Area judges, lawyers and public officials of all faiths gathered at St. Joseph Cathedral on Wednesday to take part in the annual Red Mass, celebrated by Bishop Richard J. Malone who urged all in attendance to look at their legal profession as a calling.
"St. Thomas Aquinas showed us the reason why the law is a noble vocation. To St. Thomas, all law is rooted in the natural law. That's why it's so important for people like yourselves to come here and interrupt the flow of your work day and open hearts and minds." Bishop Malone suggested that all laws have a fundamentally moral purpose. "So I think the lesson is that we never exercise judgement about human laws without keeping our mind on God and God's love. That needs to be the big picture in which everything else is reflected on and determined."
The celebrants, government officials, lawyers and judges, proceeded into the cathedral clothed in red vestments and or red garments, signifying the fire of the Holy Spirit's guidance to all who pursue justice in their daily lives. The tradition was adopted by the English Courts in 1310 when it was celebrated at Westminster Abbey to officially open the session of the court. Its first celebration in the United States occurred in 1928 in New York City.
The local Red Mass is sponsored by the St. Thomas More Guild, an organization for Catholic lawyers in the Diocese of Buffalo. Msgr. Salvatore Manganello serves as the group's chaplain. The guild's president, Michael McCabe introduced Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III to deliver the closing remarks.
"We are taught in this profession to base our comments on facts and reason," said Judge Murphy, who proceeded to speak about a time in his life when he felt he didn't take the time to let God's love enter his heart. "For many of us, when we go out to encounter the world, we are emotionally numb. We dress ourselves in a suit of armor and keep the world at a safe distance."
Judge Murphy said that a turning point came a couple years ago when he joined a program called Mission at his parish. "Mission for me was the thing that pierced through to my heart. For me it was this program, but for you it could be a book, a retreat, a conversation or volunteering at a soup kitchen. You need to find something that allows you to break with the acedia of everyday life and engage the world with a Christian heart."