The Leaven of the World: Serving the Poor Is Neither the Air in the Balloon Nor the Cherry on the Sundae

Thomas More Donnelly, The Leaven of the World: Serving the Poor Is Neither the Air in the Balloon Nor the Cherry on the Sundae, 43 Gonz. L. Rev. 607 (2008).

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Another parable he spoke to them: The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.[1]

“What are kingdoms without justice but large bands of robbers?”[2]

Professor Breen calls on Catholic and Jesuit law schools to be unapologetically Catholic and boldly Jesuit.[3] He decries the use of legal clinics as mere window-dressing or the cherry on the top of the sundae of legal education.[4] Clinics are the sop thrown to religious identity: “[s]ure we promote justice, we got clinics.” Thus the length, breadth, width, and depth of our school’s commitment to promote justice lies outside the core curriculum. The secularists use clinics as a diversionary tactic in the effort to exclude Catholic social teaching from the core curriculum.[5] Professor Breen wants to rescue “the school’s Jesuit and Catholic identity” from the periphery, where the clinics apparently reside, and relocate it “in the heart of the academic enterprise itself: in the classroom, in the law school’s curriculum, and in the research.”[6] He suggests: required jurisprudence courses, all-faculty colloquies, and “hiring for mission.”[7] Take these steps and Catholic identity will fill the school as the “air in the balloon—as that which literally inspires the university filling every part of it with meaning and direction.”[8] %CODE2%
To poke a hole in his balloon: more hot air about justice will not inspire. Doing justice will. I suggest another image, borrowed from the gospel, that more effectively demonstrates how the Jesuit and Catholic identities must permeate law schools through action: leaven.[9] Leaven is not merely something “in addition,” but transforms flour and water to dough. Rather than more hot air about justice, transformative action for justice must abide at the heart of our enterprise. Thus, the Catholic and Jesuit identities would place service and clinical experience, rather than talk and the classroom at the law school’s heart. To move from soul, ψυχή (individual breath), to spirit πνεΰμά (wind), we must move in solidarity—joining our individual breaths into the wind of action.[10] Clinics join students and faculty in solidarity with the poor in action to alleviate suffering. Leaven acts on the other ingredients; it changes them into something else; it sweetens, it breathes, it is alive. All this suggests action. Action, not words, will work the transformation Professor Breen desires. Moving clinics from the periphery to the heart will make our law schools boldly Jesuit and unapologetically Catholic.

By telling students in class about the injustice of the treating juveniles as adults, they may think about it for a few moments. But if students fight to free a fourteen-year-old boy wrongfully held in the adult population of Cook County Jail, wait five hours with his mom on the jail steps until the jail lets the boy out at 9:00 p.m., hold her hand and listen to what she worries might be happening to her boy: students will think about justice for the rest of their lives.[11] Talking abstractly about justice has little meaning absent experiences such as these. Experiencing injustice reveals justice and points out justice as the compass’s true north tells you south. The mind discerns what justice is by seeing what it is not. Most important, by doing justice and righting wrongs, students are provided the means of understanding justice and injustice. Understanding that habit (justice) can begin after it has been acquired, if only in some little way. True justice lives not in words but in deeds.

Reflecting on those deeds and discerning and purifying intentionality forms the intellectual work of the habituation, but the deeds come first.[12] Assisting students to form the intention that accompanies this work can be a distinctively Catholic contribution. Assisting them in their deliberation with Catholic teaching on justice would be another. Catholic clinics will thus knead the dough already leavened by action by helping students think discerningly about their intentionality in this work and their choices. Those participating in Catholic clinics must bring love to their work with the poor:

The dirtier and uglier they are, the more vulgar and unjust, the more love you must show them. It is only because of your love and your love alone, that the poor will forgive you for the bread that you give them. Look after your poor, see them yourself. Let none come between them and you. You have as much need of them as they need you.[13]

Students must be formed in a

humility not perverted into some form of acquiescence but one that actively responds to the world’s selfishness and despair, a humility that overturns the world’s values the way Christ did—the disdain for power, the exaltation of poverty, the dignity rendered from service to the weak.[14]

They must be schooled to regard honor as:

the temporal response of service to Christ and the standard by which one’s faith is judged. . . . [It is embodied, paradoxically, in] a kind of pride in being able to love as boldly and passionately as Christ did, whether it is for the poor, the weak, the widow, the orphan, or the forsaken.[15]

Uniquely, Catholic clinics can protect students from that particular pitfall of poverty lawyers: the desire to serve only the innocent and the deserving. Reading the Catholic literature of the past century protects from this pitfall as it is imbued with the notion that it is the sinner who forms the heart of Christianity.[16]

The classroom setting pales in comparison to the street, the courthouse, and the jailhouse steps. In doing justice, feelings inform the intellect, action acts on the actor, and the giver becomes the receiver.[17] Doing justice transforms the doer in a way that no amount of talk can. Not merely academic, it truly educates, leads out of selfishness to self-giving.[18] Unapologetic Catholics and Jesuits find a merely academic enterprise inadequate and must transcend academia through love in action. Bold Catholics and Jesuits will not be sated by a few heady conversations; they desire conversion, a change in action.

Requiring a jurisprudence course, holding a social justice faculty colloquy, hiring a few Thomist law professors truly amounts to window dressing. It offers the mere taste of Catholicism without the meat, because the structure and operation remain identical to secular schools. The meat of Catholicism lies not in words but in the transformative action of love. To make our schools boldly Jesuit requires radical change, transplanting clinics from the periphery to the center of our law schools and putting loving action for the poor at the heart of our schools.[19] Helping students change the world would inspire them, give them meaning and direction. It is only personal involvement with suffering that will be sufficient “to instill in . . . students a desire to engage in public service and to further social justice during law school and after graduation.”[20]

My article divides itself into two segments: (1) showing clinics form the best starting point for teaching law students about justice and (2) asserting that Catholic clinics should distinguish themselves from clinics at secular law schools by incorporating the gospel values, which require serving the poorest and most despised members of society with humility. As a part-time teacher at a Jesuit law school for twenty years (the same school from which I graduated twenty-one years ago), as a public defender for thirteen years, and, for the last five years, a judge serving in civil and criminal courtrooms filled with poor people, I bring some baggage to this inquiry.

I. Love in Action: Doing Justice Beats Talking About It

The first point is pedagogical—how do we best teach students about justice? While I agree with Professor Breen that more time could be spent talking about justice, I think he misses the unique role that legal clinics may play in starting the conversation: “[n]o one has been brave enough to argue that the promotion of justice can be attained simply through the affective experience of sympathy for a disadvantaged client.”[21]

What is most remarkable about this sentence is the notion that a human being can experience life simply affectively. Later, Professor Breen describes the representation of the poor as having “the visceral feel of a concrete response to injustice.”[22] This suggests that righting real wrongs has merely the feel of justice. In his previous article, he minimizes the value of clinical experiences as providing students “complexities [that] . . . are almost entirely legal and professional.”[23] Concrete service to the poor provides students the experience of doing justice, an experience from which all intellectual discussions must flow. Thus, all the complexities of the intellectual life must be grounded in the concrete particulars. Consequently, the clinical experience serves as a prerequisite to the theoretical.

While Professor Breen admits that clinical programs are “enormously valuable”[24] and that Jesuit schools, perhaps, ought to make clinical work “a requirement for graduation,”[25] at the same time he derides the experience as promoting an “emotional response to injustice” and the notion that “justice is something that one feels and intuits rather than something that one thinks and reasons and argues about.”[26] These remarks indicate a deep ambivalence regarding the nature of this “pedagogical tool.”[27]

To argue for more teaching about the Catholic tradition in the core curriculum, he perhaps feels that he must attack the nature of the clinical experience as at least insufficient. Professor Breen lauds the clinical experience but limits its value. I agree with him that clinical education, while necessary, falls short.[28] His description of those limits, however, fails to grasp the centrality of clinical education in teaching law students about justice. Indeed, they betray a misapprehension as to the nature of justice within the Catholic tradition.

Professor Breen’s belittling statement that representing the poor constitutes simply an “affective experience of sympathy” for the disadvantaged underestimates the nature of the experience.[29] Putting students face-to-face with injustice may be just the experience to ignite their passion to discover justice.[30] But the students are offered more than merely “contact” with victims of injustice.[31] They are offered the chance to help them. While Professor Breen derides this help as only having the “visceral feel of a concrete response to injustice,”[32] in the Catholic tradition, the action to ameliorate or reduce the suffering of another human being constitutes the highest form of action, love. The performance of these actions has not only profound moral dimensions, such as saving the soul of the person who performs the action, but it has an intellectual dimension. His claim that clinical education “encourages an affective rather than an analytical approach to situations involving injustice” creates a false bifurcation between action and understanding, a bifurcation foreign to Catholic ethics.[33]

In the Catholic tradition, it is only in the context of experience that true learning about the virtues such as justice may take place. Certainly analytical rigor is required, but where practical wisdom is concerned, the grist for the intellectual mill must be experience. Professor Breen is certainly right when he reiterates, “a powerful case can be made that a Jesuit law school should insist on the completion of some formal clinical experience as a requirement for graduation.”[34] It is unfortunate that he fails to make that “powerful case.”[35] It is unfortunate that he only “note[s] in passing” that clinical experience should perhaps be required.[36]

A. Ex Opere Operato[37]

Serving poor people has sacramental quality because it changes you when you do it. Looking entirely at the effect on the person who performs the service, it acts upon the actor. It has a transformative effect upon the actor that transcends any results of the service. It not only gives the lawyer joy, but also changes the being and the soul, after the manner of a sacrament.[38] It works ontologically. For these reasons, clinical work must precede the intellectual formation of lawyer in habit of doing justice.[39] My argument rests on the Thomistic understanding of what a virtue is and how human beings learn virtues.[40]

B. Catholic Ethics

By talking about the “simply . . . affective experience of sympathy,” Breen seems to miss the causal relation between affective experience and intellectual attainment in ethical matters.[41] Catholicism acquired its understanding of justice from Aristotle through Saint Thomas Aquinas. Under Thomas’s conceptualization, any understanding of justice grows from experience. Knowledge of the virtue grows from experience because the act acts upon the actor. In Aristotle and Thomas’s anthropology, what you do shapes you in the realm of the practical wisdom.

Professor Charles Taylor recently bemoaned modernity’s tendency to split the fullness of excellence (or virtue) in two.[42] Aristotle’s concept of “phronesis, or practical wisdom,” he tells us, “doesn’t allow us to separate a knowledge component from the practice of virtue.”[43] Thus, talking about justice as an intellectual matter without reference to training the will and the passions is misleading.[44] Its truth is to be found in doing—justice is a habit.[45] It is learned though habituation, not treatises.[46] While it may be discussed abstractly, its real meaning as a virtue originates in action. Justice is “the habit which makes men capable of doing just actions.”[47] Thus, the experience of serving the poor is precisely the education that forms students for a life a virtue because training in virtue must be by habituation. To confine the clinical experience to the merely affective misses an important aspect—it is the best way to teach justice as a virtue. Moreover, no fully human excellence (or virtue) remains merely affective. That splits the whole of excellence into halves.

The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins declaimed “the just man justices,” announcing that justice falls among the verbs in the Catholic lexicon.[48] It must be contemplated later, Professor Breen rightly insists upon reflection, but it originates in action.[49] Mere habit without reflection, I agree, does not deserve the name virtue—it lacks the intention or desire that makes it whole. Thought fulfills action. Thus, paradoxically, it is the active life that prepares us for the intellectual, not the reverse.[50]

While Plato posed the question of how you learn virtues such as justice, Aristotle answered the question: through experience.[51] It is through the particular that we learn about justice, not through the general or abstract.[52] By particulars, Aristotle means the nitty-gritty details that flesh out life and the feelings that are aroused as a result. Practical wisdom concerns itself with particulars not universals.[53]

C. Teaching Justice through Clinical Experience Builds Upon Students’ Desire

for Practical Knowledge

Law students share Aristotle’s disdain for universals, at least abstract philosophical universals.[54] Indeed, the biggest turn-off to any of the students I have taught during my twenty years of misleading students at Chicago’s Jesuit Law School has been to explicitly mention anything remotely philosophical. Students at Catholic law schools are no different from their confreres at the more avowedly secular institutions. They have no time for navel-gazing philosophizing or, much less, theologizing. As Pope Benedict has recognized, while he was merely a cardinal, traditional western philosophy was dying, if not already dead.[55]

Having taught skill courses, substantive law courses, and jurisprudence courses, I can relate anecdotally that the snooze-factor increases exponentially the farther the teacher voyages into more reflective and philosophic topics. Inherent in the expectations of law students of all stripes is practicality. They expect to be taught a craft, or worse a list of rules identifying the black letter law, not to become learned scholars in an academic discipline. This attitude may be disappointing and frustrating, but there is no denying its prevalence.

If you tell students that you are grading on participation, students will stay awake and talk. But their participation falls into two categories: sucking-up or clueless vaporizing. The suck-ups will do their best to detect your actual views and parrot them right back to you. The clueless will vehemently voice their deeply held personal convictions grounded on fancy and whim. Because they completely lack any philosophical training, they confuse philosophy with late night dorm discussion. Professor Breen correctly asserts students do not believe that philosophical views must be grounded in reason or subject to rational analysis. However, it is difficult to remedy the wholesale abandonment of the Western philosophical tradition in one 3-hour elective. No training in philosophical inquiry or even logic has contaminated their sixteen years of education in Catholic or secular schools. Many practitioners join the students in wanting legal education to focus more on the craft of lawyer than on the philosophical begründung.[56]

Whatever law school students ought to be like, they are practically minded. We must, like Saint Paul at the Aeropagus,[57] take our students where we find them. Where we lead them may be another point entirely, but it does no good to address an audience in terms they do not understand or care to understand. Indeed, we must first teach students to desire philosophical answers before we start a philosophical discussion. The best manner in which to teach desire is experience. A student confronted with a concrete manifestation of something his or her soul tells him or her is grossly unjust or unfair will do more to stimulate a desire to understand that feeling than all the lectures in the world.

A law student may acquire such a deep desire by representing a poor person. The experience elicits the desire for a definition and way to describe the moral disgust that injustice arouses.[58] It can stimulate a very deep desire to understand how justice can be made manifest and how we can understand it. Assign a student to represent an eighty-year-old woman who has lost her life savings because the government mistakenly fined her for code violations on a building she never owned.[59] That student will come away with a burning desire for justice and an experience of how the heart can sometimes guide the mind to find justice.

To adopt Hopkins’s verbal use of the word justice,[60] the law student justices when she affords this woman representation. Representation, simply fighting for someone’s rights regardless of the outcome, justices—it gives the woman her due.[61] She is entitled to dignity—she gets it in some degree merely by having a lawyer to stand up for her. Representation affords dignity. Thus, win or lose, justice to some basic degree has been done, simply by the fact that someone fought for this woman. The Latin word for right, dignus, is also the root of “dignity.” This suggests that affording someone his or her procedural rights confers a certain dignity. The law student’s representation of this person shows they are worthy of being represented and they are worth fighting for. Thus the mere fact that a student helps them, effectuates in a small, but very real way, justice. Giving students the opportunity to justice, in its verbal sense, may have profound effects. To get someone a trial means that they are worthy of a trial. As I shall try to describe later, as a public defender, I witnessed the dignifying effects of representation. It not only conferred dignity on them, but also on me. If the least were worthy, so was I. Thus the justice came in the mutual recognition of human dignity that springs from the context of legal representation.

II. Pedagogy of the Good Samaritan: How Catholic and Jesuit Legal Clinics Can Be Distinctively Catholic and Jesuit

In the clinical context, the students must be surrounded by exemplars that model justice. Additionally, as pointed out by Professor Andrew Moore in a response to Professor Breen’s earlier article, such experiences need follow up by an integrative seminar. It is the particular responsibility of Catholic and Jesuit law schools to integrate praxis into a theoretical understanding of the virtues. “Moral virtue cannot do without intellectual virtue.”[62] Professor Moore suggests that after the law students have had their clinic experience, the school should require:

an integrative seminar not simply allow[ing] space for reflection, but require[ing] a student to uncover the meaning behind the service of the poor and marginalized. Students must uncover the meaning for their own personal beliefs, for their future role as a lawyer, for the legal profession, and for the functioning of the law and how it impacts the community. In this arena, I would not hesitate to offer teachings of the Catholic Church for the students to consider as they integrate their training and their clinical or externship experience. I would also invite them to introduce teachings and beliefs from their own religious faiths or moral beliefs.[63]

I want, however, to go further than Professor Moore. The Catholic and Jesuit traditions have something special to offer those working for the poor. Centuries of service have bestowed on it a particular expertise in service. One of the pitfalls of service to the poor is an exploitative use of the poor for your own ends, even ideological ends. Thus, I could be a public defender because I am against police brutality or against racism. In each of those cases, my ideology may interfere or compromise my service. If police brutality is not involved in the murder I am assigned to, my representation may not have the same zeal. Or, perhaps, after I lose a motion to suppress an allegedly coerced statement, I may lose interest in the case. If my interest in the work is not purely to serve my client, my attention may wane when my pet issue has no part in the case. I have found that attorneys, who were “defending the Constitution” or had some other ideological crusade, were also more tied to results. They wanted to win for their cause. Another group that was distracted from client service was those attorneys who expected the clients to be grateful. These attorneys often became very bitter in their work as defenders and were so disappointed when the client did not recognize their efforts. The gospel provides a very good sourcebook for purity of intention. The tradition of the saints also provides similar guides as to the right attitude. These are things that the Catholic and Jesuit clinics can provide that no secular law school clinic can—a two-thousand-year tradition of serving the poor and the accumulated wisdom reaped from such service. This could make the experience in the Catholic and Jesuit clinics distinct from that at clinics at secular law schools.

A. Teaching the Catholic Understanding of Suffering

At bottom, the Church has an understanding of suffering that should ground any clinic. In a wonderful apostolic letter, Pope John Paul II set forth this point in an eloquent way:

[S]uffering, which is present under so many different forms in our human world, is also present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one’s “I” on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer.[64]

An advocate in a legal clinic offers his or her “I” on behalf of the poor. Love is unleashed in legal action on behalf of the suffering. The act acts upon the actor in the way love always acts by transforming the person, by lifting them up, raising them to what they were meant to be, and informing them. This is justice in the highest sense. We render to the suffering person what is their due, love:

“The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for, so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain sense man owes to suffering that unselfish love which stirs in his heart and actions.[65]

Owing someone love seems somewhat oxymoronic, but not for those that believe that love fulfills the law.[66] Additionally, this is justice not only for the receiver, but also for the giver. It is in loving that we attain our fulfillment, it was what we were created for. Thus, paradoxically, we obtain what is due to us by giving. The act of doing justice for the poor fulfills the law student, makes their wholeness possible. Providing them with this opportunity makes possible not only justice but also their happiness.[67] If more law students could have this experience, fewer perhaps would be depressed, drinking, or drugging.

It is this experience of tending to the suffering that unleashes love. This cannot be reduced to merely the “affective experience of sympathy for a disadvantaged client.”[68] This is the purpose of suffering. It is present in human life “in order to unleash love.”[69] Clinical experiences of the right kind present the students with the opportunity to unleash love. Indeed, the Holy Father points to the importance of this in education: formulating a pedagogy of the Good Samaritan.[70]

B. Three Anecdotes: Performance of a Virtuous Action Acts Upon the Intellect[71]

Aristotle’s postulate that experience forms the virtues has been born out in my lived experience as a lawyer. I shall introduce three stories where an event shaped the virtue in my life in a way that no abstract concept could have done. Moreover, they point the way towards a pedagogy of the Good Samaritan.

1. Sweaty Palms

On my first day as an assistant public defender in bond court at the Cook County Criminal Court, I represented 102 new arrestees at their bond hearings on a Saturday morning. For many of them, the first time they saw me was when they came out from the lockup and into the courtroom. Out of instinct, I looked at each arrestee as the deputy sheriff brought them out. I shook their hands as I introduced myself as their lawyer. This familiarity with the defendants irritated the Assistant State Attorney who was prosecuting these defendants. At the conclusion of the bond hearings, which stretched from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., he pointed to two hand-shaped imprints of sweat. They were the deposit from the hands of the 102 defendants as they stood before the bench resting their hands on the counter that held all the state and defense paperwork. He pointed at the pools of sweat and said, “That is what you have been shaking hands with.” He was right in acknowledging most of the defendants were very sweaty, most were dirty, and many smelled of fecal or urine odor. I, in my perverse Catholic way, took delight in the fact that that was exactly what I had been shaking hands with—the poorest of the poor. It struck me at that moment that this was exactly where Christ would intend me to be.

What is noteworthy here to me is that I happened into this practice by accident. It was not part of a preconceived plan. But having done it, it convinced me, it informed me what I was doing. “Sometimes a single act is enough to conquer the passivity of the power in which the habit develops. This is the case with an immediately evident proposition which is adequate to convince the intellect definitively, and to make it accept a certain conclusion permanently.”[72] This act, which I had happened into, became a permanent part of my repertoire as a public defender and started me on a habit, a habit of justice. By just looking these men and woman in the eye, shaking their hands, and telling them I would be fighting for them together with my zealous advocacy, proved what I promised dignified them.

2. Winning Isn’t the Only Thing

I think one of the most powerful lessons I learned about justice was that in rendering top-flight legal service to the poor. Such service recognized their dignity and forced the court system to treat them with dignity.

One client whose case I lost wrapped her arms around me after the jury had come back not guilty of murder but guilty of voluntary manslaughter. I was crying because I thought it should have been a straight not guilty. But as I stood there with the client, she said that notwithstanding the fact that we did not win the case, that I had fought for her like no one had ever done before.

She taught me the dignifying effect of courts. The court had realized its highest purpose through me and recognized the dignity of this poor woman. I believe that realizing the shared dignity of all humans through affording dignity to the least—the poor, the accused, and the friendless, that the courts play a Christ-like role—clothing the poor with dignity and forcing us all to realize that it is not the material trappings that give us dignity but the created soul. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., justice to anyone anywhere is justice to everyone everywhere.[73]

3. Winning May Tell a Truth, Not Change a Life

One day at a misdemeanor court, I won a motion to suppress drug evidence. The defendants were young guys in their late teens or early twenties. They were smoking dope in their van in an alley. The cop saw a van occupied by young men in an alley and ordered them out of the car and found the drugs. The cop tried to invent facts not in his reports to justify his order, but cross-examination revealed his fabrication. The young boys could not believe it when the judge granted the motion. The system had worked for them. They had rights.

The kids may go on in their dope-smoking ways and cops may continue to roust kids illegally out of cars with no reasonable suspicion. But if the truth triumphed for one moment for three boys, it triumphs eternally—it joins itself to the eternal triumph of truth.[74] And when truth triumphs for the despised and the universally loathed, it more powerfully speaks to the Gospel, than the triumph of truth for the righteous, the goody two-shoed of the world—because the Catholic views the world upside down.

These three client stories are my own personal evidence that serving poor people teaches you a kind of lesson that cannot be learned primarily in a lecture, course, or seminar.

C. Clinics in Catholic and Jesuit Law Schools Give a Larger Meaning to

Service of the Poor

Authentic Catholicism reaches out to the suffering. Likewise, the Catholic lawyer must reach out to the suffering. This understanding is why requiring law students in Catholic and Jesuit law schools to serve in legal clinics dedicated to helping the poorest of the poor makes so much sense and why the Loyola New Orleans two-hour course on poverty law makes sense.[75] The triumph of the cross is that love fulfills the law and self-giving triumphs over self-seeking.

As Pope Benedict has eloquently pointed out—Catholicism requires a peculiar obsession with the poor and suffering.

[T]he exercise of charity became established as one of her essential activities, along with the administration of the sacraments and the proclamation of the word: love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to her as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel.[76]

It is only in serving the poor that we fulfill our destiny. In Matthew’s gospel, the sole questions that determine entrance into heaven ask about our treatment of the poor. The questions do not allow much wiggle room. God asks whether you have fed the hungry, clothed naked, visited the imprisoned, welcomed the stranger, and comforted the orphan and the widow.[77] Merely stating your concern or voicing your support for poverty-related causes will not suffice as the gospel requires action. Law fortunately allows lawyers through their practice to do all of these acts. In representing criminal defendants, I visited the poor in prison.[78] Lawyers representing widows and orphans can comfort them. Fighting for poor people who have been wronged can put bread on an attorney’s table, clothes on his or her back, and money in his or her pocket.

D. Serving the Poorest of the Poor Helps Us to Realize Their God-Given

Dignity and Our Own

My experience of representing the homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes, and those disfigured by disease, taught me that the more we humans reduce ourselves, the more the inherent dignity of the creature-ness mysteriously shines out. It is in our humility, not in our pride that God’s beauty flashes. Suffering acts as a refiner’s fire, but the refined bit of gold waits for the loving care of the servant-lawyer to name it or recognize it by passionate service. But it is in the service to the “undeserving poor”—the ugly poor, the vicious poor, that the Gospel transforms suffering into sacrifice—through the solidarity with the suffering—the aloneness ended—the servant and served get bound up in Christ and like the three men cast into the furnace in Daniel, they served to praise God.[79] The point of suffering and its meaning is found in being loved and in being served. This unity renders the distinction between servants and served meaningless. The poor are the alter Christi[80]—and, of course, so is the lawyer. Each has burnt down themselves in different ways so that all that remains is Christ. As Flannery O’Connor once remarked, even our virtues are burnt away in these moments.[81] These moments may not last—they may be temporary, they may be transitory—but viewed in through the eyes of hope they have transcendent power.[82] They are time-out-of-time; they are entering into the saecula saeculorum of the Triune God. Perhaps these are not very reasonable moments, but “finally . . . it isn’t a matter of reason; finally it’s a matter of love.”[83]

The caritas moments in my life as a public defender were in the thousands and often had nothing to do with the result, but sometimes bad legal results trigger love. Agape moments sometimes occur regardless of the result, such as going out into a bad neighborhood to visit a client’s mom. Doing the colossally stupid thing of visiting a dangerous housing project alone, tramping up a dozen flights of stairs filled with garbage to visit your client’s mother triggered it. The mutual recognition of common humanity crosses bounds of race class and social status in a beautiful look across a kitchen table that expresses: I see your humanity because you see mine. A totally reciprocal moment of agape, of caritas, and of love, that results from the lawyer’s investigation of the case. Whether the case is won or lost, the reality of that moment will never be lost as it exists transcendently and timelessly.

The belief that Catholic institutions are not alone in serving the poor should not cause us fear,[84] but joy that the gospel spread like fire over all the world. It is Gil Bailie who argues that the cross by turning us to the face of the victim has changed the world.[85] It relentlessly shifts our focus to the victim. According to Father Bob Pawell, the Albanian writer, Petru Dumitru, describes this loyalty to the suffering: “Jesus Christ is always on the side of the crucified and I believe He changes sides in the twinkling of an eye. He is not loyal to the person or even less to the group; he is loyal to the suffering.”[86] Of course, this quotation hints at what may be the distinctive characteristic of Jesuit and Catholic legal clinics—it pursues the suffering with love.

Catholic law schools can do this specifically in the clinical experience by bringing into clinical work the charism or spirit that must infuse any Catholic mission to the poor. In the light of the gospels, it is only by serving the poor that we will obtain salvation. As Matthew so compellingly puts it—we will not be asked by our Lord and Savior on the last day how many times we have attended religious services, but rather what services we have rendered the poor.[87] Thus, the occasion of service to the poor does not become an occasion to patronizingly assist the benighted souls who aren’t as well-off as you—the “there but for the grace of God” sentiment. Instead, it becomes—“Only the wonder of God’s grace could have provided me with this opportunity to gain my salvation by serving Christ on earth in the persons of the poor.” [88]

In Jean Anouilh’s screenplay for the movie “Monsieur Vincent,” which influenced mightily my own personal ethos of service, St. Vincent DePaul voices similar thoughts regarding the Catholic ethos in serving the poor:

“The poor are touchy; it is hard to aid them without hurting them . . . [The poor are] terrible, terrible as the justice of God. We, with our decent clothes, can cheat, but these rags, diseases, poverties, wolf-like faces, men hard and unjust, who must be served like our masters and loved. . . . You will find that charity is a heavy burden [upon the poor], heavier than bowl of soup or the basket of bread . . . they are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting you will see. The dirtier and uglier they are, the more vulgar and unjust, the more love you must show them. It is only because of your love and your love alone, that the poor will forgive you for the bread that you give them. Look after your poor, see them yourself. Let none come between them and you. You have as much need of them as they need you.” [89]

Indeed, in serving the poor we are not merely performing a good deed but are doing something essential for our salvation. As he remarks, that we “miss the essential” if although we do great work on behalf of the poor, we “do not know the face or name of a single of a poor person.”[90] It is the wonderful benefit of clinical work that students get to know the names and faces of many poor people. That contact informs you more clearly than any text of the nature of life in this world—a world dominated by selfishness and despair.

III. Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely

in eyes not his[91]

It is unremarkable that secular law schools provide opportunities for the third theological virtue of charity.[92] The fact that others perform works of charity does not make them any less Catholic. “Even in the works and words that seem to hide God’s face, or to spit on it, we can see God revealed at the heart of our world and in our culture.”[93] That secular law schools champion charity thus reveals God in unexpected places. It gives me hope.[94]

Hope, the second of the theological virtues, springs from faith, the first theological virtue—for faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.[95] Hope may be susceptible to the Panglossian indictment of Voltaire because of its refusal to accept the lens of despair and doubt.[96] It may, therefore, be branded by some unrealistic. But hope is only unrealistic in its refusal to accept radical doubt as the starting point for all inquiry. It is a transformative view; it does not imagine what it does not see, but sees what is with a different lens. Viewing the world through the lens of faith and hope reveals things otherwise hidden: it reveals the outbreak of the Gospel throughout the Universe; it reveals the triumph of the cross; it reveals that only when power is conjoined with love is it truly power;[97] it reveals that lame shall enter first; that the prostitutes and tax collectors are entering heaven ahead of the lawyers and the well-fixed, the religious and the well-thought-of personages. It reveals as Chesterton remarked it is the “world turned inside out;”[98] what appears to be outside is actually in.

Hope sees that all the secular law schools that have legal clinics devoted to the poor have been infected fatally with the Gospel.[99] The Gospel kills the world and brings life the kingdom of God.[100] Hope views every legal change that aids the poor or the suffering reflects the fact that the Kingdom of God is at hand. There is also something fickle about the Gospel—it searches out the victim wherever they are—thus there is quite a bit of side-switching –it shows only loyalty to the suffering. But hope sees that the desire to salve the wounds of the suffering is itself a sign of the in-breaking of the Gospel.

When, in Gaudium et Spes, the Church claims as its own the hopes and fears of the world, it is not a capitulation to secularism, but rather the triumph of the Cross.[101] The Cross forces the world to look into the face of the victim. Because Christ suffered on the Cross, the world can no longer wholeheartedly sacrifice scapegoats to achieve social unity. It must always hear, eventually, the cry of the poor. The world runs and hides, but justice follows. To those unaided by faith, this appears to be the losing battle for justice waged by the beleaguered few in the face of the unfeeling world. But for those who believe, it is the wisdom of God and the spirit recreating the earth. Moreover, hope is undiscriminating. The Spirit moveth where it listeth.[102] It is not subject to the marketers’ branding; the gospel’s accomplices may be unwitting; they may not be obvious Catholics. Indeed, the label is rather immaterial: “Who are my mothers and brothers—the ones who hear my word and put them into practice.”[103] Christ shows a singular lack of concern with regards to whether people have the correct membership cards or funny hats. Being and doing are His obsession—who we are and what we do determine His true followers. What the lips profess matters less than the deeds; it is by our fruit that we are known.

Thus, to pick a law at random, the Gospel may be breaking out in the Americans with Disabilities Act[104] which puts the disabled first—even if its proponents are avowedly atheists, Christ could care less. If the poor are being attended to, Christ is being cared for. Thus, Gaudium et Spes reveals that at the heart of the world is the heart of Christ and of His Church.[105]

In his sonnet, Hopkins’ octet shows the receivement,[106] how actions act upon the actor, doings upon the doer: shining sunlight reveals the kingfisher’s fiery feathers, tumbling rings the stone, tucking sounds string, swinging clangs the bell. Hopkins uncovers here the ever-present ambiguity between act and actor: which acts? The mortal thing appears to be the actor, but perhaps the action is acting. Actions that appear self-initiated bear the imprint of a larger action when examined closely. Nevertheless, however begun, our action unveils our inner essence to us and to the world:

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:

Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;

Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,

Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.[107]

Training law students in doing justice will thus reveal justice, their inner legal calling, to the world.

The sextet, however, reveals the transcendent dimension of action: that the perfection of human action in virtue (the just man justices) and grace (keeps grace) draws us upward to God in Christ. That is boldly Jesuit and unapologetically Catholic.

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;

As tumbled over rim in roundy wells

Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s

Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:

Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;

Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells;

Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;

Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;

Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—

Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men’s faces.[108]


*. Associate Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County; Adjunct Professor and Director of the Philip H. Corboy Trial Advocacy Fellowship, Loyola University of Chicago School of Law. B.A. 1981, St. John’s College, Santa Fe, N.M. J.D. 1986, Loyola University of Chicago School of Law. I thank Professor John M. Breen for always being ready to talk about how faith informs law, getting me to write this piece, and commenting on earlier drafts. Thomas Geoghegan made very helpful suggestions, Beata Kosydar typed and proofed the manuscript, and Mark Bosco, S.J. allowed me access to his pre-publication drafts of his paper: I am in your debt. I dedicate this article in loving memory to my great-uncle, Francis X. Lynch, S.J. Finally, I thank my wife Anne Wicker and my four sons Francis Claude, Ambrose Augustine, William Jeremiah, and Gabriel Hartigan for everything.

[1]. Matthew 13:33 (Douay-Rheims).

[2]. Pope John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris ¶ 92 (1963) (emphasis added), available at

[3]. John M. Breen, The Air in the Balloon: Further Notes on Catholic and Jesuit Identity in Legal Education, 43 Gonz. L. Rev. 41, 75 (2007).

[4]. Id. at 44.

[5]. Id. at 54.

[6]. Id. at 43-44 (emphasis added).

[7]. Id. at 43-44, 63-74.

[8]. Id. at 56.

[9]. See Matthew 13:33; supra text accompanying note 1.

[10]. See An Intermediate Greek Lexicon 649, 903 (Henry S. Liddell & Robert Scott, eds. & trans., 1972). But cf. Breen, supra note 3, at 56-57.

[11]. This representation describes a case I had as an assistant public defender in Chicago.

[12]. Martha C. Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy 307-08 & 492 n.48 (1986) (translating orexeos plausibly as desire rather than intention as the word shares its root with orgy and stating that practical judgment (choice) partakes of both deliberation and desire). Nussbaum therefore concludes that it can be dubbed “either desiderative deliberation or deliberative desire.” Id. at 308. Splitting it in two makes no sense.

[13]. Monsieur Vincent (Edition et Diffusion Cinématographique 1947) (subtitles by George Slocombe) (the screenplay by Jean Anouilh, Jean Bernard-Luc has not been published in French or English and is available only in movie form); see Steven D. Greydanus, Review of Monsieur Vincent, Decent Film Guide (last visited Feb. 26, 2008) (providing a brief synopsis of the film).

[14]. Mark Bosco, S.J., Georges Bernanos and Francis Poulenc: Catholic Convergences in Dialogues of the Carmélites, Logos (forthcoming) (emphasis added).

[15]. Id.

[16]. Charles Peguy’s dictum “Le pécheur est au coeur même de chrétiente” not only graced Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter as its epigraph, but it is emblematic of the spirit of much of the French Catholic Revival and Greene’s other work. Mark Bosco, S.J., Graham Greene’s Catholic Imagination 7-9, 41-43 (2005).

[17]. Students must be assisted in centering their lives around such “receivements,” rather than around their own “achievements,” as the secular world would have them do. John C. Haughey, S.J., Housing Heaven’s Fire: The Challenge of Holiness 11-12 (2002).

[18]. See The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary 785 (Lesley Brown ed., 1993) (defining the etymology for “educe” as to lead or draw out).

[19]. It also might affect the way in which we treat our students. I have often remarked that one of our colleagues at Loyola, Professor James P. Carey, uniquely displays a peculiarly Catholic pedagogy in his treatment of students. He treats each student as infinitely more important than anything he or she will ever do. Who they are matters more to him than how they are doing academically. He recognizes their dignity in remembering all of their names, knowing their faces, and caring about how they are doing as individual persons.

[20]. John M. Breen, Justice and Jesuit Legal Education: A Critique, 36 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 383, 396-97 (2005) (quoting 2005 Gonzaga University School of Law Mission Statement, available at

[21]. Breen, supra note 3, at 52 (emphasis added).

[22]. Id. at 53.

[23]. Breen, supra note 20, at 397 (emphasis added).

[24]. Id. at 398.

[25]. Id. at 396.

[26]. Id. at 398.

[27]. Id.

[28]. However, it is befuddling that Professor Breen ignores the excellent suggestion for a method of bringing analytic rigor to the clinical experience. Professor Moore suggests and integrative seminar as a follow-up to required direct service experience in a clinic. Andrew F. Moore, Contact and Concepts: Educating Students at Jesuit Law Schools, 41 Gonz. L. Rev. 459, 477-78 (2005).

[29]. Breen, supra note 3, at 52.

[30]. Indeed, as Aristotle recognized, “[t]he many forms of injustice make the many forms of justice quite clear.” Joseph Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues 43 (Univ. of Notre Dame Press 1966) (1954). Thus, it is extremely instructive intellectually to confront actual instances of injustice. Seeing, listening to, and meeting the victims does more than evoke sympathy; it provides more information as to the nature of the injustice, its effect. It provides qualitatively different information than reading the case file or an appellate court opinion. The intellect is informed by non-intellectual components of perception. See Nussbaum, supra note 12, at 309.

[31]. Breen recognizes this, but then discards it. He acknowledges the need for a start in experience, but then leaves it. While he is right that analytical rigor is required, he does not incorporate into his schema a requirement for clinical work that must precede it. Breen, supra note 20, at 397.

It exposes the nascent lawyer to blatant injustice in the hope that this will “foster a concern for justice and the competence to promote it.” In such a situation, the law student is no longer “insulated from any real contact . . . with the hard, everyday consequences of injustice and oppression.” Instead, this “personal involvement with innocent suffering, with the injustice others suffer” will, says Father Kolvenbach, act as a “catalyst for solidarity which then gives rise to intellectual inquiry and moral reflection.” Through this encounter, the Jesuit law school seeks “to instill in [its] students a desire to engage in public service and to further social justice during law school and after graduation.”

Id. at 396-96 (footnotes omitted) (emphasis added). While Breen expresses agreement with these potent thoughts, he brands them insufficient and, even more troubling, he fails to integrate them into his schema for reviving Jesuit and Catholic identities. He acknowledges them as essential but ignores them.

[32]. Breen, supra note 3, at 53.

[33]. Breen, supra note 20, at 396; see also Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas 258 (L.K. Shook, trans., 1956) (“Sometimes a single act is enough to conquer the passivity of the power in which the habit develops. This is the case with an immediately evident proposition which is adequate to convince the intellect definitively, and to make it accept a certain conclusion permanently.”). The performance of a virtuous action acts upon the intellect.

[34]. Breen, supra note 3, at 46 (quoting Breen, supra note 20, at 396).

[35]. Id.

[36]. Id.

[37]. See Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 797 (1993) (defining Ex opere operato as literally meaning “from the work done,” and further defining it as “in virtue of the action—used of a sacrament considered independently of the merits of the minister of the recipient.”).

[38]. While he does not go as far as I have, Pope Benedict XVI suggests a close connection between charity and sacraments. Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est ¶ 22 (2005), available at 20051225_deus-caritas-est_en.html.

[39]. See Moore, supra note 28, at 477-78.

[40]. See The American Heritage College Dictionary 1410 (3d ed. 1993) (defining Thomisism as “the theological and philosophical system of Saint Thomas Aquinas, a system that dominated scholasticism”).

[41]. Breen, supra note 3, at 52.

[42]. Charles Taylor, Sex & Christianity: How has the Moral Landscape Changed?, Commonweal, Sept. 28, 2007, at 12, 16 (using the word excellence where other translators used the word virtue). Neither conveys the fullness of αρεή which contains both senses.

[43]. Id. Apropos of this, my father, who is a physician, has remarked that if a profession starts offering classes in ethics, it no longer has any.

[44]. The best contemporary description of the interrelation of desire and deliberation can be found in Nussbaum’s excellent presentation of Aristotle thoughts regarding ethics. See Nussbaum, supra note 12, at 307-08.

[45]. See generally Joe Sachs, Aristotle—Ethics, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (last visited Feb. 26, 2008).

[46]. Shakespeare describes the effect of habituation in these lines from Hamlet:

Assume a virtue if you have it not.
That monster custom, who all sense doth eat,
Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,
. . .

For use almost can change the stamp of nature . . . .

William Shakespeare, Hamlet Prince of Denmark act 3, sc. 4 (Alfred Harbage ed., Penguin Books 1969). But see Sachs, supra note 45 (disagreeing slightly with Shakespeare, however, Sachs makes the extremely Catholic observation that “[h]abituation thus does not stifle nature, but rather lets nature make its appearance.”).

[47]. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica Q.57, art. 1, at 1431 (Fathers of the Dominican Province trans., Benziger Brothers 1947).

[48]. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., Sonnet 57, in Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins 95, 95 (W.H. Gardner ed., 3d ed. 1948) (emphasis added).

[49]. See Breen, supra note 20, at 390; cf. Nussbaum, supra note 12, at 307-08.

[50]. Aquinas, supra note 47, Q.182, art. 3, at 1945 (“‘Those who wish to hold the fortress of contemplation must first of all train in the camp of action. Thus after careful study they will learn whether they no longer wrong their neighbor, whether they bear with equanimity the wrongs their neighbors do to them, whether their soul is neither overcome with joy in the presence of temporal goods, nor cast down with too great a sorrow when those goods are withdrawn. In this way they will known when they withdraw within themselves, in order to explore spiritual things, whether they no longer carry with them the shadows of the things corporeal, or, if these follow them, whether they prudently drive them away.’ Hence the work of the active life conduces to the contemplative, by quelling the interior passions which give rise to the phantasms whereby contemplation is hindered.”).

[51]. “[I]f virtue is entirely knowledge, as you are seeking to show, then I cannot but suppose that virtue is capable of being taught.” Plato, Protagoras, in 1 The Dialogues of Plato 113, 187 (Benjamin Jowett trans., 3d ed. 1892). Aristotle’s answer to this conundrum is to describe a different type of knowledge, practical knowledge which must include the affective experience. He almost certainly addresses the Meno when he says that young people can be mathematicians but not people of practical wisdom because “objects of wisdom also include particulars, which come to be known through experience, and a young person is not an experienced one; for it is quantity of time that provides experience.” See Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics LL. 114a12-a17, at 183 (Christopher Rowe trans., Oxford Univ. Press 2002).

[52]. Aristotle, supra note 51, LL. 1142a12-a21, at 183.

[53]. See Nussbaum, supra note 12, at 303 (citing Aristotle, supra note 51, LL. 1141b14-b16, at 182); see also Pope Benedict XVI, supra note 38, ¶ 31b (“One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here and now. We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good now, with full commitment and wherever we have the opportunity . . . . The Christian’s programme—the programme of the Good Samaritan, the programme of Jesus—is ‘a heart which sees.’ This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly.” ) (emphasis added).

[54]. Within the context of medical education, it has also been noted that using the clinical experience to teach is more effective in molding actual practice. See William J. Donnelly, Medical Language as Symptom: Doctor Talk in Teaching Hospitals, 30 Persp. Biology & Med. 81, 81-93 (1986); see also William J. Donnelly, Viewpoint: Patient-Centered Medical Care Requires a Patient-Centered Medical Record, Acad. Med., Jan. 2005, at 33, 33-36.

[55]. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Mass Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice (Apr. 18, 2005), (“We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”).

[56]. See Section of Legal Educ. & Admissions to the Bar, American Bar Ass’n, MacCrate Report (1992), available at maccrate.html.

[57]. Acts 17:22-31 (Douay-Rheims) (“But Paul standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: Ye men of Athens, . . . passing by, and seeing your idols, I found an altar also, on which was written: To the unknown God. What therefore you worship, without knowing it, that I preach to you . . . .”). Thus, Paul preaches Christianity by finding an opening in paganism.

[58]. See Leon R. Kass, The Wisdom of Repugnance, New Republic, June 2, 1997, at 17, available at

[59]. Professor Breen complains that because the clinic pre-selects the injustices to be remedied, such a process robs students of the complex moral task of identifying the injustice.

As such, the clinical experience leaves students with the mistaken impression that the injustice of a given situation will be obvious, even self-evident. Indeed, on a certain level, it promotes the notion that justice is something that one feels and intuits rather than something that one thinks and reasons and argues about.

Breen, supra note 20, at 398. To train students in doing justice, those wiser in practical judgment must pick the fields for action. Once the students have been habituated to virtue, they can find their own. Habit trains deliberation to discern justice and injustice. Deliberation molds habit and action and thought are inextricably interwoven.

[60]. Hopkins, supra note 48, at 95 (“[T]he just man justices”) (emphasis added); see Breen, supra note 3, at 52 (citing Gregory A. Kalscheur, S.J., “The Just Man Justices”: Justice and the Curriculum in the Jesuit Law School (unpublished paper on file with the author)).

[61]. Pieper, supra note 30, at 44 (“Justice is a habit (habitus), whereby a man renders to each one his due with constant and perpetual will.”).

[62]. Gilson, supra note 33, at 261.

[63]. Moore, supra note 28, at 477-78 (emphasis added).

[64]. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris ¶ 29 (1984), available at

[65]. Id. (emphasis added).

[66]. Romans 13:8-10 (Douay-Rheims).

[67]. See Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, LL. 1102a5-a8, at 328 (Richard McKeon ed., 1947) (“[H]appiness is the activity of the soul in accordance with . . . virtue.”).

[68]. Breen, supra note 3, at 52.

[69]. See Monsieur Vincent, supra note 13.

[70]. Pope John Paul II, supra note 64, ¶ 29 (“Here we come to the enormous importance of having the right attitudes in education. . . . [E]ducation institutions must, if only for humanitarian reasons, work perseveringly for the reawakening and refining of that sensitivity towards one’s neighbor and his suffering of which the figure of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel has become a symbol. . . . [E]very individual must feel as if called personally to bear witness to love in suffering.”).

[71]. Gilson, supra note 33, at 253.

[72]. Id. at 258 (emphasis added).

[73]. Martin Luther King, Jr, Letter from the Birmingham City Jail, in Stephen N. Subrin, et al., Civil Procedure: Doctrine, Practice, and Context 149, 150 (2d ed. 2004) (“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”).

[74]. Any effort for truth serves Christ, as the Church Fathers recognized, John the Baptist was a martyr for Christ in that he was a martyr for truth. Homily of Saint Bede the Venerable, in 4 The Liturgy of the Hours 1358, 1359 (1975).

[75]. Professor Breen rightly celebrates the Loyola New Orleans program. “Unlike the other thirteen Jesuit law schools, Loyola New Orleans requires its students to complete a two-hour course entitled “Law and Poverty” which involves a critical examination of the legal system’s response to poverty and the social problems that accompany it.” Breen, supra note 20, at 426 (emphasis added).

[76]. Pope Benedict XVI, supra note 38, ¶ 22 (emphasis added). He also notes that this charity dates back to the early days of the church. Id. ¶ 24; see Peter Brown, Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire 4-6 (2002) (distinguishing Christian charity from the pagan distribution of wheat during famine by its scope—the Romans distributed wheat only to Roman citizens (a very small percentage of those living in cities) whereas the Church cared for all).

[77]. See Matthew 25:31-46 (Douay-Rheims).

[78]. I always counted it a remarkable two-fer—I was doing my duty as an attorney and performing a work of corporal mercy.

[79]. Daniel 3:8-97 (Douay-Rheims).

[80]. The poor represent alter Christi (other Christs), as Saint Martin of Tours discovered after he had shared his cloak with a beggar, he saw a vision with Christ wrapped in his cloak. See Martin of Tours, (last visited Feb. 28, 2008).

[81]. Flannery O’Connor, Revelation, in The Complete Stories 488, 508 (1971).

[82]. Bosco, supra note 15 (“[H]onor born out of charity is cosmic in proportion and realizes the Christian story of salvation.”).

[83]. Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons 141 (Vintage Books 1990) (1962).

[84]. See Breen, supra note 3, at 43 (noting sarcastically that Harvard, Texas, and UCLA must also be Jesuit schools if good clinics distinguish Jesuit schools).

[85]. Gil Bailie, Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads 31 (1995).

[86]. Fr. Robert Pawell, Pastoral Musings: Celebrating the Stigmata, St. Peter’s Church Bulletin (St. Peters Church, Chicago, Ill.), Sept. 16, 2007, at 2, available at

[87]. See Matthew 25:31-46 (Douay-Rheims).

[88]. My friend, the late Charlie Driscoll, a famous New Mexico criminal defense lawyer, tried to articulate this charism one day. In the Catholic education institute where I worked, we were doing a panel discussion on the aftermath of the Sante Fe penitentiary riot. My two panelists were Mr. Nathanson, who had won “Teacher of the Year” at the penitentiary, and Charlie, who represented some of the prisoners accused of the worst of the atrocities during the riot. In this instance such atrocities were fairly extreme—prisoners took the acetylene torches and tortured other prisoners—burning off his fellow prisoner’s genitals in one instance. Mr. Nathanson described his attitude as a teacher to the inmates by saying, “There but for the grace of god, go I.” “No,” Charlie interrupted, “that’s a protestant sentiment. The Catholic maxim should be: ‘By the grace of God go I there.’” (A similar thought is found in Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s God: Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge 54 (2004)). What Charlie meant was that it is a protestant sentiment that only God’s grace keeps me from falling—a somewhat Calvinist idea. The Catholic approach focuses on grace—it is by the grace of God that I have been given the opportunity to work out my salvation by serving the poor.

[89]. Monsieur Vincent, supra note 13.

[90]. Id.

[91]. Hopkins, supra note 48, at 95.

[92]. Nicholas Boyle, Sacred and Secular Scriptures: A Catholic Approach to Literature 144 (2005) (“The Christian faith, I have argued, is, however, the faith that Christ’s redeeming work continues, bringing within the ever newly redrawn boundaries of God’s kingdom his ever newly adopted children. Where there is a boundary established between what is within the Law and what is beyond it, Christ oversteps the boundary and seeks the incorporation of what was lost.”).

[93]. Id. at 145.

[94]. Cf. Breen, supra note 3, at 47 (admitting nostalgia for unapologetic Catholicism). While Professor Breen was initially branded nostalgic by others, he later adopts this title as his own. Nostalgia falls among sentiments rather than virtues. As Saint Augustine reminds us, we must leave behind what lies in the past and stretch forward to what lies ahead. Nostalgia yearns for the past, not the future.

[95]. Hebrews 11:1 (Douay-Rheims).

[96]. For a definition of Panglossian, based on Voltaire’s character, Pangloss in Candide, see Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1630 (1993), describing it as “marked by the view that all is for the best in this best of possible worlds.”

[97]. 2 Psalms 62:12-13 (Athanasian Grail Pslater) (“[O]nly one thing; only two do I know: that to God alone belongs power and to you, Lord love . . . .”). This passage suggests the conjunction of love and power in God—that all

[98]. Gilbert Keith Chesterton, The World Inside Out, in The Wisdom of Catholicism 851, 855 (Anton Pegis ed., Random House 1949) (1926).

[99]. Bailie, supra note 85, at 268, 272 (“Partly due to the humanists’ romantic idea of basic human benevolence and partly due to the rationalistic ‘where-there-is-a-will-there’s-a-way’ spirit of the Enlightenment, the Modern world came to believe that it could fulfill the requirements of the second commandment without having to bother with the first.”). Bailie correctly points out that trying to help the poor will not suffice to save the world, as more needs to be done. Baile points out that the anthropological reality is that cultures have achieved social unity thorough victimization of social outcasts. Id. at 268. The cross invalidates that concept and forces societies to look on the face of the victim—hence the ever increasing victim-orientation of our society—but the forces of sacrificial violence still persist. Id.

[100]. Id. at 40 (“The gospel revelation will not overturn conventional culture abruptly . . . . [A]ttempts to destroy the sacrificial or scapegoating structures of culture always proceed in a scapegoating and sacrificial manner. To put it in New Testament terms, Satan is always casting out Satan. The gospel revelation, on the contrary, undermines these structures by ‘deconstructing’ their justifying myths and awakening a concern for their victims that gradually renders these structures morally unacceptable and socially counter productive.” (emphasis added)).

[101]. See Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Guadiem et Spes: Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World ¶ 1 (1965), available at (“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those of the poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.”).

[102]. John 3:8 (Douay-Rheims) (“The Spirit breatheth where he will”).

[103]. Luke 8:19-21 (Douay-Rheims).

[104]. 42 U.S.C. § 12101 (2000).

[105]. Bosco, supra note 16, at 80-81.

[106]. Haughey, supra note 17, at 11-12 (explaining that “receivement” was coined to set up against achievement).

[107]. Hopkins, supra note 48, at 95.

[108]. Id.

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