Saints’ Quotes for Trials and Sufferings

Sufferings include not only the difficulties of daily labours, but also holy inconvenience like self-denial, self-sacrifice, patience, humility, and obedience.

In no particular rank.

1. “Fire cannot last long in water, nor can a shameful thought in a heart that loves God. For every man who loves God suffers gladly, and voluntary suffering is by nature the enemy of sensual pleasure.” -St. Mark the Ascetic

2. “Be very careful to retain peace of heart, because Satan casts his lines in troubled waters.” -St. Paul of the Cross

3. “If you purify your soul of attachment to and desire for things, you will understand them spiritually. If you deny your appetite for them, you will enjoy their truth, understanding what is certain in them.” -St. John of the Cross

4. “Do not put faith in constant happiness, and fear most when all smiles upon you.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola

5. “Patience obtains everything.” -St. Teresa of Avila

6. “Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow; the same Everlasting Father Who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” -St. Francis de Sales

7. “If you attach your heart to certain places and occupations, obedience oftentimes places you in some other place that you may not like; to be always cheerful, be always humble and obedient.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola

8. “When harmed, insulted or persecuted by someone, do not think of the present but wait for the future, and you will find he has brought you much good, not only in this life but also in the life to come.” -St. Mark the Ascetic

9. “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.” -St. Catherine of Siena

10. “No man discovers anything big if he does not make himself small.” -Ven. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

11. “Don’t say: ‘That person gets on my nerves.’ Think: ‘That person sanctifies me.'” -St. Josemaria Escriva

12. “We put pride into everything like salt. We like to see that our good works are known. If our virtues are seen, we are pleased; if our faults are perceived, we are sad. I remark that in a great many people; if one says anything to them, it disturbs them, it annoys them. The saints were not like that—they were vexed if their virtues were known, and pleased that their imperfections should be seen.” -St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney

13. “Place your hopes in the mercy of God and the merits of our Redeemer; say often, looking at the crucifix: There are centered all my hopes.” -St. Paul of the Cross

14. “The greater and more persistent your confidence in God, the more abundantly you will receive all that you ask.” -St. Albert the Great

15. “Be gentle to all and stern with yourself.” -St. Teresa of Avila

16. “Obedience is the complete renunciation of one’s own soul, demonstrated, however, by actions. More exactly, it is the death of the senses in a living soul. Obedience is a freely chosen death, a life without cares, danger without fears, unshakable trust in God, no fear of death. It is a voyage without perils, a journey in your sleep. Obedience is the burial of the will and the resurrection of humility. Obedience is to give up one’s own judgement but to do it with wise consultation. It is very costly, beginning to die to the will and the senses. To continue dying is hard but not indefinitely so. In the end all aversion stops and absolute peace takes command.” -St. John Climacus

17. “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” -St. Augustine

18. “Suffering is the very best gift He has to give us. He gives it only to His chosen friends.” -St. Therese of Lisieux

19. “Blessed the one who continually humbles himself willingly; he will be crowned by the One who willingly humbled himself for our sake.” -St. Ephrem of Syria

20. “When we have to reply to anyone who has insulted us, we should be careful to do it always with gentleness. A soft answer extinguishes the fire of wrath.” -St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

21. “Humility if the true guardian of chastity.” -St. Philip Neri

22. “God sends such purgations to you, directors of consciences, that you may acquire the science of the saints and the art of directing souls. You will suffer also in another way. Love will be your executioner. Let it do its work; it knows how. In this martyrdom we have need of extraordinary grace and strength; but God will bestow it. Without this divine help it would be impossible to bear up.” -St Paul of the Cross

23. “We must submit to the Will of God and kiss the hand that strikes us, for we know it is better to suffer in this life than in the next, since one moment of suffering willingly accepted for the love God, is worth an eternity of happiness.” -St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

24. “The more the intellect withdraws from bodily cares, the more clearly it sees the craftiness of the enemy.” -St. Mark the Ascetic

25. “They who load us with insults and ignominies give us the means of acquiring treasures more precious than any that man can gain in this life.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola

26. “We should let God be the One to praise us and not praise ourselves.” -Pope St. Clement I

27. “If humble souls are contradicted, they remain calm; if they are calumniated, they suffer with patience; if they are little esteemed, neglected, or forgotten, they consider that their due; if they are weighed down with occupations, they perform them cheerfully.” -St. Vincent de Paul

28. “Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending.” -St. Augustine

29. “Humility is the mother of many virtues because from it obedience, fear, reverence, patience, modesty, meekness and peace are born.” -St. Thomas of Villanova

30. “Consider the outcome of every involuntary affliction, and you will find it has been the destruction of sin.” -St. Mark the Ascetic

31. “I often thought my constitution would never endure the work I had to do, (but) the Lord said to me: ‘Daughter, obedience gives strength.'” -St. Teresa of Avila

32. “Don’t give in to discouragement. If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about people’s opinions. Be obedient to truth. For with humble obedience, you will never be disturbed.” -Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

33. “As iron is fashioned by fire and on the anvil, so in the fire of suffering and under the weight of trials, our souls receive that form which our Lord desires them to have.” -St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

34. “Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent.” -St. John of the Cross

35. “If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola

36. “Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Saviour; in suffering love becomes crystallised; the greater the suffering, the purer the love.” -St. Faustina

37. “Trials are nothing else but the forge that purifies the soul of all its imperfections.” -St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

38. “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” -St. Francis de Sales

39. “Be at peace with your own soul, then heaven and earth will be at peace with you.” -St. Jerome

40. “She who desires peace must see, suffer and be silent.” -St. Teresa Margaret

41. “He who knows how to forgive prepares for himself many graces from God. As often as I look upon the cross, so often will I forgive with all my heart.” -St. Faustina

42. “Peace is not just the absence of war. Like a cathedral, peace must be constructed patiently and with unshakable faith.” -Blessed Pope John Paul II

43. “The greatest greatest honor God can do for a soul is not to give it much, but to ask much of it.” -St. Therese of Lisieux

44. “We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials.” -St. Teresa of Avila

45. “When it is all over you will not regret having suffered; rather you will regret having suffered so little, and suffered that little so badly.” -St. Sebastian Valfre

46. “Suffering borne in the will quietly and patiently is a continual, very powerful prayer before God.” -St. Jane Frances de Chantal

47. “Thank God I am deemed worthy to be hated by the world.” -St. Jerome

48. “It is good to think about our having our citizenship in Heaven and the saints of Heaven as our fellow citizens…Then it is easier to bear the things that are on Earth.” -St. Edith Stein

49. “The angels and the saints rejoice at the sight of men on earth who struggle, suffer and labor for the love of Christ.” -Blessed Rafel Arnaiz Baron

50. “He that rises after his falls, with confidence in God and profound humility of heart, will become, in God’s hands, a proper instrument for the accomplishment of great things; but he who acts otherwise can never do any good.” -St. Paul of the Cross


You were chosen to be a saint

by  Fr. Steve Grunow

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints. The Saints are the great heroes of our Faith. The Church describes a Saint as a person of “heroic virtue”.   This means that while many Christians might be willing to settle for lackluster accomplishments as disciples, the Saints engage their relationship with the Lord Jesus vigorous creativity and absolute dedication. Most often, the work of the Saints will go unnoticed and unseen. Saints are not celebrities, and those Saints who capture the attention of the world, view that renown as the imposition of a cross.

Most Saints will disappear into the mission of the Church.

In heaven, we will know the profound impact thousands of hidden Saints had on our lives, but here on earth, as I said, most of the Saints move about and work among us, and do so for the most part unnoticed and unseen.

The work of the Saints is not completed with their deaths. The Saints know better than most Christians that life here in this world is not merely an end in itself, but a means by which God prepares us for a greater and more important mission in heaven. No one who is in Heaven is indolent. Heaven is not a place of indifference to this world but one of interaction and intercession. This means that the Saints continue their mission as disciples of the Lord Jesus, supporting and sustaining the Church, acting to help and support all the baptized.

The first scripture for today’s Mass of All Saints is an excerpt from the New Testament Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation is one of the most mysterious, complex, and misunderstood books of the Bible. It is a theological commentary on events from the past, present and future and it communicates important spiritual insights through fantastic images and symbols. The common impression is that the Book of Revelation is about the end of the world, and as such people are often terrified by its content.

But, properly understood, the Book of Revelation is not simply frightening, but reassuring, as it foresees the victory of God in Christ over all the dark powers, worldly and otherworldly that oppose him.

The Book of Revelation is not simply about the end of the world, but the beginning of a new world in which the great enemies of God, and therefore the enemies of humanity are defeated by the power of God in Christ. These enemies are sin, death and the devil.

The conflict between the dark powers of sin, death and the devil has consequences for the Church as it engages her mission in the world. The Church is opposed as Christ was opposed. The Church suffers as Christ suffered. And in all this, the Saints are on the front lines of the battle.

The Book of Revelation displays all that I just described in symbolic or metaphorical terms. What you heard about was a vast assembly of people from all over the world, clothed in white, who proclaim the coming victory of God in Christ. Who are these people? The text tells us- they are Christians whose heroism was revealed in their willingness to be killed rather than renounce their Christian Faith or cooperate with the dark powers.

Thus, our first scripture for today is about a particular kind of Saint- the martyr. We live even right now in an age of martyrs as multitudes of Christians in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are persecuted and killed because they are disciples of the Lord Jesus. We might think that the greatest challenge to the Church today is whether or not we should conform to secular values, but far more important than this is the brutal fact that for millions of Christians, professing and practicing the Christian Faith can cost you not just your livelihood, but also your very life.

On this day when the Church celebrates the Saints, it would be good for us to remember, that what is demanded of us as followers of the Lord Jesus is often times far less than what it demanded of others.

We are not compelled by circumstances to die for our Faith in Christ, but are we willing to live for it? If our sacrifice is not to be that of a martyr, what is the sacrifice we will offer?

Our second scripture is a brief passage from the First Letter of John, in which the evangelist articulates an important insight about our identity as Christians. We are not as Christians merely members of a faith-based social club, an ethnic or cultural association, political action committee, or supporters of a 501C3 non-for-profit initiative. In the words of Pope Francis, the Church is not an “NGO”- a non-governmental social service organization.

What are we then? The evangelist John tells us- we are the children of God.

This means that God has made us in Christ his beloved children, and just as children are an expression of their parents love, so too Christians are meant to be for the world an expression of God in Christ’s love.

Being a child of God, means aspiring to be like the One who is revealed to be God’s only beloved Son- Jesus Christ. Being a child of God is not just some privileged title, but a responsibility, an identity, a mission that a Christian accepts. The Christian, as a child of God, is meant to be an expression to others of Christ himself. Thus, when a Christian is baptized, he or she is proclaimed to be what is termed an “alter Christus”, that literally means “another Christ”.

The Saints are expressions of Christ-likeness par excellence. The Saints “re-present” Christ to us and through the Saints Christ acts and introduces himself to us. Saints are not just nice, friendly people who do good things for society, but they are Christians who aspiring to serve Christ as disciples, are given the gift of becoming ever more and more like him.

And that observation brings me to an important clarification: when a Christian is baptized, what is happening to that person is not just inclusion into a community. No!

What happens when a Christian is baptized is that person is chosen as Christ to be like him- a person is chosen by Christ to be a Saint. The realization of your life as a Christian is not simply that you become a member of a faith based club or matriculate through faith-based institutions, but that you become a Saint. That’s what Baptism is all about, indeed, that’s what the Sacraments are about, indeed what the whole life of the Church is about. Being a Christian is about being chosen by Christ to be a Saint. “You have not chosen Christ, he has chosen you!” You will never begin to understand what the Christian life is all about until you understand this universal summons to holiness, this summons to be a Christian, which is God in Christ choosing you to be a Saint!

Finally, in his Gospel, the Lord Jesus presents what are known as “The Beatitudes”- a proclamation of those who are truly blessed by God and who enjoy God’s favor.

In worldly terms the blessing of God, the favor of God is many times construed in categories of worldly success or exemption from the harder facts of human existence. Some consider God’s blessing to being the recipient of prosperity and wealth, talent and good looks, power and prestige. God’s favor happens, according to some, when they are exempt from having to suffer or to struggle. Christ the Lord upends these kinds of expectations, and declares that the blessing of God and the favor of God is given, not to those who have the most, but those who have the least; not to those whom the world esteems as successful, but to those who seem to the world to have failed; not to those who have power, but to those who seem to have no power at all; not to those whom the world considers to be significant or influential, but to those who go mostly unnoticed and unappreciated.

In other words, in his Beatitudes, God in Christ announces a revolution!

Blessing is not getting what we want, but having the opportunity to give to others what they truly need. God’s favor is not an exemption from the hard facts of life, but God’s favor is found within the hard facts of life.

The Saints will exemplify in their lives the Beatitudes of the Lord Jesus, their blessing and favor will look like the strange blessing and favor that the Lord Jesus describes. The Saints will not only exemplify the Beatitudes in the decisions they make about the way they live, but also in whom they will seek to serve and choose to associate with. The Saints will seek the company of the kinds of people that Christ describes in his Beatitudes.

Consider the decisions you have made about your life. Have these decisions made you a person whose life looks like the life described in the Beatitudes? Consider the people with whom you associate and whom you esteem. Are these people like the people described in the Beatitudes?

And in our answers to these questions is the challenge for all of us would be saints, saints in the making- do our decisions make of us men and women of the Beatitudes? How many of the people that we seek the company of and consider to be our friends look and live like the kinds of people Christ describes as being truly deserving of his blessing and favor?


How 17 Saints Fought the Devil and Lived to Tell the Tale


Scripture, Church teaching and the writings of Church fathers and doctors affirm the existence of the Devil and other demons. So do the lives of the saints, and a new book by Dr. Paul Thigpen, called Saints Who Battled Satan, focuses on 17 of them — holy men and women whose battles with the demonic provide lessons and encouragement for Christians today.

Thigpen, editor of TAN Books, has published more than 40 books and hundreds of journal and magazine articles. A graduate of Yale University, he earned his PhD from Emory University and served on the faculty of several universities and colleges. Formerly an ordained Protestant pastor, Thigpen entered the Catholic Church in 1993. He recently spoke to Aleteia about Saints Who Battled Satan, which is a follow up to his recent book, Manual for Spiritual Warfare


Zoe Romanowsky: Many saints have wrestled with the devil or dealt with the evil one in some way. How did you choose which saints’ stories to highlight?

Paul Thigpen: It wasn’t easy! But several factors entered into the decision. First, to emphasize the universality of spiritual combat, I wanted to include saints from a variety of cultures and historical periods. The saints I chose hailed from two dozen nations in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America. They represent every century since the time of Our Lord, except for the current (and infant) 21st century.

A second factor was my concern to have stories and quotes that illustrate the principles laid out in [my previous book] Manual for Spiritual Warfare. I wanted readers to encounter real men and women who experienced both the ordinary and the extraordinary activity of the Devil, so they could see more clearly how he tempts and taunts and provokes us. I also wanted readers to see how the saints have employed spiritual weapons such as prayer, Scripture, the sacraments and sacramentals; how their virtues have served as their spiritual armor and how they have called on the assistance of their Commander, Jesus Christ, and their comrades in battle: the saints who had gone before them, especially Our Lady; the angels and their fellow Christians on earth.

A final factor in selection was, of course, the availability of biographical information relevant to spiritual warfare. For each of the saints, I needed access to texts that provided enough information for an entire chapter. Even so, because there were some great brief anecdotes and quotes from other saints that were too good to leave out, I added additional sections for these.

What are a couple of the most common ways Satan tempts or accosts us?

We typically can discern that a thought comes to us from outside ourselves when it comes by way of our senses: We see (perhaps read) it or hear it. But demons have no bodies, so they can communicate thoughts directly into our minds, bypassing the senses. This is a kind of stealth strategy, because if we aren’t discerning, we may assume that the thoughts they insinuate into our minds are actually our own thoughts, so we “own” them.

Satan typically tries to influence us through deception; accusation; doubts (especially about God or his love for us); provocation (to pride, anger, lust, despair, and more) and enticement (to desire what is forbidden, or to desire what is in itself good, but would be obtained by illicit means).

Is there a saint that stands out as having an unusual or innovative way of dealing with Satan?

I recall how one day the Devil sought to tempt St. Benedict to lust. The evil spirit brought to his remembrance an attractive woman he once knew, and the memory began to enflame his heart. Benedict was almost overcome by the passion. Just in time, he saw a nearby thicket full of nettles and briars. So he stripped off his habit and threw himself naked into the midst of those sharp, stinging thorns. He rolled around in them until his body was scratched all over — and the temptation was gone.

Are there certain saints we should turn to for certain kinds of temptations or problems, and can give you provide a couple of examples? 

Catholic tradition encourages us to appeal for assistance to saints who fought battles similar to ours. So when tempted to lust, I would choose St. Benedict; when provoked to anger, I would call on St. Jerome; when struggling with vainglory, St. Ignatius Loyola; discouragement, St. Teresa of Ávila; despair, St. (Padre) Pio; and so on.

If you could put a “spiritual toolkit” together and send it to people so they can combat and keep Satan away, what would be in it?

Well, I guess that’s precisely what I intended when I wrote a Manual for Spiritual Warfare. It provides an overview of the Church’s teaching about how we engage in spiritual combat, and it offers some “aids in battle” from the Church’s tradition: relevant magisterial teaching, scriptural texts, words and anecdotes from the lives of the saints, prayers, devotions and hymns.

What virtues are the most important in keeping evil at bay, and how do use them, in practical ways, to protect ourselves?

Since ancient times, a number of wise Christian spiritual advisors have counseled that humility is foundational for the virtues; it’s the soil in which all the other virtues grow. So I would emphasize that one above all others.

As a practical example of how humility can protect us from the snares of the Devil, consider the story told among the ancient fathers and mothers of the desert about a humble monk who was once in his cell praying. The Devil appeared to him disguised as an angel of light to tempt him to pride. He announced: “I am the angel Gabriel, and I have been sent to you!” But the humble monk was not deceived. He replied simply: “Better check and see: You must have been sent to someone else. I’m not worthy that an angel should be sent to me.” And so the Devil vanished — vanquished by the monk’s humility.

Why does Satan seem to “bug” some people more than others?

One pattern I noticed in the saints’ lives is this: If the Devil fears that someone will be doing great damage to his infernal kingdom, he goes after that person furiously. When St. Anthony demonstrated his resolve to live as a holy hermit in the desert, when St. Catherine consecrated herself to Christ as a child, when St. (Padre) Pio first entered the Capuchin religious order, that’s when the Enemy of their souls did his worst to stop them. He knew that if he could stymie such men and women, he could compromise the great works God had given them to do.

I think we should take comfort in that knowledge. If the Devil is fiercely opposing us, perhaps it means that God has great plans to use us. On the other hand, we should keep in mind the warning of St. John Vianney: “The greatest of all evils is not to be tempted, because then there are grounds for believing that the Devil looks upon us as his property.”

How can we know what comes from Satan and what doesn’t? How do we prevent ourselves from getting paranoid and overly focused on the evil one?

Scripture speaks of our ongoing battles with the world, the flesh and the Devil (see James 4:1–7). It’s true that at times our struggles with the flesh and the world may not be directly provoked by the Devil’s interference. Still, he takes advantage of those struggles and seeks to establish a stronger presence in our lives through them. So we need to pay close attention to his movements.

I think that if we can establish a habit of recognizing the source of our thoughts, the better part of the battle will be won. That kind of discernment is cultivated through the usual spiritual disciplines recommended to us by the Church: frequent prayer, Mass attendance and Eucharistic Adoration; regular reception of the sacraments (specially the Eucharist and Reconciliation); Scripture study (and even memorization) and wise counsel from trusted advisors.

Another pattern I noticed in the lives of the saints is their notable refusal to become paranoid about the Enemy. They were able to maintain confidence and courage because they were convinced, as St. John tells us, that greater is the God who is within us than the Evil One who is in the world (see 1 John 4:4). Though they took the Devil seriously, they also showed a kind of holy contempt for him, because they knew he is ultimately a defeated foe.

For this reason, despite sometimes intense, physically violent combat, some of the saints had playful nicknames for the evil spirit that tormented them. St. Catherine called him “the pickpocket” (because he tried to steal souls). St. Pio called him the “ogre.” St. Gemma Galgani called him “chiappino” (“burglar”). St. John Vianney called him “grappin” (“wrestler”). “Oh, the grappin and myself?” he once joked. “We are almost buddies!”

What do you think is the best way to convince someone that Satan exists and is operative?

When speaking with secular people, I would have them consider first the accumulated evidence of confirming testimony. Throughout history, people of vastly different cultures around the globe have affirmed the reality of evil spirits — even when they have disagreed about most other spiritual realities. Many of our contemporaries as well, who by any reasonable standard are intelligent and in their right mind, have testified to having encounters with demonic powers. It’s a kind of universal witness.

No doubt, some types of mental and physical illness have been wrongly attributed to demons, today as in the past. Nor can we deny that superstitions and legends about evil spirits abound. But these misguided ideas about the Devil don’t in themselves prove that he doesn’t exist, just as age-old beliefs about a flat earth don’t prove that our planet doesn’t exist.

Skeptics may demand “scientific” evidence. But what kind of relevant evidence would scientists be capable of measuring? The natural sciences measure time, matter, energy, and motion; the social sciences analyze human behavior. Demons have no physical bodies, and they aren’t human. We can’t put them in test tubes or subject them to psychoanalysis.

The most, then, that scientists can do is observe the effects of demons on the physical world or on human behavior. But the prevailing mentality among scientists will press them to seek other explanations for such phenomena, even when these explanations are utterly inadequate.

When speaking with Catholics, I would appeal to the numerous passages in the Bible that testify to the existence of the Devil and his evil allies. The Gospel accounts in particular record that Jesus Christ himself conversed with Satan. Our Lord’s debate with the Devil in the wilderness was not simply some inner dialogue with himself about temptation.

Christ referred to demons on a number of occasions, and casting evil spirits out of those who were possessed was a striking and indispensable aspect of his mission. Of course, some interpreters have claimed that when Christ cast out evil spirits, he was simply healing a physical or mental disorder misunderstood as demonic possession. But we need only reply that on at least one occasion, at Christ’s command, the demons left their human host to take possession of animals instead. You can’t cast a medical disorder out of a man into a pig.

The reality of demonic powers has been a constant doctrine of the Catholic Church ever since it was founded by Christ through his apostles. They and their successors spoke and wrote about Satan repeatedly. Through the centuries, the great teachers of the Church have consistently affirmed that he is real.

Satan’s existence has also been affirmed in authoritative declarations by popes and Church councils. He’s referred to in the liturgy of the Church. And as this book demonstrates, throughout the centuries numerous saints, whose moral integrity and mental health could hardly be debated, have testified to personal battles with demonic assailants.

In light of all this, to deny the existence of evil spirits seems to me to be an act of blind faith or wishful thinking in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The Formation of Saints: The Beatitudes Form Christ within Us

By Fr. John Henry Hanson, O. Praem.

“You have to be different from one another, as the saints in heaven are different, each having his own personal and special characteristics. But also as alike one another as the saints, who would not be saints if each of them had not identified himself with Christ.”

The Way, no. 947

The Gospel of the beatitudes, appointed for the solemnity of All Saints, is God’s prescription for human holiness and happiness (see Mt 5:1-12), but they aren’t things that would naturally be your “first pick.” Yet the Lord solemnly pronounces “blessed” those who accept and even seek many of the conditions that people try to avoid. How can this be? How can a certain kind of hunger lead to wholeness? Or a certain kind of sorrow to joy? Or purity of heart to the vision of God? Even the Scriptures record the complaint of the just man: “Is it in vain that I have kept my heart pure, washed my hands in innocence?” (Ps 73:13).

The beatitudes are the path, not the final goal, of the Christian life. To be perfectly “blessed” is to have unbroken, everlasting union with God—a truth Jesus plainly teaches us: “They shall see God” (cf. Mt 5:8). All other promises attached to the beatitudes—e.g., inheriting the earth, being children of God, obtaining mercy—are all ways of saying how the Blessed—the Saints in heaven—enjoy the vision of God. “One should know that one reward is pointed out by all these beatitudes,” comments St Thomas Aquinas.

The self-denial and privation counseled by our Lord comprise the narrow way to that “one reward,” which is God Himself. The poverty, the hunger, the sorrow—all of the experiences we would naturally rather avoid—put us in a state where nothing can be lost because everything is given, where nothing we possess can be stolen or decay, because God is our only possession: “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:26).

Correctly identifying the reward and taking the means to attain it, however, are not the same thing. There is a “holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). The whole scope of the Christian life is to be perfect with the perfection of God, holy with the very holiness of God. The beatitudes initiate us into this righteousness by reproducing the life of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, within our souls.

At first glance, the beatitudes might seem to be simply a Divine benediction given to struggles we already have or evils we already suffer or virtues we already possess. But they take us to a higher plane altogether. They give us an inner experience of what it means to be Christ ourselves. Sinners who strive to imitate Jesus experience the life of Jesus within through the poverty, purity, and humility of the beatitudes. Through them we come to know Christ by experience, as it were.

Just as He took upon Himself our humanity, becoming a slave for us, suffering all things for us, so do we in our own imperfect way “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” by way of the beatitudes, and so learn Christ firsthand (cf. Rm 13:14). We have to live like Jesus in order to know Him truly. Indeed the disciple, St Josemaria maintains, “has to be a soul who has undergone a long, patient and heroic process of formation” (cf. Furrow, no. 419), whose one goal is, as St Paul tells the Galatians, the formation of Christ within: “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!” (cf. Gal 4:19).

We need to take a difficult road to God—one that regularly contradicts our fallen nature by the demands of purity, poverty, humility, and the other challenges of the beatitudes. Going against ourselves in this world “fleshes out” what it means for us to be “little children” of God and, therefore, saints of God and imitators of Christ. By losing ourselves for Christ we find our true selves in Him—and as both children and aspiring saints, our profile needs to match the outlines drawn by Jesus in the beatitudes, because it is His own “profile.” There is none purer, poorer, more meek and merciful, than the Son of God Himself.

But Jesus is not simply proposing a series of practices to follow. Copying external actions, even those of Christ, will not entirely accomplish the changes that the Gospel demands. The Lord asks that our righteousness surpass that of those who possess an external perfection but who lack the interior devotion. Otherwise we can be as poor and sorrowful as we want on the outside, but not be formed by Christ on the inside, which is where the beatitudes must do their most important work.

When the Lord blesses those who hunger, the poor, the sorrowing, we should understand that He is talking not so much about an empty stomach, empty pockets, or just any kind of sadness that we might experience for whatever reason. Rather, the sometimes difficult and negative experiences that the beatitudes involve have to do mainly one positive thing for us: create within us an environment where Christ can live. To cultivate a spirit in which He can live in us, act through us, love through us is to share, here on earth, the life of the saints in heaven.

When St Paul makes claims such as: “I no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in me,” and “We have the mind of Christ,” (cf. Gal 2:20; Phil 2:16), he is making this very point. He is telling us that the beatitudes are having their intended effect in him, by producing a union with Christ so close that, together, He and the Apostle live one life. The disciple is conformed to his Master.

This conformity to Jesus is the basis for the final judgment that all Christians must undergo before we can see God. Thus, before we face God, we have to face ourselves in the mirror, so to speak, and ask if we are growing into the likeness of that Divine profile. The saint that I must become in imitation of Christ cannot be a shadow of the person He wants me to be or the caricature of a saint. He calls us solemnly by the beatitudes to become the genuine article.

The practical problem we face is not the lack of a definite model after which to pattern our lives. It’s true: I can’t look into the future and see a picture of my perfect self and follow a pre-written “script” to become that person. The problem is that every path of every saint is a new path. We are to become saints unlike any the world has ever seen before, because we are all capable of giving glory to God in unique ways and circumstances, as “star differs from star in glory” (cf. 1 Cor 15:41). Every step on our journey is to blaze a new trail.

Yet the model is one: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb 13:8). The fact that we cannot see all of the details of our itinerary is no impediment to arriving at the goal. In fact, that ignorance ensures that we will arrive. Because we learn by experience—and not only by theory—what it means to “live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

When we have fully identified ourselves with the Lord by becoming poor, pure, and meek, then we have wiped clean the mirror in which the Son’s image can be more perfectly reflected in us. And the gaze of Jesus into each of us is as unique as we are, making of each a new saint, a new and unique reflection of His holiness.

Rough Moments

Today was a rough one. Or rather rougher.

The derivations of formula is quite of a challenge.

Had to review Calculus. =/

I can go on and on mentioning how hard the day went but then there’s the do everything without grumbling (Philippians 2:14) verse.

You know, at times, it’s easy to be discouraged and get overwhelmed with the demands, it could be on your work, family or in my case, my Master’s degree and with my self.

But when one looks outside of himself and take notice of the people dear to him, there’s the energy to keep going even when most of the systems are low.

One opts to endure all things.

I was reminded to do all things out of love.

Love, in Biblical terms, is such a powerful driving force.

Love gives meaning to almost everything.

Love makes us selfless.

I am a fan of saints, especially the way they lived.

I have read some of their stories and one could sense that the Lord is indeed glorified by the way they lived their life with humility, surrender and obedience.

I’m a fan of their self-denial and how they overcome sin.

I’m a fan of how they responded to God’s call.

I’m a fan of how simply they love the Lord.

It seems to me that if one has to serve the Lord, one must know how to love.

After all, God is love.

Tonight was a tough one to me personally, especially to go unproductive for several days already.

Humbling on one end, fighting discouragement on the other.

A lot of thoughts would entered my mind, tendency to analyze things.

But St. Augustine once said:

“Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand.”

Perhaps he is indeed right.

What is seeming impossible to men is still possible to God.

Anyways, earlier this week, I came across stories of saints.

It was striking to note how the Lord prepared them not for hours, days, weeks, months… but TWELVE YEARS and how they became effective pillars of the Church later as they fulfill their respective calling.

Glory to God.

I am in awe.

His ways are not my ways.

While today went on a depressing and discouraging note, it ends with glorifying the Lord.

Never shall He fail.

Him. His Words. His Promises.