Jens and Susanne very much wanted to be married in the Extraordinary Rite in their beautiful hometown of Cochem on the Moselle, a river which winds through vineyards between Germany, Luxembourg and France. In this article, Susanne recounts the extraordinary events around their TLM wedding in mid-summer 2013 for Regina Magazine.
By Susanne Michels
Jens and I were engaged one year before our wedding; he is 27 and I am 24 years old. We live in Mainz during the week, where we both went to university and where I work part-time. Every weekend we return to our hometown Cochem to see our families and Jens works there as a piano teacher.
Jens was the one to introduce me to the Latin Mass in 2008. I had heard about a priest in the neighboring town who had been saying the early morning mass in the Old Rite for quite some time, but I knew too little about it and had never been there. Only a couple of days after we started dating Jens invited me to join him.
Amazed at the solemnity and silence
I remember that at first I was amazed at the solemnity and the silence. I felt that, probably for the first time in my life, I was truly able to pray. Soon I began to learn more about the traditional Latin Mass and I’m still learning new things all the time.
I don’t think our families were too surprised when we told them what we had planned for our wedding, because we had been going to the TLM regularly for a long time.
Some of our guests knew the TLM from their childhood or early adulthood, but had not been able to attend one since, amongst them were my grandparents. My grandfather gave me his Missal when he heard that I had started hearing the Mass in the old Rite with Jens – he was very pleased when we told him about the wedding and he keeps saying that he enjoyed it very much.
Others had been introduced to the TLM later in their lives – they were very happy to have the opportunity to attend a Solemn Mass (Missa Solemnis).
Not so weird or boring
Most of our guests though – especially friends and family members our age –had never been to a TLM. Some were curious, others rather skeptical. The latter seemed surprised that the Mass didn’t turn out as “weird“ or boring as they had thought.
In the end the responses were very positive: almost all our guests found it very solemn and moving.
Perfect motivation to learn the Mass
We soon had to learn that there are people (even within the Church) who strongly dislike the thought of the Latin Mass being held.
Knowing this, we are even more thankful for all the support we had during the process of planning the wedding and now as a married couple. There was the priest, Jens’ former lecturer at university who lives in Brasil and who started teaching himself the TLM when we told him we would get married and asked him to do the ceremony. He had always wanted to learn the TLM and this was the perfect motivation. How could we ever thank him enough for everything he did for us?
Then there was the old friend from university – he and Jens had been studying Catholic theology together (Jens will be a school teacher, the friend became a priest). He was the deacon in the Mass. He was ordained in the Extraordinary Form, thus very experienced, and could help all of us and guide us. He would also remind us that we’d only need to trust whenever we struggled with all the stress and he heard our confessions on the morning of the wedding day.
Filling in on short notice
The third priest, who was the sub-deacon in the Mass, filled in for somebody else on short notice. We first went to his church in Trier on Palm Sunday in 2013, because they had needed someone to play the organ – we’ve been going there almost every Sunday ever since.
We were warmly welcomed by the most lovely community and a wonderful, warm- hearted priest. We very much felt like we finally found a new home after the priest who held the old mass near Cochem took up a new parish in Switzerland.
The altar boys from Trier agreed to help out at our wedding and they even made time to practise beforehand with the priest. Their families made the effort to come to our wedding, too, and so did many other members of the community, which we are very grateful to them for.
Many churches, or vestries today are unfortunately missing the equipment for the Extraordinary Rite, such as garments for a Solemn High Mass. Again, we had to rely on outside help, which we received.
Since not many organists have enough experience with old Masses, we had to improvise. One of our witnesses, Jens ‘ friend and former piano teacher was of course during the ceremony itself not sitting at the organ. We were so grateful that he was willing to arrange for another organist to accompany the first part of the Mass. What would we have done without all of them?
Recognizing the profound truth in the Mass
Of course, today there are not always and everywhere the perfect conditions for a TLM. With the necessary trust in God and the many dear people who have already discovered the beauty of the Mass in the Extraordinary Rite, a dignified and solemn mass will be in honor of God.
How many people have never had the chance to attend such a Mass? Those who are allowed to experience it once, recognize the profound truth in it.
PHOTOS: Karin Scheuer of Cochem, Germany