Ignatian Spirituality and the Life of the Lawyer: Finding God in All Things - Even in Ordinary Practice of the Law
Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, Vol. 46, pp. 7-28, 2007
31 Pages Posted: 18 May 2006
All of us know lawyers who seem unhappy, unfree, directionless, and disintegrated, who seem to be following paths they haven't consciously chosen, leading them to places they would never have chosen to go, seemingly locked in lives they haven't freely chosen to live. Some would characterize this reality as a manifestation of a spiritual crisis, a crisis of meaning and value in the law, rooted in the difficulty lawyers have integrating the practice of the law into the whole of their lives. This article argues that the spirituality flowing from the life of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, offers resources for addressing the spiritual crisis afflicting the contemporary legal profession. Ignatius shows us how to pay attention to God calling us to freedom and wholeness in the ordinary experience of our daily lives. The Ignatian understanding of God as one who labors, who struggles with hard work to bring all things to life, wholeness, freedom, and integrity, may well resonate with people whose lives are given over to the hard and rigorous work of practicing law. Ignatius understands God as one not distant from our labors in the law. Instead, we are working in the trenches alongside God who is always already at work in our midst, giving a religious density to our lives as lawyers, and the challenge for us is to try to discern more clearly how God is at work in us and around us, so that we can more fully align our labors with God's. If lawyers today experience a spiritual crisis because there is a compartmentalizing wall between their faith and their work, the Ignatian understanding of God might spark the renewal this crisis calls for, by bringing a new depth of meaning and integrity to our labors in the ordinary practice of the law.
Keywords: Ignatian spirituality, legal practice, discernment, integrity
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