It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Back in the 1990s, all the best people knew the Latin Mass wouldn’t last.
Nevertheless, at the behest of Pope John Paul II, in bishops’ palaces around the world a grudging ’accommodation’ was made to those faithful who were — albeit inexplicably — still ‘attached’ to the old Form of the Mass. (In this way, it was to be hoped, the old Mass would quietly die out with those die-hards in the old generation.)
But it didn’t happen that way.
Today, this inexplicable ‘attachment’ has spread far and wide — and most rapidly and passionately, among young, serious Catholics.
Herewith then, is the story of a young couple, amid photos of their magnificent wedding that ‘all the best people’ would never have believed possible — in Latin, in Connecticut, in 2013. (With honeymoon photos in Rome!)
“At first, I was fascinated by the concept of Mass in an ancient and otherwise silent language. I wanted to hear it, just once. When I went, I felt like I was living inside a movie. It felt like something transcendent.”
KERRY HARRISON’S STORY: I’m 26 and Peter is 27. I am from Connecticut — Peter is from the Boston area originally, but moved to Connecticut to work for the Knights of Columbus Headquarters in New Haven, CT. We got engaged on our one year anniversary, at church after the Easter Vigil Mass, at the stroke of midnight.
HOW I FOUND THE LATIN MASS: I’ve been attending the TLM since 2009. I took Latin in school, and one day someone told me, “Did you know that in the Middle Ages the Mass used to be in Latin?” I thought, “I wish that still happened, somewhere on earth.” Then, I found out there was a traditional Latin Mass at St. Agnes in New York City, so I started taking the train from Connecticut to attend. I had no idea there were any TLMs anywhere else, much less any in Connecticut.
PETER IS INTRODUCED TO THE LATIN MASS: Peter had gone to one TLM before, in college, but since he didn’t know the Latin, he was a bit lost. When we went on our first date, I told him how I loved this Mass, and said he was welcome to come any Sunday. He showed up the next day. However, it was Palm Sunday, and he didn’t know that meant a two hour liturgy, followed by a Gregorian chant procession through the city streets, and an hours-long brunch, quaintly termed “coffee hour”. I think the poor man was in shock.
HOW THE LATIN MASS DEEPENED MY FAITH: At first, I was fascinated by the concept of Mass in an ancient and otherwise silent language. I wanted to hear it, just once. When I went, it felt absolutely otherworldly. I found it wasn’t so hard to believe, after all. When you realize that your grandparents, and great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents, all the saints and doctors of the Church, have prayed these same prayers, repeated these same words, you realize how small you are in the vastness of time, how little you are and how big God is. And you begin to really love Him for loving you.
THE POINT IS TO ‘GET LOST’: One of the best pieces of advice I got is that you’re not really going to get it at first, and that’s normal. You can go every week and months in, still get totally lost. It’s not a play. The priest is doing one thing, the choir is doing another, the altar boys are doing something, and a bell is ringing, all at the same time. You don’t know where you’re supposed to look. But that’s okay, and knowing where you are in the Mass isn’t the goal. If you get lost in prayer, or reading and re-reading one part while everyone else has moved on, or you forget to care what the words mean when the chant takes your breath away, then, in my mind, you really have met the goal. The POINT is to ‘get lost.’
WHAT ABOUT CHASTITY? I would say that I think it’s critical for the formation of a healthy relationship. If you use sex from the start as a means of fixing fights or providing entertainment when you’re bored, I think you cheat yourself of a lot of information. You may use intimacy as a crutch, instead of realizing, “We fight a lot” or “I’m bored… we don’t have that much in common”. You skip a lot of steps, instead of seeing if the relationship has real staying power and real compatibility. The Church doesn’t teach what it does because it enjoys being a fun-squasher. It teaches what it does because God knows us better than we know ourselves sometimes, and because God wants to call us to be better than our human nature often does. I don’t think too many people regret holding out on sex. I think a lot more people regret too much, too fast, too soon.
A RELATIONSHIP BASED ON TRUTH: On our first date, we started talking about politics. I began to say, “I think the most important issue today is -” and he finished my sentence with the exact words I was going to use: “the right to life. Because without that right, all other rights are meaningless.” We both began to realize that we saw the world the same way. Our unity on this issue has drawn us closer together and been the basis for a relationship based on truth rather than the lies our society is often selling.
WHAT PEOPLE SAID ABOUT OUR LATIN MASS: My family knew that the wedding would be a TLM. (They’re usually pretty entertained by us.) Our practicing Catholic friends were very interested in the Mass, and our other friends seemed interested in the concept. I didn’t get a lot of questions beforehand about the Mass, one of my aunts wanted to know what it was so she could look it up. The response from guests was positive. Many people had never been to a Latin Mass before and found it very interesting. A few people thanked us for the opportunity to attend a TLM.
HOW I FEEL ABOUT MY LATIN MASS PARISH: I was so excited when I heard about the Latin Mass in Connecticut. I went the next Sunday and haven’t stopped since. That parish is a blessing in my life. I can’t describe how much I have learned and changed in the time since I found it, and how grateful I am for the wonderful people I’ve met at St. Mary’s in Norwalk, Connecticut. They’ve been with me through thick and thin, good days and bad. It really feels a lot like family.