Quotes about saints

A collection

by Ken Sehested

§ "Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed that easily.” —Dorothy Day

 § “The world is waiting for new saints, ecstatic men and women who are so deeply rooted in the love of God that they are free to imagine a new international order. . . . Most people despair that [it] is possible. They cling to old ways and prefer the security of their misery to the insecurity of their joy. But the few who dare to sing a new song of peace are the new St. Francises of our time, offering a glimpse of a new order that is being born out of the ruin of the old.” —Henri Nouwen

§ “[T]he difference between being at peace and being complacent is one of the most basic lessons saints can teach us.” — Charles Mathewes

§ “A saint is simply a human being whose soul has . . . grown up to its full stature, by full and generous response to its environment, God.” —Evelyn Underhill

 § “When I give people food, they call me a saint. When I ask why there is no food, they call me a communist.” —Dom Helder Camara, former archbishop of Recife, Brazil

§ “In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a pocket handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints." —Frederick Buechner

§  “And thus I clothe my naked villainy With old odd ends, stol'n forth of holy writ And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.” —William Shakespeare

§ “I am a violent man learning to be nonviolent.” —Cesar Chavez, a “folk saint” in the pantheon of Mexican Americans, whose birthday, 31 March, is a federal commemorative holiday in the US

§ “Christ moves among the pots and pans.” —Saint Teresa of Ávila, 16th century Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun

§ “Let us plant dates even though those who plant them will never eat them. We must live by the love of what we will never see. This is the secret discipline. It is a refusal to let the creative act be dissolved away in immediate sense experience, and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren. Such disciplined love is what has given prophets, revolutionaries, and saints the courage to die for the future they envisaged. They make their own bodies the seed of their highest hope.” —Brazilian theologian Rubem Alves

§ “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” ―Nelson Mandela

§ “In truth, all human beings are called to be saints, but that just means called to be fully human, to be perfect—that is, whole, mature, fulfilled. The saints are simply those men and women who relish the event of life as a gift and who realize that the only way to honor such a gift is to give it away.” —William Stringfellow

§ “From somber, serious, sullen saints, save us O Lord.” —Saint Teresa of Ávila

§ “The key question that every school of spirituality must answer is how to reconcile presence to the world with presence to God, or however you prefer to formulate it. How are we to overcome the duality and interrelate the two presences? This question runs through the history of spirituality.” —J.C. Guy, writing about St. Ignatius of Loyola

§ “Every saint has a bee in his halo.” ―Elbert Hubbard

§ “Maybe more than anything else, to be a saint is to know joy. Not happiness that comes and goes with the moments that occasion it, but joy that is always there like an underground spring no matter how dark and terrible the night. To be a saint is to be a little out of one's mind, which is a very good thing to be a little out of from time to time. It is to live a life that is always giving itself away and yet is always full.” —Frederick Buechner

 § “In a church where holy people were supposed to be perfect, austere, and forbidding, she prayed to be delivered from sour saints. An admirer once remarked on her voracious appetite: ‘For such a holy woman, you sure pack it in.’
        “‘Listen,’ Teresa shot back, ‘when I pray, I pray; when I eat, I eat!’” —St. Teresa of Ávila, quoted by Mary Luti

§ “There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” —St. Augustine

§ “The whole case for Christianity is that [one] who is dependent upon the luxuries of life is corrupt, spiritually corrupt, politically corrupt, financially corrupt. There is one thing that Christ and all the Christian saints have said with a sort of savage monotony. They have said simply that to be rich is to be in peculiar danger of moral wreck.” —G.K. Chesterton

§ “Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint—some of them are so hard to live with—but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.” —17th century “Nun’s Prayer,” St. Albans Abbey

§ “Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, / The clouds ye so much dread / Are big with mercy, and shall break / In blessings on your head.” —William Cowper, 18th century English poet and hymnodist

§ “Big churches, little saints.” —author unknown

§ Short story. “I arrived for a cut at the very end of their workday and witnessed them provide a warm and very human circle of care for the only other client. This was a woman past my age who had called in a panic when her long wavy hair started coming out in handfuls as a result of her cancer treatment regimen.

        “Now this was not my first time here, and in the past I've heard these women pass on some vicious gossip and fling barbed zingers at one another with glee. There was none of that this evening. Neither was there saccharine sentiments nor empty platitudes.

         “Instead, they lovingly washed her hair and efficiently shaved off what remained, completely following the woman's lead in conversation topics, which ranged from family doings to treatment experiences and side effects to the best way to fashionize her new look. Perhaps she would wear black lipstick and go Goth or maybe wear only one of her large hoop earrings for more of a pirate statement. They cut some stretchy black silky material into a headscarf and tied it into some beautiful stylish knots.

         “And they held steady when she teared up as she faced her self in the mirror without her hair.

         “It was beautiful. They were beautiful. She was beautiful.” —Amy Smith

§ “I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints—the sinners are much more fun.” —Billy Joel

§ “It is great wisdom to know how to be silent and to look at neither the remarks, nor the deeds, nor the lives of others.” —Saint John of the Cross

§ “You may never enter a lion’s den, or travel through a war zone, or hear a prison door close behind your act of conscience. Mostly, you don’t get to custom-design the witness you bear, the woe you endure, or the promises you make to mend the world as it crosses your path.
      “By and large, you weigh the choices that come your way without the fanfare of stardom’s spotlight, your picture in the paper, or even angels whispering in your ear. Saintly work is more common than you think." —Ken Sehested

§ “There is no sinner like a young saint.” ―Aphra Behn

§ “Every town in the country has people like these folks [who do extraordinary things in ordinary ways].  Nobody gives them prizes, writes articles about them, but they demonstrate in their lives the truth of what Karl Rahner once noted about saints: saints, the German theologian once said, show us that in this particular fashion one can be an authentic Christian.” —Lawrence Cunningham

§ “Truly! Truly! By God! Be as sure of it as you are that God lives: at the least good deed done here in this world, the least bit of good will, the least good desire, all the saints in heaven and on earth rejoice, and together with the angels their joy is such that all the joy in this world can’t be compared. For truly, God laughs and plays.” —Meister Eckhart

§ “But the dark night of the soul / Will come round again / And that ability to meet it / once more / Will make saints of us all.” —Abigail Hastings, “Hallowed Week”

§ “Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.” ―Francis Of Assisi

 § “I should like a great lake of finest ale for all the people. / I should like a table of the choicest foods for the family of heaven. / Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith, and the food be for giving love.” —St. Brigit of Kildare (Ireland)

§ “He that falls into sin is a man; that grieves at it, is a saint; that boasteth of it, is a devil.” —Thomas Fuller

§ “Something in [the saints] so loves the world that they give themselves to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, they trace with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. Their houses are dangerous and finite, but they are at home in the world. They can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such people, such balancing monsters of love.” —Leonard Cohen

§ “Saintliness is also a temptation.” —Jean Anouilh

§ “A saint addicted to excessive self-abnegation is a dangerous associate; he may infect you with poverty, and a stiffening of those joints which are needed for advancement—in a word, with more renunciation than you care for—and so you flee the contagion.” —Victor Hugo

§ “It is easier to make a saint out of a libertine than out of a prig.” —George Santayana

§ “Now that [Martin Luther King Jr.] is safely dead let us praise him, build monuments to his glory, sing hosannas to his name. Dead men make such convenient heroes. They cannot rise to challenge the images we would fashion from their lives. And besides, it is easier to build monuments than to make a better world. So now that he is safely dead we with eased consciences will teach our children that he was a great man . . . knowing that the cause for which he lived is still a cause and the dream for which he died is still a dream, a dead man's dream.” —Carl Wendell Hines Jr.

§ “You venerate the saints, and you take pleasure in touching their relics. But you disregard their greatest legacy, the example of a blameless life. . . . No devotion is more acceptable and proper to the saints than striving to imitate their virtues.” —Erasmus

§ “So the great Church of Christ came into being by ignoring the life of Christ. . . . The Fathers of the Church were good men, often saintly men, sometimes men who cared enough for Christ to die for him, but they did not trust him. They could not trust the safety of his church to his way of doing things. So they set out to make the church safe in their own way. Creeds and theologies protected it from individual vagaries; riches and power protected it against outside attacks. The church was safe. But one thing its ardent builders and defenders failed to see. Nothing that lives can be safe. Life means danger. The more the church was hedged about with confessions of faith and defended by the mighty of the earth, the feebler its life grew.”—Edith Hamilton

§ “And the gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until all of us come to . . . the full stature of Christ.” —Ephesians 4:11-13

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©ken sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org