Being a Saint

“Orthodox lay theologian Paul Evdokimov reminds us that becoming a saint has little to do with virtue and a great deal to do with goodness, being like God. And everyone can be like God! . . .

‘[S]aints by their nature are as disturbing as they are inspiring. They inspire by their glorious witness and achievements: they are the promise that we can truly live as God intended, in God’s own image. But they disturb, for they are the constant reminder of how much we fall short of the life to which we are called. We are given our true model and challenged to conform to it. Hagiography, like the saints who are its subjects, also inspires and disturbs, for it too, contains an ever-present critique of our failings as a church. (Susan Ashbrook Harvey)’

(Michael Plekon, Hidden Holiness, p. 2 & 23)

5 thoughts on “Being a Saint

    1. Fr. Ted

      The difference he is making is the difference between doing and being. We are human beings not human doings. Goodness is deeper or more to the core of our being. One can demand that a child says sorry or thank you, but the child can say the words without being thankful or contrite. Moralism demands from us certain behaviors, Christ calls us to a new heart.

  1. Thank you, Father. I appreciate the reminder about being vs. doing. But it doesn’t seem that virtue is anything like moralism, in Scripture at least. Humility is listed as a virtue, and true humility is certainly a quality of being, not doing. In Titus women are encouraged to be virtuous.

    Probably there is a lot more to the book’s thesis than I can understand without reading it; but from the Scriptures (admittedly not reading in Greek) I get the impression that virtue does include goodness, and I wouldn’t want the word to be assigned an unfavorable connotation.

    May the Lord help us!

    1. Fr. Ted

      I think you are right that virtue includes goodness, the issue is how the author is using those words. He sees goodness as something far more than moralism. Goodness for him is a beatitude, blessedness, perfection, love, beauty, the divine life, theosis.

      1. When you put it that way – the word “beatitude” is so evocative! – I see how virtue is a human thing, in that it’s not an attribute of God – I don’t think? – and is at least associated with our participation if not moralism; it is possible for people to be virtuous. But “there is none good but God,” as Christ tells us, so goodness can only be a gift of His life and His sharing it with us.

        Thank you for your patience!

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