St David I

King of Scotland (entered heaven on this day, 1153)

Dear Dave,

In the grand scheme of things, your decision to go to law school is less important than you think.  Actually, let me rephrase that.  Your DECISION (the simple fact that you have finally DECIDED on a course of action) is quite important.  Our free will as human beings is meant to be exercised, not kept on the shelf till it petrifies.  But the choice of law school is morally neutral: as a lawyer, you can do much (or little) either for or against Christ’s Kingdom.  It’s up to you, and no one else.  The example of today’s saint can give you some pointers on how to do the right thing.

David succeeded to the Scottish throne before Scotland had really come into its own.  He spent much of his reign warring against the English (he had sworn fealty to his niece, Matilda, from whom Stephen wrested the English throne), unsuccessfully (although Stephen did grant him an earldom after the Battle of the Standard).  He achieved much more in his efforts on the home front.

His mother, St Margaret, Queen of Scotland (not the later Queen Margaret, who was captured and imprisoned by the English during the Reformation – here we’re still in medieval times), seems to have educated him well in the faith.  As King, he encouraged the spread of Christianity by founding monasteries (including the beautiful Melrose abbey) and churches.  He also encouraged the establishment of numerous works of charity: poor houses, leper houses, and hospitals.

But he wasn’t just a pious do-gooder; he exercised his political power in accordance with justice and prudence.  In fact, he endowed a number of Anglo-Norman nobles with land-grants, creating an aristocracy that became the backbone of a feudal system designed to unite the many independent (and often warring) communities of Scotland under a uniform legal code.  He further stabilized the political structure by establishing a chancellor and a feudal court.  This all made St David what one recent biographer has called “The King Who Made Scotland”.

But have you ever heard of King David of Scotland?  Probably not.  And that, my bright young nephew, is my point.  King David certainly struggled with the temptation to pursue worldly glory, to “make a name for himself” – after all, the worldly power of a medieval baron was nothing to scoff at, and it was all at his fingertips.  But he didn’t give in to the temptation.  Rather, he governed as every Christian ought to exercise their earthly avocation: in such a way as to worthily represent Christ’s goodness and truth.  He dedicated himself to justice and order, and became an authentic peacemaker – which made him into a genuine child of God and guaranteed him a place in the everlasting Kingdom.

I hope you don’t let law school uproot the Christian good sense you have begun to form in the last few years.  Remember, only what we do for God and our neighbors lasts into eternity – where we won’t need lawyers anymore.

Your loving uncle,


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