Sunday was “Oscar Night,” the night when the winners of the 84th annual Academy Awards were announced. I admit, I didn’t watch it. While watching the commentary the next morning on TV, I noticed someone listed on many of the ‘best dressed’ lists: a nun in her habit (dress)! The only nun currently a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Mother Dolores Hart not only voted in, but attended the Oscars this year.
Her attendance was to support the Oscar-nominated documentary short, God is the Bigger Elvis, of which she was the subject. Hart discovered an inner peace and contentment in the life of faith that had been absent on stage, on-screen, and in her engagement. She found that peace in her pursuit of God. Hart confessed that it is difficult explaining her change in vocation, but has described it as: “Falling in love. One falls in love with the Lord.” In 1963, Dolores Hart left everything and entered a convent in Connecticut.
During this season of Lent, I’ve heard some people discussing what they were ‘giving up.’ Traditionally, people who give something up for Lent do it as a way of connecting themselves with Christ’s time of voluntary self-deprivation during his 40 days in the wilderness. It was one way that Jesus prepared himself to begin his ministry, and it is how some prepare themselves for Easter. Lent, in general, is a time to rededicate ourselves to living as Christ did and taught: by loving God with our whole heart, mind and soul, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Lent is a time when Christian culture encourages us to reevaluate our lives and our expressions of faith. This does not end, however, on Easter morning.
While we are not Catholic, there is much we can all learn from Mother Hart: who lived into what she saw as God’s plan for her life… who reevaluated her life from the perspective of her God, and took seriously that which she found.
She inspires. I will never be a movie star, nor will I become a nun. I will, by the grace of God, live as a servant of Jesus Christ. I will, by the grace of God, live, “Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the sake of*the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. [May we all] consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners,* so that [we] may not grow weary or lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-4). Thanks be to God for all who inspire us in our walk of faith.