Sanctity In Other Words (Zeller)

The Cenacle Press at Silverstream Priory

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“If personal holiness is thought of as being a name at the top of a list it is understood wrong. If it is thought of as something which merits a feast in the Church’s calendar it is understood wrong....There is nothing ‘superior,’ in the sense of being one up on everybody else, about it.
The way to think of sanctity is as something which, by being generous and faithful to grace, gives back to God the love which he has given to the soul.”

While the glamorous and spectacular displays of virtue found in the lives of saints make for rousing stories, Van Zeller focuses here on the time in-between and outside of these shining moments. He reminds his readers that these moments do not constitute the definition of sanctity. Rather, the essence of sanctity is found in adhering to the will of God and becoming obedient and docile to His work in the soul. Thus, sanctity “is what God wants out of you, and because you are not exactly the same as anyone else the holiness which is yours will not be exactly like anyone else’s.”
Here the reader will find how all walks of life can and ought to strive for sanctity as day-to-day and down-to-earth actions are recast in the light of faith, hope, and charity. Should every action be carried out within the atmosphere of these three theological virtues for the glory of God, the soul will present itself as a ready vessel for God to fill. Sanctity, in other words, is life lived through, with, and in God.


Born in British-controlled Egypt, Dom Hubert van Zeller (1905–1984) was a Benedictine monk of Downside Abbey in Bath, England, where he was educated. Of his scholastic career he said that he “passed no examinations—merely by-passed them.” The author of numerous books ranging from scriptural commentary to fiction and biography, he was also renowned as a minimalist sculptor and cartoonist. He was a friend of Ronald Knox and of Evelyn Waugh, who described Dom Hubert’s writings as “characterized by vitality and elegance.”

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