Following all the events of household week, there is one resounding plea that I have for all those who are looking into households: Joining a household should not be discerned like you discern religious life.
Some new students will be chomping at the bit for homecoming week when they will first be allowed to join households. Screams of joy will erupt in the dorms and more dazed, yet excited, individuals will appear wearing brightly-colored home-designed T-shirts with catchy puns about the name of their prospective household. Room doors will be decorated with signs made of construction paper and common rooms will feel more full during commitments.
As a member of household, I can say that there is nothing more exciting then welcoming a new sister to our crazy family. We want to spend time getting to know her, teach her our ways and spoil her a little bit with gifts and treats.
When I arrived at Franciscan as a freshman, I knew I wanted to join a household. The ideas of sisterhood and accountability really drew me. But I thought I would want to wait a semester or two before joining a household.
I figured that I needed to get used to the rhythm of my classes and activities before I joined, but quickly realized that if I wanted household to be an integral part of my experience at Franciscan, I had to look seriously at households as soon as I arrived. I was lucky to find a household I liked within my first month at the university. (It helped that I did some research online over the summer.)
One of the most unique things about Franciscan is Household Life. Since they were founded over 40 years ago, households have evolved into an integral part of Franciscan Student Life. Households are great for spiritual accountability, fraternity and having a place to escape from the stresses of school and family life. I don’t know what I would do without my sisters. I’m so grateful for them.
I am not disregarding the importance of carefully choosing a household. You should carefully and prayerfully discern which household you want to join. You should spend time with the covenant to decide that it’s really something to which you feel you can commit. You should spend time with the household members to discover if you can accept them as your sisters or brothers.
But to spend multiple semesters fretting over a decision that will ultimately directly affect you for only a few short years results in a lot of lost time.
I recognize that household isn’t for everybody. I’ve had a lot of friends at Franciscan who visited households, but didn’t quite feel drawn to them, and there is nothing wrong with that.
But to go through a long rigorous process of discernment when you know in your heart which household you want to join is a waste of energy. Instead of asking yourself, “Should I join this household?” ask yourself, “What is stopping me from joining this household?”
The devil knows how good households are and he will stop at nothing to keep people from harvesting the fruit of household life. Don’t give into the temptation that you won’t belong. Households want to have you. They are excited to have you.
There is a reason the intent process exists. Along with formation, it is meant to be a part of your discernment. If at any point there is realization that the household you’ve chosen is not the right one, it’s okay to back out. All intents have the freedom to do that.
And remember, household will only be a part of your life for, at maximum, four years. Yes, the friendships you make will last for a lifetime, but the actual processes of attending Lord’s Day, Household Life Mass and other commitments are only four years of your life. That is really a small part of your grand spiritual journey.