Peter J. Daly is a Catholic priest, in Prince Frederick, Maryland who recently wrote about what he had learned after twenty four years of being a priest in the Catholic Northwest Progress newspaper http:www.seattlearch.org Here is part of what he had to say about what he had learned:
"I’ve learned to be more accepting of people.I take them as God sends them. We are all works in progress. This insight has made me more compassionate. Twenty five years ago I was much more severe. When people came to me for the sacraments, I wanted to see evidence they were living the Christian life. If they wanted their baby baptized, I wanted to see them married. If they wanted to get married, I wanted to see them not living together…
But now, I realize that the sacraments are not trophies conferred on those already victorious over sin, but rather they are food for the hungry and strength for the weak. People seek the sacraments because they want help on the path to perfection, not because they are already perfect. I take them as they come….
The church is like a spiritual gym. People do not have to be in perfect shape to join a gym. They join a gym to get into shape."
I applaud the wisdom gained by Father Daly over his twenty four years. As Jesus responded to the criticism that he was spending his time with tax collectors and sinners:
"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
It is love, compassion and understanding that we seek in attending a church, synagogue or masque because we are all in need of forgiveness. I don’t believe these institutions exist to reward the self righteous, but rather as places of worship and refuge for all of us sinners. Yes, we all understand there are rules and fundamental tenet's involved in religions, but I think people would drawn to, instead of being driven away from, religion if religions offered love,understanding and compassion instead of only judgment and condemnation.