‘Red Mass’ helps lawyers focus on faith

This story was originally published by Catholic News Singapore on 23 January 2011. Republished with permission.

By Darren Boon

Catholic legal professionals and law students say that an annual Mass held specially for them keeps them focused on their Catholic identity.

Attending the “Red Mass” helps remind lawyers that there is a deeper meaning to their profession, said lawyer Esme Wei.

It also helps lawyers keep their “focus on God,” said Mr Jon Ong, a second-year law student.

Ms Wei and Mr Ong were among 100 legal professionals and law students who attended the Jan 7 Red Mass held at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and celebrated by Archbishop Nicholas Chia.

The Mass is celebrated specially for those involved in the administration of the law or who intend to do so.

It was first held in Paris in 1245, and in England around 1310. Then, it was attended by the entire Bench and Bar at the opening of each term of Court. The Mass was celebrated in honour of the Holy Spirit, for which red vestments were worn.

The Red Mass has a “rich tradition”, said lawyer Ian de Vaz, who has been attending it regularly.

It is important to obtain blessings to guide lawyers in the year ahead, he said.

Fourth-year law student Vincent Ong said he found the Mass inspiring. “It’s edifying to see so many lawyers care about their faith.”

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