Father Greg Kalscheur — priest, lawyer, teacher, and all-around great guy — has recently published a reflection on Ignatian spirituality and how it might help lawyers find meaning in the everyday practice of law. This is, as Greg realizes, an ambitious project:
We all know that life as a lawyer can often become stressful, hectic, compartmentalized, and dis-integrated. And we all know lawyers who seem lifeless, joyless, directionless, and unfree, following paths they haven’t consciously chosen, that lead them to places they would never have chosen to go, seemingly locked in lives they haven’t freely chosen to live.
The spirituality that comes to us from Ignatius illuminates a path that can help us to avoid that trap.
I know this will be of interest not only to the Catholic lawyers who read this blog (and there are more than a few), but to many who are neither Catholics nor lawyers. In particular, I like the way Greg calls attention to how ordinary the day-to-day activities even of saints may seem:
To the casual observer, [St. Ignatius’s] daily life and work undoubtedly looked pretty ordinary, just as our daily lives as lawyers often look pretty ordinary. Yet we can properly describe the life of Ignatius as extraordinary. The extraordinariness of his life is to be found in his constant openness to finding God hard at work and calling him forward in the midst of his everyday experience. The extraordinariness of Ignatius is found in his ability to respond to God’s call with an integrity and freedom that united the instrument of his life ever more intimately to the hand of God at work in the world. This is an extraordinariness to which all of us can aspire, no matter what the nature of our individual vocation.
That’s a useful counterweight to the Messiah Complex (or alternatively, Save-the-Whalism) that seems to me to afflict many people when they are thinking perhaps too hard about their careers. Incidentally, Greg gave this talk as part of a symposium, and the rest of the symposium is also available online. Boston College is lucky to have him.
Reasonable Minds in the law may also be interested in this 1996 paper by Greg, in which he “re-imagines” law school as a “culture of conversation.” Note the extended quotation on the imagination from Father Jim Walsh — who is also a priest, teacher, and all-around great guy, plus he’s not even a lawyer.