The young and the faithful
by Anna Jones
Imagine a typical scene for TV commercials where the uncle, husband, boyfriend, dad, etc., are checking the game scores during the family event on their smartphones. Now, imagine a college football-obsessed family, most of whom are alumni or have a close tie to the University of Michigan, forced to sit in a church on a football Saturday in the middle of a highly anticipated game.
This reminds me of my wedding day.
One of my favorite pictures from our wedding is the moment that our photographer captured my reaction to hearing that Northwestern University, my alma mater, had just lost to Michigan, 28-0. Apparently, it didn’t end up being the nail-biter that had been forecast.
I didn’t try to lie to myself that members of my family would not be checking in on the game either during the ceremony or as soon as Matt and I walked out of the church as husband and wife. I love my family, and I wouldn’t change our sports-watching traditions for anything. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t talk to my mom about how nervous I was that people were coming to our Catholic wedding Mass, normally around an hour-long service, kicking and screaming.
What if it wasn’t just football that was a distraction? What if people were uncomfortable in a Catholic Church or were dreading the idea of an hour-long wedding service? Many of the prior wedding ceremonies I had been to outside of a Catholic church had clocked in at around 20 minutes or less, and I was already getting flak from some people about how long it takes the Catholics to get married.
My mom has always been supportive, and proud of my relationship with Matt and of how much our faith has been a part of our journey together. So, when I told her about all that I was worried about, she told me to remember that our wedding was an opportunity to invite our guests to catch a glimpse of an aspect of our relationship that was really important to us. Many of our guests were practicing Catholics, but we shouldn’t make changes in how we envisioned our wedding day for the ones that aren’t, we agreed.
With my mother’s encouragement, we printed all of the responses and even the readings in the program to be handed out at the entrance to the church so everyone could easily follow along with what was happening and we provided hymnals and invited everyone to sing the hymns during communion. How wonderful it was to hear the chapel full of congregational responses and singing throughout!
If for no other reason than the general politeness of our guests, I expected to hear about how people liked the flowers or the reception venue, but it was so surprising to also have received so many compliments regarding our wedding ceremony itself. In the weeks following, I was deeply moved as my family and friends alike continued to quote our priest’s homily, praise our music choices for the ceremony and tell us how happy they were to have been a part of the day.
As of the Feast of the Holy Family on Dec. 30, Catholic wedding Masses will look a little bit different from the way they have in the past. They’ll be a little bit longer and involve the congregation a little bit more.
The Order of Celebrating Matrimony, which will become the standard practice and replace the old Rite of Marriage, includes the congregation in more of the celebration, with an expansion of the introduction, the addition of the singing of the Gloria, additional responses by the congregation after the exchange of vows, and the option for two additional blessings, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
If these changes had occurred before my own wedding Mass, I would have been a little nervous. But, after seeing how much so many non-Catholic or non-religious family members and friends embraced and appreciated our wedding Mass, I have to say, I wish these changes had been put into effect a bit earlier.
Anna Jones is a writer who lives in the New Haven area.