first day of the experience, one of the 5 participants remarked:
I still wonder though how you can justify shutting someone [Sister Hilda] with that personality away and just praying most of your day. I still don’t see it as relevant in today’s society.
This program will enable the world to see that such a life and a calling really is relevant–and essential–to the human race today more than ever.
I have been watching it with my daughters. Apart from Sister in the parish here (Presentation nun – no habit), they don’t really get to see much in terms of role modelling for the religious life. They watched the film of St Therese of Lisieux with me recently (thanks for the loan of the video, Marco), and that was really the first idea they had of what an enclosed life might be. Now they get to see it in real life. Think about it as an antidote to the Bratz movie they watched last weekend…
After her usual diatribe (upped a couple of decibels because the subject is intensely religious and intensely Catholic at that), Catherine Deveney, the TV critic from Hell (or perhaps going there? Hey, it isn’t my call!), had this rather poignant comment:
Watching The Abbey and attempting to immerse myself in the reality of the nuns’ lives I found harrowing and stifling. Although the nuns are living far more meaningful lives than most, their sacrifice is phenomenal. And I couldn’t help wanting to save them.
My emphasis. I emphasise it because what she is saying is that she wants to rescue these women from lives that are “far more meaningful than most”. She would rather they lived the same meaningless “Bratz style” life of indulgence that most of the rest of the western world does. Deveny wants to “save” the nuns because they tell her something doesn’t want to hear: that meaning does not come without sacrifice.
The Abbey is a great watch. If you can’t watch it, you can read the transcript of the program at the Compass Website. Here is episode one.