The official opening of the Supreme Court term, by law (28 U.S.C. Sec. 2), is the first Monday in October. But for more than 50 years, the informal launch of the season has come the day before, at the Roman Catholic Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in D.C. There, in a pageantry-filled ceremony, the Catholic hierarchy gives its blessing to the Supreme Court, lower courts, and other civic leaders often including presidents, diplomats, members of Congress, and Cabinet members.