I might count great faith as spurring much mortification. St. Teresa of Avila in her autobiography did not join the convent fully out of love for Christ. She went to the convent mostly against her will and later thought that she might go to Hell if she wasn’t in the convent. She reasoned logically that it was better to live a temporal life like Purgatory and go to Heaven eternally than to go to Hell. (Something along those lines I think :o ) She later remarked something like “how much God blesses us when force ourselves.” I would assume that St. Francis of Assisi also grew in love along his journey. At the end of his life, he repented for the way he treated his body (or something like that). Francisco, one of the three Fatima children could initially not see (or was it hear )Mary because he needed to say many more Rosaries.
In my non humble opinion, many of the apparitions and mysticisms and miracles happen as signs to signify to others that this person is touched by Christ. Many of those people touched by Christ live quite painful lives yet with Revelations that bless the world. It is grace in addition to merit. See St. Maria Faustina’s gift of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and actual words of Christ or St. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s gift of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. How would they have known to persevere in their self-sacrifice without mysticism? I don’t necessarily think that it means that everything they did was lovely but that it was evidence of a great holiness despite imperfections. Very many saints (including St. Therese of Liseux) experience a miracle or some sort of supernatural occurence early in their lives. How else would they get such great faith to persevere against popular opinion and in the midst of societal persecution? I think this is why Christ says, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed or something along those lines to doubting Thomas. It is more meritorious to live a virtuous and holy life without receiving repeated confirmation of what is going on. I think this is why many of the mystics received both visions from Christ and visions from the devil. It hardly would have been great suffering (and thereby merit) to receive only lovely visions of Christ in this life.
I think it may be important to see how many of the ones who received apparitions and mysticism also functioned as teachers. Honestly, Christ in Scripture is not the most appealing character to many. He rebukes the Pharisees and Sadducees quite harshly. What did he call the Samaritan woman? A “dog” or something such. And then kicking all the tax-collectors out of the temple. Or the experience of Judas - sometimes one thinks that the Messiah ought to have prevented that. He practices “tough love” though we live in a society that sometimes calls “tough love” hate. :(:( St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. John of the Cross (as well as St. Benedict and St. Vincent de Paul) are all founders of Orders as well as theological teachers. If you study a mathematical textbook, it is more important to learn the math clearly than to have a pretty book. For those who are serious scholars of Christ and do not need lovely books to pay attention, these teachers teach a rigorous discipline and science of Christ. Scripture says something along the lines of “by their fruits, you will know them.” Some of St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort’s fruits are St. Maximilian (Maria) Kolbe, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, and St. Josemaria Escriva. Clearly, the life of Montfort as well as these saints’ lives are imitatable. His teaching of Christ and Mary is mostly logically sound (to the best of my knowledge) and produces good fruit, very very good fruit. St. Padre Pio, Kolbe, and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI are also Franciscans and St. Therese of Liseux and St. Edith Stein are Carmelites. The phrase “dark night of the soul” is widespread in popular culture and I personally suspect that the movie, The Dark Knight illustrates the book Dark Night of the Soul pretty well.
But some saints are moreso “lights to the world” in a way accessible to those who are less personally rigorous and independent in their study of Christ and need living examples to teach them the way. This is lovely and blessed and ordained by God as well. They may be the “fruit” of other lights to the world in addition to new understandings of Christ that write down ways of perfection in accessible ways, kind of like advertising models. :o They (and all saints I think ) also provide a point of comparison so that we can perfect ourselves to become more and more perfect in love by seeing in them traits to which we can aspire.
Humbleness is something that we should all aspire to. It was the downfall of Adam, Eve, and Satan. Sometimes humbleness is for us submitting ourselves to Christ’s sacred blueprint and revealing it to others. (Given that Christ is infinite, there may exist infinite ways to reveal Christ.) Some are called to a higher degree of sacred revelation and instruction than others. Sometimes humbleness is accepting that we do not know what to do, we lack knowledge, and being obedient to the blueprints revealed by Christ and others. Perhaps the vast majority of us are called more greatly to obedience and discipline regardless of minute-to-minute feelings and this may be our greater strugggle in living a holy life as saints. Perhaps maybe then St. Therese of Liseux who seems so “little” makes it easy for us to see the virtue in living the “little” obedient, quiet, hidden life and that is why she is loved.