Supreme Court Attends Red Mass Before Start of Crucial Term

The 58th annual Red Mass in Washington D.C. Sunday was attended by half the Supreme Court justices, who prayed for clarity in the new term where they are set to cover a slew of hot button issues.

The service was held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, located a few blocks from the White House. Attendees included Chief Justice John Roberts, justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito along with members of the legal profession and other dignitaries.

According to John Carroll Society, the purpose behind the Red Mass was to “invoke God’s blessings on those responsible for the administration of justice as well as on all public officials.”

John Carroll Society, a lay Catholic group of prominent lawyers and professionals, started the mass in 1953. It was named the “Red” Mass after the color of the garments worn by clergy.

The Supreme Court’s new annual term will hear cases with hard hitting issues such as health care, immigration, religious discrimination and personal privacy.

Archbishop of Seattle J. Peter Sartain, who delivered Sunday’s sermon, told those in attendance, “We are not fully alive, even if we follow a balanced, healthy lifestyle unless we give ourselves to someone beyond ourselves.”

Sartain said, “In the end, it is in our relationship with the Lord in which we find the spiritual health that reveals and makes possible true balance, true integrity.”

He urged the 1,400 mass attendees to live life for others.

“A sound soul in a sound body makes for a balanced life, a life of integrity. And such sound, healthy living in lives that are given to public service lift up and transform society,” Sartain added.

The Supreme Court’s Fall 2011 term kicked off Monday with the Medicaid case -- a health dispute that seeks to decide whether states have the right to sue in federal court when a state cuts its payment rates in the Medicaid program for poor Americans.

In the following weeks, the Supreme Court will decide whether the government has the power to track a suspect’s movement using a GPS without warrant and whether or not anti-discriminatory laws should apply to religious institutions.

Traditionally, the Red Mass is celebrated on the Sunday before the first Monday in October, which is the beginning of the Supreme Court’s annual term.