[quote=Unfinished]We, as Catholics, refer to a lot of things as “holy”? But it occured to me last night praying the Rosary…what does holy really mean?
We refer to our Lord as holy. “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord…”
The Rosary is holy. “…as we meditate upon these mysteries of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary…”
Priests make water holy.
So really…what does holy mean?
“Set apart” from “worldly” things - therefore, not part of common experience; belonging to, originationg in, or “devoted” to, the realm of the “other”, the “unworldly”. That is what a god is - a being “not of this world”; which is not the same as saying a god is ethically admirable or ethically perfect; the understanding of “the holy” as “the ethically excellent” is one of our debts to the Jews of the sixth century BC and later.
Previously, wars of extermination against the supposed enemies of God were “holy”; and gods could be called holy, purely because they were gods, even if their morals were repellent or dubious - it was enough for their holiness that they were more than mortal.
The Rosary & holy water are holy in the sense of being devoted, given over to, set aside for, God; just as the “holy hill” of God in the OT was the place of God’s dwelling. The holiness of a Christian Saint is of the ethical kind, or should be, as the holiness of Christ is that of an ethically perfect Person.
The English word has to do with wholeness - what in Latin is called integritas, integrity. Integrity was not itself holiness in Roman religion - something sanctus is (IIRC) something sanctioned by, allowed in, conforming to, Roman religious ideas.
Hope that helps ##