Red Mass with all of Florida’s bishops concludes Catholic Days at the Capitol
By Maurice Beaulieu
After hundreds of Catholics spoke with politicians to urge that Florida’s laws adhere more closely to Catholic values, especially on the worth and dignity of every human life, participants a Catholic Days at the Capitol were rewarded with a celebratory Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More in downtown Tallahassee.
Florida’s Red Mass, now in its 45th year, is a religious event where all the bishops from the state gather with Catholic Days participants. The Red Mass originated in Europe during the early 13th century to ask the Holy Spirit — thus the red vestments — to guide those involved in the judiciary and legislation to make moral and ethical decisions.
At St. Thomas More’s altar sat the entire flock of Florida’s bishops, including Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito of Palm Beach, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Bishop John Noonan of Orlando, Bishop Felipe Estevez of St. Augustine, Bishop Gregory L. Parkes of St. Petersburg, Bishop William A. Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee, and Auxiliary Bishop Enrique E. Delgado of Miami.
Jeanne Berdeaux, Respect Life director of the Diocese of Venice, said she was pleased to see all the bishops in one place. “The Red Mass is very important because it is the only time the bishops get together, except the installation of a bishop and the death of a bishop.”
Beginning with a beautiful hymn, “Breathe on me, breath of God,” Bishop Estevez took the podium to highlight a Catholic’s evangelizing role in the Church. Quoting many times from past Church leaders during his homily, Bishop Estevez spoke of a Catholic’s duty to change the community for the better in the name of Christ.
“St. Paul says we are temples of the Holy Spirit,” the bishop said. “We have been anointed with Holy Spirit. The Spirit sets us on fire to relight, to resolve, to make a difference in our community.”
Bishop Estevez went on to discuss the significance of all human life and how it should be protected, even if guilty of horrible sins.
“God and only God is the creator of human life and only God should determine the end of that life,” he said. “For every human life has intrinsic value from conception to natural death since every human person is made in the image and likeness of God.”
“We are all members of a family of humankind,” Bishop Estevez continued. “We are interdependent in our care for people.”
Ending the homily, Bishop Estevez prayed that “the Holy Spirit come to the aid of those serving our state with wisdom knowledge counsel and fortitude.”
And he reminded the audience to release the passion they have inside. “The Spirit does not come bearing an agenda,” the bishop said. “It comes as fire.”
Click here to read the bishop’s full homily from the Red Mass.