On Saturday, I attended a wedding that was done in the "old school" Tridentine Latin mass style. This was my first time going to one. The actual wedding took place before the mass began, with a nice, rich preface all about Christ and the Church and the couple and all. After the mass began, the altar rail was closed and the bride and groom were on the inside... a very cool detail. In fact, the ceremony was full of cool details, such as a concluding blessing on the bride, calling her a handmaiden (love that term) and praying for her to have qualities of our Jewish mothers Rachel, Rebecca, and Sarah.
I must say, I'm glad we changed the mass. I like knowing what's going on, and participating somewhat in what's transpiring. I like responding and praying with everyone else, and knowing when I'm standing and kneeling and what for. A lot of it was guessing and they did not do a great job explaining or handing out booklets to help us out. It definitely felt like you were not needed there-- which strictly speaking is true, but not absolute I think. I also love singing during the mass, and while I tried to sing with the scola the parts I recognized (Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) I was one of the only ones trying and you know what it's like being the only person in the congregation singing, especially when you're not 100% sure of the notes.
That being said, we have certainly lost something too... The mass had a mystery and a gravity to it that was beautiful and reminded you that God was really becoming Incarnate right there. He was definitely present, and it was like you were at a Holy Hour-- you had to concentrate on Him on your own, with the (great) help of the music.
The homily was excellent. The priest talked about how this day reached into the past and the future. God had known these two persons before they were even conceived, and He knew this day then. He kept emphasizing Trust God. No matter what happens, trust God. And his "practical" advice to them was to have patience with one another. They're human, after all. They will not become perfect in a day! Patience patience patience. The married couples at the reception agreed very much with his advice. (Who says priests can't counsel marriages?)
The small dinner was also nice, but I missed the dancing and goofy traditions that usually come with weddings. The cake was cut without ceremony, "Oh! Shoot, they're cutting it already!!", there was no dancing or music and there was no throwing of the bouquet. It was so different from what mine will be like. (Or I should say would probably be like, provided... you know what I mean...) My big Italian family alone would be more than the number of people there on Saturday. No, I don't know them all, but yes, they must allllll be invited. They're family! That's how it works. I'm so thankful for a family like that, I must say. I wish we were closer, I wish I knew them better, but I'm so glad that I know that I still have to invite distant third cousins twice removed [I'm exaggerating a bit] to my wedding if I have one. Because it's the only time we really see each other.
Weddings and funerals.
Beginnings and endings.
The front and the back.
(Oops- slipped into an Eddie from Ohio song there)
But really, the last time I saw many of my relatives was at my grandmother's funeral over a year ago. It was actually very nice... looking at old pictures, sharing stories, remembering her and her sisters who have all passed away now... women who kept the family together. We are a family of strong women. My (great-) aunts Betty and Therese never married (the war had a lot to do with this) but they were entirely focused on their family. Every 4th of July was a reunion at their house, and they spent days cooking for it. My mother says she doesn't know how Betty did it... but I have an inkling. She loved her family. She loved them enough to spend hours by the hot stove in the summer without air conditioning. She loved them as Mary must have loved hers, as she still loves us now. There were always so many people there. I never knew very many of them and my parents would sit around asking, "Ok, now who's that little one belong to??" and Therese would be like, "you know, Donna married Rocko, whose daughter Gina married Anthony..." and she would know all the connections. Likewise, on my father's side, we would spend part of Christmas at my great-grandfather's tiny little townhouse in Swissvale, PA where he lived and baked until the age of 89. Again, you could hardly move because of all the people and he and his daughter cooked for days. We always stopped before eating and the youngest great-grandchild (who could) would say grace. Oh it was wonderful. Sigh. It's so sad to me how these traditions have disappeared with that generation. I want them back! Can we get them back? Or is that a hopeless dream, now that the youngers have all moved to different parts of the country? I miss the chaos, getting lost in a sea of people but never afraid. That's probably why I think I want a bigger family. I'm sure there will be days where I will want quiet, but in the end, it's all about noise and chaos all the way, with God right there at the center. And lots of cooking :)
Last year at graduation, Kathleen's aunt hosted a party for the family. It wasn't even near all of them, but she has a huge family, and it was so much fun. (Mom is one of 6, dad one of 9, I think? K, correct me if that's wrong!) It reminded me of the days when I was little. My parents came with me, and they had a really wonderful time too. My dad admitted, "You know, when you're older, that's when it's nice to have had a big family." Of course it's much harder when they're younger and more demanding, but those sacrifices bear much fruit. I can tell already how much my mom wants grandchildren. But here we are, just me and my brother, and neither of us seem anywhere near that point.
Family is more important than we ever realize, unless we pay attention, because it's so obvious. So taken-for-granted. Deep thought of the day, right? And at the funeral, our (Idontknowhowwe'rerelatedbutmymomusedtobabysittheirchildren) said, "Well, when's the next time we'll see you? Maybe your wedding!" God willing... I sure hope the Lord fixes me up before all these lovely relatives get too sick or old to travel. They're getting there! Hurry! :)
John Paul the Great, pray for us!