Sunday, September 30, 2007


Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck, reporting:

Imagine six U.S. Supreme Court justices sitting in church pews as the Word of God is read, the Gospel is proclaimed and the sermon includes a pro-life message. Sound fantastical? It’s not—I saw it yesterday. I was there. It was marvelous.

The setting was the annual “Red Mass” at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle here in Washington, DC. The service, in its 54th year, is organized by The John Carroll Society, made up of lay Catholic Christians and named for the first Catholic Bishop in the U.S. (Carroll’s brother, Daniel, played a prominent role in the Constitutional Convention). It’s held on the Sunday before the First Monday of October, which always marks the beginning of a new Supreme Court term.

This year’s Bible readings at the Mass were Genesis 1:1, 26-31, selections from Psalm 104, I John 4:11-16 and John 14:23-29. (All read aloud, of course.)

The liturgy also included this musical recitation:

“Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,
You take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us;
You are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
In the glory of God the Father. Amen.”

And these words in the Profession of Faith:

“We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God . . .
For our sake, he was crucified . . . he suffered, died and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
And his Kingdom will have no end.”

The six justices present—Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Alito, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy and Breyer —definitely heard the Gospel at the Red Mass and were challenged with Biblical Truth. The first four enthusiastically embrace and practice their Christian faith; Justice Kennedy needs some prayerful prodding; and Breyer appears to adhere to a largely non-religious and quite liberal Judaism. (An interesting side note: Justice Breyers’ daughter experienced a religious “conversion” and today is an Episcopal priest.)

I know some Evangelicals and others might doubt a Catholic Mass could truly be Gospel-centered. That’s never been my experience. While a non-religious Jewish teenager, I was partly introduced to the Gospel by Catholics—and through the Catholic Mass. The Red Mass, celebrated as a “Solemn Mass of the Holy Spirit,” gets its name from the red vestments of the celebrants, symbolizing the tongues of fire that settled on the Apostles when the Holy Spirit descended (Acts 2). Sitting in the sanctuary yesterday, I thought of what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” (John 16:8) The Word of God needs no help—it does its work all by itself. Yesterday the Justices had everything needed to know that reproof.

I commend the John Carroll Society, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl and all the others who make the Red Mass possible. It’s one of the few times that some of the Justices are confronted with unvarnished Bible Truth!

Considering what’s at stake in the selection of at least two justices by the next president, Rev. Pat Mahoney and I will put even more into our customary prayers today in front of the High Court as it opens its 2007-2008 term. (See our article at I’ll let you know how it goes.

Speaking of Biblical Truth, pro-life and Judaism, this past week I met Orthodox Jewish pro-life activist “Richard Nadler, who writes under his Hebrew name Reuben-Lev ben Herschel. Nadler’s book, Feticide and the Birth Cycle (2005, Pakad Press, Overland Kansas) cites religious authority to reveal the Jewish tradition’s reverence for life. Famous Orthodox rabbi and ally of moral conservatives, Daniel Lapin, says this book “belongs in every believer’s library.” I agree.

We don’t need anything more than Biblical Truth to rest our case for Life on, but it can be helpful to come at the argument from several different angles. People get bored and distracted after they’ve heard “the same old thing” one more time. A little new information can reclaim their attention and pique their interest. This book is for serious pro-life apologists willing to do a little extra work beefing up your argument. While the book is pretty friendly to the non-Jewish reader, you’ll probably still need to do some background research to comfortably make your way through it. If you’re one of those serious students, you can get the book from Americas Majority, 8640 Travis Street, Overland Park, KS 66212.

Finally, I wish I could tell you where I was this past week, but I can’t. (Talking about certain things can tip off opponents and do more damage than good.) Suffice it to say I spent time with some of the greatest Christian leaders and moral conservatives in this country; many of them young—like me! (OK, today I cross the 49-year threshold, but I’m still this side of 50!)

I know the recent passing of Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy, along with the fragile health of other luminaries, has left some wondering who will pick up the mantel. I’m convinced those new leaders are already in place. If anyone knows how to manage succession challenges, it’s God Almighty. Don’t worry; He’s prepared well for the transition! (I’ll write about these emerging leaders in future posts to this blog.)

Gotta go for now. Be back soon.

Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action
109 2nd St., NE
Washington, DC 20002