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Red Mass: ‘Justice and healing are intimately connected’

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Justice and healing are intrinsically connected, attorneys and judges were told Oct. 6 at the 29th annual Red Mass of Los Angeles.“People are asking where is the God of justice, and the Prophet Malachi says, ‘Just wait, just wait, the day of the Lord is coming,’” said Jesuit Father Scott Santarosa in his homily at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, citing the account in Malachi when the prophet addresses doubtful religious leaders. “Then,” continued the pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights, “he says a line that shows healing: ‘For those who fear the Lord there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.’ As if to say that justice is a natural precursor for healing. As if to say that justice and healing are intimately connected.”About 250 local lawyers and judges — wearing red robes — listened attentively during the evening liturgy sponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of the St. Thomas More Society, a nonprofit organization of Catholics working in the legal field. Archbishop José Gomez presided, his first Red Mass as Los Angeles archbishop. In offering several accounts where local lawyers and judges were involved — either lending a hand as mentors or friends to low-income students at Watts’ Verbum Dei High School (operated by the Jesuits), or when judging a case involving parishioners of Dolores Mission — Father Santarosa used Malachi’s words to reiterate the interconnectedness between healing and justice. And citing the Gospel of Luke, he reminded the assembly of the importance of focusing on Jesus, again quoting Malachi.“We knock and knock and knock and ask God to give us what is needed to be fair and good and just,” he said. “Based on that truth, may the sun of justice and mercy and love, who is Jesus, arise in our hearts and shed His healing rays.” The annual ceremony is viewed by members of St. Thomas More Society — named after the 16th century English lawyer, judge and diplomat — as an opportunity to reflect on the role of lawyers and judges and to encourage them in applying Christian principles and ideals — exemplified by the saint — in their daily life and professional practice. Homilists are also selected accordingly.“We always want someone who will be a speaker that the assembly can relate to, who gives good things to think about,” Suzanne Austin, attorney and Society executive committee member, told The Tidings.“We want to nourish spirituality in everyone working in the legal field and give some inspiration for their daily lives,” said the longtime parishioner of Camarillo’s Blessed Junípero Serra Church.“This a good time for reflection and prayers,” said retired Judge Lawrence W. Crispo. “Our belief in God is an important benchmark as to how we live our professional and personal lives.”Established in 1982, the St. Thomas More Society adopted the custom of the Red Mass as practiced around the world for centuries. Also practiced in other U.S. cities, the Mass is offered to invoke divine guidance and strength during the coming term of the U.S. Supreme Court, according to its founders.“We felt that the legal community needed to have ethical and moral aspects of practice,” said Roger Sullivan, the Society’s co-founder (together with retired judge Lawrence Waddington). “Divine intervention is very needed to help achieve justice in the legal practice, since law always deals with conflicts between two sides,” added the 85-year-old real estate attorney.Praising Father Santarosa for “speaking from the heart,” retired judge Joe Riggo reflected that judges always try to do their best, although “justice and law not always are the same,” he assessed.Sullivan underscored the spiritual dimension of the legal practice.“It’s not just about money,” he said. “We need to emphasize the pro-bono aspect; how to help people in need, people who can’t afford to pay a lawyer.“As Father Santarosa said, even when judging these terrible crimes we have to consider compassion and forgiveness and rehabilitation. We want to help judges understand that punishment doesn’t solve the real problem.” He noted that law schools would do a great service to the community if they would spend more time teaching ethics and helping law students understand the moral responsibility of the profession.For more information about the St. Thomas More Society, Los Angeles, visit www.laredmass.org.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/1014/redmass/{/gallery}

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