Sr Barbara and I were out of town Friday and Saturday for the "Women of Christ" conference (archdiocese of Milwaukee). Some of the conversations we had with the participants got me thinking, though, about the peculiar idea that many of these very active Catholics have about holiness. There were such exaggerations. Like the awe and esteem for people (especially priests and religious) who were thought to be holy, based on some externals like that person's particular life story (dramatic conversions really help) or ascetical practices (the stricter, the better). I heard one story about a priest who seemed to be having a heavenly vision in the middle of a nice dinner at a restaurant.
I wanted to run the other way. For one thing, St. Paul said that the "spirit of a prophet is under the prophet's control," so the peculiar setting for the heavenly vision struck me as suspect indeed. But beyond that, what good is it to the Church if Father So-and-So, for example, takes fifteen minutes to pray the Consecration, when the people in the pews are so rapt in the priest and not in the Lord? Not that there aren't holy people around, but the focus of many stories I heard was so much on the extraordinary character of the manifestations of faith or prayer, they seemed to betray the truth that holiness should be the norm, not the exception, in our communities of faith. And what good is that?