On the feast of St. Jerome, translator of the Bible into Latin, members of the Society of St. Thomas More and others practicing within legal community near South Bend gathered to celebrate the annual Red Mass with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
The University Notre Dame has the oldest law school at a Catholic university in America, founded in 1869. On the occasion of its 150th anniversary the new dean, G. Marcus Cole, was present.
“The Red Mass to bless judges and lawyers at the start of the judicial calendar is a precious but under-appreciated tradition,” Cole noted. “For hundreds of years, the legal profession has called upon the Holy Spirit to guide decisions and judgment where the lives, liberty, and well-being of God’s people are at stake. I’m proud that Notre Dame Law School remains an institution that preserves and honors this tradition.”
Red is the color of the vestments at a Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit and the color of traditional British judicial robes. The celebration marks the beginning of the judicial term.
Bishop Rhoades invoked God’s guidance and wisdom in upholding justice, through the Holy Spirit — the Paraclete — upon judges, lawyers, law clerks, paralegals, professors and students of the law, and also upon lawmakers and executors of the law, who were united in prayer.
“We see the Paraclete calling the early Christians to do good, crying to them to evangelize, giving them courage to proclaim and live the faith, to witness to Christ in the midst of persecution and even to die as martyrs for the faith,” he said. “He gave them help, strength, and consolation, and yes, even joy in the midst of incredible hardships.
“It was the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, who counseled St. Thomas More, guiding him to save his soul, rather than his body, by rejecting the Oath of Supremacy. The Paraclete urged him forward and called him on, and yes, cheered his spirit, in his prison cell and at the scaffold in the Tower of London. The Paraclete gave him strength and also gave him comfort. He was his Advocate and His comforter. The Holy Spirit freed him from all fear, gave him assurance of victory over evil, and gave him the wonderful peace of God.”
The presence of the Holy Spirit was with the worshippers that night, he added, just as the Paraclete was present throughout the Church’s history.
“Our nation needs good and virtuous lawyers and judges. There are a lot of intelligent and competent lawyers and judges. That’s important, but even more important is that you be men and women of virtue. We need more goodness in our society and in our politics. You, Catholic lawyers and judges, can be a force for good by opening yourselves to the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit and by conducting your legal profession as disciples of Jesus Christ.
“Never forget,” he continued, “the spiritual anointing you received at baptism and confirmation, and its purpose: to spread the pure fragrance of Christ, witnessing in the world to Christ’s work of salvation.”
Michael Bradley, a first year law student at Notre Dame, appreciated the opportunity to attend his first Red Mass as a member of the Notre Dame Law School community, citing Bishop Rhoades’ words as “a refreshing reminder of the ways that law can be a noble profession and a Christian vocation.”
The Mass “highlighted the importance to lawyers and judges of both the development of natural virtues and the supernatural assistance of our true counselor and advocate, the Holy Spirit,” according to Stephen Judge, head of the St. Thomas More Society and an attorney.
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