Monday, September 10, 2012

Mass With Everything And Everything With Mass

A happy day last week when the pagan Mrs P and I attended the wedding of a friend. Our friend is a devout girl who has met a nice man who we hope will make her very happy. He is not a Catholic but is a baptized Christian. Their wedding took place in the midst of Nuptial Mass (if one is allowed to call it such a thing these days.)

Pastorally I think it a disaster to put many things – other sacraments etc - in the context of Mass (like baptisms in many parishes). I get the point of this being the parish community welcoming a new member into its midst, but something has been de-emphasised in the post-Conciliar rite that was quite clear in the Extraordinary Form. The distinction between the Mass of the Catechumens
(the Liturgy of the Word) and the Mass of the Faithful (the Liturgy of the Eucharist). It is quite right that the catechumens were removed from the ecclesia until such time a they were ready to accept the Mysteries. We live in such a time again now.

In a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, the simple pastoral fact is that half the congregation will not be able to take communion. Indeed, in this case the bridegroom could not receive communion together – only the bride, rightly, received communion. But the idea of Nuptial Mass is surely the Communion, full Communion in Christ of the bride and groom and is a sign, a mystical sign much beyond the marriage itself. It is a beautiful thing to behold.

Mrs P and I were married in the Roman Rite outside Mass (I heard Mass on my own that morning – in the quiet pre-dawn calm of St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh). It is a sadness that I could not have had a Nuptial Mass, but I married Mrs P, knowing her not to be a Catholic Christian and have to live with that sadness (but she has made me very happy in many other ways and I have this small sadness among the bountiful blessings we have enjoyed in our marriage). I think this was right. It didn’t frighten the in-laws, Mrs P felt more comfortable with it and, well, a valid marriage is a valid marriage. I was married in front of a priest in conformity with the law of the Church – everyone a winner.

The emphasis on Mass With Everything and Everything With Mass, I think detracts from the seriousness of the Mass, its sacrificial character and the purpose of whatever is being done (marriage, baptism etc.) either lost or puts Mass (THE biggest thing there is in human history) into the shade. The particular example of Nuptial Mass, is, I think really important. Between good Catholics it is a beautiful unifying thing that can have great meaning beyond itself. I’d be interested in your views.


Blogger Ttony said...

Absolutely right. I married a non-Catholic outside Mass, the whole of the Catholic party having come here a day early so that we could all go to Mass first thing (and the priest came early enough for confessions too), and then have a wedding (six hours later) which was solemn and uniting.

Maybe not the ideal, but so much better than so many alternatives.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely posting, and on the money. We don t want to go back to the days of people being married in the sacristy or at a side altar. So I think what you did on your wedding day was correct.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Richard Collins said...

So true. Good post Paulinus.

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Veritas said...

In fact the Directory on Ecumenism recommends a Marriage Service outside of Mass in the case of a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic - and it gives the reasons that you have so clearly expounded.

Sadly (but predictably) some Catholics (priests, lay people and even bishops) think it is much more "friendly" or "impressive" to have a Nuptual Mass.

They then tie themselves up in knots about the issue of who may receive Holy Communion. But as Nigel Molesworth of St Custards would say - as any fule noe hem hem: " Only Catholics in a state of grace may receive Holy Communion".

Scandalously some priests seem to think it is a "good idea" to offer Holy Communion to all and sundry - including it now seems the skule dog.

Of course it is all written quite clearly in the Directory for Ecumenism. But as one Parish Priest I knew once said: "Books are only useful for people who know how to read."

11:44 PM  
Blogger Simon Platt said...

I agree.

8:59 PM  

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