As the Supreme Court carried on its tradition of starting a new term the first Monday in October, Catholics in Washington, D.C., marked their own court-related tradition. The Red Mass, which honors civil servants such as judges and lawyers, was celebrated Oct. 3 at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in the capital. The Mass drew five high court justices and other dignitaries. 

Despite its long history — it dates back more than 700 years in Europe, and in this country it has been sponsored by the John Carroll Society since 1953 — there was grumbling in the media about the supposed influence the Church has over officials. 

“There is no other institution that has this special way to talk to the justices of the Supreme Court,” the Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State complained to CNN’s Belief blog.
Yet homilist Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, did not tell the justices how to rule in cases. He prayed that the Holy Spirit — the reason for the red in the Red Mass — guide the justices. Aren’t those prayers we all need, whether we wear black robes or not?