‘What earlier generations held as sacred,’ said the late Pope Emeritus, ‘remains sacred and great for us too.’
One day, while I was in my late 20s and hoping to find a good Catholic husband, my “adopted grandmother” gave me a call. As a deeply prayerful woman, she often had wise words to share with me.
“Honey, I just got back from the most beautiful wedding I have ever gone to in my entire life,” she announced. “It was a Latin High Nuptial Mass. If you ever get married, you absolutely have to have a wedding just like that!”
I couldn’t help but be a little disturbed by her words because at the time, I was dating a man who would not have wanted a Latin Mass for his wedding — he would have preferred something much more charismatic and casual — but I knew I would have loved it. Her comment led me to pray for a boyfriend who would also love to have a profoundly reverent, traditional wedding some day — a man whose spirituality complimented mine and with whom I could share my deepest spiritual desires and aspirations.
A couple years later, thanks to God’s Providence working through the magnanimous heart and soul of Pope Benedict XVI, I did indeed get to have the “wedding of my spiritual dreams.” In July of 2007, soon before my husband Michael and I were engaged on Sept. 16, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, His Holiness released the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, an apostolic letter that reaffirmed the right of priests and faithful to participate in the Roman Rite according to the 1962 Missale Romanum, the Mass which he referred to as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and which has been traditionally referred to as the “Latin Mass.”
The letter expressly stated:
For those faithful or priests who request it, the pastor should allow celebrations in this extraordinary form also in special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.
Deo Gratias! When we requested a Latin High Nuptial Mass wedding to take place in April 2008, our parish priest, Father Joseph Christensen, of the Diocese of Fargo, told us that he would be willing to learn how to offer one for our wedding — “out of obedience to Pope Benedict XVI” as he explained. Graciously, he did learn, and even up until the morning of our wedding, he was hard at work, practicing how to do so. His dedication was moving indeed, as was his desire to take on something that was very difficult — and all for the glory of God.
As then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in his 1997 book, Salt of the Earth:
I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It’s impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent.
As we have said our “goodbyes” to Pope Benedict XVI, perhaps we are being tempted to also say “goodbye” to something we shouldn’t so easily brush away — the sacred traditions of our Holy Faith that this glorious pope so loved and so promoted.