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Cardinal Egan Challenges Lawyers, Lawmakers at Red Mass

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“We need lawyers who will not ‘stand outside the theater’ but who will ‘take the podium’ and speak with clarity, patience and, above all, courage.” Those were the words of the homilist and principal celebrant, His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop Emeritus of New York, at the Red Mass on October 9th at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh. The Mass recognized government officials and all who work in the legal profession. Among those concelebrating with Cardinal Egan were the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, the Most Reverend F. Joseph Gossman, Bishop Emeritus of Raleigh, Reverend Msgr. David D. Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese, and Rev. Daniel D. Oschwald, Rector of the Cathedral.

The Red Mass had its origin in the 13th Century and was first introduced in the United States in 1928. The Mass gets its name from the red vestments worn by the celebrant and concelebrants to symbolize the Holy Spirit, whose guidance is invoked to assist all those who seek justice.

In his homily, Cardinal Egan spoke about the heroic, anonymous lawyer in the first reading who quelled the riot of the silversmiths in Ephesus. The reading, from Acts 19:23-40, told how the silversmiths of Ephesus, whose income depended in great part on selling silver images of the goddess Diana and her temple, violently confronted two of Saint Paul’s associates, because their preaching of the One God was hurting business. The silversmiths rioted for two hours, until the “town clerk” went to the podium and sent them away with words the Cardinal described as “good, right, decent, civilized – and true.”

It was unusual for St. Luke, the author of Acts, to include a person in his writing without naming him, Cardinal Egan said. “Why do we not know the name of that heroic lawyer?” he asked, and then explained to the congregation, “Because that lawyer is you.”

At the end of Mass, Msgr. Brockman expressed special thanks on the Bishop’s behalf to members of the legal community who assisted in planning the Mass and the reception which followed: Judge Allyson Duncan, Judge Terrence Boyle, Judge James Dever, Judge Ann Marie Calabria, Judge Paul Gessner, Mr. Tom Lindgren, and Mr. Kieran Shanahan.