Mass Seeks Aid of Holy Spirit

Posted September 4, 2015 / Last updated September 8, 2015

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The Mass of the Holy Spirit gets underway after an unexpected fire drill delay.

The Mass of the Holy Spirit gets underway after an unexpected fire drill delay.

Students and faculty came together on Friday, Sept. 4 for the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit in the Chapel of the North American Martyrs. Fr. Anthony McGinn, S.J., ’66, was the main celebrant of the Mass. He was assisted by co-celebrants Fr. John Brown, S.J., Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J., Fr. Billy Huete, S.J., Fr. Norman O’Neal, S.J., and Fr. Donald Saunders, S.J. Watch video of the homily below.

Seniors Justin Vlosich, Jeremy Scheffler, and Peyton Ruppert handled the first reading, responsorial psalm, and prayers of the faithful, respectively. Pre-freshmen Andrew Terrebonne and Stewart Talbot were responsible for the offertory.

The Mass of the Holy Spirit is steeped in tradition, as chronicled by religion editor Brady Stiller, a senior, in this school year’s first edition of The Blue Jay, reproduced below.


From The Blue Jay, Vol. 88, No. 1

By Brady Stiller, Religion Editor

As school rolls back around, so does a staple of the Jesuit academic year, the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

This shortened school day is not merely a prelude to the Labor Day weekend. While it may seem to many to be a perfect occasion to don the best tie or fancy pants, it actually is a liturgy that represents a deep tradition and importance.

At this Mass, which is also celebrated by many other Jesuit schools nationwide, we honor the presence of the third person of the Trinity in our lives and implore the Holy Spirit’s guidance and inspiration for the school year. Just as the Church would be an inanimate body without the life-giving Spirit, Jesuit students similarly need that inspiration to tackle the many demands of student life. Thus, it is proper to approach this celebration with an open, humble heart that is willing to receive God’s help.

Additionally, participation in this annual Mass allows us to give thanks to God for sending His vitalizing Spirit among us. Much like the celebration of Pentecost, at which Catholics remember the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, this distinctive school tradition is an opportunity for students to reflect upon God’s love for them and particularly for Catholics to recall their Baptism. In fact, it is the gift of the Spirit that makes the Christian life possible.

This highly esteemed feast of the Jesuit community is celebrated in a similar fashion by the judicial branch of the government. In the “Red Mass” – taking its name from the red vestments worn by the clergy – judges, lawyers and government officials annually launch a new judicial year entreating the Holy Spirit for direction. This gathering was introduced to America in 1877 in Detroit, and continues to be observed there to this day in Washington, D.C., as well as cities across the country.

Here in New Orleans, the annual Red Mass is celebrated at the St. Louis Cathedral on the first Monday in October, the traditional opening of the judicial year. It is sponsored by the Catholic bishops of the state and the St. Thomas More Catholic Lawyers Association.

This American custom is contemporary compared to the first recorded Red Mass, which occurred in Paris in 1245. Evidently, Christians have been acknowledging the influence of the Holy Spirit through this ceremony for almost 1,000 years.

Jesuit’s emphasis on seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit is quite similar. God guides the school year with all its efforts just as He oversees the works of our government and court system. Therefore, let us approach this special Mass with a greater passion for and appreciation of the Spirit.