Searching for answers to life’s big questions can lead to many paths. In our youth, it may seem that leaving home is what it will take to discover ourselves. School, activities, volunteer work, friendships, internships, jobs or even church can take us away from “home” and provide opportunities to grow and learn in new environments. And as we discovered from the pandemic years, too much time at home, in isolation from others, is not a good thing.
Yet, home is where we go to rest, replenish, refresh and renew. We go home to eat, to sleep, to relax. It’s a place to “touch base” and feel safe in this game of life, to connect with those who love us and to our energy source(s). Of course, home can mean different things to different people, and isn’t always the house you grew up in, or where your biological family lives. As they say, “Home is where the heart is,” – wherever you feel loved, accepted, appreciated, supported and fed – literally and figuratively.
That’s why, when author Susan Flansburg listened to women tell their stories of being called to religious life, they all explained it the same way: “It felt like home.” Hence, the title of her latest book, Feels Like Home: A Single Catholic Woman’s Guide to Religious Vocations in the U.S.
Feels Like Home is a quick and easy read, offering a brief encounter with women who have journeyed the path of discernment to religious life in the 21st century. Using simple terms, it guides inquirers along this path of self-discovery and provides examples and advice from those who have already walked it.
Though small enough to fit into your purse or even a pocket, the book includes practical next steps, discernment resources such as a list of recommended books and videos/films, scriptural passages for reflection, and a glossary of terms. Each chapter also ends with Questions for Reflection.
Here are some notable passages from Feels Like Home:
Reaching out to a vocation director (page 54)
“Inquirers often say contacting a vocation director is scary. …But vocation directors are just people who have been in the same boat as you: confused, anxious, longing for answers. They get it. And they know that just because you contact them to begin with doesn’t mean that their institute – or even religious life – will be the right fit for you.”
Clues to where you belong (page 59)
“Are you drawn to solitude, silence and contemplative prayer? To travel and different cultures? To active participation in social justice ministry? To life in a family-like setting?…Learning [what] you’re called to requires deep reflection and self-knowledge. By understanding what you need to thrive, you’ll have a better idea whom to reach out to.”
Bumps on the Road (page 72)
“Whether you are called to marriage, single life, or religious life, you will encounter challenges and obstacles along the road. It happens to women discerning every life change: where to go to school, what to do for a living, who to marry. Suddenly they realize they’ve made a mistake: it’s not the right path after all. As painful as it can be, this discovery is part of the discernment process itself.”
Practical Next Steps (page 82)
“The process of discerning your vocation is not linear. Nearly everyone starts and stops on her path, often looping back and repeating steps. And lots of the steps turn into stumbles!
We all stumble occasionally. It’s called being human. Taking one step, and then another, is what counts!”
For additional discernment resources, click here or subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, Vocation Reflections.
If you’d like to connect with someone about whether or not God is calling you to religious life, contact a Vocation Director.