My dears, I know I promised you pretty pictures of knitting, but I’m afraid I have something I need to get off my chest first. Just a small rant, and then you can see the prettiness, I promise. Sigh.
You know, I used to listen to people complain about how some priest was mean to them about their wedding with a certain condescending skepticism. Honestly, while I offered my sympathies, and I genuinely was sorry that they were so upset, I was usually on the side of the priest. Here he was, some poor overworked parish priest, trying hard to uphold Church teaching and the sanctity and Sacramental nature of marriage. Perhaps he could have been more tactful, but quite often he was caught between the rock of ill-informed parishioners determined to make their Special Day totally unique and the hard place of unbudging Church teaching, and the policies that have been put into place to help Catholics live those teachings. I could acknowledge that maybe the priest should have explained things a little better, been more pastoral, perhaps, in his approach (sometimes it seems like over half the stories I’ve heard about why a particular family isn’t Catholic anymore goes back to some way that a priest was a jerk about a wedding), but in the end I usually thought that the priest was in the right.
This time, though, the priest is just being a pill.
From the beginning it’s been a headache finding a priest to say Mass for Big Brother’s wedding celebration. Most of it is just because priests are really, really busy people and scheduling gets difficult. Part of it was because Big Brother wanted a priest who would preach a really great sermon encouraging all of us to love God and one another. This made things complicated, since Big Brother hasn’t actually lived in Dayton in years, and didn’t know very many local priests to ask. There was one priest he knew, a man he’d seen for spiritual direction some years back, whom he thought would be good. After a bit of going back and forth (another priest said he could do it, but then had to back out because of a scheduling conflict) this is the man we settled on. Now this man is not a pastor. He hasn’t done many weddings, so he doesn’t really know what’s usual and what isn’t. He’s also rather cranky about weddings, which I attribute to him being overexposed to the sort of wedding that’s more about a bride putting on a show than two people receiving a Sacrament. And I can understand that. He’s also very concerned about being liturgically correct, especially since we’re having this on a Sunday, and the rules about Sunday Mass are rather strict. It’s just one thing after another, and it’s starting to get to be… a lot.
For example, so far these are the rules he’s laid down:
- We must do only the readings already set for that Sunday, particularly since that day is the Feast of the Ascension. If we want, we can switch one reading to something that might be a little more appropriate for a wedding celebration. Actually, I don’t mind this one, since the readings for the Ascensionare great.
- We must only use songs that are suitable for Sunday Mass, and for the Feast of the Ascension. No “wedding music.” I don’t mind this one either. I mean, we’re not the kind of people who would have someone warbling The Rose during Communion. I don’t think we would choose anything that would be inappropriate, so to me this is pretty much a non-issue.
- However, no wedding music means that, if Sunny and Big Brother process in together at the beginning of Mass, it can’t be to the Wedding March or Pachebel’s Canon (which Sunny loves). It would have to be to the opening hymn. That’s… a little harder to take, but ok.
- But he doesn’t want Big Brother and Sunny to process in at all. Only the priest and servers should process in. Which is bunk. It is not at all inappropriate for people besides the priest and servers to be part of the procession. For example, those who are going to readers quite often also process in. There is no genuine liturgical reason for Big Brother and Sunny not to be part of the procession, particularly since this is supposed to be a Mass specifically offered up for and honoring them.
- He doesn’t want to use any of the special prayers during Mass that are usually used for weddings. He argues that since this is not a wedding Mass, that it would be inappropriate. Never mind that it is a simple matter to adjust the prayers (changing the tense, for example) to be suitable for a renewal of vows, and that I’ve personally witnessed priests doing this as a matter of course. He just doesn’t want to do it.
- He also refuses to give the special blessings that are part of a wedding Mass, since those blessings will have already been given at Sunny and Big Brother’s wedding in Korea. I just… does he really think that God is so stingy with his blessings? That’s just sad.
- And the real kicker is that he doesn’t see the point of Big Brother and Sunny renewing vows, since vows that were just taken three weeks prior shouldn’t need to be renewed, so he doesn’t want to make that part of the Mass at all. If we want, he says, they can do that at the reception, but he doesn’t want it to be part of Mass. And that’s just total crap. The whole reason why marriages are public celebrations, why we do them in front of an audience, or at least two witnesses, is because marriages take place in the context of a community. Everyone who attends a wedding is a witness to it, and is promising, by his or her presence there, to help support the couple in faithfully fulfilling their marriage vows. While Sunny and Big Brother’s community in Korea will be able to be witnesses to their vows, those of us here in America won’t. The whole point of renewing their vows here in America is so that we too can be witnesses for them, and participate in that way in supporting them now and for the rest of their lives. This is not something we just made up, but something that has been done many, many times for couples who are part of more than one community.
Big Brother is going to talk to him today, and hopefully he’ll calm down. I can deal with all of his restrictions except the last one. I mean, if we’re not having the vow renewal as part of the Mass, then there isn’t much point to having a special Mass. This morning I told Big Brother that if he isn’t willing to do that for us, then we should dis-invite him from saying Mass for us, and I would get out my Archdiocesan directory and start calling priests until I found one who would do what we need him to do. I really, really don’t want to do that. I really, really don’t have time to do that. But if that’s what it takes, then I will.
And as a reward for reading through all this, I do have a few pictures of pretty lace knitting to share with you.