Using the example of St. Thomas More, Archbishop Raymond Burke exhorted legal professionals present at Tuesday’s Red Mass in St. Mary’s Cathedral to keep God before their eyes as they strive to administer justice amidst a “society which is abandoning its Judeo-Christian foundations.”
The archbishop began his homily by explaining the origins of the Red Mass, a tradition dating to the Middle Ages. Noting that there was a stronger understanding of the “essential unity” of faith and reason in that time period, he said that celebrating Mass “at the beginning of the new judicial year pointed to the irreplaceable foundation of the service of pronouncing the just and the right on behalf of one’s brothers and sisters.”
He also explained that red vestments are worn during the Mass for two reasons: judges in the Middle Ages wore red robes and because they remind “us of the perfect obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ” in obeying the call of the Holy Spirit to lay down our own lives.
Archbishop Burke then presented the story of St. Thomas More, a lawyer who was martyred for choosing to serve God instead of the king. The patron saint of lawyers, the archbishop reminded, is known for exclaiming, “I die the king’s good servant, and God’s first.” “Saint Thomas More understood that there could be no contradiction between his service of his nation and his service of God, and that, in fact, he could only serve his nation truly and faithfully by his true and faithful service of God,” Archbishop Burke declared.
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