A Time to Speak – Why I attend the Red Mass

Donald Kelly

Once a year, the Archdiocese of Louisville celebrates a Red Mass to invoke divine guidance and blessings on persons of all faiths who serve in the legal community. The intent of the Mass is to seek guidance and wisdom from the Holy Spirit to strengthen the minds and hearts of all who seek justice, truth, and wisdom in the courtroom and in lawyers’ offices. Everyone associated with the legal profession, regardless of religious affiliation, is welcomed and encouraged to attend.

This year’s Red Mass will be held on September 4, 2019 at 12:15 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Assumption. The Mass provides a special opportunity to join with other men and women serving in the legal profession, judiciary, and public life in asking for God’s guidance and understanding in all we do and for those we serve. It is an opportunity to pause from our hectic schedules and reflect on our role in society and to ask God for His continued blessings on each of us and for justice in our community.

While very rewarding for me personally, the practice of law can at times be spiritually challenging. At various moments in our daily interactions, we are all exposed to the weaknesses and failings of humanity. Despite all the legal system does for society to uphold justice, truth, and fairness, it is rightfully subject to strict scrutiny and criticism. Not everyone in need of justice always sees the legal system at its best. And, at times, each of us need encouragement and strengthening. Since we are each called to act and serve with honesty, integrity, and humility, I frequently ask for God’s blessings, strength and guidance in my practice and relationships with others. When my legal abilities (and sensibilities) are tested, I try to slow down, say a prayer, and ask the Holy Spirit for enlightenment. To this day, a framed print hanging above my computer given to me 30 years ago by a client provides inspiration: “Justice, only justice shall thou pursue.” Deuteronomy 16:20.

The Red Mass provides a yearly opportunity to reflect on our individual calling in the profession and our collective responsibility to seek justice for all. It is a chance to pause, reset our minds and hearts, and allow God to lead our thoughts. For me, I find great solace and hope in seeing so many others in the legal profession asking for the Holy Spirit to guide our actions. It is spiritually rewarding and emotionally uplifting.

I hope you will join the celebration.

Donald J. Kelly is a partner with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP and a parishioner of Holy Trinity Church.

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