‘Gifts of the Holy Spirit’ essential for the ‘right’ practice of law

Judges listened during an opening prayer at a Red Mass celebrated Sept. 4 at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville. The Mass seeks guidance from the Holy Spirit on all who serve in the legal profession. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff
Judges, lawyers and other legal professionals took time out of their day Sept. 4 to ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit as they seek to carry out justice in their daily work.

The legal professionals took part in the Archdiocese of Louisville’s annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville. About 200 people prayed during the special Mass for guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Father Frederick Klotter, pastor of Holy Spirit Church, delivered the homily sharing with the congregation that he’s a practitioner of the Catholic Church’s canon laws.

Though canon and civil law are different, said Father Klotter, “we (legal professionals) are all engaged in what can and should be a holy effort to bring about fairness and protection for our clients and to bring about the best in and for our communities.”

Father Klotter drew his listeners’ attention to the first reading from chapter 11 of the Book of Isaiah. He shared with them that the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the reading — wisdom, understanding, piety, counsel, strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord ­— “are essential to the right practice of the law,” civil or canon.

Father Klotter said to the men and women in the congregation that the “just and right practice of the law” by itself will not bring about the peace described in the book of Isaiah — “the wolf shall be the guest of the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the young lion shall browse together with a young child to guide them… they shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the lord.”

The “ just and right practice of the law” will, however, “help society keep hope and further all the actions of growth and grace,” said Father Klotter.

The first recorded Red Mass was celebrated at the Cathedral of Paris in 1245 in honor of St. Ives, the patron saint of lawyers, according to organizers of the local Mass. The tradition began in England around the year 1310 and was attended by judges and lawyers at the beginning of the court’s term. The first such Mass in the United States was celebrated in 1877 at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Detroit, Mich.

This year marks the 67th year since the Red Mass has been celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. The Mass is traditionally celebrated right before the U.S. Supreme Court begins its term. This year that Mass will be celebrated on Oct. 6.

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