Originally Posted by rpp
What is a "Red Mass"?
In addition to who is there, I'd love to hear the message they recieved.
But to answer your question:
Red Mass refers to a Mass celebrated annually in the Roman Catholic Church for judges, prosecutors, attorneys, law school professors and students, and government officials. The Mass requests guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on what Catholics believe is the God-given power and responsibility of all in the legal profession.
The first recorded Red Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral of Paris in 1245. From there, it spread to most European countries. Around 1310, during the reign of Edward II, the tradition began in England. It was attended at the opening of each term of Court by all members of the Bench and Bar. The event gradually fell out of fashion until 1931, when Sydney became the first English-speaking city to reinstitute the practice. The first Red Mass held in the United States was celebrated in St. Andrew's Church in New York City, near the courthouses of Foley Square.
According to the Catholic Church, the Red Mass is so-called from the red vestments traditionally worn in symbolism of the tongues of fire that descended on the Apostles. Additionally, Judges of the High Court of England and all doctors of law wore red robes or academic hoods.
One of the better-known Red Masses is the one celebrated each fall at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. on the Sunday before the first Monday in October (the Supreme Court convenes on the first Monday in October). It is sponsored by the John Carroll Society and attended by Justices of the Supreme Court, members of Congress, the diplomatic corps, the Cabinet and other government departments and sometimes the President of the United States. All officials attend in their capacity as private individuals, rather than as government representatives, to quell arguments with respect to a weakening of the separation of church and state. This logic had greater import in the 1950s when the first services were held, as Catholicism was viewed with greater suspicion than today in the American body politic.
A Red Mass is now celebrated annually in more than half the states of the United States.
Controversy over the constitutionality of the Red Mass and attendance by American officials has been dramatized in such shows as The West Wing ("The Red Mass") and Law & Order.
In Scotland a "Red Mass" is held annually each autumn in St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh to mark the beginning of the Scottish Judicial year. It is attended by catholic judges of the High Court of Justiciary, Sheriffs, advocates, solicitors and law students all dressed in their robes of office. As the robes of the Lords Commissioner of Justiciary are red faced with white and the mass is presided over by Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien this makes it truly a red mass.
(From wikepedia: I know not usually a great source but this time it accurately describes both the purpose and its genesis rather succinclty.)