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Dan Sulmasy on holiness for healthcare professionals

Dan Sulmasy and his books

Dr. Dan Sulmasy, from the University of Chicago, will join us this Friday at noon for a lecture on “The Spirituality of Practice: Lessons from Fred” (free lunch included!). For those of you who are medical professionals or students in the healthcare professions, hear these words of encouragement from the conclusion to Sulmasy’s excellent book The Healer’s Calling:

Holiness is not about being perfect. It is about the courage to acknowledge imperfection. It is about the courage to act in the face of imperfection. It is about the courage to be less than super-human and yet more than the irredeemable, dismal, rational maximizer of self-interest that some philosophers and some economists say represents the reality of all that human beings can ever be.

It is the call to this kind of holiness that I want to urge upon healthcare professionals today. To be a wounded healer is to be this kind of doctor or nurse. Holy, not by virtue of any saccharine practices or hypocritical pretensions of perfection. But holy by virtue of honesty. Holy by virtue of courage. Here. Now. In the stuff of it.

Those of us who work in healthcare institutions and call ourselves Christians are capable of such holiness. We doubtless have trouble seeing it around us, or even seeing the potential in ourselves. But we are called to holiness. We have only first to recognize that we ourselves are wounded. To quote the gospel of Luke, the physician-evangelist, “Physician, heal yourself” (Luke 4:23). For until we recognize that we are in need of healing ourselves and recognize in the weakness of our patients a weakness not unlike our own, we will never be very good healers.

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