Do nuns use mirrors (are nuns allowed to look at their reflections)?

As a theologian, I developed an interest in understanding the lifestyle of nuns after interacting with some nuns on a recent mission. I was especially fascinated by their take on the physical body and wondered if they cared about their looks and whether they used mirrors to look at their reflections. I recently embarked on research to learn more and find credible information on this matter, seeking insight from nuns residing in nearby nunneries. Thankfully, the research paid off, as I got credible information. As a theology professor, I taught students about the lifestyle of the clergy in various denominations and religious figures like nuns. In the questions and answers session, one student wondered whether nuns were allowed to look at their reflections in the mirror when grooming themselves. According to the student, nuns were too restricted to engage in vanity. Equipped with first-hand information, I answered the student in detail. So, do nuns use mirrors?

Nuns are allowed to use mirrors to groom themselves, as cleanliness and neatness are essential. Nuns are also allowed to use mirrors when applying medicinal cream. However, Nuns are prohibited from idling and must not use the mirror to stare at their reflection for self-validation purposes. This brings distractions, low self-esteem, and competition between members of a nunnery. There is limited use of mirrors for nuns, and for some other orders of nuns, mirrors are prohibited. An example of such an order is the Carmelite nuns. Mirrors here are believed to cause distractions. They have no mirrors in their enclosures.

In this article, I invite you to join me as I dig deeper to find out what the Bible says about mirrors, what the Catholic church says about mirrors, if nuns are allowed to have mirrors in their dorms, and much more!

Can nuns have mirrors in their dorms?

are nuns allowed to look at their reflections?
Can nuns have mirrors in their dorms? Image source: Pixabay

Nuns are allowed to have mirrors in their dorms. These mirrors are exclusively used for grooming and, in special cases, used to assist one in properly applying medicinal cream. Mirrors are limited, as they are only used for grooming and nothing else. Idling around and gazing at your face and body reflections is prohibited. This brings distractions and conflicts that corrupt the mind as one begins to have resentful thoughts towards themselves and others because they are unsatisfied with their appearance.

Why aren’t nuns allowed to have mirrors or look at their reflection in the mirror?

Nuns are allowed to have mirrors only for grooming, as they must be neatly dressed. People use mirrors and their reflections to measure themselves and end up hurting themselves and others if they are unsatisfied with what they see. As a reputable Religious institution, convents cannot allow these scenarios to occur, so they strictly limit the usage of mirrors.

Most people are never satisfied with what they have, and with this comes envy and jealousy, which leads to hate and resentment. Mirrors communicate a lot to a person, and gazing upon one’s reflection can be addictive. This causes distraction from God and evokes envy for others, which does not align with the teachings at convents.

What does the Catholic Church say about mirrors?

Do nuns use mirrors?
What does the Catholic Church say about mirrors? Image source: Pixabay

According to the Catholic church, mirrors are our reflections, our own choices, and our actions looking back at us. The Catholic church teaches that we should use the mirror not only to see our physical bodies but also as an instrument to see ourselves fully and look within ourselves. None of us is perfect; we all have our pros and cons. We should not judge or be fast to point fingers at others while ours are also not clean. Sin is sin, and we are all sinners; there is no big or small sin. No sin is greater than the other. We ought to be gentle and kind with everyone, reflecting on ourselves and trying to do right.

What does the Bible say about mirrors?

The Bible does not directly mention a case where someone uses a mirror. It mentions mirrors in Exodus 38:8, where we see that women had mirrors. These Hebrew women gave up their mirrors for Moses to construct a bronze basin and a strand as commanded by God. Furthermore, we see the BibleBible mentioning mirrors once more. Found in the book of Isaiah 3:16-23 where the prophet Isaiah was warning the daughters of Zion against their actions of concentrating too much on earthly desires. The prophet lists mirrors as one of the earthly possessions belonging to them.

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