While some Americans may have preconceived notions about nuns, in no small part due to one-dimensional or even scary depictions in Hollywood movies, the Daughters of St. Paul - also known as the #MediaNuns - are combining their love of God with their social media skills to show TikTok users the "deep joy and deep peace" that comes from serving the Lord.
Though titles like "The Conjuring," its horror-filled sequel, "The Nun," or the sadistic character of Jessica Lange's Sister Jude in "American Horror Story: Asylum" are recent examples of nuns' less-than-desirable depiction in cinema, Hollywood's choice portrayal of sisters dates back decades. Titles from the 70s and 80s – like, "The Other Hell," "Killer Nun," and even "The Exorcist" – have painted nuns in a highly specific light.
Now, they're taking to social media to show a different side to the world.
One nun by the name of Sr. Chelsea Bethany Davis spoke with Fox News Digital to address what she calls a "misconception," and explain why TikTok might be the new platform on which to show audiences a more authentic truth.
"There's a lot of misconceptions (that) nuns are mean, or we can't talk to anybody, or that we're just really somber all the time, or that we're scary because of all those awful horror movies." Sr. Bethany reflected. "... I'm personally trying, on social media, (to) show people that being a follower of Jesus Christ is intrinsically joyful and that should show on our faces and in the way that we laugh and the way that we are."
"Religious life, for those who don't know, is just belonging totally to God in a consecrated way," the nun, who belongs to the Daughters of St. Paul organization dubbed the #MediaNuns, told FOX News Digital. "It's a deepening of our baptismal calls... What we're called to do is really just to let people know that you're made for more and that you're loved."
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Sr. Bethany explained that different orders of nuns serve the church through praying, teaching in schools, ministering to the poor, visiting the stick and working in orphanages. The Daughters of St. Paul specifically strives to bring Christ to others by using social media platforms to evangelize, and praying for media professionals who deeply influence the culture.
The order tries to "speak the language of the people" on different platforms and bring the message of Christ tailored to their needs.
The nun told Fox News Digital she believes Hollywood depicts nuns as scary because there is an "element of mystery" and "counter-cultural" calling to religious life.
"There are parts of our life that we don't invite people into, like certain parts of the cloister, even when young women are visiting, because there are just certain things that are reserved for us and Jesus alone," she said. "Just like a married couple wouldn't invite somebody outside into every aspect of their relationship. There are some things that are meant to just stay between you and your husband. Same thing with us. There are just some things that are meant to be between us and the Lord or us in [the] community."
She said she hopes the media will move forward to depict religious life in a healthy and accurate way, pointing to the British TV show "Call the Midwife," which she believes accurately shows Anglican nuns praying vespers. She also pointed to the "good" Mother Superior in the "Sound of Music" that cares for Maria’s needs.
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The nun also revealed that one of the "joys" she experiences in religious life is getting to uplift others and "hold their hopes and dreams and prayers."
"A lot of people come up to us with their intentions, asking us to pray with them or for someone," she shared. "One of my greatest joys is (having) the chance to talk to people and offer a moment of hope or consolation. The other thing in religious life specifically that's my favorite is getting to live with so many incredible other women who have decided to dedicate their lives to God in this way."
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Sr. Bethany recalled first being introduced to the vocation as a middle-school student, when she was struck by the nuns’ joy and deep "sense of belonging."
"One of the last sisters I spoke to (said), ‘Never be afraid to ask the Lord what He wants out of you, because He knows you better than you know yourself. There are parts of yourself that are probably a great mystery to you, but Jesus knows them. God knows them. So, ask Him, because He created you for happiness, and if He created you with a religious vocation, I promise you, that's where you will find ... deep joy,’" she shared. "That was really striking to me."
She concluded by sharing a quote from St. Catherine of Sienna on the beauty of being your authentic self: "Be who God made you to be, and you will set the world on fire."
"There is something about being who you are and being who you've been created to be and being a joyful representation of a follower of Jesus Christ," she said. "... I feel like the Lord has called me here. He didn't just call generic people; like he has a plan for your life. He has a plan for my life. When you find your vocation, when you're living it, you become even more yourself."
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