At the Red Mass, lawyers and jurists advised to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit

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WASHINGTON, DC — Just as people seek wise counsel in legal matters, people should also prayerfully seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus called the Counselor, Bishop John O. Barres of Rockville Center said. , New York.

He made the remarks in his homily at the 70th annual Red Mass Oct. 2 at St. Matthew the Apostle’s Cathedral in Washington.


The Mass seeks God’s blessings on those involved in the administration of justice and those who work in public service.

Barres noted that lawyers are called counselors of the law out of respect for the advice they give based on their wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.

“Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Counselor for similar, though far more important, reasons,” Barres said. “The counsel of the Holy Spirit is not about intellectual property or trade-restricting agreements.

“It’s about how to make our very short stay on earth radiant with holiness and virtue, how to love God and our neighbour.”

Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory was the main celebrant of the Mass, which was attended by two Catholic members of the United States Supreme Court, United States Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and retired associate judge. Stephen G. Breyer, who is Jewish.

Besides Barres, concelebrating bishops included Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States; Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Va., and retired Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington; and Washington Auxiliary Bishops Mario E. Dorsonville and Roy E. Campbell Jr.

Fifteen priests also concelebrated, including Mgr. Peter Vaghi, chaplain of the John Carroll Society, which sponsors the Red Mass; Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, Rector of St. Matthew’s Cathedral; and Msgr. John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Bishops and priests wore red vestments, signifying the tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Some women in the congregation, including Barrett, wore red dresses to mass.

The John Carroll Society is named after Archbishop John Carroll, who in 1789 was appointed Bishop of Baltimore and became the first Catholic bishop in the United States, leading a diocese that then included the original 13 states.

With approximately 1,000 professional and business life members in the metropolitan area, the John Carroll Society supports the Archbishop of Washington through pro bono medical and legal networks and also sponsors spiritual, intellectual, and social activities.

The annual Red Mass in Washington takes place on the Sunday before the Supreme Court opens its new term. This year’s Red Mass came about three months after the court’s Dobbs ruling that overturned Roe vs. Wadewho in 1973 legalized abortion nationwide.

The Dobbs ruling returned the issue of abortion to the states. It has been widely praised by pro-life groups and sharply criticized by proponents of legal abortion.

But as is tradition at the annual Red Mass, neither abortion nor any other legal issues the Supreme Court might rule on were directly addressed.

In his homily, Barres encouraged those working in law to rely on prayer in their daily lives and to call on the Holy Spirit for guidance.

He noted that by the grace of God, people receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, courage, piety and the fear of the Lord.

The bishop highlighted how the eminent American historian David McCullough, who died this year, had emphasized the importance of sage advice in his books which included biographies of John Adams and the Wright Brothers.

“McCullough constantly considered how critical sage advice was to presidential leadership, entrepreneurial ingenuity, and the forging and development of American character and spirit,” Barres said.

Reflecting on the importance of prayer, the Bishop quoted Saint Alfonso de Liguori, a civil lawyer and Church physician, who described prayer as “conversing with God like a friend.”

The preacher highlighted how the hustle and bustle of today’s culture can impact prayer life, and he stressed the importance of spending time in silent prayer.

“It’s about allowing the Holy Spirit to broaden and refine our contemplative focus,” he said. “It is about adoring, praising and thanking the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in silence. We need to stay calm and listen.

Barres then compared the attention and detail that goes into preparing a legal case or researching and writing a legal opinion to prayerful discipline.

“Deeper discipline of the Holy Spirit in prayer animates and focuses dedication to civil law responsibilities and to the care of our marriages and families and all we are called to serve, including the younger generations of attorneys, jurists, interns and associates,” he said. said.

The bishop cited the example of Saint Thomas More, the chancellor of England and able jurist who was a martyr for religious liberty and the rights of conscience, and who said: “I die a good servant of the king, but God first of all.

Saint Thomas More and other saints demonstrated the importance of focusing on the will of God and seeking eternal life rather than focusing on transient human factors and seeking worldly prestige, Bishop Barres said, adding: “They allow the splendor of the truth of Christ to shine through them, in their own time and in all subsequent history.

Barres encouraged people, including lawyers and judges, in their daily prayer to call on the Holy Spirit for guidance, and he concluded his homily with the words, “Come, Holy Spirit!

As Mass began, a Color Party of six Fourth-Degree Knights of Columbus marched down the center aisle of the cathedral, carrying the flags of the United States and the Vatican, and the congregation sang the national anthem. .

About 900 people attended the mass, including presidents of local Catholic universities and deans of law schools, professors and students.

Red Mass prayers have been offered to those working in the legal professions and law enforcement, as well as government employees at the federal, state and local levels, that they may serve the public good and “the least of us”.

Prayers were also offered for peace in Ukraine and for those affected by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian.

The Red Mass featured haunting music from St. Matthew’s Schola Cantorum Choir, accompanied by the cathedral’s organist and a brass quintet. The mass ended with the congregation singing “America the Beautiful.”

The namesake of the cathedral is the patron saint of civil servants.

Zimmermann is editor of the Catholic Standard, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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