Members of the Order of Malta will participate in robes in the annual Red Mass at noon on Friday, January 5, 2018, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette, Louisiana, at the request of Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel. During this Mass, Most Reverend Gregory Kelly, Auxiliary Bishop of Dallas, will present the homily.
“The Mass is an occasion to thank all of those in the legal profession for their service and vocation to promote justice,” said Hunter Perret. “They are serving the Faith, guided by the Holy Spirit, as they navigate the ethical dilemmas of their profession – questions of life and death, truth, freedom, justice and human dignity.”
What is the Red Mass?
The Mass is a traditional gathering of judges, prosecutors, attorneys, law school professors and students and government officials to ask God to guide and bless the members of the legal profession, civil courts and Church courts. Celebrated in the honor of St. Ives, the patron saint of lawyers, the liturgy requests guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek justice and offers those in the legal profession the opportunity to reflect on their God-given power and responsibility of justice. The Red Mass differs from the traditional Catholic Mass in that the liturgy focuses on wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude for those in attendance.
The first recorded Red Mass was celebrated in Paris in 1245 and spread to most European countries, reaching the United States in 1877 at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Detroit, Michigan. The name stems from the red vestments symbolizing the Holy Spirit that were traditionally worn by the celebrant and the robes worn by Mass participants.
What is the Order of Malta?
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta, more commonly known as the Sovereign Order of Malta, is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilization. Founded in Jerusalem in around 1048, the Order’s mission is perfectly summed up in its motto “Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum,” meaning defense of faith and assistance to the suffering.
While some members of the Order are professed knights—having taken the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience—the majority of the Order’s knights and dames are lay members—those who have not pronounced any religious vow but who are devoted to exercising Christian virtue and charity, as well as developing their spirituality within the Church by serving the Faith and assisting those in need.
Made up of more than 13,500 knights and dames in 54 countries, members of the Order are committed to reaching spiritual perfection through personal service and sacrifice. Invited members must make a commitment to spiritual development within the Church and to support—financially and through hands-on involvement—charitable projects that align with the Order’s mission to serve the poor and sick while representing the Lord.
“We are blessed to have such an active Sovereign Order of Malta in Lafayette,” said Hunter Perret. “Members of the Lafayette Region promote the mission of the Catholic Church throughout the Acadiana area by devoting their time, energy and resources to serving the sick and the poor.”