“the utter ordinariness of holiness”


“When we become saints (and I do say ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ on the assumption that some of us at least are likely eventually to open ourselves up to the transcendent holiness and love of God) we become so because we receive exactly what God gives to all his creatures. That is the infinite fullness of who he is and what he is; the infinity of his welcome and his free grace. None of us can brandish this as an achievement over against another. None of us – if we get so far – will be wearing a halo at the expense of another. Holiness will be all in a day’s work. Heaven is where the presence and intensity of God is simply the air we breathe. So All Saints’ Day is a good time for remembering the utter ordinariness of holiness. And the trick in the question is that we can only get in touch with that utterly ordinary holiness by remembering how extraordinary it is in our world. As I said, if you saw someone wearing a halo in Sloane Square, you would wonder. But the point is that because it’s unusual in this muddled stupid self-destructive world, we need to point to it when it happens. We need to have saints to raise people to the altars. We need to have those in whom we can say, ‘the ordinariness of heaven has come down to earth and that is so extraordinary that we do make a bit of a fuss about it’.”

— Rowan Williams, All Saints Day sermon, 2009 (via paulstead)

Published by Catherine Addington

I am a translator from Spanish to English and a writer on saints, myths, and icons in both religious and secular contexts.

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