By Maureen Ferguson

It is a grand Washington, DC tradition. Every year, on the first Sunday in October, Catholic and non-Catholic dignitaries alike gather at St Matthew’s Cathedral to pray for the judicial branch of government. It’s the annual Red Mass, a tradition that extends back to 13th-century Europe, when the first Red Mass was celebrated. Washington’s Red Mass is scheduled to coincide with the start of the Supreme Court’s new term. Each year, many of the high court’s justices attend, both Christian and Jewish, as well as presidents, vice presidents, diplomats and members of Congress.

It is an enduring ritual that brings people of different faiths together to pray for wisdom and God’s blessings upon our country. It’s a beautiful example of how expressions of faith enrich our culture.

This year, however, the Supreme Court docket is full of cases that threaten traditions such as the Red Mass, cases that could severely diminish religious expression in our public life. Clashing visions of the role of religion will be hotly debated in what court-watchers predict will be a blockbuster year for religious liberty cases.

Read the rest here.