As is customary at my parish, last week was our annual Solemn Dominican Rite Mass commemorating the founder of the Dominican Order. The parish’s most pious and curious cram together to witness this rare spectacle of beauty. After several years of the Benedict XVI pontificate, those paying attention have had their eyes open to the role of beauty in worship of our Lord. The average person just doesn’t even know they can experience such a thing.
The very next day I also served at a friend’s wedding, a liturgy also meticulously composed by the couple to be wed in as beautiful a setting as possible. Weddings are one of the few liturgies where it doesn’t take twisting arms to bring people out to, so there is an evangelical nature to a Wedding Mass. Priests are cognizant of this and quite often their best homilies are at weddings. The officiating celebrant at this particular wedding gave a full exposition on the church’s teaching on sexuality and marriage, “love and life”, the type of homily many of the faithful beg their pastors to speak more of. The music used was provided by the world-renowned Tudor Choir singing sacred polyphony and chant – the bride’s entrance was a beautiful motet “Osculetur me osculo” by Orlandus di Lassus based on Songs of Songs. The mass itself was in English in the Ordinary Form but in the Ad Orientem Direction. The program helped those unfamiliar with the mass or unfamiliar with the setting to keep on track and better appreciate the music and prayers in the liturgy.
The coming together of truth, beauty and goodness at this wedding mass was a huge opportunity for people to see Catholicism at its best – “I’ve never been to a mass so beautiful”, I heard a lot during the reception. The clergy were present at the reception to connect with the family and friends of the lovely couple. It was a reminder to me that those planning Catholic weddings and funerals should not hold back on presenting the Faith, even when the ceremonies are attended by non-adherents. Opportunities like this are ripe for invitations for those who have not been to church in a while to come back and rediscover their connection with the maker of love and life.