May 13, 2016

Be Our Guest / Greg Zoeller

Amidst serving those who suffer, thanksgiving and gratitude

In my role as Indiana’s attorney general, I know more than most people about crimes, fraud, scams and the host of bad things that happen to good people.

And it is through my Catholic faith that I have addressed it all with thanks and gratitude.

It’s not that I am thankful that all the bad things did not happen to me and my family since everyone has challenges. No, I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve people in need.

After serving in the office of the attorney general since 2001—and as the officer holder since 2009—I am now in my last year. I’ve tried to be thankful every day for the opportunity I have been given.

Most mornings, I begin my day with St. Thomas More’s “Lawyer’s Prayer.” As the patron saint of both lawyers and elected office holders, he represents one who faced overwhelming challenges and prayed that the Lord would be with him as he served his clients. It helps me prepare to serve all those who bring their complaints to my office. And I’ve tried to impart to all who work in my office that same sense of vocation.

Some of the work that I am duty bound to perform in representing my state government clients presents a challenge to my Catholic faith. The defense of the death sentence in capital cases is one such challenge, but one I understood was required of the office before I accepted the duty.

There are many others I find personally challenging. And during a political season that raises division, fear and anger, I greatly appreciate those who offer their prayers and words of encouragement.

Dealing with people’s problems every day can wear on anyone, and the feeling of being overwhelmed is a natural part of the job. But it’s through faith that each problem and every person appears as a blessing, an opportunity to be of service, to be an instrument of God’s love for all his people. Although I’ve not always succeeded in helping people, it’s the understanding that it is an opportunity to serve that makes my work appear as a blessing and keeps me going.

Hopefully, it reflects in how I go about my day, not just in my work but in my daily life with family, friends and everyone I meet, to live each moment with the same thought we end each Mass, with “thanks be to God.”

(Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis. He wrote this personal commentary in his private capacity as a parishioner, and not in an official government capacity.)

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