Before the First Monday in October, there’s the First Sunday, and what has become a long-running tradition in the nation’s capital.
From the Washington Post:
On the eve of a Supreme Court session that will feature six Catholic justices for only the second year in its history, five members of the court joined Vice President Biden at a traditional kickoff Mass Sunday at a downtown cathedral.
The so-called Red Mass, a service dedicated to jurists and lawyers, dates to the 13th century in Europe and has been a first-Sunday-in-October custom in Washington for 57 years. Led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the justices lined two front pews in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle as judges, lawyers and law school students filled the church. The dean of the Georgetown University Law Center led a prayer, and a federal judge served as an usher.
“Your presence here is witness to the importance our nation places on the rule of law,” Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl said from the pulpit. The service began with a flag procession by purple-plumed members of the Knights of Columbus and ended with the singing of “America the Beautiful.”
In a homily by an American cleric serving in the Vatican, justices heard that the tradition began at time of civic strife similar to the current judicial mood.
“The Church understands the nearly overwhelming complexity of the climate which envelops the practice of law and the administration of justice today,” said Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia. “Our enactment of this ancient ritual of the Red Mass joins us to the generations of judges and lawyers who pursued their professions conscious of their need for divine grace and guidance.”