THE SAINTS ARE PEOPLE WHO LOVE GOD
So we see that the saints are people who came from different ways in life and had different attitudes regarding the gifts of nature. There was one thing they all had in common and that is the fact that they always subordinated their natural gifts to grace, which had so often lifted them from the laziness that had enslaved them for so many years and that even raised them from the slavery of sin.
Therefore, they all lived a superior and supernatural life, independently from the fact that grace had required them to walk along a path in conformity or contrary to their natural inclinations. Their only purpose was God and His holy love, whereas all the rest, their natural and spiritual considerations, whether pleasant or unpleasant, became means to reach their new goal.
In that way, nothing could hurt them; on the contrary, from each thing they drew countless spiritual profits. In fact, “all things work together for the good of those who love God, those who have been called according to His decree” (Rom. 8:28) (K1010).
In the Old Testament, the concept of holiness is intimately associated with the idea of God. Thus, for example, we read in the Book of Leviticus (20:26): “To me, therefore, you shall be sacred; for I, the Lord, am sacred, I, who have set you apart from the other nations to be my own”; and in the Second Book of Kings (4:9): “I know that he is a holy man of God, a saint.” But here holiness does not mean perfection.
Only Jesus, by coming into this world, has shown humankind, through His example and His word, the way toward true holiness.
The distinctive sign is the fulfillment of the divine will, contained above all in the commandments of God and of the Church and in the duties of one’s own status or calling in life.
The way is to be constantly vigilant of oneself, in order to know one’s own faults and uproot them, to graft in ourselves the virtues, cultivating and developing them to their highest degree. And also to lead a life of prayer, through which we obtain the divine supernatural graces necessary for our spiritual progress.
In every saint, prayer occupies the forefront. In prayer, the most important steps are: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplation.
In contemplation, sometimes God carries the soul away, drawing it very close to Himself. When this happens, the soul is dazzled by a heavenly light and inflamed with love, and it enters a stage of ecstasy, which has nothing in common with any natural spell. However, this is neither a requirement nor something necessary to reach holiness….
Therefore, the widespread idea that saints were people dissimilar to us, is false.
Even they had to endure temptations, even they fell and got up again, even they were oppressed by sadness, weakened and paralyzed with discouragement.
Yet, mindful of the words of our Saviour: “for apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5), and of those of Saint Paul: “In him who is the source of my strength I have strength for everything” (Ph. 4:13), they did not rely on themselves, but putting all their trust in God, after every fall they humbled themselves, honestly repenting and purifying their soul in the sacrament of penance, and then continued immediately to work with even great zeal. In this way, every fall was useful to them as a small step towards an even greater perfection, and their burden became always lighter (K1001).
[Taken from Stronger than Hatred: A Collection of Spiritual Writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe OFM Conv.]