The Communion of Saints

Today I enjoyed an interesting dialog between Mark Osler and Susan Stabil on prayer and intercession from their respective Christian traditions. They were comparing and contrasting Stabil’s Catholic view on intercession and praying to the Saints, with Osler’s Protestant/Ana-Baptist view on intercession.  You can listen to the conversation here.

For Osler, the idea of asking anyone, much less a dead person or Saint to intercede on our behalf was, while not heretical, simply not necessary in light of Christ’s work on the cross and our ability to come freely before the throne of God. That said, Osler none-the-less enjoys learning about the Saints and the role-models they provide for us, sometimes in what not to do.

For Stabil on the other hand, asking others to intercede on her behalf was nothing new, and the fact that a person had passed on to the other side changed nothing, accept maybe that person’s free time and ability to intercede on our behalf, (that last part being said in jest, sort of.) Just as we might ask a trusted friend or family member to intercede for us on our behalf while we are together on earth, we can continue to ask our community, this great cloud of whiteness, Sainted or not, to intercede on our behalf even after they have passed on. Stabil said it is a bit like when you were a child and in trouble. You might ask your friend to go with you to talk to you parents, and in the same way, you and your grandmother might go and talk to Saint Peter, and together you might speak with Christ, asking him to intercede with God the father.

My initial question, which I think I framed rather poorly was, “how much does reality matter?” In other words, what happens when we die? Maybe what I should have asked was “how much does metaphysics matter?” In any case, the question rooted in my somewhat fundamentalist upbringing was this: after we die, can we know and understand what is going on down below, allowing us to intercede on our loved-ones behalf? Can the Saints really pray for us, or are their souls in some kind of soul sleep, awaiting the resurrection of the dead?


What did you learn in law school today Daddy?

Kids and law or hilarious.  I often ask my five-year-old Nicholas what he learned in school today.  So when he turned it around and asked what I learned in [law] school.  I had to think for a second.

"Suppose you have a sucker and I take it away.  Then mommy gives you a new sucker because I took yours.  Should I have to give your sucker back, since you already have a new sucker" I asked. (The collateral source rule)

"No," he says.

"Why not" I ask, going all socratic on him.

"Because that would be too much sugar." (What is wrong with this kid!)

"What if you get to save the second sucker for later?" I ask.

"Yes, then you have to give me back my sucker."

"Well that's what I learned in school today" I replied.


Finding Purpose

About a month ago I attended a lecture by Michael Schutt on the “drudgery of law school.”  He was discussing the endless reading, writing and fact checking and the mundaneness of it all, and how we can respond.  During the lecture he highlighted four issues: dualism, sloth, pride, and as mentioned, drudgery, that is, being frustrated and not enlivened by what we do.

Dualism is that habit we all have of separating our professional life from our spiritual life or values.  There is no separation between what we eat and how that impacts our life, and in the same way, there is no separation between what goes into our spiritual life (or not) and the telling results.  If we pursue professional goals that are at odds with what we say our ethical values are, there will be consequences, not just outwardly, but in our inner life as well.  That does not mean all lawyers should be doing public interest law, not at all.  Only that there has to be consistency between what we believe, whatever that is, and what we do.