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3 Habits of the saints to imitate


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Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 09/09/21

The saints were very different from one another, but they shared certain traits in common that we can emulate.

Leo Tolstoy once wrote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” It’s debatable how accurate that statement is. But it is true that happy people, like happy families, have certain noticeable traits in common. The same can be said about holy people, too. 

The more you study the lives of the saints, the more you notice their similarities in habits and lifestyles. Each one is unique and utterly different, it’s true; after all, there are as many ways to Heaven as there are people. But there were important ways that their lives overlapped.

We have so much to learn from these lifestyle habits of the saints. These are 3 key habits that the saints had in common. We can try to imitate them in our own lives as well.


Of course, conversation with God is the defining habit of saints. Love for God is the first step to holiness, and how can you love someone you don’t know? The saints made their relationships with God their top priority.

There are so many ways to make time for prayer in our days. We might pray a Morning Offering while making that first cup of coffee, pray the Rosary while commuting by car or train or bus, or pray an evening Examen while rocking the baby to sleep. However you do it, making time for prayer is essential to imitating the saints.

2Serving the marginalized

Selfless people stand out as extraordinarily unusual against the backdrop of our self-absorbed society. But selflessness is a common and usual characteristic for the saints. 

St. Peter Claver (whose feast is today!), St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Damien of Molokai, St. Nicholas, St. Louis, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Katherine Drexel, St. Bridget of Ireland … The list of saints who served the marginalized is endless. 

The saints noticed who in their society was downtrodden and oppressed. Then they went out of their way to serve and help those people. We, too, can look for ways to help and serve those in need, or as Our Lady said, to “lift up the lowly.”

3Sacramental life

The saints had a great love for Our Lord in the Eucharist, and they cherished all of the other sacraments as well. Their lives are a witness to us of how much we too should value the sacraments. 

St. John Vianney spent hours and hours every day in the confessional, because he knew how important it was for people to receive the grace of Reconciliation. St. Tarcisius literally gave his life to defend the Holy Eucharist. St. Francis Xavier baptized more than 700,000 souls. 

These are only a few of the countless stories of the saints’ fervent love for the sacraments of the Church. Christ left these sacraments for us to grow in grace, and the saints realized how important these channels of grace are. When we too prioritize and honor the sacraments, we imitate their example, and that of Christ. 

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