This is a charming book. Unlike many of the books on saints I've read recently, it doesn't focus on any particular saint or even one saint each chapter. Instead, it looks at how the saints viewed different aspects of life like common sense, joy, animals, wit and humor and friendship.
One of my favorite chapters was "The Health of the Saints" in which we are told:
With all their austerities, the saints were well aware that the body is the servant of the soul, and that a master who has no care of his servant is sure to be badly served. "Take care of the body," St. Teresa writes to one of her nuns, "because it must serve the soul." To fight even spiritual battles, we require physical strength.The author says:
The saints did the best they could for themselves and made the most of the health, good or bad, that was granted to them; and that is about all that anyone can do. They tried to avoid two extremes equally dangerous: preoccupation with health and recklessness regarding it.Throughout the chapters, we read quotes, stories, myths and legends of many different saints. The author intermixes them so we begin to see how we might follow in the footsteps of the saints. In the chapter called "The Littleness of the Saints" we read:
Indeed, the big occasion and the dramatic situation are never really good tests of any virtue. To rescue a drowning person is an act of charity, but being something in the nature of a heroic act, it makes it more of a pleasure than anything else. But there is nothing romantic about keeping one's temper; and no one, except God, can possibly applaud us when we repress an uncharitable thought. But there it is: we glow with enthusiasm in reading of the heroic actions of God's servants; then around the corner comes some paltry occasion of practicing the very same virtue in a small way, and we begin to think that virtue is a drab and colorless affair after all.In the last chapter, the author writes of "The Secret of the Saints":
This indeed is the whole secret of the saints, the explanation of their heroism, the key to the inimitable and puzzling incidents we meet with in their lives. When a heart opens, really opens, to our Lord, He sets it on fire--on fire with the love of Himself.The editors have added a section at the end to identify all of the saints named in the pages, noting that there were a few even they could not identify.
This book is certainly one that would give much for reflection in a few pages before bedtime, calming and uplifting. I loved it from the Introduction.
This review is my own opinion. I purchased the book and did not receive anything in return for this review.