It is Traddy Tuesday, my day for enthusing about all things Trad Mass, so as to give hope and happiness to potential converts who read about "Dies Irae" but can find only "Day by Day" at their nearest parish church. The amusing thing is that I grew up with "Day by Day" and have umpteen post-1965 hymns rattling around in my head, and when one of the St. Louis Jesuits sent me an angry email for having made fun of one of their songs, I was staggered that a name I had read in hymn books all my life was a real, live man who was now extremely cross with obscure little me.
Anyway, if you don't like "Day by Day," don't get mad, get trad. Thanks to the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, you can find the traditional Latin Mass, now called the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, all over the world, including in Belgium. When I was in Belgium last week, I discovered that the village church was closed for repairs, so its Sunday Mass was held at the next village over. I mentioned this option to my brother, but he liked the EF in Namur plan better--probably gambling that the EF would have better music. Thus, I cannot tell you what a Belgian village Novus Ordo is like, although I am relatively sure they do not offer to euthanize your disabled infant after the homily.
Meanwhile, the EF Mass is more or less the same all over the world, so instead of writing about the Namur EF, I will tell you about Trad Bride's recent wedding, for it was unusual in its modesty and simplicity.
As Trad Bride got married in the chapel of the FSSP house, she did not have very far to go. In fact, all she had to do was climb down the staircase, which is outdoors, to the pavement and then go around to the front of the house. I was terribly nervous that there might be some disaster involving long skirts and high heels, so I stood outside well back in the priest's carpark beside the neighbouring 19th century house to watch Trad Bride descend.
And lo, the attic door opened, and Trad Bride appeared in her white dress, long-sleeved white bridal jacket, my wedding veil and a small red gift bag of necessities in lieu of a handbag, and began to climb carefully down the zig-zagging staircase in her high heeled shoes. A flight behind her came her one attendant, her younger married sister, wearing a beautiful pale plum ballgown and a black mantilla. It was like something out of Amélie, had Amélie been a Nice Catholic Girl instead of an ordinary post-sexual revolution proto-hipster with a quirky sense of humour.
To my great relief, Trad Bride reached the bottom without mishap and gave me her small red gift bag to shove under a chair in the hallway. She waited for her sister while I scuttled in the front door and stowed the bag away. Then I sat in the pew in the back of the tiny chapel beside B.A., being one of the last to arrive. It is the only pew; the chapel otherwise has a collection of prie-dieux. The tall, handsome, dark-haired groom was on the right, in the aisle-side prie-dieux, wearing a dark suit and a red flower in his lapel. His best man was beside him, and three other members of his family were in prie-dieux behind them. The bride's blonde mother was in the second row on the right, wearing a silver skirt suit and a small cap of black feathers.
The Master of the Scola began an introit on the harmonium in the hallway. The priest processed into the chapel behind a tall blond altar server, followed shortly thereafter by Trad Bride's Sister and Trad Bride, whose short train was almost longer than the aisle. They took the prie-dieux on the left side of the aisle. There was absolutely no room in the middle of the aisle for the standard twin prie-dieux so much a feature of church weddings.
In the traditional Catholic marriage service, the marriage service is separate from the Mass. It happens first. Possibly you don't even need the Mass afterwards. The bride and groom stand in the middle of the aisle and say their super-traddy vows and are prayed over and the priest blesses the ring and it all sounds very Anglican, the Anglicans having preserved the old Catholic marriage service more assiduously than the liturgical architects of 1971. And so Trad Bride and Trad Groom's marriage service was intensely solemn and holy, to say nothing of concentrated and short. Then, half amusingly, half poignantly, the space constraints forced them to return to their prie-dieux and thus they had to sit apart for the Mass.
This was the Low Mass for the feast of the day, as they had requested. However, they got to kneel together for the Nuptial Blessing near the end, poor Trad Bride crushing a spider with her dress, and once again I was impressed by the prayers the Church even in the novus wedding mass thinks the bride needs to keep her good. B.A. thinks it is because women used to die in droves ten months or so after their weddings, but I am not so sure. I think it is because women eventually get impatient and cross with their husbands when these husbands no longer resemble superheroes of romantic literature and are occasionally tempted to murder them and/or run away. The only reason why nobody (except married women and priests) knows this is that married women cannot admit it outside the confessional without hurting their husbands' feelings, poor chaps.
When Mass was ended, we all sang the Catholic Emancipation era hymn "Hail Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star" and then the bride and groom, holding hands, followed the priest and altar server out into the hallway. This was particularly sweet, as I hadn't seen the bride and groom holding hands before.
The bridal party went straight across the hall to the vestry to sign the register and all the legal paperwork, while the Schola and I rushed up the staircase to await the champagne. Two of Trad Bride's other friends were fussing in the minute kitchen with tea cups that I'm not sure were ever used, so intent were the guests on the champagne. Meanwhile, we all stood around shyly for a bit, not knowing what to say, rather like when I went to visit my friend Sister Mechtilde, and her family and friends sat dumbly before her window in the grille, beaming at her. Life in the UK, people. However, it occurred to some to take photographs, and Trad Bride's sister popped open the champagne, and we all grew more talkative and it was like a Sunday Gin and Tonic party, only with champagne instead of gin and twenty people instead of the usual five to ten.
The plan was for the bridal party and family to go to a spiffy restaurant for the wedding breakfast (i.e. lunch), but I had to go to the airport before Trad Bride and Groom left, so sadly I can't describe their leave-taking. But other than the fact it was a Catholic wedding, it was all very much like the simple, heartfelt weddings you read about in Anne of the Island and Little Women. I believe after the lunch Trad Groom simply drove Trad Bride home to his village. So it was all very edifying, especially as neither Trad Groom nor Trad Bride had been married before.
My wedding was also small and simple, but as I was a divorced-and-annulled person, Anglo-Saxon convention dictated that I had to have a small and unobtrusive wedding. Of course, I rather undercut its modest obscurity by writing all about it for the Catholic Register. However, a deadline is a deadline, and it was all I could think of to write about.