With Prayers and Gratitude: The Blue Mass

Throughout the year, our Church of Washington celebrates various special Masses for the people who serve our community.  On May 6, at Saint Patrick’s Church in downtown Washington, I will be celebrating the 20th Annual Blue Mass, which takes its name from the color of traditional police uniforms and honors all those who protect and defend us.  Held each year during National Police Week, we pray at this Eucharistic celebration for those working in law enforcement and public safety, including local police, firefighters, first responders, and government workers involved in making our community and nation safe.  We honor and pray especially for those who have fallen in the line of duty in the last year.

Concelebrating at this Mass will be Monsignor Salvatore Criscuolo, the pastor of Saint Patrick’s, who also deserves our gratitude and praise for his service as chaplain to the District’s police officers and firefighters.

We come together in appreciation for the work of these dedicated public servants.  While the bravery of these valiant officers in the midst of danger may be foremost in our minds, we must not overlook the many, many quiet services they provide all of us in this community every day.  The fact that so much of what is accomplished in the interest of our security is done quietly and almost invisibly is a tribute to them and their skill, commitment, and professionalism.   To these men and women we offer our profound thanks and we praise God for giving them the gifts of courage and devotion to service.

Some of these heroic servants make the supreme sacrifice in response to the call to serve others.  There is no greater love than this, Jesus tells us, than to lay down one’s life for another.  So we also gather in prayerful and grateful remembrance of all those who have died in the line of duty.  This is something we do every year lest we ever forget how much we owe those who every day put on a uniform and step out into the community to serve.

As the names of the fallen are read, accompanied by the playing of Taps, we observe that this Blue Mass is celebrated in the Easter season.  Here we are reminded of Jesus’ promise of new and eternal life.  What the Risen Lord promises us and what he fulfills in the celebration today is not just one more vision of life – one among many paths through life – but the answer to the longing of the human heart.  He offers us a way through life even as we walk in the shadows of violence, division, anger, hatred, and death – the way of selfless service to others.

Because of the faith, courage, dedication and commitment shown by peace officers, first responders and others, all of us are free to live our lives with confidence, a sense of hope, and peace. May we always stand together in recognition of their great service.

Let us join together in the words of the prayer of Pope Benedict XVI at Ground Zero:

“God of peace, bring your peace to a violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the world.  Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and mind are consumed by hatred. . . . Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all.”