Are saints born holy? If not, what makes them so? Can we be like them?
Are there common patterns to the interior progress Saints always make—patterns from which the rest of us can learn, to possibly become saints ourselves? Yes, answers Henri Joly—and in this famous work, the learned 20th-century Catholic writer...reveals what the soul of the saint possesses in common with us, and how these common attributes develop and thrive...explains exactly how commonplace psychological traits are closely connected with a saint's extraordinary power to pray, meditate, and avoid much temptation
Key topics and insights, based upon Joly's study of the lives and writings of the Saints:
Three words that sum up the "whole secret of the life of sanctity"
The saints at prayer: their methods, disciplines and intentions
Dangers of self-scrutiny
What is a saint? True and false definitions
Two "classes" of saints, evident through Church history
Various phases in the spiritual development of the saints
The "new personality" created by sanctity. How it combines whatever was best of the original personality with new elements
Overlooked: virtues that most of saints had in common
Diversities of character among the saints: how far these extend, and how they show themselves in great things and small
How far does the natural character of the saints influence and determine their work?
Flaws of the saints: "easy temperance and absence of desires and passions are not necessarily among the natural virtues that sanctity builds upon"
The role of the imagination in developing sanctity. How the saint cultivates and makes use of it
Abuses of the imagination. How the saints guard against them
The "purification of the senses": why it is necessary; how the saints accomplish it
The pre-eminent position saints accord to the will
Common characteristic of the intellectual life of the saints
Contemplation, or "passive" prayer
Explained: "In sanctity, there is gradual development"
The saint's feelings: exactly like ours—except in one thing that he has purged from himself
How the saint's capacity for action is fostered by his love of suffering, his method of contemplation, and his purity of faith
How saints turn periods of spiritual desolation to spiritual profit
"Optimism of the saints": why it is the only reasonable kind of optimism—"the greatest force the world has known"
How the Christian concept of sanctity differs radically from the Muslim and Buddhist
How the idea of sanctity in the Old Testament develops and is perfected in the New Testament
Three kinds of ecstasy—one a sickness, one diabolical, one divine in origin. How the saints, taught by experience, have distinguished between them
States of ill health in the saints: How does God use them?