Red Masses celebrated for legal community Print this post

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic


Invoking the Holy Spirit, Bishop Frank J. Dewane recently called upon legal professionals to have insight and grace and above all be people of mercy.

Bishop Dewane made these remarks during three Masses in late October for legal professionals. The Red Masses took place Oct. 23 at St. Catherine Parish, Sebring; Oct. 24 at Ave Maria School of Law, Naples; and Oct. 25 at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota. The name for the Mass comes from the red vestments worn by the celebrants, and for the calling of grace and guidance from the Holy Spirit to come upon all who seek and serve justice.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrates a Red Mass for legal professionals on Oct. 25 at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota.

During the Masses, Bishop Dewane reminded the legal professionals of the familiar line of Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights.”

The idea that everyone was created equal was strange at the time, and certainly not self-evident as some were more intelligent, better looking, more courageous, and lived a greater expression of virtue, not all appeared equal, Bishop Dewane explained. “The fact that we were created is important, and suddenly becomes the equalizer, because we all known that we are not equal in every way. We must claim that right of existence as a Child of God… It is that grace, the gift of creation, that makes us equal.”

Members of the Bar Association of Highlands County retake their oath following a Red Mass in their honor celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring on Oct. 23.

In the legal profession, there are many things to be examined to been the positive law and natural law, the Bishop added. “The legal profession has at it hands the means of understanding the whole conception of the human being. Know that you are in our prayers. Let us all be conscious of how we have been created – created equal – thus we have these rights to go forward, and so does everyone else.”

The Red Mass in the Diocese of Venice began in 2008 when legal professionals in Sarasota wanted to emulate similar, more well-known Masses which take place each year for the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., and by the Florida Bishops for the Florida Legislature in Tallahassee.

Evelyn Moya, one of the attorneys in Sarasota who helped organize the first Red Mass, noted the annual Mass has a special significance for local Catholic legal professionals. “This Mass serves as a reminder to us all about whom we are and where we come from.”

At the Red Mass in Sebring, the attorneys present from Highlands County renewed the oath they took when they first become lawyers in the State of Florida.

Historically, the tradition of the Red Mass began around the year 1300 during the reign of Edward I. The entire bench and bar attended the Red Mass together at the opening of each term of court and it became tradition that the priests wear red vestments.

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