Sometimes the saints feel far away. It’s tempting to consider their thinking as too far above us, a mentality that we can’t understand or attain. We might give up on imitating them, or—worse—start to believe that we can’t become saints ourselves.
Some of these holy men and women, however, have brought their thinking down to earth for us by leaving us readable, reachable journals of their spiritual lives.
Indeed, some of these journaling saints are the ones who seem the most inaccessible—those whose lives were marked by intense mystical experiences. Their diaries offer us a wonderful way to overcome our intimidation and meet them as they really are.
Come on! Let’s introduce ourselves to some of these saints.
- St. Thérèse of Lisieux. St. Thérèse’s spiritual memoir, The Story of a Soul, is a classic for Catholics. In it she recounts her childhood, her entry into Carmel and its challenges and joys, and the development and essence of her “Little Way.”
- St. Faustina Kowalska. Entitled Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Faustina’s diary was written in obedience to her spiritual director. She discusses her profound relationship with Our Lord, her conversations with Him, and His visions and messages to her regarding His Divine Mercy.
- St. John Paul II. The written reflections of Pope St. John Paul II, dating from 1962 all the way to 2003, were recently published in English for the first time. In them, the Pope relates his own concerns, spiritual insights, and thoughts on his ministry from the time he was bishop of Krakow through almost the entirety of his pontificate.
- St. Gemma Galgani. Like St. Faustina, St. Gemma wrote her diary out of obedience. A soul whose mystical experiences were equaled only by her intense sufferings, St. Gemma spoke with Our Lord and her guardian angel, bore the stigmata, and even had her diary stolen by the devil! (He apparently did not want us to benefit from it.) You can see the original diary—burn marks and all—at the Passionist monastery attached to the Basilica of Saints John and Paul in Rome.
Sainthood is not beyond your reach. It isn’t a special prize God gives to some and not to others. He calls all of us to heroic virtue, which is the essence of sainthood. In Good Catholic’s series Heroic Virtue, you’ll learn how to go about the task of growing in the virtues, one by one, step by step, with the saints themselves as your examples. Start your journey toward Heroic Virtue today!