On Saturday, Piqua witnessed a rare event: a Catholic wedding conducted (very nearly) "by the book."
The couple whose marriage I witnessed are both Catholic, with family and friends who are active Catholics. They were very interested in the Mass being celebrated properly, and they were delighted when I told them we could use Latin--as much as they wanted.
Meanwhile, they were happy to have the procession to the altar take place as the ritual calls for -- as opposed to the "traditional" way everyone has seen. What do I mean? I mean, in a Catholic wedding, the ritual says "if there is to be a procession" (i.e., the wedding can begin with the couple in the front pew), the ministers (i.e., servers, readers, deacon) precede the priest, followed by the witnesses (best man, maid of honor), and then the couple walking together.
Yes, you read that right: nothing about the father escorting the princess--er, I mean, the bride--down the aisle. It is, possible, however, for the parents to escort the couple -- but that is only optional.
So, here's what we did: four servers preceded the priest (I honestly didn't think to rehearse it with the readers, but I think that would have made them even more nervous), and then the wedding party, then the groom and bride.
The couple loved the idea of incense, so we did that. The musician played "All Creatures of Our God and King" (my music director is looking for, and learning, proper entrance chants for a wedding), and that worked well, as I incensed the altar and crucifix. Then I stood in front of the altar as the couples came down.
The couple chose to have me intone the Sign of the Cross in Latin, and the Per Ipsum ("Through him, with him..." after the Eucharistic Prayer), and we used the Latin Sanctus and Agnus Dei. I threw in a bit more Latin here and there. I sung quite a bit of the Mass, including the Roman Canon. The servers (all male) wore cassocks and surplices, and the bell-ringer did it perfectly; plus they had a lot of work to do with the incense, which was used at the Gospel, the offertory and the elevations.
The church was full, and with so many practicing Catholics, there were a lot of communions, which is wonderful. Many of these folks, I learned, frequent the classic form of the Mass, so this was perhaps their first experience of a solemn Missa Cantata in the new form. This is what one of the servers said: he was very familiar with the old-style Mass, but had never seen Mass celebrated as we did it--which was the proper, "high" form of the current rite.
One disappointment--not many people sang the Latin prayers. But then I realized: if you go the older, "extraordinary" form of the Mass, yes they use the Latin texts of the prayers, but they seldom sing them. Again, something that the current, ordinary form actually emphasizes (when you do what Vatican II said, which is to use Latin texts at least some of the time).
It was a joy having a wedding Mass in which the focus was on the Lord, not on anyone at the Mass, which unfortunately is what happens too often with weddings. I offer this for the benefit of those who may be planning a wedding, and don't realize what a wedding Mass is supposed to be like.
Also, for anyone planning a wedding: all those "add ons" you hear about invariably cost you money, and they can create problems: I've seen aisle runners that don't cooperate, they rip and trip; and I've seen a Unity Candle* not light when the big moment came. On the other hand, doing the Mass the proper way costs you very little--only what the musician gets paid, and that's a small price compared with everything else.
* By the way, you know who really pushes for the Unity Candle (which doesn't belong in the wedding -- at all!)? The mothers! It is their big moment.