Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and University Chancellor
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Great Upper Church
Sept. 2, 2021
Dear Members of Our University Community,
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! Jesus promised his disciples that he would ask His Father to send someone to be with them always – an advocate, a PARACLETE. The word comes from a Greek verb: para-kaleo, which can describe someone who speaks on behalf of another person. This spirit of Truth that God has sent to Jesus' disciples speaks in our favor – the truth is a comfort and often a challenge. God has sent the community of believers the best of all attorneys to encourage us to speak and to live the truth.
Traditionally, Catholic schools begin the new academic year with a Mass of the Holy Spirit to ask the Lord to send that same spirit of truth upon our learning and upon our teaching during the coming year. We begin this new school term with a request that we speak the truth to one another in love during this coming year. The Truth is something more than simply the facts of an event. The Truth is the Mystery that gives meaning to facts. All of us want to be people of Truth, none of us want to live lies. However, living the Truth can be dangerous. Living the Truth can make us unpopular. Being people of the Truth will take courage and determination. That is why Jesus promised that he would ask the Father to send us the Spirit of Truth.
What will it mean for the Catholic University of America to spend this next year engaged in speaking and living the Truth? It will mean that you are willing to face all of the difficult questions that young people are asked to face. The truth will mean that first of all you reject anything that will destroy the sense of unity that must be present in our university. You are young people from different regions, ethnic traditions, races, and cultures. The Truth that Jesus wishes you to live this year is found in your willingness to see one another as brothers, sisters and friends. The Truth is the reality that means that there are more things that make you one family than reasons that would make you strangers and only lies make you feel that you are foes. The Truth is that together you can build a better city and communities than your parents might ever dreamt would be possible. The Truth is that our Catholic faith and Christian principles are stronger bonds than are all of the differences that distinguish us. Today, we pray that this year will be a year of the Truth for this university.
Lawyers are sometimes viewed as people who can bend and alter the Truth. In fact, lawyers are those people who are intended to help us face the Truth in confidence and with courage. That is why the Spirit of God is the best of all possible lawyers and advocates. I hope that some of our students will consider being lawyers later in life. However, what I want more than anything is that you are all young people filled with a spirit of courage and Truth this year and every year of your lives. Without the Spirit of God, we would all be too weak to live God's Truth, but with the Spirit, we can all be people who live that wonderful Truth which comes from God that we are intended to live as friends in hope and in trust. The world cannot always understand that Truth. Nevertheless, I am not surprised by that because Jesus told us that the Spirit of Truth would be a puzzle for those who did not have such a wonderful lawyer constantly on their side.