Legal professionals seek guidance from Holy Spirit

Retired federal bankruptcy Judge David Stosberg, foreground, and Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Irv Maze were among legal professionals who took part in the Red Mass celebrated Sept. 20 at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth St. The Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz for those who work in the legal field, seeks the guidance of the Holy Spirit over their work. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)
Retired federal bankruptcy Judge David Stosberg, foreground, and Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Irv Maze were among legal professionals who took part in the Red Mass celebrated Sept. 20 at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth St. The Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz for those who work in the legal field, seeks the guidance of the Holy Spirit over their work. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Dozens of legal professionals, including judges wearing black robes and men and women in suits, paused at midday Sept. 22 to take part in the Archdiocese of Louisville’s first Red Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. fifth St.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz celebrated the liturgy and shared with those gathered that the first-known Red Mass was called for by King Louis IX of France in 1245.
The Mass is celebrated by the church to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance for all those who work in the “noble profession of law,” the archbishop said. The color
“red” is a reminder of the tongues of fire, which descended on Christ’s disciples at Pentecost, he noted.

“So it was that the call was made, so that those in the legal profession would ask God’s blessing so that wisdom, zeal and a desire to serve would be at the very basis of their work,” said the archbishop.

He characterized the event at the cathedral as a “celebration of memory” — a time for those present to remember what attracted them to the legal profession and “for all of us to remember to say thank you.”

Archbishop Kurtz went on to talk about two lawyers worthy of emulation.

The first he mentioned was William Craven, a Tennessee attorney who died in 2000. Archbishop Kurtz knew the lawyer while serving as Bishop of Knoxville prior to his appointment in Kentucky.

Craven believed “every client and every case should be treated as the most important client and the most important case” and that “the fees would take care of itself,” the archbishop said.

Archbishop Kurtz also recalled the life of St. Thomas More, patron saint of those who practice law. St. Thomas More, who served as legal counsel to King Henry the VIII, was martyred in 1535 after opposing the king’s decision to separate from the Catholic Church. He was canonized in 1935.

“St. Thomas More remains an example of ‘a man for all seasons,’ as someone who took his profession as a sacred charge and asked that God would bless him with an integrity that is at the very core of the soul,” said the archbishop, alluding to the title of a play about the saint.

In that same spirit, the archbishop urged his listeners to keep working “for the common good, the ability for us to maintain law so that the nation may thrive and that individual people might achieve the dignity that is theirs.”

Participants in the Archdiocese of Louisville’s first Red Mass, celebrated Sept. 22 at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville, held hands during the Lord’s Prayer. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)
Participants in the Archdiocese of Louisville’s first Red Mass, celebrated Sept. 22 at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville, held hands during the Lord’s Prayer. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

“We pray for that noble profession and ask that God will bless you for another good year of service to the common good and to the people who need your help desperately,” said the archbishop.

Judge Judith Bartholomew, who serves in family court, said the Red Mass “was very moving.” Bartholomew, who attends Mass at the cathedral regularly, said her work in family court is particularly difficult. She sees a lot of “sadness” she said. That’s why it’s important for her to pause and take part in such an event, she said.

“I think we sometimes forget the gift we’ve been given to allow us to do our job,” she said. “We get frustrated, but need to remember we’re here to help people. We have to continue to remember that if we help one family that we’ve done our job, even on days when we feel we’ve not done anything.”

The need for Catholic lawyers to unite has led to the creation of the relatively new Catholic Bar Association (CBA). It was established on July 6, 2015, the 480th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Thomas More.

Joshua McCaig, who serves as the CBA president, said its mission “is to unite Catholic legal professionals into one organization and build a community where, united by the common bond of faith, the members may grow professionally and personally in the ideal set forth by St. Thomas More, that we are the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”
The CBA is hosting its first conference Oct. 27-30 at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo.

To learn more about the CBA and the conference visit cbaconference.org.

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