Statement number one is FALSE.
Although many important saints were hermits, there were many who lived in the world. Saint Frances of Rome was a wife and the mother of three children. Though her husband adored her, her mother-in-law made fun of her in public. When war came to Rome, Frances’ small son was taken hostage and her home was destroyed. She turned this tragedy into triumph by converting her ruined home into a hospital and shelter for victims of war.
Saint Frances Cabrini lived in slums and cooked her food in tenement courtyards in order to be close to people who needed her most. She was just as likely to be found laying brick for one of her houses as talking to bishops.
Statement number two is FALSE.
Saints are not perfect in the sense that we think of “perfection.” Many saints failed at things they tried to do. Saint Anthony of Padua left a monastery because he wanted to be a missionary. But he fell sick as soon as he got off the boat and never preached. On his way home to Portugal, he was shipwrecked in Italy and couldn’t even get a job as a dishwasher! Then one day he was asked to preach a sermon without any preparation, because no one else would do it. He let the Holy Spirit speak through him and became the most important preacher in Europe. The perfection of the saints was not in worldly success but in their desire to God's will.
Statement number three is FALSE.
Saints struggled with the same problems we do, including anger. Saint Philip Neri went into a church to pray that God would rid him of his temper. When he left, he immediately ran into someone he disliked and got into an argument. Going back into the church, he prayed again to be rid of his temper. This time he left the church and ran into a friend and got into an argument with the friend. A third time he went into the church and said to God, “Why didn’t you answer my prayer?” God answered, “You said you wanted to get rid of your temper. I thought you wanted practice.” The reason these people are saints is that they faced their mistakes, their struggles, and their joys with a deep love of God and a desire to do God’s will completely, no matter what the sacrifice.
Statement number four is TRUE.
For many, the image of saints is one of gloom: But the opposite is true. Saint Teresa of Avila said, “Lord deliver me from gloomy-faced saints!” and that’s the way she lived. Once someone criticized Teresa for enjoying good food. Teresa answered, “There is a time for penance, and a time for partridge!”
Saint John Bosco delighted poor children with magic tricks and acrobatics as he taught them catechism. People thought he was crazy for taking responsibility for so many children without money. One day two priests came in a carriage to take him to the mental hospital. John, who had been warned, agreed easily to “a ride in the country.” The he very politely said, “After you,” to the priests. As soon as the priests were in the carriage, John slammed the carriage door and yelled to the driver, “To the asylum!”
The Saints’ joy came from their love of God and their faith that God loved them. Saints are not plaster statues but real people like us who make mistakes, struggle with troubles, and enjoy life.
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