The Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the Orthodox holy fire ceremony.

We are going through the four marks of the church: one, holy, catholic, apostolic. In this post we are looking at the second mark: holy.

Being holy can sound saccharine, artificially sweet. Saints, holy people, can appear plaster-cast statues that have no resemblance to real people, stained glass windows that you wouldn’t really want to be friends with or invite to a party.

Yet real saints, real holiness in the ordinary world is nothing like that. The saints I have known and met are ordinary, down to earth, fun-to-be-with people.

The word “holy” and the associated word “saint” in the Bible gives the understanding of set apart. And we quickly think of set apart from the world, set apart from others. But I think it is not set apart from but set apart for. Being holy, being a saint means you are set apart for the world and people and the environment.

Being holy is like being salt – that’s an image that Jesus used. And salt improves the good taste that is there, it preserves, and it was also used as a disinfectant – to limit the bad.

You are called to be holy, a saint, salt. If there’s good things happening, fun things happening, you are called to enhance the good, to preserve the good, to make it better. And if there are bad things happening, you are called to limit it, to stop it if you can.

Let me conclude with a quote attributed to Pope Francis at World Youth day 2013, with more than 3 million young people at the Eucharist on Copacabana Beach:

We need saints without cassocks, without veils – we need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. We need saints that go to the movies that listen to music, that hang out with their friends. We need saints that place God in first place ahead of succeeding in any career. We need saints that look for time to pray every day and who know how to be in love with purity, chastity and all good things. We need saints – saints for the 21st century with, a spirituality, appropriate to our new time. We need saints that have a commitment to helping the poor and to make the needed social change.

We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it. We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends. We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, theatre. We need saints that are open, sociable, normal, happy companions. We need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane.

This is the twenty-seventh post in a series on the Creed.

The first is Apostles’ Creed.
The second is I believe in God.
The third is a source of the Apostles’ Creed.
The fourth is I believe in the Father.
The fifth is Handing over the Creed.
The sixth is I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son
The seventh is Don’t use the creed in worship
They eighth is Truly God truly human
The ninth is Conceived by the Holy Spirit
The tenth is Don’t use the creed in worship (part 2)
The eleventh is Born of the Virgin Mary
The twelfth is Don’t use the creed in worship (part 3)
The thirteenth is Crucified under Pontius Pilate
The fourteenth is crucified
The fifteenth is Holy Saturday
This sixteenth is He descended to the dead
The seventeenth is on the third day he rose again
The eighteenth is Seated at the right hand of the Father
The nineteenth is Judge the living and the dead
The twentieth is I believe in the Holy Spirit
The twenty-first is But Wait, There’s More!
The twenty-second is And the Son
The twenty-third is Filioque
The twenty-fourth is Two hands of God
The twenty-fifth is Don’t believe in the Church
The twenty-sixth is I believe one Church

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