Catholic priest is a sinner, but church is his hospital


Father Dickinson

My name is Father Andrew, and I am a sinner. It sounds simple and obvious enough from a Catholic and especially a Catholic priest. At the same time, I find that people are surprised when I openly embrace the fact that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness. What keeps most Catholics away from Mass, the life of the Church? Sin.

“Come home to Sunday Mass.” I’ve said this many times in my four years as a priest. So often I’ve heard some variation in reply: “Oh Father, the world would end if I walked back into a Church. God wouldn’t know what to do with a sinner like me.” My heart breaks when I hear this. The Catholic Church is not a refuge for the holy but a hospital for the sinners as they receive healing.

In Matthew 9:12, Jesus says, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.” Jesus Christ is the divine physician who comes to heal our souls from the weight and stain of sin. As a priest, I have no less need for forgiveness of sins and healing of my faults; at times I have a greater need. I am a sinner and I need confession, yet people are surprised when I talk about going to confession every two weeks if I can. In confession I answer Jesus, the divine physician, by saying, “I am sick with sin, heal my heart.”

In college life we seek the truth. Sometimes the truth is soft and easy- like the taste of fresh beef from your Meat Lab. Sometimes the truth is hard and difficult, like the class that exposes your lack of discipline. All truth is necessary, for it sets us free. All truth should be welcomed as an opportunity to grow in grace as a man or woman. We could never correct ourselves if we didn’t know our faults.

Just this week I received a hard truth. Just this week my own sinfulness hit me hard. I have a temper. I can shoot off my mouth in the moment. I am weak. I am sick. The sickest thing about me is that I want to deny that I am sick.

“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.” We are all sick, thank God we are sick. If we were not sick with sin, we would have no need of the remedy: Jesus Christ. No sin is too great, too horrible or too terrible that he cannot heal. My name is Father Andrew, and I am a sinner.