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Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy

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This book is meant to give someone in the process of making a life decision at any age—in early adulthood, at the point of middle-age change and later, when we find ourselves at the crossroads without a name—some ideas against which to pit their own minds, their own circumstances. Its purpose, as they wrestle with the process of trying to find and follow their own special This book is meant to give someone in the process of making a life decision at any age—in early adulthood, at the point of middle-age change and later, when we find ourselves at the crossroads without a name—some ideas against which to pit their own minds, their own circumstances. Its purpose, as they wrestle with the process of trying to find and follow their own special call at this new stage of life, is to both provoke thinking and to clarify it. —Joan Chittister   In our modern and mobile society, the range of answers to the questions “What am I supposed to do with my life?” and “How do I know when I’ve found my purpose?” can seem endless and overwhelming. Following the Path by Sister Joan brings the insights of her years of teaching and contemplation to bear on this issue, providing readers with a new way forward. Through her examination of spiritual calling and gifts, change and discernment, she leads readers home to the place where, finally, we know we fit, where we are the fullest of ourselves and a gift to the world, a timely and much needed message that many will be happy to hear.


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This book is meant to give someone in the process of making a life decision at any age—in early adulthood, at the point of middle-age change and later, when we find ourselves at the crossroads without a name—some ideas against which to pit their own minds, their own circumstances. Its purpose, as they wrestle with the process of trying to find and follow their own special This book is meant to give someone in the process of making a life decision at any age—in early adulthood, at the point of middle-age change and later, when we find ourselves at the crossroads without a name—some ideas against which to pit their own minds, their own circumstances. Its purpose, as they wrestle with the process of trying to find and follow their own special call at this new stage of life, is to both provoke thinking and to clarify it. —Joan Chittister   In our modern and mobile society, the range of answers to the questions “What am I supposed to do with my life?” and “How do I know when I’ve found my purpose?” can seem endless and overwhelming. Following the Path by Sister Joan brings the insights of her years of teaching and contemplation to bear on this issue, providing readers with a new way forward. Through her examination of spiritual calling and gifts, change and discernment, she leads readers home to the place where, finally, we know we fit, where we are the fullest of ourselves and a gift to the world, a timely and much needed message that many will be happy to hear.

30 review for Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Happyreader

    As a non-Catholic, I have to thank the Catholic bishops’ scolding of the “radical feminist” nuns for introducing me to the writings of the "unofficial spokesman of the extreme feminist left" Benedictine sister Joan Chittister. In this thoughtful book on finding your calling or purpose in life, she’s less firebrand and more confident wise woman wishing to share what she’s learned in 70+ years about the basis for true happiness and contentment. Bottom line, her message is no more radical than each As a non-Catholic, I have to thank the Catholic bishops’ scolding of the “radical feminist” nuns for introducing me to the writings of the "unofficial spokesman of the extreme feminist left" Benedictine sister Joan Chittister. In this thoughtful book on finding your calling or purpose in life, she’s less firebrand and more confident wise woman wishing to share what she’s learned in 70+ years about the basis for true happiness and contentment. Bottom line, her message is no more radical than each one of us is given unique gifts. Our mission in life, if we’re attentive, patient, and brave enough, is to find a way to use those gifts for the benefit of others. A gentle reminder that it isn’t our paychecks but our contributions to improving the lives of others that satisfy our souls. God, if not the bishops, would approve of that message.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I have read more than ten books by Joan Chittister and this one belongs with my top three: Breath of the Soul, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily. This book deals with the sense of meaning or call and applies to three separate stages in life: the first call in our twenties;the mid-life call when we examine where we have arrived and the call post-retirement while we still have so much more life to live and more to contribute. This book energized me and renewed my determination to live a passionate l I have read more than ten books by Joan Chittister and this one belongs with my top three: Breath of the Soul, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily. This book deals with the sense of meaning or call and applies to three separate stages in life: the first call in our twenties;the mid-life call when we examine where we have arrived and the call post-retirement while we still have so much more life to live and more to contribute. This book energized me and renewed my determination to live a passionate life. I cannot recommend it enough.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Denise Hoecker

    I keep thinking these books are going to unlock the magic secret but they don't. I did think this book had a good message - your calling doesn't have to be what you do with your entire life. Your job can enable you to do something that would be your calling. That makes sense. I keep thinking these books are going to unlock the magic secret but they don't. I did think this book had a good message - your calling doesn't have to be what you do with your entire life. Your job can enable you to do something that would be your calling. That makes sense.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    There are a few volumes I set aside on my shelf for lending out to those I meet who are seeking the courage to pursue their calling, though that calling demands risking social or financial success, or is separated from their paid labor. Chittister's will join that collection, as she sets forth teaching that gifts are what you must share, because to do otherwise is a diminishment of your whole self, and that calling is pursuing ways you can share those gifts. She is brilliantly clear about the di There are a few volumes I set aside on my shelf for lending out to those I meet who are seeking the courage to pursue their calling, though that calling demands risking social or financial success, or is separated from their paid labor. Chittister's will join that collection, as she sets forth teaching that gifts are what you must share, because to do otherwise is a diminishment of your whole self, and that calling is pursuing ways you can share those gifts. She is brilliantly clear about the difference between vocation and paid work, recognizing that for a great many of us -- even professed religious -- paid work can and does allow the pursuit of our calling, but is itself not that astounding luxury of being both work and calling.

  5. 4 out of 5

    ShaunMS

    I'm sad about how much I didn't like this book. At first I thought it was just that it wasn't the type of book I was looking for. But it's not good. I'm writing a review just to save time for someone else. I kept reading and reading, thinking that surely a book by Joan Chittister, a widely read author I respect, must get better and have a little more substance. It did not. It does not. I'm sad about how much I didn't like this book. At first I thought it was just that it wasn't the type of book I was looking for. But it's not good. I'm writing a review just to save time for someone else. I kept reading and reading, thinking that surely a book by Joan Chittister, a widely read author I respect, must get better and have a little more substance. It did not. It does not.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kate Mayberry

    AMAZING, LIFE- ALTERING BOOK! This was not a book I could whip through. Every sentence made me think.I have renewed it 3 times from the library, and now that I have finally finished it, I am buying my own copy. Both a comforting and motivating force. LOVED IT!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    How can one turn from the advice of a master, who puts forth enough light to show that there is a path to travel, without judging what that path might be. The call is unique and the author assures us that it is worth heeding.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    This is another of the books that I read for my vocation study. I am so glad that this book was included. First of all, I find Chittister to be an excellent writer. She is about twenty years older than I am and I find her work to be helpful as I explore each stage of life. She has been where I am headed. The other reason I am grateful for this book is that it is the only book we are reading written by a woman. Given that over half of us in Vocare are women, this seems important to me. I have enou This is another of the books that I read for my vocation study. I am so glad that this book was included. First of all, I find Chittister to be an excellent writer. She is about twenty years older than I am and I find her work to be helpful as I explore each stage of life. She has been where I am headed. The other reason I am grateful for this book is that it is the only book we are reading written by a woman. Given that over half of us in Vocare are women, this seems important to me. I have enough trouble with the fact that God is always referred to as male, it would be impossible for me to participate if we didn't include women's voices. Chittister writes about the process of finding "passion, purpose and joy" in this work. Each chapter starts with a quote from a seeker and ends with another quote or a proverb. The latter are usually from a well-known source or person. I found both sets of quotations useful - it was interesting to hear from my contemporaries as well as "famous" people. I believe that most books about seeking purpose have similar goals. How they differ usually depends on where the author is coming from. Chittister's faith is an important part of all her writing. If you no interest in Christianity, this book may not be for you. However, if you have faith in some religion and you are exploring your call, you may be able to take what Chittister says and adapt it to your circumstances.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jaci

    A feminist, Benedictine nun, Joan Chittister is a personal favorite and this one doesn't disappoint. Her encouraging words about passionate engagement with life, regardless of age, are appreciated. p.17: Planning for a new tomorrow in the midst of an overwhelming present overwhelms the soul. p.49: Or even later, at another stage of life, if my professional years have, for all practical purposes, come to an end, what is stopping me now from developing the parts in me that lie untested and untried-- A feminist, Benedictine nun, Joan Chittister is a personal favorite and this one doesn't disappoint. Her encouraging words about passionate engagement with life, regardless of age, are appreciated. p.17: Planning for a new tomorrow in the midst of an overwhelming present overwhelms the soul. p.49: Or even later, at another stage of life, if my professional years have, for all practical purposes, come to an end, what is stopping me now from developing the parts in me that lie untested and untried--except perhaps the bogus notion that life ends with commercial retirement. p.69: As if a job and what we're really supposed to be doing with our lives were the same thing. p.89: Enough shovels of earth, a mountain. Enough pails of water, a river. -- Chinese proverb p.156: Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. -- Joseph Addison p.180: The only answer, then, to the question of whether we should start over again is to do what we must in every stage and be ready, when the time comes, to go on living fully in the next one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I first saw Sister Joan D. Chittister interviewed by Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday TV show on OWN and I was impressed and inspired by her soulful and spiritual revelations.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gay Ann

    What am I really meant to do? This inspirational title is about discovering and pursuing what we are called to do in this life. For anyone at a crossroads in their life where a major decision must be made, the author gives several ideas to consider. Readers are asked to reflect on a series of timely questions. There is a discussion on issues where the reader finds what it takes to discover ones passion and gifts, then to match them with the needs of the world. Chittister, a wisdom figure of our What am I really meant to do? This inspirational title is about discovering and pursuing what we are called to do in this life. For anyone at a crossroads in their life where a major decision must be made, the author gives several ideas to consider. Readers are asked to reflect on a series of timely questions. There is a discussion on issues where the reader finds what it takes to discover ones passion and gifts, then to match them with the needs of the world. Chittister, a wisdom figure of our time and co chair of Global Peace Initiative of Woman, leads one to finding direction and meaning in life, providing us with a place to start and gather hope for life’s journey.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Sims

    This was the first book by Sister Joan Cittister that I have read. Several friends and co-workers recommended her writing. At first I was taken by surprise that the book was low on practical applications. There are no lists, no worksheets, not even any questions to ponder/discuss at the end of the chapters. Seems like most career or even spiritual direction books are full of those. In the end, I was thankful for her gentle and insightful writing style. What stayed with me most formed the three s This was the first book by Sister Joan Cittister that I have read. Several friends and co-workers recommended her writing. At first I was taken by surprise that the book was low on practical applications. There are no lists, no worksheets, not even any questions to ponder/discuss at the end of the chapters. Seems like most career or even spiritual direction books are full of those. In the end, I was thankful for her gentle and insightful writing style. What stayed with me most formed the three sections of the book review that I posted on The High Calling website linked below. http://www.thehighcalling.org/work/bo...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Much wisdom in this short book about finding and following your passion and purpose. Chittister presents this lifelong pursuit as a spiritual struggle not as merely finding a career or job--a struggle to find within your soul the light that that the world needs. This is a person's urgent quest: be your full self for your sake and the world's. She includes many fine quotes from great writers throughout the book. This one from Hermann Hesse stopped my heart: “We have to stumble through so much dir Much wisdom in this short book about finding and following your passion and purpose. Chittister presents this lifelong pursuit as a spiritual struggle not as merely finding a career or job--a struggle to find within your soul the light that that the world needs. This is a person's urgent quest: be your full self for your sake and the world's. She includes many fine quotes from great writers throughout the book. This one from Hermann Hesse stopped my heart: “We have to stumble through so much dirt and humbug before we reach home. And we have no one to guide us. Our only guide is our homesickness.”

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christine Hiester

    I really love Ms. Chittister's deep, philosophical reflections on pursuing call– what that actually means, the reality of call as a lifelong pursuit (not a once-and-done phenomenon)– and the anecdotes and stories that she uses to support her thoughts. This book obviously came out of a life well-lived and deeply analyzed. It's not a 5 for me because I couldn't always connect with the sometimes rambly and redundant nature of the writing. Yet there has not been a book in recent years from which I h I really love Ms. Chittister's deep, philosophical reflections on pursuing call– what that actually means, the reality of call as a lifelong pursuit (not a once-and-done phenomenon)– and the anecdotes and stories that she uses to support her thoughts. This book obviously came out of a life well-lived and deeply analyzed. It's not a 5 for me because I couldn't always connect with the sometimes rambly and redundant nature of the writing. Yet there has not been a book in recent years from which I have copied as many quotes. I'm looking forward to reading more from Sr. Joan and am inspired to lean more intentionally into my own call after reading this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    Joan Chittister is a Benedictine nun who is extremely passionate about people actively developing their spirituality both from a feminist and global perspective. Here is a series of essays about seeking a life of purpose at various stages of life. This is both calming and inspiring as she assures us that we already know what brings us satisfaction; we simply need to ask, seek, pay attention and recognize the experiences that fit who we are and what we value in order to leave this world a better Joan Chittister is a Benedictine nun who is extremely passionate about people actively developing their spirituality both from a feminist and global perspective. Here is a series of essays about seeking a life of purpose at various stages of life. This is both calming and inspiring as she assures us that we already know what brings us satisfaction; we simply need to ask, seek, pay attention and recognize the experiences that fit who we are and what we value in order to leave this world a better place.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Joan takes the reader on journey to understand why finding our purpose in life is important to a meaningful life. She doesn't tell you step by step but rather poses questions to reflect on, shares stories, and allows the reader to spend time in self-reflection. The last chapter ties together how each of us can truly follow the path. An excellent read at any age! I am glad for the opportunity to read this from Goodreads. Joan takes the reader on journey to understand why finding our purpose in life is important to a meaningful life. She doesn't tell you step by step but rather poses questions to reflect on, shares stories, and allows the reader to spend time in self-reflection. The last chapter ties together how each of us can truly follow the path. An excellent read at any age! I am glad for the opportunity to read this from Goodreads.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Quick, easy, but thought-provoking read for anyone wanting to reflect on their path in life. Chittister tackles the questions of purpose, call, passion, using one's talents and gifts, knowing if you are truly doing what God has called you to do, and so on. As she says, the book is great for any stage of life and is well-attuned to how these questions morph over the course of life. Many snippets of writing in here to come back to and re-read. Quick, easy, but thought-provoking read for anyone wanting to reflect on their path in life. Chittister tackles the questions of purpose, call, passion, using one's talents and gifts, knowing if you are truly doing what God has called you to do, and so on. As she says, the book is great for any stage of life and is well-attuned to how these questions morph over the course of life. Many snippets of writing in here to come back to and re-read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    I like the ideas in this book about finding one's calling. However, I don't know if it's just me, but for such a respected and prolific author, she seemed to repeat herself. A lot! I think it could have been a booklet instead of a book. Nevertheless, I took away some good thoughts about finding and keeping a sense of purpose in one's life, no matter what your age. I like the ideas in this book about finding one's calling. However, I don't know if it's just me, but for such a respected and prolific author, she seemed to repeat herself. A lot! I think it could have been a booklet instead of a book. Nevertheless, I took away some good thoughts about finding and keeping a sense of purpose in one's life, no matter what your age.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    A little bit of a one-note samba, though I found it helpful at this particular time. If emphasizes discovering who you are and what you have a passion to do within the context of contributing to the community on whatever scale. It has a definite spiritual emphasis, though not emphasizing any particular religion.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Blake Gilmore

    I don't know if the woman who wrote this is English but I DO know her name is Joan Chittister. Within the first 50 pages this book has brought me so much clarity and delight that I found myself screaming aloud in an English accent "JOAN CHITTISTAAAAAAH" (don't worry I didn't bother anyone else I live in the woods.) I don't know if the woman who wrote this is English but I DO know her name is Joan Chittister. Within the first 50 pages this book has brought me so much clarity and delight that I found myself screaming aloud in an English accent "JOAN CHITTISTAAAAAAH" (don't worry I didn't bother anyone else I live in the woods.)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Interesting book. What does one do with one's life? Never too late to find one's path, your purpose in life. This is basically the gentler version of What is Your Purpose in Life? That's what this book addresses with lots of inspiration along the way. Nothing dramatically new, just encouragement and examples. Interesting book. What does one do with one's life? Never too late to find one's path, your purpose in life. This is basically the gentler version of What is Your Purpose in Life? That's what this book addresses with lots of inspiration along the way. Nothing dramatically new, just encouragement and examples.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    A thoughtful book about searching for life's passion. I loved the quotes that started and ended each chapter. One of my favorite quotes, "Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us." Great gift for anyone in transition. A thoughtful book about searching for life's passion. I loved the quotes that started and ended each chapter. One of my favorite quotes, "Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us." Great gift for anyone in transition.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    This would make a good book for a graduate, a person who is in transition, a person who wants to make a life change. The main thesis is that your life will be a happy one if you have passion and purpose, if you work at something that is truly meaningful to you and helps out others.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    A disappointment. I kept wondering why I wasn't getting into it and then I realized I had hoped for more stories of people who had followed their path. Maybe someone who has not yet experienced a life of passion may find this interesting but it still would have been great to have some examples. A disappointment. I kept wondering why I wasn't getting into it and then I realized I had hoped for more stories of people who had followed their path. Maybe someone who has not yet experienced a life of passion may find this interesting but it still would have been great to have some examples.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    This book is filled with "food for thought" . . . I made note of many passages in my personal journal in order to be able to go back and reflect. A wonderful reminder that our lives have great meaning. This book is filled with "food for thought" . . . I made note of many passages in my personal journal in order to be able to go back and reflect. A wonderful reminder that our lives have great meaning.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    Saw an interview with the author and was immediately inspired. She wants to challenge those of us who've reached a certain age to strive for a greater life, and not to sit back and settle into a comfortable old age. (Why else did we gain all this experience?) Just the butt-kicking I needed. Saw an interview with the author and was immediately inspired. She wants to challenge those of us who've reached a certain age to strive for a greater life, and not to sit back and settle into a comfortable old age. (Why else did we gain all this experience?) Just the butt-kicking I needed.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sam Burns

    Standing at what I feel is a major crossroads in my life, I set out reading this book hoping to gain some insight for following my path post-graduation. Sister Joan does not disappoint. Her wisdom and zeal jump off the pages, guiding you to understand your call and helping you to pursue it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cate

    Great insights, at all phases of life's journey. A helpful compass to aid in measuring your internal spiritual direction and external expression of gifts. Would be a great gift for graduates, but also for anyone who finds themselves a bit wandering through life. Great insights, at all phases of life's journey. A helpful compass to aid in measuring your internal spiritual direction and external expression of gifts. Would be a great gift for graduates, but also for anyone who finds themselves a bit wandering through life.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pvivirito

    Spiritual based approach to entering second half of life. I thought there was some repetition re: insights of the author. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it helpful in my life.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I'm a sucker for finding ur path books. I think I need 2 read it again. There was a lot 2 think abt. I'm a sucker for finding ur path books. I think I need 2 read it again. There was a lot 2 think abt.

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