Mass of Mercy: Medical profession honored during White Mass

Published on Friday, 14 March 2014 22:38 - Written by Rebecca Hoeffner

Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception last Saturday for a religious service especially for them, the White Mass.

“Every year the Catholic community wants to recognize the service of men and women who help provide care for the physical and, obviously, spiritual person,” said Rev. Justin Braun of the Cathedral.

The White Mass is one of a few Masses designed to honor and bless a specific profession (the Red Mass honors those in legal professions, for example).

“The tradition of the White Mass in the United States finds its origins in the development of the national Catholic Medical Association in the early 1930s,” according to the written release from the Cathedral. “From its inception, the medical profession has been understood as a healing profession, a way in which Christ’s work continues upon the earth. Moreover, since the apparitions at Lourdes in the late 19th century, the plight of the infirmed, and those who care for them, have taken on renewed appreciation in participating in the mysteries of Christ’s own life. The White Mass, so named by the color worn by those in the healing profession of medicine, gathers health care professionals under the patronage of St. Luke (Colossians 4:14) to ask God’s blessing upon the patient, doctor, nurse, and caregivers.”

This is the second year for the event.

“The Cathedral wanted to do it initially because we do so much to recognize first responders, elected officials and teachers, and there’s not a lot of opportunity to say ‘thanks’ to an important part of our community that does so much to keep people at peace and give them spiritual and physical strength,” Braun said.

About 200 people in the medical community attended the Mass, Braun said.

“There’s been a lot of positive feedback,” he said. “A lot have recognized medicine’s foundation in the Catholic church since about the 5th or 6th century.”

While a few other Christian denominations eschew medical practices, the Catholic church doesn’t see a conflict with the majority of them, Braun said.

“God created the whole human person, not just the soul,” he said. We’re stewards of the whole person. Faith is sometimes seen as a private thing, but the church never saw that way … Our No. 1 mission is salvation of souls, but we want to help people to have good quality of life as well.”