The Saints' Guide to Happiness

Robert Ellsberg

North Point Press

A noted spiritual writer seeks answers to life's big questions in the stories of the saints

In All Saints---published in 1997 and already a classic of its kind---Robert Ellsberg told the stories of 365 holy people with great vividness and eloquence. In The Saints' Guide to Happiness, Ellsberg looks to the saints to answer the questions: What is happiness, and how might we find it?

Countless books answer these questions in terms of personal growth, career success, physical fitness, and the like. The Saints' Guide to Happiness proposes instead that happiness consists in a grasp of the deepest dimension of our humanity, which characterizes holy people past and present. The book offers a series of "lessons" in the life of the spirit: the struggle to feel alive in a frenzied society; the search for meaningful work, real friendship, and enduring love; the encounter with suffering and death; and the yearning to grasp the ultimate significance of our lives. In these "lessons," our guides are the saints: historical figures like Augustine, Francis of Assisi, and Teresa of Avila, and moderns such as Dorothy Day, Flannery O'Connor, and Henri J. Nouwen. In the course of the book the figures familiar from stained-glass windows come to seem exemplars, not just of holy piety but of "life in abundance," the quality in which happiness and holiness converge.


Read an Excerpt

The Saints' Guide to Happiness
OneLEARNING TO BE ALIVEWe beg you, make us truly alive.--Serapion of Thmuis 
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.--Gerard Manley Hopkins 
THE SORROWS OF LIFE are many. But sorrow is not the opposite of happiness. At least in sorrow we are aware of being alive. So often the problem is not really sorrow but the deadness that attends our daily existence. The pace and pressures of the world, the struggle to "make a living," the disquiet driven by constant advertising, the distracting drone of consumer


Praise for The Saints' Guide to Happiness

"If you've been thirsting for a more authentic life, this is your book. No abstractions here, only real people scuffling, searching, stumbling into grace--and happiness. In these pages are living templates, which spark recognition: `Hey, that's me. I could be like that.' I love this book."
-- Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, author of Dead Man Walking

"Happiness--deep, true, stable, lasting--is not the result of feelings, but is a by-product of holiness. Whatever the common opinion, it is in fact the holy who live life to the full. Robert Ellsberg understands this lovely paradox and explains all its implications with grace and charm."
- Sister Wendy Beckett, author of Sister Wendy’s Book of Saints

"Robert Ellsberg regards saints as friends worth knowing. His engaging book shows us why we should commune with the saints: for their uncommon wisdom as people who discovered that happiness and holiness are the same thing."
-- Kenneth L. Woodward, author of Making Saints

"Books that promise painless enlightenment sit side-by-side with those that offer a lengthy practice too daunting to learn. The Saints' Guide to Happiness is neither. Robert Ellsberg has sifted through the wisdom of 'those who walk the path of holiness' and produced neither a quick-fix nor a stiff tome, but a modern, refreshing guide to a true life and the kind of happiness that lasts."
-- Nora Gallagher, author of Practicing Resurrection

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Robert Ellsberg

  • Robert Ellsberg, a native of Los Angeles, became a Catholic in 1980 while a member of the Catholic Worker house in downtown Manhattan. He now serves as editor-in-chief of Orbis Books. Married with three children, he lives in Ossining, New York.


Available Formats and Book Details

The Saints' Guide to Happiness

Robert Ellsberg

  • e-Book



North Point Press