Wisdom from the Saints


The Father takes pleasure in looking upon the heart of the most holy Virgin Mary, as the masterpiece of his hands…The Son takes pleasure in it as the heart of his Mother, the source from which he drew the blood that has ransomed us.
– St. John Vianney (1786-1859)

After a few emails asking for recommendations last week, I suggested a few books on Saints for your reading pleasure. One of those I recommended was Ben Ghezzi’s The Voices of the Saints: A Year of Readings. I called it “a meticulously researched and cross-referenced book of saints for grown-ups.”

I used to keep the book on our coffee table, where my then-teens would pick it up and peruse. It’s been in the bookshelf for a little while, but after posting on it, I pulled it down and immediately became once-again engrossed in this unique collection of remarkable witnesses. I was surprised to discover that Ghezzi had included Pier Giorgio Frassati among his subjects; you do know I think I “discovered” him, right? Funnily enough, once I read the entry I recalled having read it before, but I suppose God opens your eyes to some things only when you are ready to see them.

Anyhow, here are a few good lines from a few great saints; I hope they are useful to you:

On detachment:

Once Macarius directed a young seeker to go to a cemetery and upbraid the dead. Then to go and flatter them. “What answer did they dead give you?” he asked. “None at all,” said the youth. “Then go and learn never to let abuse or flattery move you. If you die to the world and yourself, you will begin to live for Christ.”
– St. Macarius the Great (300?-390)

On the accessibility of faith:

Christ is more easily possessed than a bit of thread or straw. A single wish, a sigh, is sufficient.
– St. Mechtild of Helfta (1241?-1298)

On suffering:

During painful times, when you feel a terrible void, think how God is enlarging the capacity of your soul so that it can receive him – making it, as it were, infinite as he is infinite. Look upon each pain as a love token coming to you directly from God in order to unite you to him.
– Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906)

On Smugness:

Judas was in the company of the disciples and the robber was in the company of killers, yet what a turnabout there was when the decisive moment arrived!
– St. John Climacus (579?-649)

On Self-Will:

We have nothing of our own but our will. It is the only thing that God has so placed in our own power that we can make an offering of it to him.
– St. John Vianney (1786-1859)

On Worldly Illusions:

The great truth that God is all, and the rest nothing, becomes the life of the soul, and upon it one can lean securely amide the incomprehensible mysteries of this world.
– Bl. Mary Teresa de Soubiran (1835-1889)

On patience:

Sometimes listening to people becomes monotonous and extremely boring, till one is nearly collapsing; but in such cases it helps to remember that even when Jesus was about to fall the third time, he patiently consoled the women-folk and children of his persecutors, making no exceptions. How can we ever be as grateful as we ought for such a vocation?
– Ven. Solanus Casey (1870-1957)

About Elizabeth Scalia

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