Red Mass highlights role of faith in public square
October 28, 2015 – R.W. Dellinger
“Pope Francis is urging us to see migrants and immigrants as brothers and sisters, and human beings,” Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell told more than 400 lawyers, judges, legislators and other law professionals at the 33rd annual Red Mass on Oct. 20 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
“He is calling us especially as believers to have that compassion, to go out to the street to listen, to look and to be touched by the sufferings of others,” he said. “The pope sees that as a way we can transform the world as well as ourselves.”
The Red Mass — first celebrated in Paris in 1245 and from the time of Edward I in England at Westminster Abbey — is offered each year at the start of the judicial year. In the United States, the first Red Mass was celebrated in New York City on Oct. 6, 1928. Today, the liturgy in Washington, D.C., opens the new term of the U.S. Supreme Court. In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, it’s sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society.
Two by two, judges from L.A. superior courts and U.S. district courts dressed in scarlet robes led the opening procession down the cathedral’s center aisle, with an honor guard from the Knights of Columbus Color Corps. They were followed by members from the Order of Malta, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and other groups walking to the organ-driven cadence of the hymn “All Creatures of Our God and King.”
Auxiliary Bishop Edward W. Clark presided at the late afternoon Tuesday Mass. After, he spoke about being present at Pope Francis’ recent visit to Washington, New York City and Philadelphia.
“In his talk to us bishops, Pope Francis reminded us to be gentle pastors and to avoid harsh and divisive language,” recalled Bishop Clark. “He said to dialogue with people, not to be a part of divisive language. And that struck me very much when I heard those words.”
In her closing remarks, Associate Justice Carol A. Corrigan of the California Supreme Court said, “Tonight we all unite in our belief that the spiritual dimension is important in our lives and in our work. … If our faith is a covenant with God, the law is a covenant among us as Californians, as Americans, as people who enact intent upon the law.”
When the Mass ended, many of the congregants walked across the cathedral’s courtyard to the conference center for a reception dinner. Civil litigator Eva Navarro said she appreciated Auxiliary Bishop Clark’s firsthand report on Pope Francis’ U.S. visit.
The attorney from the law firm Andrade Gonzalez LLP also liked Auxiliary Bishop O’Connell pointing out that the Holy Father repeatedly urged Catholics to welcome immigrants and refugees. She said her own parents were immigrants from Mexico.
But what probably touched Navarro the most was Associate Justice Corrigan’s closing remarks. She called the judge “inspirational” as a woman who rose in the male-dominated legal profession. “She really has maintained her faith through all of it,” she told The Tidings.
“And Madam Justice talked about the power that we have now as attorneys and how it’s connected to our spiritual lives,” added the young lawyer, who has been practicing law for three years. “I think that really impacted me, because we’re called to be ethical for the betterment of society and everyone in society. So it’s a good reminder that we’re working for justice and peace.”