On this bike ride I rode to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, which is located at 619 10th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood. The oldest parish in the national capitol city, St. Patrick’s Church was founded in 1794 to minister to the needs of the stonemasons building the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building. The parish continues to serve the needs of downtown D.C. through daily Mass and confession, as well as adult education and cultural activities. It was for one of these activities, the Annual Blue Mass, that I chose today to ride to St. Patrick’s Church.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the week in which that date falls as National Police Week. And each year prior to the beginning of National Police Week, St. Patrick’s Church holds The Blue Mass to pray for those in law enforcement and fire safety, to remember those who have fallen, and to show support for those who continue to serve.
Before the beginning of the Mass, hundreds of law enforcement officers and public safety officials gather outside for the solemn processional into the church. Units from a variety of Federal, state, and local jurisidictions from the D.C. Metropolitan Area and around the country gather in official formation to pass under a huge American flag proudly hung over the street by two fire ladder trucks. Also gathered outside are officers on horseback, as well as pipe and drum corps units.
Inside the church, the principal celebrant and homilist for this year’s Mass was His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. The Blue Mass included Police Officers’ Prayer to Saint Michael, who as the Archangel of battle and defender of Heaven, is said to be the Patron Saint of policemen, and the Firefighters’ Prayer to Saint Florian, the patron saint of firefighters, as well as chimney sweeps, soapmakers, and the city of Linz, Austria. The Mass also included an honor guard, bagpipers, and the solemn playing of “Taps” in memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the past year.
Being a police officer or first responder is not only an extremely difficult and dangerous job, but also involves a willingness to sacrifice for others, even if they don’t appreciate it. Today’s Blue Mass was a powerful reminder of that.
Police Officers’ Prayer to St. Michael, the Archangel
Dear Saint Michael, Your name means, “Who is Like a God”, and it indicates that You remained faithful when others rebelled against God. Help the police officers of our day who strive to stem the rebellion and evil that are rampant on all sides. Keep them faithful to their God as well as to their country and their fellow human beings. Amen.
Firefighters’ Prayer to Saint Florian
Dear God, through the intercession of our patron, Saint Florian, have mercy on the souls of our comrades who have made the supreme sacrifice in the performance of their duty, and on all who have gone before us after years of faithful discharge of their responsibilities which now rest on ourselves. Give us Grace to prepare each day for our own summons to Your tribunal of justice. Into Your hands O Lord, I commend my spirit. Whenever You call me, I am ready to go. Merciful Father of all men and women, save me from all bodily harm, if it be Your will, but above all, help me to be loyal and true, respectful and honorable, obedient and valiant. Thus fortified by virtue, I shall have no fear, for I shall then belong to You and shall never be separated from You. Amen.