I attended the Red Mass last month at St. Peters Church in Montgomery and was blessed. The ceremony was quite impressive. It was containing a moving experience. For our readers who may not be familiar with a Red Mass ceremony, I will provide some history. The tradition of the Red Mass goes back many centuries in Rome, Paris and London. It is the Solemn Votive mass of the Holy Spirit (the word votive indicating that the Mass is offered for a special intention) celebrated generally near the beginning of the judicial year and attended by judges, lawyers and court officials of all faiths for the purpose of invoking God’s blessing and guidance in the administration of justice. Its traditional name, the Red Mass, is derived from the color of the vestments worn by the officers of the Mass, symbolizing the Tongues of Fire representing the Holy Spirit. Moreover, in ancient days, the robes of the justices were bright scarlet. This provided an additional reason for naming the Red Mass.
From the time immemorial, this beautiful ceremony has officially opened the judicial year of Scared Roman Rota, the tribunal of the Holy See. During the reign of Louis IX, St. Louis of France, La Sainte Chappelle was designated as the chapel for the Mass. This magnificent edifice, erected in 1246, was used but once that year and that was for the celebration of the Red Mass.
In the United States the tradition was inaugurated in New York City in 1928. The Guild of Catholic Lawyers met with judges and members of the law faculties for the Votive Mass in old St. Andrew Catholic Church in the shadow of the state and federal courts. Since then, the Red Mass has been celebrated in that church and many cities in this country, attended by justices of the highest courts and people of all faith. In the District of Columbia, the Red Mass is attended by the President of the United States, the Chief Justice, members of the Supreme Court, Congress, judges and all branches of the government and foreign diplomats.
St. Peter’s Parish in Montgomery has carried on the tradition of the Red Mass. At the ceremony a warm welcome was extended to members of the Judiciary as well as Court staff and guests who were in attendance. It was a moving and most impressive ceremony, which had to have a good effect on the judges and court staff members who attended. Hopefully, the tradition of the Red Mass should continue in coming years. The people of Alabama were blessed when prayers were made on behalf of the courts and all who are involved in the system.
I believe it’s very important for people to pray earnestly on a daily basis for our courts and for all persons who work in the judicial system all across the United States. While some may disagree, I believe this is an absolute necessity in order for complete justice to be done by our judges and so that the courts will be independent and fair in all of their work and decisions handed down by judges will be just.
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