The following comes from an April 19 Aleteia article by Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP. Sister Theresa is the author of The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church. She recently pronounced her first vows with the Daughters of Saint Paul. She blogs at Pursued by Truth.

Have you heard about the “nuns” who have been growing marijuana and selling products online?

It’s a story that has made the rounds one too many times because it combines two things journalists love to cover, nuns and (insert sensational thing here).

But what is offensive about this particular story is that these women who call themselves “Sister” Darcy, “Sister” Rose and “Sister” Kate are not nuns or religious sisters; they just dress up like they are and gain attention for that reason.

Google “nuns” and “marijuana” and a growing list of news items appear.

Some articles have the decency to at least put the word “nun” in quotes, but then most, like this CNN article, manage to completely confuse readers with opening lines like this:

“The Catholic Church often teaches that there is redemption in suffering, but the spiritual Sisters of the Valley hope to alleviate suffering through a centuries-old tradition familiar to many cloisters and abbeys.”

In an article over at the Daily Beast, “Sister” Kate says that she first dressed like a nun as a joke for a protest. But she soon realized that “people came up to her often — confiding in her, asking for prayers, telling her that it made them feel better just to see that she was there.” After seeing people’s positive responses, Kate says she decided to continue dressing like a nun.

I can understand why the women in this group would see the beauty in our life. But, frankly, it’s wrong for them to give people the impression that they are something they are not and to accept people’s attention, vulnerability, and prayers as if they were women who have dedicated their lives to God and to his people.

Kate also reveals a patronizing attitude about religious sisters. In the same article she describes how she views religious:

“If there’s one bone she has to pick with the church, it’s the way that nuns, who she says do all the hard work, are made to be ‘subservient’ to the priests. ‘I always wanted to be a sister,’ she says. ‘But I couldn’t be in a sisterhood that wasn’t empowered.’”

Wow. So religious sisters aren’t “empowered” because we are “subservient” to priests? Why do some feminists not realize how patronizing they sound when they belittle the efforts of strong, creative women already working in the church, even as they insist that Catholic women need more “rights”?

The misunderstandings continue. In a television interview, Kate says, “We live together, we work together, we’re a bit socialistic; if you look up what makes a sister, those are the things.”

Not exactly.

I’m sure you have people in your life who, like Kate, Rose and Darcy seem to have rejected the faith but still hold onto some of its signs and symbols. So many fallen-away Catholics still have an apparent longing for the beauty and mystery of Catholicism.

Shortly before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: “The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely, the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb.”

The marijuana “nuns” are attracted to the art of religious life, the beautiful, prophetic sign that religious women are in the Church. By becoming more holy, we all can be a part of the beauty of the Church, the shimmering light of Christ for others. We are all meant to be God’s greatest works of art, inviting others with the beauty of our souls to come back to the Church.