MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, FOR THE OPENING OF THE LEGAL YEAR ON TUESDAY 29 JANUARY 2008 AT 9AM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Red Mass is an ancient tradition, invoking God’s blessings and guidance on the administration of justice under the power of the Holy Spirit.
On the first Pentecost the tongues of fire transformed the apostles from fearful people into men filled with the Holy Spirit, totally committed to truth, and courageous in the service they would render to deepening and extending the faith in Jesus Christ which we have received from them.
In extending you a warm personal welcome, I recognise especially the presence of representatives of government, judges and magistrates, barristers and solicitors, members of legal staffs, families and friends.
The Holy Spirit is powerful to make weak things strong, to bind up hearts that are broken, to bring justice and integrity to our people. As we call to mind our sins, let us ask that the Spirit of God will grant us the life we need in our chosen profession and in the service that we render to society.HOMILY
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The earliest evidence of a celebration of the Red Mass was in Paris during the thirteenth century. Successively it spread to other European countries within a period of fifty years. In Australia it has been celebrated since 1931. It is a Red Mass because it is the Mass of the Holy Spirit. The red vestments which are worn are symbolic of the fire, light and guidance of the Holy Spirit sought for the members of the profession and for the service that you render to our society. It is a moment of appreciation on behalf of the Church, and from me personally as archbishop, for your genuine service of justice and the search for truth.
Regularly in their messages for the World Day of Peace on 1 January, the Popes have stressed that peace within individual families in societies arises “in that they should be built on solid foundations of shared spiritual and ethical values”.
Pope Benedict said this year: “It must be added that the family experiences authentic peace when no one lacks what is needed and when the family patrimony is well managed in a spirit of solidarity without extravagance and without waste. The peace of the family requires an openness to a transcendent patrimony of values and at the same time a concern for the prudent management of both material goods and interpersonal relationships.” (Benedict XVI, WDP 2008, 9
Pope Benedict goes back further to the fundamental challenge of lawmakers, administrators and practitioners in a secular state when he says: “The Church has often spoken on the subject of the nature and function of law: the juridic norm which regulates relationships between individuals, disciplines external conduct and established penalties for offenders, and has as its criterion the moral norm grounded in nature itself. Human reason is capable of discerning this moral norm, at least in its fundamental requirements and thus ascending to the creative reason of God, which is at the origin of all things. The moral norm must be the rule for the decisions of conscience and the guide for all human behaviour.”
He asks: “Do juridic norms exist for relationships between the nations which make up the human family? And if they exist, are they operative? The answer is, yes such norms exist - but to ensure that they are truly operative it is necessary to go back to the n