Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Dating back to 1548, most Jesuit educational institutions, and many Catholic colleges and universities, mark the beginning of the academic year with the Mass of the Holy Spirit. This year, at the Catholic University of America, our Chancellor and Cardinal, Archbishop Gregory, delivered a particularly special homily regarding the Catholic lawyer. He began by saying:
The Catholic University of America has produced a number of great lawyers over time. Many of you at Mass today perhaps are now enrolled in our law school. Others of you may have lawyers in your own families. A good lawyer can be a wonderful helper in a difficult situation, because a lawyer is a person who is dedicated to discovering the truth at all costs. Lawyers also take a lot of criticism in our society. Some of that criticism may be justified. At other times, such criticism may be directed toward lawyers because of envy, anger, or misunderstanding of the kind of things that a bright attorney can do to improve life for lots of people.
You have probably never thought of the Spirit of God as an attorney, but that is close to the meaning of the word: PARACLETE!
I have always bristled at the lawyer jokes, myself. The attorneys I know work tirelessly on behalf of many marginalized people and offer a voice to those who have none. Many of the students I have had the honor of teaching chose to attend law school, not for promises of financial success, but simply to improve the world around them and respond to injustices they have encountered. Cardinal Gregory's homily offers an excellent rebuttal to those who have a lesser view of attorneys - and a reminder to us all of our vocation to teach and advocate for the greater good. His full homily can be found here.