Saints are human, and humans complain. A lot. How can we reconcile these two facts? Despite the somewhat one-dimensional portraits of sanctity that we find in some devotional material, every saint struggled in his or her life. And it was not always easy for them to handle their struggles gracefully.
Complaints of the Saints by Sr. Mary Lea Hill, FSP, shares some of the saints’ responses to suffering. The witty anecdotes and wisdom Sr. Hill conveys are both consoling and relatable, teaching us that the saints experienced the same emotions we do in the face of hardship. And they complained to God! Complaints of the Saints argues that complaining, while not a good thing in and of itself, is simply a natural human reaction to life’s difficulties. Just as the saints used their human nature, faults, and even complaints as a means for growing closer to God, so what we feel about and how we react to our trials can be a means for drawing us closer to God. As evidenced in Scripture and the life of the saints, God can handle our feelings and complaints.
In 61 short chapters, Sr. Hill relays the stories of a diverse range of holy men and women who reached out to God in times of need—sometimes with an acerbic tongue, as with St. Jerome; sometimes with patience, as with St. Thérèse of Lisieux; or sometimes with a gruff demeanor, as with St. Damien of Molokai. All of these saints enjoyed a close relationship with the Lord, and they were not afraid to reach out to him in their own voice, even with raw feelings. Sr. Hill’s sense of humor and affection for the saints discussed is apparent in her writing, and after reading this book, you’ll feel closer to them as well. Yes, even you can become a saint!