But the Church Isn’t a Factory

No, I’d not in fact heard of the formulation you quote from Father John Romanides: “If the Church were a factory, its product would be relics.” And no, I wasn’t thinking of things in quite so osteopathic a way when I spoke in my last post about the “production of saints”.

It’s a clever line, of course, and it’s very attractive to think that there might be some empirical criterion for sanctity. I’m certainly in favor of finding (what you called) a “measure beyond religious and denominational politics”—assuming that “measure” is an appropriate term in this context. Nonetheless I would hesitate to draw the conclusions you have.

Incorruption may well be a proof of sanctity. Having venerated the relics of numerous fathers on the Holy Mountain, I’m among the very first to respect this possibility. But it doesn’t follow that corruption—or rather non-incorruption—is therefore a proof of non-sanctity. Let’s not be Father Feraponts, turning up our noses—or pinching them, as the case may be!—at all but the most obviously physiological manifestations of holiness.

Bodhidharma’s cautionary advice is apropos in this connection: “If someone strikes you as so holy that you are inclined to call him a saint, this is a sign that the person is not a true saint. For the true saint cannot be described in such terms: He breaks through the limits of all such conceptual categories.”

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