Seattle archbishop emphasizes Christian service at DC Red Mass

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, Wash. explained at a Mass for public servants that Christ’s love is what “sets the standard for every life of humble service.”

“It is love which best manifests the presence of God in our personal and public lives,” he said.

As Christians, we must strive for “conscious participation in the sacrificial love of Christ.”

Archbishop Sartain was the homilist at the 58th annual Red Mass on Oct 2. The Mass is offered annually to ask God to bless and guide Supreme Court justices, judges, diplomats and government officials.

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. was the principal celebrant of the Mass, which took place at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in the nation’s capital.

The name of the Mass comes from the red vestments worn by the celebrants to represent fire, a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

More than 1,300 people attended the Red Mass, including many public servants.

Among those in attendance were U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley were also present.

In his homily, Archbishop Sartain explained that followers of Christ are called to go beyond the worldly standards that surround them.

“A Christian cannot live a life of integrity or peace when wittingly or unwittingly stuffing oneself with or indifferently absorbing the superficial and the fleeting,” he said.

“A sound, healthy soul will be truly nourished only by the good and the beautiful, the noble and
the pure.”

The archbishop explained that Christians have a duty “to do the good and to deliberately manifest in our lives the One who is good.”

 “St. Paul recognized that Christian freedom is not only freedom ‘from’ the constraints of sin, but freedom ‘for’ positive striving for fulfillment in Christ,” he said.

As humans, we are not fully alive unless we “give ourselves to someone beyond ourselves.”

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

He noted that “sound, integrally healthy lives given to public service lift up and transform society.”

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Archbishop Sartain called on Christians to imitate Christ as they perform acts of service for others.

“We pray that we will be humble servants like him, who seek to do only his good,” he concluded.

“It is that for which we were made, and it is that for which we are sent into the world.”

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