Those in the legal profession have a “high calling” and their “decisions have a huge impact on peoples’ lives, sometimes life itself,” Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said at the Red Mass, Sept. 18 at Notre Dame Cathedral. The special Mass is celebrated at the opening of the law courts each fall.
“The consequences of your decisions reach into future generations,” he said during his homily. The Mass invokes the power of the Holy Spirit over all those involved in the administration of justice. “It is no exaggeration to say that you need the wisdom of Solomon.”
Archbishop Prendergast said legal professionals deal with difficult questions.
“Do we punish or rehabilitate convicts? Why is a mother’s womb now the most dangerous place on earth? What is a just war? Should public policy encourage or discourage the traditional family model? What do we do when rights conflict with freedoms? Should the state encourage our children to experiment sexually?” he asked.
The archbishop added that legal professionals must tease out crooked logic and get to the heart of each matter. “This is something in which God specializes, if only you will listen to his still, small voice, rather than the cacophony of the world.”
Prendergast said he would like to think the judges, lawyers, law students, civil servants, and Members of Parliament and all others present at the Mass “are an integrated Catholic” whose faith “informs everything you do and everything you do gives glory to God.”
“You could be a hundred other places this evening, but you chose instead to come here, to worship, and to receive a blessing,” he said. “A blessing is a pronouncement over your life that you come into your destiny: that God’s perfect plan for you be realized in home life, health, and career. You’ve come to the right place!”
Hundreds gathered for the annual Mass organized by the Saint Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild, which was founded in 1984. The Red Mass tradition, however, stretches back hundreds of years to 1245 when the first Red Mass was celebrated at Notre Dame in Paris during King Louis IX’s reign.
The Red Vestments worn at the Mass symbolize the tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit as well as the martyrdom of St. Thomas More, who was beheaded by King Henry VIII of England for not supporting his divorce to his first wife and his rebellion against the Pope.