23 October 2008

The Red Mass

The St. Thomas More Lawyer's Guild had its annual Red Mass tonight. It's a mass where lawyers, judges, politicians and law enforcement personnel gather to pray for the outpouring of Holy Spirit on all who are involved in the administration of justice. I went last year too, but tonight I heard the most AMAZING homily I have ever heard. The Roman Catholic Bishop and the Ukrainian Catholic Bishop co-celebrated, but the Ukrainian Catholic Bishop gave the homily. He's newly appointed to the diocese, and I've never heard him speak before, but he was amazing.

The mass had the who's who of the local legal profession in attendance- the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal, several other justices, the provincial attorney general, a city councilor, the superintendant of city police, the dean of the law school, several QC's and a whole host of lawyers and law students. Last year's homily by the RC bishop was pretty wishy washy and feel good- about how we should all help those in need and use our legal skills for the benefit of all. There was absolutely no comparison with this year's homily. I know that I had the stupidest looking grin on my face, and it just got bigger as the homily went on.

He started the homily by referencing Bill C-38 (same sex marriage) and moved quickly to talk about how moral relativism pervades our society, and how as Catholics and lawyers we have a duty to use our God given talents in the law to work to defend objective truth and to show that there is objective truth in our the way we live our lives. He then spoke about the inherent dignity of every human being, and how we have a duty to ensure the law recognizes this. He stated that life is more than a human right; it is part of our human dignity that comes from Christ. I am doing a terrible job of paraphrasing his homily, but essentially he told everyone there that to be Catholic means that they have to reject relativism and work to promote human dignity in all forms of human life (including the unborn, disabled and terminally ill). I have never, ever heard a priest, let alone a bishop spend an entire homily on the inherent dignity of all humans. This homily was an exhortation to follow church teachings, and it was directed at a crowd that is rather hostile to that message. (I heard mutterings and whisperings all around me)

The Bishop was an amazing witness of the gospel message. I spoke with him after mass, and he said he wasn't sure what to speak about- he said it was intimidating getting up before the chief justice to speak when he has no legal training, but the Holy Spirit must have inspired that homily, because there was no hesitation in the message- just a confident priest speaking to his flock. And if people don't like the message, that's just too bad for them. If they are going to call themselves Catholic, the least they can do is follow church teachings. I told the Bishop how much I appreciated hearing his homily. It makes it much easier to be a Catholic lawyer in a secular world.

I don't often hear a homily that sticks with me like this one did, and when I do hear one, I am reminded of how much I love the church. There is objective truth, and relativism is wrong. I have been so impressed with bishops lately- they have been speaking out about life issues with increasing regularity this year- especially the US Bishops. All I can say to end this is God Bless the bishop and all priests, religious and laity who speak the truth without hesitation or fear.

No comments: