Take a saint - whichever one you like - and you’ll see that it’s always someone ready to carry out the will of God ; someone who says yes to God in big things as much as in little things ; someone who expects everything of God.
The angels have their eyes fixed on God and are ready to set out at the slightest sign of God’s will. The patriarchs, the apostles and the martyrs always carried out God’s will. Our Lord himself is a model for us all who has taught us true holiness, and he tells us in the Gospel : ’My food is to do the will of the One who sent me’ (John 4:34).
So the saints are always turned towards God, always at God’s disposal... They love God more than they love themselves. They are more attached to God’s designs, God’s wishes and to all that God allows or ordains than to anything they might choose for themselves.
All those who have made themselves holy have done so by conforming themselves to the will of God in the carrying-out of their own particular duties.
I want to emphasise this point because ’holiness’ often conjures up in us an image of the glories with which God sometimes honours it : visions and extasies. These are a sort of halo with which it has often pleased God to glorify his servants, but they shouldn’t be confused with holiness. God hasn’t given such favours to all his saints - not to St Vincent de Paul, for example. He’s not said to have had visions. On one occasion, maybe, when he was celebrating Mass for St Jeanne de Chantal who had just died, he saw two balls of fire rising up to heaven and joining together, but this is the only vision people point to in his life ; and yet St Vincent de Paul is a giant amongst the saints.
But to do always what God wants, to be always at God’s disposal, not to outstep Providence, to travel faithfully - you’ll never find a saint for whom these attitudes aren’t fundamental.
I conclude from this that when we pray to the saints we must ask them to help us be always attentive to God, so that we can be obedient to God when carrying out our duties.
As for us, we mustn’t count. It’s not a matter of knowing what we think or what we want, but rather what God wants of us. Each morning we put ourselves under God’s charge so that God can do with us what God wants throughout the day, and at the slightest sign of his will we say ’Yes, my God : that which you want ; as, when and by whom you want it. No matter where or how, what I want is that according to your example my food should be to do the will of my heavenly Father.’
Let’s be like the angels and try to have our eyes always turned towards God so that we can always carry out God’s orders. It’s a great joy to do what God wants. To be conformed to God brings great peace, and is also a great glory. ’Wherever I go, I go there because that is what pleases God. What more do I need ? As long as I’m doing what is pleasing to God, what else matters ?’
Let’s never confuse something which is a means to holiness with holiness itself. Austerity ? That’s a means : it isn’t the end. Prayer ? That’s a necessary and indispensible means, and it ought to be unceasing, but nor is it the end. Spiritual direction, the sacraments ? These are means which the Church gives us, and not the end. The end is to unite ourselves with God, with God’s will, and to carry it out at every instant.
cf. Saint Marie-Eugenie Milleret,
Chapter of 31 October 1886