By Jim Forest
Few taunts are sharper than those that call into question someone’s sanity. Yet there are saints whose acts of witness to the Gospel fly in the face of what most of us regard as sanity. TheRussian Church has a special word for such saints, yurodivi, meaning holy fools or fools for Christ’s sake.
While there is much variety among them, holy fools are in every case ascetic Christians living outside the border of conventional social behavior – people who in most parts of the developed world would be locked away in asylums or ignored until the elements silenced them.
Perhaps there is a sense in which each and every saint, even those who were scholars, would be regarded as insane by many in the modern world because of their devotion to a way of life that was completely senseless apart from the Gospel. Every saint is troubling. Every saint reveals some of our fears and makes us question our fear-driven choices.