Modern nuns lead lives that are very similar to those who lived centuries ago.
Modern nuns lead lives that are very similar to those who lived centuries ago.

Nuns are Roman Catholic women who have devoted their lives to serving Jesus Christ. They are part of a tradition that dates back centuries, to the very beginnings of the Catholic Church. For many people, the day-to-day lives of nuns is a mystery, since they often live, pray and work within the confines of a monastery. Even nuns who do not live in monasteries belong to congregations that provide their lives with structure. Today the lives of all nuns are focused on two things: the continual remembrance of Jesus Christ, and achieving their congregation's stated mission.

Early Morning

According to the Dominican Monastery of St. Jude, most nuns in monasteries rise around 5 a.m. to prepare for reading of morning prayer. This is followed by an hour when they return to their chambers and participate in private prayer and reflection. At 7:30 a.m. nuns living in or outside monasteries report to Mass, where they sing the major prayers of their order in Latin. Devoting the morning to prayer in this way allows Catholic nuns to begin every day with Jesus Christ in the forefront of their minds. After Mass, nuns in monasteries eat breakfast as a group.

Mid-Morning

Around 9 a.m., Catholic nuns begin their daily work. According to the Carmelite Nuns in Great Britain, this work varies from monastery to monastery. In general, within monasteries it is made up of ordinary household tasks: Nuns may cook, clean or handle routine monastery repairs. According to "The New York Times," the daily work of nuns who do not live in monasteries will vary based on their congregation. If a congregation's stated mission is youth education, daily work will be focused on furthering that goal. Around 11:30, nuns end their work period and begin Sext, or midday prayer. This is followed by lunch.

Afternoon

From 1 to 2 p.m., nuns living within monasteries enjoy recreation. During this time they can play board games, go for walks or simply exchange stories and enjoy each others' company. This hour of recreation is followed by an hour spent in silent prayer. Those living outside of monasteries may continue their daily work through this period. At 3 p.m., nuns engage in None, or midafternoon prayer. This is followed by another work period that ends at 6 p.m.

Evening

In the evening, nuns participate in Vespers, or evening prayer. When Vespers is over, nuns in monasteries join together for dinner, followed by a second period of recreation. By 8:30 p.m., most Catholic nuns have retired to their chambers, where they participate in Compline, a final nightly prayer that concludes their day as they began it: with Jesus Christ in the forefront of their minds.