Cloistered nuns at a convent in Sicily have decided that their vow of silence may rule out gossiping with locals or telephoning old friends, but it does not exclude going online to swap emails. The 12 Cistercian nuns of the 13th-century Santo Spirito convent in Agrigento have set up a website and are happy to take questions about what it is like to pray for hours in silence every day. The sisters, who speak to visitors, if pushed, through a grille, are being bombarded with inquiries at santospiritoag.com, said Sister Maria, who agreed to answer questions over the phone. Would-be nuns can receive advice from Santo Spirito's novices on the lifestyle they might expect, said Maria.
"We also wanted to set up the site so that people could email to ask us to say prayers for them, as well as to show the world what our mission is here," she said. "We hope to show that there is some good on the internet and not just bad things." Although criticised as a distraction by parents and bosses, the internet is not interfering with the nuns' prayer routine, which starts at 4.30am, said Maria. "There are no limits on internet time, but discretion is required," she said. The nuns are now in regular contact with fellow Cistercians in the US and France via email, said Maria, while the site also has a pop-up box allowing users to reserve a guest room. [source]
Just another example of the pragmatic nature of the Internet. This is also not the first time it has been shown to be a tool for organized religion. Is there something about the Internet which makes it particularly attractive as a medium for religious or spiritual activities? Another way of looking at this story is that it emphasizes the distinctions between 'real' speech, face-to-face interaction and computer-mediated communication. Some say such distinctions are weakening. But are they?
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