Red Mass gives judiciary time for reflection

Marilyn Tennissen Oct. 18, 2007, 9:33am

Each fall before the U.S. Supreme Court convenes on the first Monday in October, the Justices gather at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., to join in a celebration of the Red Mass.

The Roman Catholic tradition is held not only in the nation's capital, but in churches throughout the country as a way for the judges and lawmakers to pray for guidance as they undertake their judicial responsibilities.

The Catholic Diocese of Beaumont held its annual Red Mass on Oct. 5 at St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica.

The Red Mass derives its name from the red vestments traditionally worn as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, who imparts the legal officials with wisdom and understanding. And during the Middle Ages, the Judges of the High Court of England and all doctors of law wore red robes or academic hoods.

After the Red Mass, the judges, lawyers and clerks gathered for a luncheon sponsored by the Michelle F. Mehaffy Inn of Court and the St. Thomas More Society.

This year the St. Thomas More Award was presented to attorney Toni Mulvaney, wife of the late District Judge Tom Mulvaney.

The award is given each year to an attorney or public official who has exhibited the virtues and traits of St. Thomas More. More was a renowned scholar and lawyer in England in the 1500s. He remained a faithful Catholic when King Henry VIII broke from Rome and established the Church of England. More was imprisoned and eventually beheaded.

Mulvaney, a member of St. Anne Parish in Beaumont, is a well-respected attorney and active leader in the community. When accepting the award, Mulvaney dedicated the honor to her late husband and the many people he helped in family court.

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