Red Mass —
Asking for Divine Guidance
in Troubled Times

Charles E. Ricketts, Jr.

Red Mass, a special liturgy, traces its genesis to Paris in 1245 and specifically relates to the legal profession.

The tradition of holding a Red Mass continued in England around 1310 but was first celebrated in the United States in 1928 at the Church of Saint Andrew in New York City with Cardinal Patrick Hayes presiding.

The Red Mass is typically celebrated on or near the first Monday in October, which is the day the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new year. More than half of the states in this country celebrate this liturgy each year. Perhaps the best-known Red Mass is held at the beginning of October in Washington D.C. at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle.

This Mass coincides with the opening of the United States Supreme Court’s annual term and has been attended by presidents of the United States and United States Supreme Court justices. The Red Mass gets its name from the red garments worn by the clergy.

The 2021 Red Mass for the Archdiocese of Louisville will be held at the Cathedral of the Assumption on Wednesday, September 22, at 12:15 p.m., and all ministers of the law, regardless of religious affiliation are encouraged to attend this special and timely event.

We would hope to see in attendance at the Mass, attorneys, law students, judges, and law professors. Anyone associated with this community’s legal family is welcome, including staff persons in the offices of legal professionals.

The Red Mass is celebrated in honor of the Holy Spirit as the source of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and fortitude — gifts that are needed by legal practitioners in the courtroom as well as in the community.

We will be praying for the wisdom and grace of the Holy Spirit this year to help this body of justice ministers — to whom our fellow citizens look during this period of division and unrest — to give us character, honesty, bravery, humility, courage, and knowledge.

We legal counselors call upon Saint Thomas More, the patron saint of attorneys, to assist us in our plea for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit as we strive to restore the domestic tranquility guaranteed by our U.S. Constitution and the laws we’ve enacted. Please join with us in asking our Creator to shed His grace and wisdom upon this nation “under God.”

For all its faults, the legal system gives those in our profession tremendous opportunities on a daily basis to impact and make real change in people’s lives. The Red Mass reminds us of that potential and serves as an inspiration and renewal of purpose throughout the year.

Being a lifetime practitioner of Catholicism and an attorney who has celebrated that vocation in excess of 50 years, I invite all of my legal colleagues to join me at this year’s Red Mass.

Charlie Ricketts serves “of counsel” with Ricketts Law Offices, PLLC, and is a lector at the Cathedral of the Assumption.

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Asking for Divine Guidance
in Troubled Times”