Legal professionals honored at liturgy

Judges David Bowles, Lauren Ogden and Derwin Webb, from left, attended a Red Mass Sept. 15 at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433. S Fifth Street. A Red Mass is celebrated annually in the Catholic Church to recognize judges, lawyers, law school professors, law students, secretaries, clerks, paralegals and government officials. (Record Photos By Jessica Able)

Members of the legal community gathered at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville Sept. 15 to take part in the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Red Mass. 

The annual liturgy serves as an opportunity to invoke God’s blessing and guidance on those in the legal profession. Persons of all faiths who serve in legal professions — including judges, attorneys, legal secretaries, clerks and paralegals — were invited to attend.

Father Martin Linebach, rector of the Cathedral and vicar general of the archdiocese, told the legal professionals gathered “we come to invoke the Holy Spirit on your work, on your vocation, as well as to inspire all of us.”

In his homily, Father Linebach spoke to the 50 or so individuals who attended the midday Mass and noted that the color red is associated with the Mass because it “symbolizes the fire of the Holy Spirit, the blood of martyrdom.”

Father Linebach called to mind St. Thomas More, the 15th-16th-century English scholar and statesman who was martyred for the faith. The saint is the patron of lawyers.

The day’s Scripture readings, Father Linebach noted, “form and shape the foundations in a particular way of your vocation, but mine as well.”

He recalled that a number of years ago, during his first assignment at Mother of Good Counsel Church, a parishioner, a young lawyer and father, told him, “You know Father, our vocations are similar. We are both counselors.” 

“I never thought about that before and I never have forgotten his thought. If it’s true, and I hope it is, it is an honor for me to be among you today as an advocate, a promoter of divine justice, as you do the same for civil justice.”

He also recalled an address made by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to members of the British parliament in 2010 in the same chambers where 450 years earlier St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher were condemned to death because they refused to acquiesce to the king. Pope Benedict noted that the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves as new social conditions emerge.

“Each generation as it seeks to advance the common good must ask anew ‘What are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon its citizens? How far do they extend?’

“These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. … Herein lies the real challenge for democracy. They are worthy of our consideration today,” he said.

“I think these are all lessons that all of us can take to heart, but particularly you who are in great pursuit of justice,” he said. “The absolute truth is the law of love that guides that love of law,” he said.

Mass-goers and legal professionals stood during the entrance procession at the annual Red Mass Sept. 15 at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville.
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Jessica Able
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