ELECTED OFFICIALS ATTEND RED MASS
In advance of today’s inauguration, CNMI leaders attended Red Mass yesterday at the Mt. Carmel Cathedral with Fr. Ryan Jimenez reminding governor-elect Eloy S. Inos and company that they are God’s servants first and foremost before being elected officials.
The apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa said the islands’ political leaders don’t have to look far for inspiration as they only need to follow the example of Saint Thomas Moore.
“The patron saint of lawyers and politicians, Sir Thomas Moore, was a devoted husband, a loving father, a generous friend, a gifted writer, a renowned lawyer, and an astute judge. He’s also remembered as a devoted member of the court of King Henry VIII in which he held a number of important posts, most notably Lord Chancellor, a position roughly equivalent in our political system to the White House chief of staff, secretary of state, or chief justice of the Supreme Court,” said Fr. Ryan.
He said that one of Moore’s last words before facing execution were: “I’m the King’s good servant but God’s first.”
“In the simple phrase ‘I’m the King’s good servant but God’s first, Saint Thomas summarizes the call of Christian discipleship and the perspective we must all bring in our daily work, in every work that we do—to be God’s servant first. All of us gathered in this cathedral are first and foremost God’s servants. To our elected officials in the Commonwealth, you are God’s servants first and it’s fitting that you begin your service to the community with this Mass of the Holy Spirit in the feast of the baptism of the Lord.”
Fr. Jimenez also enjoined leaders of the Commonwealth to be priest, prophet, and king.
In adopting priestly traits, he encouraged elected leaders to extend a “ministry of service to the community, even to those who didn’t vote for you and that’s the meaning of priesthood. As priests who offer sacrifices to God, you are supposed to offer sacrifices for all.”
He also asked Inos and company to forget the bitterness of the last election.
“Now is also the time to let go of what happened during the elections. You’re chosen to serve everyone—all the members of this community. This means letting go of past rivalries, forgiving old injuries and insults, and embracing former enemies. After all, you were not elected to represent only your supporters; you must now represent everyone, including those who didn’t support you and those who didn’t vote for you. You cannot do that if you hold on to old grudges and grievances. After all, you cannot shake hands with a clenched fist but you can love others only with an open hand and an open heart.”
On being a prophet, Fr. Jimenez told elected officials they should not be prophets in the sense of being a fortune-teller.
“Being a prophet means one that speaks the word of God. Hear the word of God through the words of the prophets. Prophets are bearers of good news and allow the word of God to be their guide. This would influence you to make better laws as well as serve and help others.”
He, meanwhile, said being a king is the exact opposite of what the world thinks the position means.
“When you’re king you’re the magas, you’re the boss. I’m the leader, I’m the boss. But being king in this baptismal identity means you’re the servant of all. The best model of a king is our Lord Jesus Christ. As servant leaders, we should think less of ourselves and more for others.”
He added that praying, studying, and action are identities of being a king through God’s eyes.
“Yes we’re leaders but first and foremost we’re God’s servants.”
Earlier in his homily, Fr. Jimemez said Red Mass has its origins in 13th century England under King Edward I.
“Officers of the court and other government officials gather for prayer to ask for blessing and guidance in the administration of justice. This liturgy is called Red Mass because it’s a celebration of Holy Mass to call on the Holy Spirit and the liturgical color is red as evidenced by the liturgical vestments.”
He added that it is through the Holy Spirit that people are given the gifts of wisdom and understanding, right judgment and courage, and knowledge and reverence.
“This Red Mass is also a new beginning for all of us as a community. I’d like to believe that right here, right now in this act of praying together we will begin a new chapter in our Commonwealth. And as we begin this new chapter in our community we remind ourselves of our identity having received this sacrament of baptism.”
All roads lead to Capital Hill today as Inos, lieutenant governor-elect Ralph DLG Torres, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, the mayors of Tinian, Rota, and the Northern Islands and their respective municipal councils will have their inauguration.
The Saipan Mayor’s Office will hold a separate swearing in ceremony for mayor-elect David Apatang and the Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council in Oleai.
Dignitaries expected to attend the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s inauguration include Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr., Guam Gov. Edward Calvo, Guam Speaker Judith Wan Pat, Vice Speaker Benjamin J. Cruz, among others.
The oath of office for Inos will be administered by CNMI Supreme Court Associate Justice Perry B. Inos, while Torres’ will be administered by CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro Castro.
Entertainment would be provided by Felix Fitial and Gus Kaipat with Rep. Angel Demapan serving as master of ceremonies in his last act as Inos’ public information officer and press secretary.