Diary of a Latin Mass Wedding

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Back in the 1990s, all the best people knew the Latin Mass wouldn’t last.

Nevertheless, at the behest of Pope John Paul II, in bishops’ palaces around the world a grudging ‘accommodation’ was made to those faithful who were — albeit inexplicably — still ‘attached’ to the old Form of the Mass. (In this way, it was to be hoped, the old Mass would quietly die out with those die-hards in the old generation.)

But it didn’t happen that way.

Today, this inexplicable ‘attachment’ has spread far and wide — and most rapidly and passionately, among young, serious Catholics.

Herewith then, is the story of a young couple, amid photos of their magnificent wedding that ‘all the best people’ would never have believed possible — in Latin, in Connecticut, in 2013. (With honeymoon photos in Rome!)

“At first, I was fascinated by the concept of Mass in an ancient and otherwise silent language. I wanted to hear it, just once. When I went, I felt like I was living inside a movie. It felt like something transcendent.”

KERRY HARRISON’S STORY: I’m 26 and Peter is 27. I am from Connecticut — Peter is from the Boston area originally, but moved to Connecticut to work for the Knights of Columbus Headquarters in New Haven, CT. We got engaged on our one year anniversary, at church after the Easter Vigil Mass, at the stroke of midnight.

HOW I FOUND THE LATIN MASS: I’ve been attending the TLM since 2009. I took Latin in school, and one day someone told me, “Did you know that in the Middle Ages the Mass used to be in Latin?” I thought, “I wish that still happened, somewhere on earth.” Then, I found out there was a traditional Latin Mass at St. Agnes in New York City, so I started taking the train from Connecticut to attend. I had no idea there were any TLMs anywhere else, much less any in Connecticut.

PETER IS INTRODUCED TO THE LATIN MASS: Peter had gone to one TLM before, in college, but since he didn’t know the Latin, he was a bit lost. When we went on our first date, I told him how I loved this Mass, and said he was welcome to come any Sunday. He showed up the next day. However, it was Palm Sunday, and he didn’t know that meant a two hour liturgy, followed by a Gregorian chant procession through the city streets, and an hours-long brunch, quaintly termed “coffee hour”. I think the poor man was in shock.

HOW THE LATIN MASS DEEPENED MY FAITH: At first, I was fascinated by the concept of Mass in an ancient and otherwise silent language. I wanted to hear it, just once. When I went, it felt absolutely otherworldly. I found it wasn’t so hard to believe, after all. When you realize that your grandparents, and great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents, all the saints and doctors of the Church, have prayed these same prayers, repeated these same words, you realize how small you are in the vastness of time, how little you are and how big God is. And you begin to really love Him for loving you.




THE POINT IS TO ‘GET LOST’: One of the best pieces of advice I got is that you’re not really going to get it at first, and that’s normal. You can go every week and months in, still get totally lost. It’s not a play. The priest is doing one thing, the choir is doing another, the altar boys are doing something, and a bell is ringing, all at the same time. You don’t know where you’re supposed to look. But that’s okay, and knowing where you are in the Mass isn’t the goal. If you get lost in prayer, or reading and re-reading one part while everyone else has moved on, or you forget to care what the words mean when the chant takes your breath away, then, in my mind, you really have met the goal. The POINT is to ‘get lost.’


WHAT ABOUT CHASTITY? I would say that I think it’s critical for the formation of a healthy relationship. If you use sex from the start as a means of fixing fights or providing entertainment when you’re bored, I think you cheat yourself of a lot of information. You may use intimacy as a crutch, instead of realizing, “We fight a lot” or “I’m bored… we don’t have that much in common”. You skip a lot of steps, instead of seeing if the relationship has real staying power and real compatibility. The Church doesn’t teach what it does because it enjoys being a fun-squasher. It teaches what it does because God knows us better than we know ourselves sometimes, and because God wants to call us to be better than our human nature often does. I don’t think too many people regret holding out on sex. I think a lot more people regret too much, too fast, too soon.


A RELATIONSHIP BASED ON TRUTH: On our first date, we started talking about politics. I began to say, “I think the most important issue today is -” and he finished my sentence with the exact words I was going to use: “the right to life. Because without that right, all other rights are meaningless.” We both began to realize that we saw the world the same way. Our unity on this issue has drawn us closer together and been the basis for a relationship based on truth rather than the lies our society is often selling.


WHAT PEOPLE SAID ABOUT OUR LATIN MASS: My family knew that the wedding would be a TLM. (They’re usually pretty entertained by us.) Our practicing Catholic friends were very interested in the Mass, and our other friends seemed interested in the concept. I didn’t get a lot of questions beforehand about the Mass, one of my aunts wanted to know what it was so she could look it up. The response from guests was positive. Many people had never been to a Latin Mass before and found it very interesting. A few people thanked us for the opportunity to attend a TLM.


HOW I FEEL ABOUT MY LATIN MASS PARISH: I was so excited when I heard about the Latin Mass in Connecticut. I went the next Sunday and haven’t stopped since. That parish is a blessing in my life. I can’t describe how much I have learned and changed in the time since I found it, and how grateful I am for the wonderful people I’ve met at St. Mary’s in Norwalk, Connecticut. They’ve been with me through thick and thin, good days and bad. It really feels a lot like family.

What to Wear to a Catholic Funeral

A Beautiful Goodbye

by Sequoia Sierra

The Faith has age-old wisdom and time-tested traditions to share with us in all these matters, including when we face the fact of our mortality — and that of our loved ones. In these difficult moments, it may be helpful to fall back on some good advice from LA stylist Sequoia Sierra.

At her ancient rituals, the Catholic Church traditionally expects certain types of attire to be worn as a way to demonstrate respect for the most critical moments of our lives, and the lives of our family and friends. The two most formal religious events that all people will surely attend at sometime in their lives are funerals and weddings. 

It’s interesting to note that both funerals and weddings are also two events where one should never wear all white.  Some white paired with or mixed in with other colors is fine, but all white is disrespectful to wear at either a wedding or a funeral.

Today, we are focused on funerals. Whether you are attending a Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form or a simple graveside blessing, the most important thing to remember is that we are present to show our support for others, and respect for the Faith. While nowadays it is acceptable to wear different colors to funerals, it is best to keep them to muted tones. Don’t pick a funeral as the day for a neon-colored outfit, or flashy jewelry.

Nowadays it is acceptable to wear different colors to funerals but it is best to keep them to muted tones. Don’t pick a funeral as the day for a neon-colored outfit or flashy jewelry.



Traditionally, the best color to wear for funerals is black.   For a Requiem Mass, one most also keep in mind appropriate church attire. Business attire is typically the dress code norm acceptable for the average funeral — unless it is a funeral of a dignitary, or it is specifically stated as being more formal.

For women, if the funeral occurs during a warm season and you are wearing a sleeveless dress, please be sure to bring a shawl, cardigan, or suit jacket to wear while inside the church or if you are giving a Eulogy at any point during  the funeral.  Of course, demonstrating respect for the dead and their family means that you should not draw attention to yourself with plunging necklines or super-short skirt lengths. Hats are very appropriate for women to don inside and outside of the Church.

Of course, demonstrating respect for the dead and their family means that you should not draw attention to yourself with plunging necklines or super-short skirt lengths.



Men should also wear a button-down shirt, and bring along a suit jacket or sports coat for inside the church. It is not considered respectful for men to wear hats inside a church.  Of course, shorts are not appropriate attire for either men or women.

With all of this said, the next time you attend a funeral, keep in mind that black is the most appropriate color for mourning, and it also serves as a reminder of our own mortality and that all in this world is passing.

Black is the most appropriate color for mourning, and it also serves as a reminder of our own mortality and that all in this world is passing. 


The Church Lady

Glorious Hats Make a Comeback








The American Catholic Jackie Kennedy instinctively grasped what the English always knew: there’s just something about a lady in a hat. And in England, hats for church weddings have always been de rigueur.

For centuries before the 1960s Vatican II, women veiled themselves in church. In fact, in 1917 the Church clearly prescribed head-coverings for women with canon 1262 — which under pressure from modernists was abrogated in 1983.

The English fondness for hats in church derives from their 1394 years of Catholicism before the Reformation. The biblical source for this proscription is the Apostle Paul’s injunction in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. 

While in the last 50 years most Catholics have abandoned head-coverings, the Anglicans retained this churchly tradition, especially for weddings.  Kate and William’s wedding has brought hats out in full force – first, all over Westminster Abbey, and now, the world! Who knows, perhaps hats will make a comeback in Catholic churches, too?


A ‘Modest Proposal’

The English Bride


England, the land of princess brides, is the trend-setter. The 2011 wedding of Kate Middleton to Prince William held the entire world in thrall, harkening back to the late Diana, ‘England’s Rose.’

Fashion commentators breathlessly reported on Kate’s gown, which was so, well, modest. Experts wondered — was Kate setting a trend away from the naked shoulders and deep décolleté of the last decade?

Debra Turvey, the English proprietor of Sunflower Bridal, specializes in modest wedding clothing for British brides. In this exclusive Regina interview, she reveals all — about not revealing all.


What inspired Sunflower Bridals?

In October, 2009 one of my daughters got engaged. She didn’t want a dress that needed a jacket or camisole, but did want to be covered for religious reasons.

We visited many bridal boutiques but it was impossible to find one in the UK, so Emily looked on the internet. She found a dress she fell in love with, found a source for the dress in Utah and we called them and ordered it. Her father was able to pick the dress up on a business trip there.
However, as a mother I missed the experience of trying dresses on with Emily and finding that one special dress. So Sunflower Bridal was born. I began trading in September 2010.

Do you think Kate Middleton’s dress has had an impact on modest wedding clothing?

I think Kate Middleton has had some impact; her dress was so beautiful and elegant. I think however that brides are just wanting to be different and follow their desires, rather than fashion.

Certainly Kate Middleton showed that a bride should wear what she is comfortable with and what makes her feel good. She shouldn’t feel compelled to simply follow fashion.

Milly Bridal Studio for MyWeddingDressForLess.co.uk file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Dress by Diane Rees
“Brides like to feel comfortable, demure and elegant. Many don’t even realize that they have a choice.”

How and why do brides seek out Sunflower Bridals?

It’s exciting to see how my business is growing. My brides either come from word of mouth, or by internet search, looking for ‘wedding dresses with sleeves’ or ‘modest wedding dresses’. (They find us at http://www.sunflowerbridal.co.uk) My brides come to Sunflower Bridal for all sorts of reasons: religious, coverage, size (at both ends of the spectrum), or because they want something different because of their age or second marriages.

“Brides are relieved that they have found dresses they can try on in the UK. They are happy and excited and travel great distances to come.”

One of the first reactions I get from bridal enquiries is simply an expression of relief that they have found dresses they can try on in the UK. They are happy and excited and travel great distances to come and try them on.

I’ve had brides from all over the United Kingdom, and even some from mainland Europe. Because brides are often travelling a long way to get here, I try to keep a good selection of styles and sizes and often the bride can take her dress away with her. I also encourage brides to try lots of different styles so they can see for themselves which suits them best.


Jerusalem in England


England has always been a tastemaker, particularly in weddings and coronations. Do you see growing interest in modest wedding clothing among English brides?

I have been surprised how many brides I have seen who simply want to be a little more covered, purely to suit their own taste, and not necessarily for religious reasons.

‘Dare to bare’ might work for some on a beach but not for such a special occasion as a wedding. Brides like to feel comfortable, demure and elegant and I see that there is definitely a growing interest in wedding dresses with a little more coverage.

Many brides don’t even realize that they have a choice.

photo‘Dare to bare’ might work for some on a beach,  but not for such a special occasion as a wedding.

I encourage brides to try lots of different styles so they can see for themselves which suits them best.”


England has always been a taste-maker, particularly in weddings and coronations. (Below: The 1953 coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth II, designer’s rendering.)

Coronation gownbridal22


British Ballgowns since 1950



And then you will fight your way through the crowds of reverent gown-gogglers.  From sweet-faced English teen girls to dignified great-grandmas, we ladies are bewitched by “Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950,” the current runaway hit at London’s Victoria & Albert museum. From demure white creations for English debutantes at Queen Charlotte’s Ball to racier red pieces designed for the red carpet, more than 60 dresses from across the past six decades are featured in all their sexy, glamorous glory.

“Ah, Audrey Hepburn,” sighs one octogenarian in classic Givenchy, to her ginger-haired grand-daughter in a school uniform. “She looked lovely in that dress. Do you remember?”

“Yes, mum,” the teenager responds absently. She doesn’t, actually remember the actress still dubbed “The Most Beautiful British Woman of all Time,” but the sheer drop-dead gorgeousness of the dresses they are inspecting together has taken the wind of adolescent cynicism out of her sails.

Nearby, earnest design students sketch furiously, drawing pads resting on one skinny hip. Their studiously hipsterish garb notwithstanding, these students of fashion know they are in the presence of Great Genius.

Everyone is entranced by the black-and-white fashion films from the early 1960s projected on the museum’s great white wall. We watch as a matronly young Queen Elizabeth and her jet-setting sister Princess Margaret admire a parade of fashion models pirouetting gracefully in the Earl of Somebody’s stately home.

ballgowns2“If you want your daughter or grand-daughter to be civilized, I say, you’ve got to give them a good reason to respect the fine arts,” a Tory dowager stage whispers to her friend, who nods sagely.  The place is teeming with young ladies, all delighted with the new Fashion Galleries, and the atmosphere of preparing for a ball in a grand country house.


That Fabulous Fifties Look


RAVISHING: There’s simply no other word for it. Debutantes on their way to be presented to the Queen (above). 



















The ingénue Audrey Hepburn in a black-and-white fantasy (above).

ballgowns 6LADIES OF THE NIGHT: Balanchine’s immortal designs (above)


and a velvet-and-silk taffeta cocktail version, in midnight black (above).

Princess Diana’s Lovely ‘Elvis Gown’

ballgowns8Missing Diana - Her StyleWe are bewitched, entranced and delighted by Beauty.  Indeed there is something mysterious, uncontrollable and other-worldly about it. That is why Beauty has long been considered an attribute of the Divine.

But it is the sheer beauty of the dresses that makes them sigh with desire. So, what is it that draws us to the Beautiful?  Men love beautiful women. Women love beautiful things. We are bewitched, entranced and delighted by beauty –indeed there is something mysterious, uncontrollable and other-worldly about it. And no matter how ugly the world we live in becomes, somehow no power on Earth can quite stamp out our response to Beauty.

Of course, Beauty has long been seen as an attribute of the Divine. For a Christian view of this phenomenon, see Saint Augustine, a 5th century libertine-turned-Doctor-of-the-Church who famously penned the lines, “Late Have I loved Thee, oh Beauty so ancient and so new!”

The Popes of the Counter-Reformation understood our profound attraction to beauty, and turned Rome’s 450-odd churches into a symphony of the Baroque, extolling the beauty of the Faith.  Today, millions of tourists crowd the Eternal City, gawking at these world-famous masterpieces by Michelangelo, Bramante and Da Vinci. Untaught, most sense the profound emotion of Man reaching towards the Eternal.

But not all Christians have been so sanguine about Beauty. America’s stern Puritan ancestors were in fact part of long line of Christian iconoclasts who saw the Devil’s work in man-made Beauty.

America’s Puritans were originally English, of course. Most hailed from the flat grazing fields of East Anglia, where they fomented a battle with the Crown that they eventually lost quite badly – but not before Cromwell’s soldiers had rampaged through England, smashing the medieval beauties of stained glass and sculpture that the Anglican Church had inherited from the Catholic culture it had unseated.

In contrast, the Catholic cultures of southern Europe have always viewed earthly beauty as a reflection – albeit a poor one – of the Divine Beauty. Similarly, the urge in us to create beauty is a reflection of our Creator’s infinitely greater passion for it.  Both are an intrinsic part of men and women, being as we are “made in the image” of our Creator.


Our urge to create beauty is a reflection of our Creator’s infinitely greater passion for it.











Hence the issue of feminine modesty – and why Christendom as a culture has always sought to protect a woman’s beauty from being abused.  This is NOT because Catholics are a bunch of prudes who hate sex.


The late Pope John Paul II drew on that great body of thought – part of the treasure house of the Church – when he wrote extensively on the “nuptial meaning of the body.” Essentially he says that we are made for nuptial love, by our Creator, who loves us. The very fact that we are “fearsomely” made is another sign of God’s love for us. Our beauty – our comeliness, if you will – is a deliberate act of God because he wants us to discover love through self-giving in marriage.

Therefore, our beauty –and the sexual desire it engenders — is not to be taken lightly, or for granted. Both Mark and Matthew recount the story of what Jesus said regarding divorce: “And the Pharisees coming to him asked him: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting Him. 3 But He answering, saith to them: What did Moses command you? 4 Who said: Moses permitted to write a bill of divorce, and to put her away. 5 To whom Jesus answering, said: Because of the hardness of your heart He wrote you that precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife. 8 And they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh.9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Serious business, right?

Hence the issue of feminine modesty – and why Christendom as a culture has always sought to protect a woman’s beauty from being abused.  This is NOT because Catholics are a bunch of prudes that hate sex. It’s because the Church has always respected the great power of sexuality, and has ever been both the cradle and the school of true Beauty.