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Holiness (OE, halignes, ‘without blemish’). The state of being set apart for God, or for religious purposes. For R. Otto, the Holy is Ganz Andere, the Totally Other, and all that relates to it must be separated from the profane and sinful. Holiness (Heb., kedushah) is a fundamental requirement of Jewish religion. (Leviticus 19. 2). What does it mean to be holy? According to Maimonides, ‘When the Bible says, “Be holy”, it means precisely the same as if it had said, “Keep my commandments”.’ Torah is thus the syag (‘fence’, a founding principle of rabbinic Judaism, Pirqe Avot 1. 1, ‘Be reflective in judgement, raise up many pupils, and build a syag around Torah') which prevents diffusion into randomness and uncertainty.

Christianity inherited the hope of holiness from Judaism, but no longer saw Torah as either a necessary or a sufficient condition. The Holy Spirit is the source of the making holy (i.e. sanctification) of Christians, who become (or are meant to become) temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6. 11 and 20; 1 Peter 2. 9).

The word ‘holiness’ is then widely used for comparable vocations and goals in other religions, although it then loses its more specific constituents. In particular, it merges with considerations of purity and ablution: see also SACRED AND PROFANE.

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Sanctity, the state or character a thing has by being set apart and specially dedicated to God and His service. St. Thomas Aquinas made sanctity equivalent to the virtue of religion (Summa Theologiae 2a2ae, 32.8; see reli gion, virtue of), sanctity being the referral by man of his spiritual capabilities to God by the practice of virtue, and religion being the devotion to divine worship by acts of liturgical sacrifice, offerings, prayer, and vows. Among Christian writers the terms holiness and sanctity are sometimes used equivalently with Christian perfection, which consists properly in the development of the virtue of charity (see perfection, spiritual) and with saintliness or the practice of heroic virtue (see virtue, he roic).

St. Thomas used etymological considerations to show that two notions are involved in the idea of sanctity: cleanness (from the Greek equivalent γιος, or the sanguine tinctus suggested by Isidore), and firmness (if the term is seen as derived from sancire ). Although the etymological argument here is of dubious value, it cannot be doubted that sanctity embraces both notions. Since sanctity is attributed to what is dedicated to the divine cult, only that can be fitly dedicated to God which is free of all sordidness, and its application to the service of God, the unchangeable First Principle and Last End of all things, should, from the nature of its term, be characterized by immutability and firmness.

Although the term holy may be applied to objects such as churches and to the vessels and vestments used in divine worship, it is properly the characteristic of man.

Bibliography: thomas aquinas, Summa Theologiae 2a2ae, 81.8. b. h. merkelbach, summa theologiae moralis, 3 v. (8th ed. Paris 1949) 2:645648. d. m. prÜmmer, Manuale theologiae moralis (Freiburg-Barcelona 1955) 2:323327.

[j. d. fearon]

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ho·li·ness / ˈhōlēnis/ • n. the state of being holy: a life of holiness and total devotion to God. ∎  (His/Your Holiness) a title given to the pope, Orthodox patriarchs, and the Dalai Lama, or used in addressing them. ∎  [as adj.] denoting a Christian renewal movement originating in the mid 19th century among Methodists in the U.S., emphasizing the Wesleyan doctrine of the sanctification of believers.