â€œThrough the narrow gate â€“ a nunâ€™s storyâ€ is an autobiography, written by Karen Armstrong, based on her own life as a nun. The work was published by Macmillan in 1981. The book is a memoir of Karenâ€™s life in a Catholic convent for seven years.
The story begins as a young girl of seventeen years decides to devote her entire life to God. The eleven chapters describe adventures, intimate moments and difficulties the young girl had to face on her way to become a Roman Catholic nun. The text offers a fascinating view into a convent with a lifestyle people outside would not know. The title of the book â€œThrough the narrow gateâ€ is explained by Matthew 7:12 as â€œEnter by the narrow gate, since the gate to perdition is wide, and the road spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that lead to life, and only a few find it.â€ This interpretation shows that the way to God is not an easy one and not many succeed in this long â€œjourneyâ€.The book not only talks about Karen Armstrong, but of many young girls, who have gone through the same situation, such as giving up the world, family and friends and â€œlifeâ€ to be close to God. Karen has used honesty and simplicity to write this book and share a very significant part of her life with people.
The story gives an insight into a convent with which not only crucial but also funny moments are connected and remembered. One of the statements Karen Armstrong gives on p. xiv of the book is â€œâ€¦a positive religious experience could become well nigh impossible.â€Her long way to God lacked something, which will be explained by several incidents happened in the convent.Some situations which have touched Karen the most are described in detail, such as â€œthe rule of silenceâ€ or the â€œcustody of eyesâ€ in chapter four.
â€œThe rule of silenceâ€ implied that the girls were not allowed to talk to each other except for two hours day, which meant only after supper and dinner. â€œCustody of eyesâ€ prohibited the girls from looking around throughout the day. A reason for these rules was to be with God only and not keep oneself busy with worldly things. It was very difficult for Karen and other nuns to follow these instructions especially because they had left their families and friends and needed socialization the most during that period.
The order of St Ignatius however prohibited that. Karen describes the lonely days, when she used to get frustrated. It was Karenâ€™s first birthday in the convent when she missed her family the most for the first time, since nobody in a convent bothered about such occasions..