Diocesan News

Lincoln Red Mass to feature Bishops Conley and Vasa

By S.L. Hansen

LINCOLN (SNR) - Judges, legislators, attorneys, government officials, and law students who will be in the Lincoln area on Monday, Jan. 13, are invited to attend the annul Red Mass hosted by the Catholic Lawyers Guild of the Diocese of Lincoln. Bishop James D. Conley will be the main celebrant and Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa (Cal.) will be the homilist.
The Mass will begin at 7 a.m. at Saint Mary Church, downtown at 14th and K in Lincoln. Immediately following, attendees will cross the street to the State Capitol, where a complimentary breakfast featuring author and TIME magazine contributor Mary Eberstadt will be hosted in room 1023.
Bishop Vasa said he was happy to accept Bishop Conley’s invitation to come preach the homily for the Red Mass this year.
“I have an affection for the Diocese of Lincoln and obviously some strong connections,” said the Lincoln native.
Bishop Vasa was ordained to the priesthood for the diocese by Bishop Glennon P. Flavin in 1976 and served at various parishes and schools in his tenure here. A Canon lawyer, he was also an advocate on the diocesan marriage tribunal, judicial vicar, vicar general and moderator of the curia by turns.
With this background, the bishop said, “People connect me with things legal,” making him something of an obvious choice to give the homily for the Red Mass.
The Red Mass is an opportunity to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for all who seek to serve the public in matters of law. The name is a reference to the “tongues of fire” that appeared over the Apostles’ heads when the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost, as well as red vestments worn by the celebrants.
In keeping with an eight-century tradition, the Red Mass is scheduled to coincide with the opening of the 2014 session of the Nebraska Supreme Court and the Nebraska Legislature.
Bishop Vasa noted that our nations current pressure to enact laws that embrace a secular understanding of morality is “precisely the reason we need to support Catholic judges, lawyers and bills.”
He added, “We need to support the culture of Catholicity that helps them recognize where the truth really lies.”
Referencing Robert Spitzer’s book, Healing the Culture, in which the author makes a case for how philosophy impacts laws, which impact culture, Bishop Vasa said, “The legal profession is really smack dab in the middle of holding the gate of the right, the true, and the good.”
The bishop also stressed that elected officials in every capacity – even those not directly involved with constructing and passing laws – need support in being authentically Christian.
“The more we fill those positions with genuinely pro-life men and women, the more we’ll be able to turn the tide of growing secularism in our country,” he stated.
At breakfast following the Red Mass, Mary Eberstadt, author and senior fellow of the Ethics & Public Policy Center will treat the audience to her take on American society, culture and philosophy.
Mrs. Eberstadt is the author of several intriguing books, including, Adam and Eve after the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution (2012) and Home-Alone America: The Hidden Toll of Day Care, Behavioral Drugs, and Other Parent Substitutes (2005).
Her latest book, How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization (2013), presents her well-substantiated theory that the cultural undermining of the family through urbanization, contraception and the sexual “revolution,” broken marriages and intentionally childless marriages.
In a July 2013 interview with The Gospel Coalition, Mrs. Eberstadt explained the correlation between broken families and the state. 
“As families became more problematic, the state stepped in as a family substitute,” she said. “Unprecedented modern levels of divorce, family breakup, out-of-wedlock births, and other trends that have turned the modern state into an inefficient but all-encompassing substitute for a man of the house.”
She continued, “Statism has been an engine of family destruction—and vice versa.”
Mrs. Eberstadt has an impressive background in writing and public policy. She was executive editor of the National Interest magazine, a member of the policy planning staff of the U.S. State Department (1985-87), speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and special assistant to Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
Bishop Vasa said he is looking forward to the Red Mass and breakfast. He plans to arrive in Lincoln a couple days early so he has time to visit before heading back to his post in Santa Rosa.
“I will have time to reconnect with folks I have come to know and love,” he said.
All who are involved with the courts, legislature or legal system are invited to attend the Red Mass, along with their families. To pre-register, go to eventbrite.com and search for “Red Mass Lincoln.” Or, follow the Catholic Lawyers Guild - Diocese of Lincoln on Facebook and click “Join” on the Red Mass event page.

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