On a recent Monday evening, members of the legal and government professions gathered at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg for the annual Diocesan Red Mass. Serving as the guest homilist, Bishop Larry Kulick of the Diocese of Greensburg called upon those gathered to bring the wonder and understanding of Christian anthropology back to our communities.
“Christian anthropology sees each human being different than any other creation of God, and Christian anthropology understands that God has endowed with an intrinsic dignity and the right to life from conception to natural death for every human being,” said Bishop Kulick. “Christian anthropology understands that humankind is created uniquely but specifically in the image of God, male and female, by nature, and gifted by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for eternal salvation.”
The bishop added one of the most frequent questions he receives is, “What is of the greatest importance for the Church and society today?” He relayed to those gathered that a lack or loss of understanding of Christian anthropology is, in his opinion, the great challenge.
“As members of the legal profession and as faithful Catholics, how do we claim this fundamental understanding of the human person, which when understood correctly, allows just laws to be defended and promulgated and together better our society and humanity itself?” said Bishop Kulick.
He continued that bringing the world back to an understanding of Christian anthropology is “not just preaching, it is not just in the radical adherence to law itself, but I would go to the example our Holy Father Pope Francis reminds us of so often – we must be living disciples of Christ, embracing the faith, living the faith, walking with others and taking time for others to see how our faith makes a real, true difference not only in our lives but in how we see our world and how we render our decisions and how we live our lives.”
“My friends, I claim today that the way we can begin to reclaim a Christian anthropology is by authentically living our faith and putting it into actions, not forcing it down the throats of people, but with kindness, with good rationale, with gentleness and with the correct firm intention,” he said. “But if we do not first live the greatest commandment that our Lord gives us, we become nothing more than competing, yelling voices that do not assist, do not comfort, or that do not even in some instances bring justice. We regress back to what we first came from. Remember the story of Creation. What existed before God brought order and began to create? Chaos. Darkness.”
The bishop concluded by saying that in the execution of our professions, we are all called to love God and to serve our neighbor.
Visiting bishops traditionally serve as homilists for the Red Mass, an annual liturgy that usually takes place as the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new session. The Mass invokes the wisdom of the Holy Spirit on behalf of judges, attorneys, legislators and all who are involved in public service. The liturgy is named for the color of the vestments worn to symbolize the Holy Spirit.
During the Mass, Bishop Ronald Gainer offered a special blessing for the members of the legal community, that God would assist with His spirit of “counsel and fortitude the leaders of our Commonwealth, for judges, attorneys, elected civil officials and all others entrusted to guard the common welfare, dignity and rights of the people.”
The Red Mass is sponsored each year by The St. Thomas More Society of Central Pennsylvania. It works to promote the spiritual and intellectual wellbeing of its members and to acquaint them with the life and ideals of St. Thomas More, a devout Catholic lawyer who was beheaded by the order of King Henry VIII for refusing to sign the king’s Act of Supremacy and Act of Succession.
In remarks at the conclusion of the Mass, the society’s president, Joseph Cardinale, Esq., said the liturgy was a “reminder that all of us in the legal profession and in government share a common goal, which is to do what is right for the people we serve and to uphold justice. As servants to the legal profession, we all have the same duty to ensure that justice is administered with fidelity. We are so fortunate to have excellent homilists, such as Bishop Kulick, deliver inspirational homilies that serve to refocus our callings in the legal profession and inspire us in the coming year.”
For more information on the society and to request membership, visit www.saintthomasmoresociety.com.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness