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Catholic Days at the Capitol

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This week, I will be in Tallahassee March 10th -11th, visiting our state’s capital for two days of activities with our legislators and my brother bishops of Florida.

(Had I blogged a few days earlier, I would be inviting you to join me. But there’s always next year. You can read more about that below.)

Why am I going to Tallahassee? First of all, for a very special and unique Mass called the Red Mass. The antecedents of this Mass go back to the 1300s in Europe. It is a Mass asking the Holy Spirit to grant light, inspiration and guidance to those serving in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. This year marks the 34th Mass, which shows the steady continuity of the Catholic Church in relating to our state government.

All the bishops of Florida come that day to Tallahassee for this special Mass. Many Catholics, fellow Christians and believers from the three branches of government come to the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas Moore for the Red Mass. We ask for the grace to be ready to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of truth, even to the point of shedding our own blood.

Public servants pray for divine assistance in living up to God’s standards while serving all the people of Florida.

The preacher of the Mass has a whole year to prepare for the message he will deliver on this occasion and each year a different preacher is selected. The Most Reverend Frank Dewane, bishop of Venice, will deliver the homily this year.

It is truly special to pull together all the Catholic public servants of the state, all the bishops of the seven dioceses, and a lay representation from the entire state to form one assembly with a single intention — the well-being of all the citizens of Florida.

The second important event of Catholic Days at the Capitol is the Florida Bishops-Catholic Legislators Luncheon organized by the efficient staff of the Florida Catholic Conference.

The theme of this year’s luncheon is the significant 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Florida Catholic Conference in Tallahassee. This is one of the best kept secrets among Catholic institutions, practically unknown by most Catholics. Yet this lean staff, led by an outstanding leader, Dr. Michael McCarron, seeks to translate into policies and good actions the social vision of the Church for the common good. You may want to find out more about what our conference does, please click here.

What else do we do besides Mass and luncheon? We will participate in information sessions on current bills and learn about our legislators’ positions on those bills. We will then visit with the legislators and even observe floor and committee sessions.
As responsible citizens, this initiative enables us — and all the lay people who accompany us — to see for ourselves to what extent our vote makes a difference.

There is a growing interest among the laity to assure the transmission of our deep convictions and fundamental values to our children and youth. It takes a most active citizenship to join hands with many to channel our basic values through laws and governmental actions so that society at large enables the family and the person to stand firm and secure.

Those wanting to be part of this apostolic field trip next year should contact our diocesan representative, Joan Crown, who directs the Office of Respect Life of our Archdiocese. Her number is 305-653-2921.

Bishop Felipe J. Estevez
Auxiliary Bishop of Miami

Comments from readers

Ricahrd DeMaria - 03/10/2009 12:39 PM
Bishop Estevez:

Thank you for an interesting article. I did not know of the association of the red mass with a willingness of legislators to even be ready to sacrifice their blood for the right cause. How appropriate that the mass is celebrated in a church dedicated to that public servent who suffered death at the hand of his former friend rather than deny teh Church. Would that all of our legislators were equally committed to their faith.

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