The Catholic intellectual tradition understands Works of Mercy as acts of charity by which we love our neighbor by aiding their spiritual and bodily needs.
Spiritual works of mercy include acts of forgiving, the patient bearing of wrongs, and the careful instruction, advising, consoling, and comforting of others in need. Corporal works of mercy often take the form of almsgiving for the poor, but their more active, proximate and personal forms include feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.
For most, volunteer opportunities abound for performing each of these charitable works of mercy, save one: visiting the imprisoned. Whereas both justice and prudence require some formal separation of those legally convicted of crimes, especially violent injustices against others, the Catholic tradition has consistently taught that however corrupt and broken the sacred vessel these individuals remain our neighbors with their own acute set of spiritual and bodily needs. For as St. Augustine wisely counseled:
"You both came from the same workshop, you both had the same craftsman, the stuff you are both made of is the same clay. Why are you destroying the person you judge by failing to love him? For you're destroying justice, by failing to love the person you're judging. Punishments should be imposed; I don't deny it; I don't forbid it. But this must be done in the spirit of love, in the spirit of concern, in the spirit of reform."
What then are we to make of the justice, efficiency, and yet sting carried by the fact that the U.S. penal system now is home to well over two million men and women, with one in nine serving life sentences? What spirit of love, concern, and reform ought we to express for these individuals, who through their own actions are now among the least, the most lost, and most forgotten among us? To help us think our way to through these questions to a more reflective understanding of the merciful call to visit the imprisoned, the St. Anselm Institute welcomes Fr. Dave Link and his deep reservoir of experiences to the University of Virginia on Thursday, Nov. 7.
Fr. Dave presently is a Chaplain and Deputy Director of Religious Services in the Indiana State Prison, where he serves 8 of the state's 20 adult prison populations. Prior to this work, David Link was University of Notre Dame Law School Dean for 24 years, where he raised the national and international stature of the school by recruiting first-rate minds and by encouraging an intellectual culture that married law and ethics with a view of legal careers as a healing profession. David Link also was the founding President of University of Notre Dame, Australia for 2 years. Before Notre Dame, David was a trial attorney in the U.S. Treasury, a member of the Naval Reserves as a Judge Advocate General, a partner at the Chicago law firm Winston, Strawn, Smith and Patterson, where he established regular pro-bono services for the poor in need of legal representation.
While Dean of Notre Dame's Law School, David also found time to be a regular volunteer and passion advocate for the homeless and with Habitat for Humanity, and he helped found South Bend's Center for the Homeless, which has provided 1.5 million meals and shelter for over 50,000 persons since 1988.
Prior to his ordination as a Roman Catholic priest at the age of 71 (!), David Link was the loving husband to his late wife Barbara for 45 years, and he remains the father of their five children and a grandfather to 14.
All are welcomed to attend this special public lecture, which will begin at 5:15pm in Minor Hall Auditorium at the University of Virginia.
The St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought | P.O. Box 6432, Charlottesville, VA 22906 | info@StAnselmInstitute.org