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Red Mass begins 30th year of the diocese’s St. Thomas More Society

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Father Robert Kennedy, retired dean of the canon law department of Catholic University, asked lawyers and judges who consider guilt and innocence of others in their work to think about the final judgment they will face after death. Read more »

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America needs ‘new sense of our common humanity,’ says Red Mass homilist

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez on Oct. 1 asked the Supreme Court justices, government officials, lawyers and other members of the judiciary gathered at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington to renew a commitment to a government that “serves the human person.”

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who is vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, delivers the homily during the 65th annual Red Mass Oct. 1 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. The Mass traditionally marks the start of the court year, including the opening of the Supreme Court term. (CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard)

He was the homilist at the 65th annual Red Mass in the nation’s capital. Celebrated the Sunday before the opening of the Supreme Court’s term, the annual Mass invokes the Holy Spirit upon those who are responsible for the administration of justice.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl was the main celebrant. Concelebrants included Washington Auxiliary Bishops Barry C. Knestout, Mario E. Dorsonville and Roy E. Campbell Jr.; Archbishop Gomez; Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Va.; Auxiliary Bishop Richard B. Higgins of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services; and Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria.

The distinguished guests at the Mass included five members of the Supreme Court: John G. Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States; and Associate Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr.; and U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco.

In his homily, Archbishop Gomez spoke about St. Junipero Serra, the newest American saint who was one of the founding missionaries of Los Angeles as part of a string of missions in California and was canonized by Pope Francis during the pontiff’s 2015 visit to Washington.

By canonizing him, Archbishop Gomez said Pope Francis was making a point that “we should honor St. Junipero Serra as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States,” since the missionaries came here before the pilgrims and began their outreach before the nation’s first president was inaugurated.

“It reminds us that America’s first beginnings were not political,” he said. “America’s first beginnings were spiritual.”

Those missionaries, along with the colonists and statesmen later on, laid the groundwork for “a nation conceived under God and committed to promoting human dignity, freedom and the flourishing of a diversity of peoples, races, ideas and beliefs,” said Archbishop Gomez, who is vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The reason the Red Mass is so important each year, Archbishop Gomez said, is because “there is a time for politics and a time for prayer. This is a day for prayer.”

The readings for the Mass included the story of Pentecost, which Archbishop Gomez said “reveals the Creator’s beautiful dream for the human race,” where people from different nations were brought together through the Holy Spirit, who spoke to each of them in their native tongues.

“The mission that Jesus gave (the church) is the beautiful mission of gathering all the peoples of the earth into one family of God,” said Archbishop Gomez. “In God’s eyes, there are no foreigners, there are no strangers. … When God looks at us, he sees beyond the color of our skin, or the countries where we come from, or the language that we speak. God sees only his children, sons and daughters made in his image.”

Archbishop Gomez noted that before God created the earth, he knew each person he would create and had a plan for each of their lives.

“Every life is sacred, and every life has a purpose in God’s creation,” he said.

The Founding Fathers understood this teaching so well that they called the truths “self-evident,” said Archbishop Gomez.

“America’s founders believed that the only justification for government is to serve the human person, who is created in God’s image; who is endowed with God-given dignity, rights and responsibilities; and who is called by God to a transcendent destiny,” said Archbishop Gomez.

Addressing the guests at the Mass, Archbishop Gomez said, “My brothers and sisters, you all share in the responsibility for this great government.”

He called public service a “noble vocation” that requires honesty, courage, prudence, humility, prayer and sacrifice.

“So today, let us ask the Holy Spirit for his gifts and renew our commitment to this vision of a government that serves the human person,” said Archbishop Gomez. “Let us commit ourselves to an America that cares for the young and the elderly, for the poor and the sick; an America where the hungry find bread and the homeless a place to live; an America that welcomes the immigrant and refugee and offers the prisoner a second chance.”

While at times our nation has failed to live up to its founding vision, Archbishop Gomez said, “that should not make us give in to cynicism or despair.”

“For all our weakness and failure: America is still a beacon of hope for peoples of every nation, who look to this country for refuge, for freedom and equality under God,” he added.

Jesus gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins, but he also is “giving every one of us the power to forgive those who trespass against us,” said Archbishop Gomez, who noted that this gift of forgiveness is “part of the unfinished revolution in American society.”

“True forgiveness sets us free from the cycles of resistance and retaliation; it sets us free to seek reconciliation and healing,” said Archbishop Gomez. “”And this is what we need in America today — a new spirit of compassion and cooperation, a new sense of our common humanity. We need to treat others as our brothers and our sisters — even those who oppose or disagree with us. The mercy and love that we desire — this is the mercy and love that we must show to our neighbors.”

The Mass is sponsored by the John Carroll Society, a network that aims to enhance fellowship among Catholic leaders in the Washington area and serve the archbishop of Washington.

By Kelly Sankowski, a staff member of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Members of judiciary should seek justice, mercy in their work, Red Mass homilist says

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Those involved in the administration of law should seek justice and mercy in their work, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis said Oct. 2.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer speaks with Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl after the annual Red Mass Oct. 2 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. The Mass traditionally marks the start of the court year, including the opening of the Supreme Court term. (CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer speaks with Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl after the annual Red Mass Oct. 2 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. The Mass traditionally marks the start of the court year, including the opening of the Supreme Court term. (CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters)

“Those two virtues must intersect in our lives and actions,” said the archbishop, who was the homilist at the 64th annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington.

The Red Mass in the nation’s capital is celebrated just before the Supreme Court begins its term in October; opening day for the court this year was Oct. 3.

The Mass seeks God’s blessing and guidance on those who work in the law, including judges, diplomats, government officials and attorneys. The Mass also was attended by university officials and law professors and students.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl was the main celebrant of the Mass, which was attended by five Supreme Court justices: Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. and Supreme Court Associate Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Other government officials at the Mass included U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch; U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.; and Denis McDonough, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff.

Archbishop Hebda noted that those present at the Red Mass felt the absence of Antonin Scalia, a Catholic who faithfully attended the Mass during his nearly three decades as a Supreme Court associate justice. Scalia died Feb. 13 at age 79.

“He (Scalia) was someone who seemed to understand the necessity of exploring the connection between justice and mercy,” the Minnesota archbishop said. “In addressing law students at the University of St. Thomas in my archdiocese just last year, shortly before he passed away, he stressed the importance of their moral formation, stating that ‘the rule of law is always second to the law of love.’”

With that statement, Scalia was not showing a lack of appreciation for the rule of law, but he was demonstrating “a heightened appreciation for the importance of the law of love and for the mercy that flows from it in the practice of law and in the administration of justice,” Archbishop Hebda said.

Noting that Pope Francis has declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy in the church to reflect on God’s infinite mercy and the call for believers to be instruments of mercy, the Red Mass homilist said the pope “has noted that mercy ‘does not approach cases, but persons and their pain.’” The pope, he added, has said, “Mercy gets its hands dirty. It touches, it gets involved, it gets caught up with others.”

Archbishop Hebda said this personal approach to sharing mercy is especially important for the work of law. “We need to remember that real people are at the heart of what we do and are affected by the decisions we make,” he said.

The Minnesota archbishop said the Catholic Church respects the important work for the common good carried out by government leaders and those who administer justice.

“Men and women of goodwill throughout this nation depend on you to protect their liberties,” Archbishop Hebda said, noting how Pope Francis during his visit to the White House last year encouraged public servants to build a tolerant and inclusive society that safeguards people’s rights and rejects unjust discrimination.

Gathering together to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the administration of justice is an appropriate response to facing difficult challenges, he said, noting that this year’s liturgy was being held “at this critical moment in our nation’s history, at this time when America seems to be almost paralyzed by a political polarization that impedes our ability to address effectively a whole host of pressing needs.”

Archbishop Hebda noted several contemporary problems “in a society in which shopping malls and discos and schools have all too often become places of unthinkable horror, at a time when old hatreds and prejudices seem to be rearing their ugly heads, or when our first freedoms are so readily put at risk.”

But he said that through prayer and action, people can take on the “privilege role as the hands of God’s mercy” to bring healing to the world, a work that people are called to do together, and then “we can, by God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit, do amazing things.”

Noting the importance of common prayer and mutual support, Archbishop Hebda said that can foster “faith capable of moving the mountains of despair and division, faith capable of pursuing justice while manifesting mercy, (and) faith capable of making a difference in our lives and in our communities.”

The Red Mass in Washington is sponsored by the John Carroll Society, an organization that provides spiritual, intellectual, charitable and social opportunities for Catholic professionals and business men and women in service to the archbishop of Washington.

The concelebrants included Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States; Archbishop Hebda; Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, Virginia; Auxiliary Bishop Richard B. Higgins of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services; and Washington Auxiliary Bishops Barry C. Knestout and Mario E. Dorsonville. Twenty-one priests also concelebrated the Mass.

 

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

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Red Mass homily: Criminal justice system needs reform

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Sulpician Father Phillip J. Brown, the rector of the Theological College of the National Seminary of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., was the homilist at the St. Thomas More Society’s Red Mass, Oct. 5, at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church in Greenville.

The following is the prepared text of Father Brown’s homily.

If you made a product designed to last for 50 years that had a failure rate of 68 percent after three years, and 77 percent after five years, how would you rate your success? Would you worry about a class action suit, especially if personal injuries were involved? Let me come back to that later. Read more »

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Archbishop Lori’s homily at St. Thomas More Society’s Red Mass

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Following is the homily Archbishop William E. Lori gave at the annual Red Mass, Oct. 6, sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society of the Diocese of Wilmington at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church in Greenville.

Tonight, I stand before you as the U.S. bishops’ point person on religious liberty. In that capacity, I’m involved in helping U.S. Catholics and many others to understand more deeply what the church teaches about religious freedom together with the committee comprised of bishops and lay experts including, you’ll be happy to know, many lawyers,

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore (center) with Wilmington's Bishop Malooly and Tony Flynn (right) president of the Diocese of Wilmington's St. Thomas More Society, talk in front of St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church Oct. 6, prior to the annual Red Mass. The Dialog/www.DonBlakePhotography.com

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore (center) with Wilmington’s Bishop Malooly and Tony Flynn (right) president of the Diocese of Wilmington’s St. Thomas More Society, talk in front of St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church Oct. 6, prior to the annual Red Mass. The Dialog/www.DonBlakePhotography.com

I am also involved in pointing out and resisting challenges to religious freedom. This is not the time or the place to describe those challenges in detail. Suffice it to say, however, that they include challenges in areas such as employment, licensure, accreditation and, on occasion, even free speech and assembly.

I’m glad to celebrate this Red Mass with you because I need the Holy Spirit’s help as much or more than you do. So please pray for me and please pray for my colleagues.

Isn’t it true, dear friends, that in one way or another, all of us are about defending freedom. You may or may not be directly involved in Constitutional law, but you carry out your daily work in the conviction that we are a nation of laws — a nation of laws that guarantees fundamental freedoms sometimes sadly taken for granted.

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we might ask the question, how should we understand our God-given gift of freedom? What is it for and how shall we use it?

Let’s first turn to Scripture for guidance. In the first reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel, God promises to give his people a new heart and a new spirit. He promises to remove their heart of stone and, instead, to give them a heart of flesh, a natural heart.

Instead of hearts that are coldly indifferent to what is good and true, God will give them hearts that are worthy of their human dignity. By renewing his Spirit within his people so that they will willingly and freely obey his law, God helps his people recover their humanity and, indeed, their homeland, understood not merely as a geographic place but as a space where the human spirit can soar.

In the reading from the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Usually, we associate obedience to commands with fear. But Jesus equates love with obedience, with obedience to his word of truth. It is as if he had said, “Once you fall in love with me, you will willingly live as my disciples.”

As Pope Benedict XVI taught in his beautiful encyclical titled “God Is Love,” he said those who are in love ultimately come to want the same thing or to reject the same thing. One becomes similar to the other, he says, and this leads to a community of will and of thought.

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can come to see that the best and highest use of our freedom is to fall in love with God and, in so doing, accept as our own, his will.

His will that we should love him above all things and that we should love our neighbors as ourselves.

St. Paul takes this a step further tonight. In our reading from Ephesians you will notice, interestingly enough, that St. Paul refers to himself as a prisoner for the Lord. It is true. St. Paul wound up in jail almost every place he went. But he was always a prisoner who was supremely free because of his love for Christ.

From captivity, he calls the church at Ephesus to unity in freedom. He reminds them that the calling they receive from the Lord is no mere ideology but, instead, a way of life marked by gentleness, patience and peace.

The Ephesians are part of a community whose inner principle of oneness is the Holy Spirit himself. No one was coerced to be a member of that community and no one was coerced once they were within that community.

Rather, it was a community characterized by a symphony of human freedoms, whose composer and conductor was the Holy Spirit.

Our readings, friends, give us a teaching of human freedom that is rather different that the understanding of freedom in our modern culture. Today, many people regard freedom merely as the freedom to choose: I’m free to do whatever I want, so long as I don’t bump up against the law.

Some philosophers would sort of agree. They would say that human freedom is essentially formless. It’s just the human power to choose one thing over another thing and it’s sometimes called the freedom of indifference.

In this view, freedom has no religious content and it is bound by few, if any, fixed moral truths.

In fact, many people believe that human freedom demands such moral relativism and that those who claim otherwise are, in fact, adversaries of freedom.

Not only is this view of human freedom dominant in popular culture, I am told that sometimes it finds its way into the study and the practice of Constitutional law.

Freedom of indifference, coupled with moral relativism is sometimes thought to be the best and only way to guarantee justice to all groups in human society with their competing ideas and rights and claims.

But underneath it all, not even the law in our diverse culture can avoid facing the question of truth, especially the question about the truth about the human person, about the source of human freedom and what brings about authentic human flourishing.

At the very least, the state should not pursue moral relativism to such and extent that it ends up imposing it on churches, on church institutions and even families.

The state should not make it difficult for believers and their institutions of service to embrace fixed truths about human nature. And it should not make it difficult for them to embrace, to proclaim and to live their faith not only in the confines of the church, but also in the workplace and in their service to the common good of the broader society.

The paradox of a monolithic moral relativism confronts us when proposed state religious restoration legislation is dismissed as a license to discriminate.

So in keeping with today’s Scripture readings, another view of human freedom emerges, sometimes termed the freedom for excellence.

Taking our cue from the prophet Ezekiel, we might say that our human hearts are made for love, for friendship with God, a friendship in which we discover a way of life that is truly ennobling.

In other words, our freedom, flawed as it is, is naturally ordered toward God’s love and puts us on the path toward growing in excellence, toward growing in what makes sense, what is true, what is good, beautiful and virtuous.

At their best, church communities and healthy, loving families serve as a leaven, a leaven in society helping to create a culture where human dignity is respected and human flourishing is fostered.

During the Second Vatican Council as bishops from all over the world debated the text of the “Declaration on Religious Liberty,” an archbishop named Karol Wojtyla, the future St. John Paul II, came from behind the Iron Curtain to make this prophetic statement. He said, “Without truth, there is no freedom.”

In the end, he knew, moral relativism and indifference on the part of the state to certain fundamental truths about human nature and human dignity would inexorably lead to the abolition of freedom, not necessarily through force, but by the imposition of the will of the stronger upon the weaker.

Both Karol Wojtyla and Abraham Lincoln would agree freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought. This is the durable freedom capable of building a just and human society. This is the durable freedom that serves as a beacon of hope for nations around the world.

This evening, I proposed a few themes of law and philosophy and theology and you’ve been very kind to give me a hearing.

But what is there to do with all these ideas, if you’re working on wills and titles everyday, if you’re involved in corporate law, or maybe presiding over a courtroom? What can you do about any of this?

It’s not for me to say specifically, except I might propose one concluding thought.

All of you have connections; all of you have networks and influence. I might suggest that in your daily professional responsibilities that you exercise what the Blessed John Henry Newman called the “apostolate of personal influence.”

This includes your personal use of your freedom, using it for excellence in an intentional way. You’re living the link among freedom and truth and moral responsibility.

It includes a willingness to advance the notion of solid moral truth in your daily work on behalf of the law. And, indeed, your wholehearted participation in those intermediate structures of society that are essential for defending human freedom and dignity — families, churches and institutions that serve the common good.

Without fanfare, you can influence those around you to understand more deeply the God-given gift of religious liberty. Our country and our society will be better off for it.

Thanks for listening. God bless you and keep you always in his love.

The Red Mass is named for the red vestments used for the liturgy what invokes the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The St. Thomas More Society includes lawyers, judges and other members of the judiciary who strive to promote St. Thomas More’s principles and ideals in their profession and personal conduct.  

 

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Archbishop Lori of Baltimore will be homilist at annual Red Mass Oct. 6

October 2nd, 2014 Posted in Our Diocese Tags: ,

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Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore will celebrate the 27th annual Red Mass on Oct. 6, at 6 p.m. at St. Joseph’s on the Brandywine Church in Greenville.

The St. Thomas More Society of the Diocese of Wilmington organizes the Red Mass each year, a traditional liturgy that invokes the guidance of the Holy Spirit for members of the legal profession. The diocesan society is an ecumenical group of lawyers and other members of the judiciary that promotes the English martyr’s ethical practice of the law.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Bishop Malooly, Father Leonard Klein, chaplain of the society, and other priests of the diocese will concelebrate with Archbishop Lori, who will deliver the homily.

There will be a complimentary dinner following the Red Mass in the parish hall, donated by Morris James LLP.

 

 

 

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