Amata Means Beloved

Book cover: 'Amata Means Beloved'
Sister Mary Catharine Perry, O.P.
595 300 243
Number of pages: 
108 pages
Grade / Age level: 

Sister has given us a beautiful look behind the closed doors of a cloistered convent in this little gem set in post 9-11 America. It is the story of a young woman who feels called to religious life but struggles to understand God's workings. This woman had been discerning her vocation to religious life when her life is shattered by the death of her brother, a seminarian, who is killed by terrorists. She has been unable to get over the loss of this beloved brother and although she wants to, cannot forgive the men that killed him.

She enters the convent as planned and the struggle to come to terms with her grief blends with her journey to find her place in the community of sisters. Her superior gives her the religious name of Amata because she wants the woman to know that she is beloved of God.

When the convent is gifted with a really fine bell, the rest of the monastery rejoices. Sister Amata, however, reveals that her brother had been the bell ringer at the seminary and she hates the idea of hearing the bells ring at the convent. However, not only must she hear the bells and be reminded of the pain of losing her brother, the novice mistress assigns her the job of actually ringing the Angelus bell. As she conquers her fear of the bell, she finally accepts God's will and the death of her brother, and is able to forgive his killers. This is stated so simply here, but Sister Catharine's writing is very moving. I cried through the whole last half of the book. She captures the movement of the heart as it leaves itself and the world and turns to God.

While the story of the young woman's conversion is lovely, one of the best things about this book is the view of religious life. The nuns order pizza or ice cream on special occasions, have talent shows, and work with sheep. Their conversations over the cleaning of the wool are joyful and witty. One of the nuns even translates documents for the Holy Father.

Sister Mary Catharine distributes this book to young women who might be interested in a religious vocation to give them a perspective on the life. However, this would be a good book for a high school girl to read whether she is considering a vocation or not.

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