Brian T. Olszewski, The Catholic Virginian

Bishop Barry C. Knestout, celebrating his first Red Mass in the Diocese of Richmond, encouraged lawyers to look to the Holy Spirit for inspiration.

The Red Mass, celebrated Sunday, Oct. 7 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, is for members of the legal profession. Marking the start of the Supreme Court’s term, it is sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society and has been celebrated in the diocese for 35 years.

During his homily, the bishop noted the fruits of the Holy Spirit, adding there are “virtues which are fruits of an authentic spiritual life.” 

“Some are tempted to see old fashioned virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude as unnecessary or unhelpful in a new landscape where old injustices have not been resolved,” he said. “But these virtues are needed all the more, and it is our faith that can provide the clarity and guidance to lift these virtues up once again.”

Bishop Knestout said that in Scripture justice is often synonymous with holiness.

“But in the strict sense, it is the moral and supernatural virtue which inclines our will to render unto others at all times what is strictly their due,” he said. “It guides right relations between persons and groups and what we owe them.”  

The bishop noted that justice only occurs “with the proper application of prudent decisions to resolve disputes or conflicts.”

Bishop Knestout highlighted the role of temperance.  

“The right relationships expressed in the administration of justice are facilitated by temperance, or moderation and balance in application of the law,” he said.

Noting fortitude is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Bishop Knestout said, “It is the virtue that strengthens the soul in the pursuit of good, without allowing it to be deterred by fear. Right relationships administered by justice are protected and strengthened by the courage and objectivity of those responsible for the understanding and applying the law.”

Speaking to members of the St. Thomas More Society at the brunch following Mass, Bishop Knestout asked, “How can we respond to the demands of life and the desire for balance in faith and professional life in a distinctively Christian way?”

He suggested two paths— seeking meaning and seeking consecration. 

“Meaning brings into line what we desire to have and what we actually have,” the bishop said, noting Scripture has much to say about meaning. “Meaning is the consequence of a good professional and faith life balance.”  

Referencing St. Paul’s First letter to Timothy in which he writes, “If we have food and clothing, we have all that we need,” the bishop said, “Only our relationship with God can truly satisfy and give meaning and purpose to life.”   

Bishop Knestout said pursuit of power, money and prestige can “fall short” in one’s pursuit of meaning, and leave a person angry, resentful.

“It is then evident that we are not truly trusting in Jesus or seeking our faith as the greatest of treasures,” he said. “The contentment we find in faith is the remedy to pride, fear, greed, anxiety, ungodly ambition and peer pressure and many other vices.” 

The bishop said the path of consecration begins with prayer and dedicating one’s day to God.

“To be consecrated means to be set apart or to set something apart as sacred, to sanctify it or dedicate it. Work can be an expression of faith and prayer,” he said. “The Benedictines used to speak of “ora et labora” which means a balance between prayer and work integrated into daily life.” 

Quoting Romans 12:2 — “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” — the bishop concluded with a question:

“Will what I am doing give glory to God?”