This year’s Red Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols in Westminster Cathedral on 1st October to mark the start of the legal year, and was attended by members of the legal profession. Observing the restrictions imposed by the current pandemic, the congregation were socially distanced, and the colourful procession of members of the Judiciary and the Bar was omitted.
Cardinal Vincent preached a homily about the kingdom of God, ‘that social order as envisaged in God’s purpose for the created world’, whose emerging is the work of the Holy Spirit.
This kingdom, he said, is ‘rooted in an acknowledgement of the Creator’, in whom the inherent dignity of every person is rooted.
‘This acknowledgment of the Creator also instils in us what should be an unshakeable commitment to our common good, a good from which no one is excluded since we are bound together, belong together, as children of one heavenly Father,’ he said.
‘These convictions serve as the deeper foundations of our efforts to create a social order characterised by justice, by solidarity and by profound respect, one for another.’
The law of the kingdom of God, he explained, ‘is written into the heart of every person and can be found there by all who search for it. The Law, then, is not an extrinsic imposition, but an elaborating of what is most profoundly present in the human heart.’
The Cardinal reflected that the experiences of the last seven months may be ‘teaching us some of the ways of the kingdom of God: a reluctant recognition of our vulnerability; an acceptance that we are all in the same boat no matter our status; a readiness to contribute to the support of the needy and the isolated; a recognition of the importance and dignity of workers whose efforts are often just taken for granted; a conformity with new patterns that are uncomfortable and costly, requiring a self-discipline and self-sacrifice which only a true caring for others can motivate. Maybe we are learning to be less self-sufficient, less self-centred than usual, and moving a step closer to the values of this elusive kingdom of God.’
He prayed for God’s blessing for the members of the legal profession, that they may be filled with the Divine Wisdom, the Holy Spirit, that your work is more profoundly a service offered in his name.’
The annual Red Mass, marking the first day of the legal year, is a Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit, calling upon to guide the judiciary and the legal profession in their work. The arrangements for the Mass are made each year by the Thomas More Society, whose membership comprises mainly Catholic members of the Judiciary and Bar as well as solicitors.
Photos: Mazur/CBCEW.org.uk (additional photos from the Mass are available here)