Q. Susanne, please tell us a little bit about Mr & Mrs. Michels.A. Jens (27) and I (24) got engaged one year before our wedding. We live in Mainz during the week, where we both went to university and where I work part-time. Every weekend we return to our hometown Cochem to see our families. My husband Jens is an organist and he works there as a piano teacher.
Q. What drew you to the TLM? A. Jens was the one to introduce me to the Latin Mass in 2008. I had heard about a priest in the neighboring town who had been saying the early morning Mass in the Old Rite for quite some time, but I knew too little about it and had never been there. Only a couple of days after we started dating Jens invited me to join him. I remember that at first I was amazed about the solemnity and the silence. I felt that, probably for the first time in my life, I was truly able to pray. Soon I began to learn more about the traditional Latin Mass and I'm still learning new things all the time.
Q. How did your guests react to your Wedding Mass? A. Some of our guests knew the TLM from their childhood or early adulthood, but had not been able to attend one since, amongst them were my grandparents. My grandfather gave me his Missal when he heard that I had started hearing the Mass in the old Rite with Jens – he was very pleased when we told him about the wedding and he keeps saying that he enjoyed it very much. Others had been introduced to the TLM later in their lives – they were very happy to have the opportunity to attend a Solemn Mass (Missa Solemnis). Most of our guests though, especially friends and family members of our age, had never been to a TLM. Some were curious, others rather skeptical. The latter seemed surprised that the Mass didn't turn out as “weird“ or boring as they had thought. In the end the responses were very positive: almost all our guests found it very solemn and moving.
“We soon had to learn that there are people (even within the Church) who strongly dislike the thought of the Latin Mass being held. Knowing this, we are even more thankful for all the support we had during the process of planning the wedding and now as a married couple: There was Pater Dr. Georg Fischer OT, Jens' former lecturer at university, who lives in Brasil at the moment. He started teaching himself the TLM when we asked him to do the ceremony. He had always wanted to learn the TLM and this was the perfect motivation. How could we ever thank him enough for everything he did for us? Then there was our old friend, Daniel Kretschmar, from university – he and Jens had been studying Catholic theology together. (Jens will be a school teacher; Daniel became a priest). Daniel was the deacon in the Mass. He was ordained in the Extraordinary Form, thus very experienced, and could help all of us and guide us. He would also remind us that we'd only need to trust whenever we struggled with all the stress and he heard our confessions on the morning of the wedding day.
Q. Did you have any surprises? A. Father Daniel Bartels, who was the sub-deacon in the Mass, filled in for somebody else on short notice. We first went to his church in Trier on Palm Sunday in 2013, because they had needed someone to play the organ – we've been going there almost every Sunday ever since. We were warmly welcomed by the most lovely community and a wonderful, warm-hearted priest. We very much felt like we finally found a new home after the priest who held the old Mass near Cochem took up a new parish in Switzerland. The altar boys from Trier agreed to help out at our wedding and they even made time to practise beforehand with the priest. Their families made the effort to come to our wedding, too, and so did many other members of the community, which we are very grateful to them for.
Q. Did you have any special challenges? A. Many churches, or vestries today are unfortunately missing the equipment for the Extraordinary Rite, such as garments for a Solemn High Mass. Again, we had to rely on outside help, which we received.Since not many organists have enough experience with old Masses, we had to improvise. One of our witnesses, Jens ‘ friend and former piano teacher, was of course during the ceremony itself not sitting at the organ. We were so grateful that he was willing to arrange for another organist to accompany the first part of the Mass. What would we have done without all of them?
“Of course, today there are not always and everywhere the perfect conditions for a TLM. With the necessary trust in God and the many dear people who have already discovered the beauty of the Mass in the Extraordinary Rite, a dignified and solemn Mass will be in honor of God. How many people have never had the chance to attend such a Mass? Those who are allowed to experience it once, recognize the profound truth in it.”