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Annual Red Mass to be celebrated Sept. 26

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BRAINTREE -- The Catholic Lawyers Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston will gather for the annual Red Mass for those involved in the legal profession at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 26 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley will be the main celebrant.

A luncheon will follow at the Seaport Hotel in Boston featuring keynote speaker Helen Alvare. Alvare is a law professor at George Mason University, USCCB pro-life advisor and Vatican consultant.

"No one will fall asleep," said guild clerk Fran Hogan. "She's very alive."

Each year the guild gathers for Mass to ask the assistance of the Holy Spirit as the United States begins another legal year. The Supreme Court opens the first Monday of October.

"It's the celebration of the opening of court," said Catholic Lawyers Guild Vice-President Paul McNamara.

Historical records indicate that the first Red Mass was celebrated at the cathedral of Paris in 1245, and the tradition moved to England around 1310. English King Edward II began the tradition to bring together all the members of the bench and bar -- judges and lawyers -- to invoke the guidance of the Holy Spirit on the proceedings of the coming judicial year.

The Mass celebrated was usually a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit which specifies that the celebrants wear red vestments. The tradition continued and the title "Red Mass" has endured though with some historical breaks. According to sources, the Red Mass was restored in the English speaking world in 1931 when the custom was revived in Sydney, Australia.

In the United States, a Red Mass is celebrated in many places and is sponsored either by an individual bishop in his diocese or by a group of bishops. Because of its location in the nation's capital, the Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, D.C. draws much notice, frequently being attended by justices of the Supreme Court and other federal and local officials.

For more information on the Red Mass or if you are interested in attending the banquet, please contact Paul McNamara at 617-722-8010.

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