Why did you write "Amata Means Beloved"?
To be honest, I'm not even sure how I began writing Amata Means Beloved. I knew that I had a story to tell but I wasn't sure what it was! Even I didn't know! It slowly revealed itself as I began writing.
What is the message of the book?
I wanted to share the joy of consecrated religious life--specifically, the joy of Dominican Contemplative life. Many people think that our life is a waste and can't see how full of joy we are BECAUSE we are given totally to Christ our Spouse. Telling a story like Amata Means Beloved is one way to share this with those who might not otherwise care to learn something about contemplative life. I also wanted to share the freedom and joy that comes from responding to the grace God gives each of us.
Is "Amata Means Beloved" autobiographical?
No! At least, I don't think so. There are some parts that come from my own experience, of course, but the character of Emily is not Sr. Mary Catharine.
Sheep and weaving figure heavily in "Amata". Why?
In some of the early Fathers of the Church,Proclus of Constantinople especially, weaving is a symbol of the great event of the Incarnation of Word, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. With Mary's "Yes" the marvelous gift of our redemption began to unfold. Sheep are a symbol of us, of course. Christ is the Good Shepherd. In Amata sheep are a symbol of the intercessory aspect of the nuns' vocation.
Do you have any experience with sheep or weaving?
I had the unusual experience of going to 12 years of school with sisters who also ran a farm. The sisters had 14 sheep. They would shear them for the wool and sell it at their farm stand. Also, since I lived in a rural part of Massachusetts, there were many weavers and many fiber stores that taught weaving and carried weaving supplies. I always wanted to learn how to weave.
No. The opportunity to learn finally came 2 years after I entered the monastery. At recreation one night, I mentioned to a sister my long-time desire to learn how to weave. Well, we had a loom--unused--in the house! I taught myself and eventually, we got a better loom. I still weave although there isn't much time for it.
You are a cloistered nun writing about cloistered nuns. Isn't that unusual?
Well, as far as I know, while there are novels out there that center around monasteries--for some reason they are written by men! I'm the only nun who has written a novel about the life I lead. I guess you could say I have the inside scoop!
How does writing, especially writing a novel, fit into your way of life?
Writing is a particularly appropriate way of preaching the Gospel for contemplative nuns. In the past, depending on the particular tradition, being published was discouraged. The recent Masters of the Dominican Order have encouraged the nuns of the Order to study deeply and to "share the fruits of their contemplation" through writing.
What's next on the writing agenda?
Right now, nothing. I am a nun first of all. The writing comes when the Holy Spirit inspires me. So, don't be looking for a sequel!
Thank you, Sister Mary Catharine for sharing some thoughts with us. We look forward to the publication of Amata Means Beloved.
Thank you. I enjoyed this time with you.