Red Mass Kuching 2018

The Red Mass, a mass celebrated annually in the Catholic Church to offer prayers for those in the legal profession, was held at Holy Trinity Church, Kuching, on the 20th January 2018, coinciding with the opening of the new Legal Year in Sarawak.

The Archbishop of Kuching, His Grace Most Reverend Simon Poh celebrated the mass that was attended by lawyers and judges amongst others.

The origins of the Red Mass can be traced back to the year 1245, whereby the first recorded Red Mass was celebrated in Paris. Its name is derived from the red vestments traditionally worn by its celebrant, as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. To this day, the purpose of the Red Mass is to invoke the Holy Spirit upon those in the legal community and persons holding office.

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Archbishop Simon Poh with Catholic Lawyers
During the homily, His Grace expanded on the notion of the Red Mass. Firstly, the perception that the Church has an existence divorced from the socio-political context of today needs to be debunked. The Red Mass is to encourage leadership roles and to pray to God for guidance and strength in the Legal Year to come. His Grace urged the audience to pray for  the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, namely wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude, that these Gifts be used to bring about change in the society.

His Grace went on to draw an analogy from the reading of the mass (2 Samuel; 1; 1-4, 11-12, 19, 23-27), concerning Saul and David. Saul was anointed by Samuel as King, and was succeeded by David. Although the throne of power had changed hands, God was and always reigning over the kingdom. During Saul’s time as king, he was asked by God to guide his people. Through our baptism, we in turn are asked bring God’s grace to others. Being kingly means being a position of authority, but also to govern in accordance with God’s values. Therefore, the members of the legal profession and those in political office are asked to be a prophet, to teach the gospel values and speak of mercy and justice to make the world a better place – just like Jesus once did, even in the face of reproach by secular thought.

Before concluding the Mass, His Grace reminded the audience of St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers, drawing on the saint’s steadfastness and faith in God, despite the condemnation made against him by secular law. The Mass was then concluded by the choir’s rousing rendition of the Hymn to St. Thomas More.

Following the Mass, attendees were invited to fellowship and morning tea at The Good Shepherd’s Hall.

Maxine Chng

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