SCOTT SIMON, host:
Julie Viera is a nun. Poverty, obedience, celibacy and - blogging. Her blog, called "A Nun's Life," includes entries why Lent rocks and how her six-year-old nephew feels about his aunt being a nun. She also links to YouTube videos like a commercial that features stern nuns in habits competing against scantily clad cheerleaders for customers at a car wash.
But what Sister Julie really wants to do with her blog is tell the world that there is no such thing as a Cookie Cutter Nun. Sister Julie joins us from her home in Chicago. Sister Julie, thanks so much for being with us.
Sister JULIE VIERA (Blogger): Thank you for inviting me.
SIMON: What made you start blogging?
Sister VIERA: Well, it was a number different interests of mine kind of collided one day. I had been wanting to do a little bit of writing. And I also have this little fascination with technology, so I wanted to see how blogs work, and finally, I have this major pet peeve about stereotypes about nuns and how nuns are portrayed in the world. And I thought to myself, hmm, maybe I'll try this out and portray what it's like to be a real nun.
SIMON: I noticed, for example, in your blog, when you describe a given day, you say the first thing I do is head for the coffee machine.
Sister VIEIRA: Absolutely.
SIMON: And my instinctive was reaction was, oh, surely sister you should have more self-restraint than that, because the first thing you do is head for the bucket of cold water to wash yourself with or something, right?
Sister VIEIRA: Right.
SIMON: But nuns are human. They need a cup of joe in the morning.
Sister VIEIRA: That's absolutely right.
SIMON: You've got a section on your blog called Ask Sister.
Sister VIEIRA: Yes.
SIMON: Where people can ask you questions. What are some of the most challenging, plain-right irritating, enlightening that you've had?
Sister VIEIRA: Most of the questions are pretty in-depth questions. People ask me about some specific aspect of being a nun. What were some of my challenges when I was in formation? There's one on there about the difference between blasphemy and sacrilege.
SIMON: What is the difference between blasphemy and sacrilege?
Sister VIEIRA: Blasphemy has more to do with disrespecting God himself as having some kind of contempt for God, whereas sacrilege has more to do with the things of God, being disrespectful towards a holy object or towards the sacraments or a holy person.
SIMON: You are in publishing as a nun. You're in religious publishing.
Sister VIEIRA: Yes, I do. I work at Loyola Press here in Chicago.
SIMON: May I ask, how many hours a day do you spend in prayer or prayerful activities?
Sister VIEIRA: I probably spend about an hour and a half or two hours in sort of straight-up without ice prayerful activity. Well, in the sense that it's a very - for me a very formal time of prayer, as opposed to, you know, making your whole day a form of prayer.
SIMON: So the idea of that being that what you are in your life constitutes a form of prayer.
Sister VIEIRA: That's right. I mean the religious who live a more contemplative form of life, their lifestyle is structured around their prayer. The way we find our mission is active in the world, and so we have to learn how to be able to pray wherever we are and whatever we're doing as well as take private times of prayer or communal prayer.
SIMON: Are there other nuns that read your blog and contribute?
Sister VIEIRA: There are a number of nuns. There are - first of all, my own congregation of ISM sisters in Monroe, Michigan, are regular readers of mine. When I head back to Monroe to spend time with them, it's like I'm a little celebrity at the mother house; a congregation of cloistered sisters that I've gotten to know just through my blog. And I really appreciate that, because I don't live a cloistered lifestyle, and so to have them to talk to or to ask questions or to bring to their wisdom about something from a different perspective is really quite helpful.
SIMON: Sister Julie, it's been awfully nice to talk to you. We'll check in on your blog.
Sister VIEIRA: Excellent. It's been a pleasure to talk to you, Scott.