The topic of “discerning a vocation” is a commonplace yet difficult one with young Catholics. In order to make a generous choice of a state in life (usually, in the Roman Rite, between marriage and consecrated religious life and/or priesthood), young men and women in the Church must listen to and grapple with every aspect of their personhood—appetites, senses, intellect, will, and imagination. Yet this last faculty, imagination, is somewhat neglected in the educational resources offered to young adults to help them discern.
Speaking from my own experience during a year when I seriously considered the contemplative life, I often wished for well-written, convincing literature about nuns: not just hagiographies, for those are too often morally simple and neglect the real struggles and sins of the saints in the time before they were saints; and certainly not the luridly immoral monstrosities that one easily finds when looking for fiction about cloistered religious. I wanted challenging, beautiful, captivating books that simply had the divine romance of the religious life, rather than human marriage, as their theme. I wanted good books about nuns.
And, although God turned me aside from the path to religious life for other reasons, I have found some such books and enjoyed them greatly. Below are three book suggestions, although I hope and believe that this is not a comprehensive list.