God is the source of justice, says Brownsville Bishop Daniel Flores at annual Fort Worth Red Mass

By Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

North Texas Catholic

October 10, 2014

Brownsville Bishop Daniel E. Flores, (left), Fort Worth attorney Robert Gieb (middle), and Bishop Michael Olson pose for a picture during the reception following the annual Red Mass held Sept. 25 at St. Patrick Cathedral. (Photo by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen/NTC)

We need the help of God in our lives — especially his Holy Spirit — to make decisions that are ultimately good, noble, and just.”

Brownsville Bishop Daniel E. Flores affirmed that Christian belief for an assembly of 150 lawyers, judges, and public officials attending the eighth annual Red Mass celebrated Sept. 25 in St. Patrick Cathedral.

“Most people seek your advice or judgment because there is a problem that involves conflict,” he observed “That’s all the more reason to invoke God’s help.”

An historic tradition dating back to the 13th century, the Red Mass officially opened the judicial year in European countries. It was introduced to the United States in 1928 at New York City’s Church of St. Andrew. The 62nd annual Red Mass, opening the Supreme Court’s term, was held Oct. 5 in Washington, D.C.

“Red Mass” refers to the scarlet robes worn by the judiciary as they processed into church centuries ago.

Concelebrating the Mass here, Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson and Bishop Flores donned red vestments signifying the fire of the Holy Spirit’s guidance to all who pursue justice in their daily lives. Red carnations placed on the altar and a red-trimmed tabernacle veil continued the theme.

A nationally-recognized speaker known for his immigration reform advocacy, Bishop Flores said the invitation from Bishop Olson was his first Red Mass homily in Texas. Following the liturgy, he spoke again at a reception in the parish hall.

Although we live in a world where public expressions of faith are discouraged, the bishop told the assembly not to avoid asking the Holy Spirit for help.

“You need the Spirit to make good and just decisions and show compassion in the one-on-one situations you have to deal with,” Bishop Flores said.

Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville delivered the homily at the Diocese of Fort Worth’s eighth annual Red Mass. (Photo by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen/NTC)

The Holy Spirit is also a useful resource in resisting the frustration, jaded attitudes, and other temptations that can develop in the legal system.

“Life is messy. But the Light of Christ and the Gospel have an effect on a messy world,” Bishop Flores asserted. “Stand in your profession with the conviction that there is such a thing as justice. It’s not a game. There is such a thing as honor, being faithful to your word, being ethical, and living by a standard.”

Referencing a bestselling novel-turned-movie, set in a dystopian future, Bishop Flores reminded the legal professionals, “life is not the Hunger Games where it’s all about power and control. We’re called to something better than that.”

He urged them to invoke the Holy Spirit in moments that beg the question, “What’s the point?”

God entered a messy world to make it holy, and there’s nothing messier in the world than his crucifixion, Bishop Flores said, matter-of-factly.

“But He is risen,” the prelate continued. “Live with conviction, and in the end life wins. In the end, the truth will be revealed. In the end, justice matters.”

Robert Gieb, a seasoned lawyer and chairman of the Red Mass committee, said the annual event has a twofold purpose: it recognizes the Almighty as the source of justice and allows the legal community to gather for prayer and ask for wisdom.

All the judges and most public officials in Tarrant County are invited each year, and attendance continues to grow.

“From the Catholic point of view, it’s part of our evangelization. It’s our attempt to go into the community to address important issues,” Gieb explained. “The Catholic Church is not asking for a theocracy. We’re asking for an opportunity to give our opinions, ideas, and have a voice in the public square.”

Criminal District Court Judge Robb Catalano and, his wife, Municipal Court Judge Kim Catalano, have attended Red Mass gatherings since both were students at St. Mary’s Law School in San Antonio. They call the tradition “inspiring.”

“The job of lawyers, judges, and public officials can be so demanding — we need divine guidance. We need the Holy Spirit in our lives, and that’s not always easy to do,” Robb Catalano said. “This Mass brings those two things together.”

Kim Catalano says lawyers often have to weigh morals against what a client wants. That’s not an easy decision.

“It’s important for Christians to put their faith before their job and make sure they’re doing God’s will,” she said.

We need the help of God in our lives — especially his Holy Spirit — to make decision that are ultimately good, noble, and just.”

Published (until 12/12/2031)