On Sunday, May 6, His Excellency the Most Reverend Martin D. Holley, D.D., Bishop of Memphis in Tennessee, offered his first diocesan “Blue Mass” at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Reverend Father Robert Marshall, pastor of the Cathedral joined Bishop Holley in celebrating the service of law enforcement personnel and first responders to our community and honoring those who have laid down their lives in this service.
Following the Mass, first responders and officers were invited to a reception in Marian Hall of the Cathedral.
Below is Bishop Holley’s homily written for the “Blue Mass” May 6, 2018.
“My dear brothers and sister sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this Sixth Sunday of Easter, we hear in the Gospel reading today that, Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.”
Today, we celebrate traditionally what we call the Blue Mass, and we honor all of our Catholic and non-Catholics who serve as Police Officers, EMT’s, and Firefighters, as well as any other Law Enforcers or First Responders from the Federal, State or Local municipalities.
Today, at this mass, we thank God for your mission and service as public servants who are committed to your duty of public and private safety, and the compassion and care that you provide to us, its citizens.
We pray for your health and safety as you provide for all citizens in this country, and sometimes globally throughout the world.
It is with humble gratitude that we thank you for your professionalism and promise you our love and prayers each and every day.
As one of my nieces, whose husband is a police officer, said to me a couple of years ago at dinner, “Uncle Martin, I pray every night that the Lord will bring my husband home to us.”
And my response was. “And so do I.”
Today, we are reminded that the incredible service and mission that has been given to you was first recognized by the Catholic Church in the yearly ‘Blue Mass held in 1934 in Washington, D.C., by Father Thomas Dade.
He wanted to acknowledge police and firemen in a celebration of the Holy Eucharist because he recognized that beneath the authority of the uniform, was a person who accepted a vocation to serve the public.
Thus by your presence here today at this mass, we ask God to unite your vocation to this service and bless and protect you in it now and forever.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Respect for and development of human life require peace.”
“Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communications among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity.”
“Peace is ‘the tranquility of order. Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.” (CCC: 2304)
“Public authorities, in this case have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.”
“Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations.”
“If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.” (CCC.2310)
Once again, we thank you for devoted service and pray through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, that she may protect you and your family under the mantle of her maternal love and care.
[May I ask all of you who serve us to stand and be publically recognized at this mass.]
In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
God created us to love as He has loved us, and says that this is His commandment.
In order to love, all that is needed is an act of the will, an act by which we make the very Will of God our own.
To do the Will of God, to carry out His commandments, is what unites us with God in Love and makes us His friends.
What does it mean to be a friend of God? Friendship with God certainly entails a loving relationship which goes beyond mere duty and obedience.
A friend loves at all times; even through adversity. God’s love for us is unconditional and wholly directed to the good for us.
His love was also sacrificial, as He gave His all for us on the cross. Thus true love is costly.
A true lover gives the best that he or she can offer and is willing to sacrifice everything of his or her beloved.
That is the nature of true love and friendship. For Christ’s love fills our hearts and transforms our minds and frees us in loving service to others.
Let us ask the Lord today, to help us persevere in His Will, which is to love Him and our neighbor as well as ourselves, in order that we might always be His friend.
To love God, to do His Will, even at the price of our own life makes us His friends.
In honoring our Police Officers and First Responders, let us pray through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother Mary, and ask her to teach us to know, love and serve her Son, Jesus Christ, who today, command us to love one another. Amen.