Saturday saw the marriage of Tom and Felicity.
We have known Felicity since she was so high: she and Ant have been best friends for as long as either can remember. We first met them (and also Tom's wonderful family) at Walsingham on an NACF pilgrimage. As fellow dwellers in the North (I wouldn't presume to describe myself as a northerner) we then kept in regular contact with Felicity's family, and they have become great friends. We saw Toms' family only rarely as they live in parts southern (and we are not the greatest at staying in touch). However Felicity's and Tom's family kept in closer contact, both being much more sociable than me.
From which you will deduce that Tom and Felicity have also known each other for a long time, added to which one of Tom's sisters is also another of Felicity's best friends.
So it was a great match, and both families are rightly proud and delighted: and the couple looked as radiantly happy as one could possibly imagine.
The nuptial Mass was a magnificent High Mass, celebrated by Fr Mark Withoos (of Chartres pilgrimage fame) who flew over specially for the occasion. It was the first EF Wedding I'd been to; and I have to say, I loved the fact that the bride and groom get married first, then the Mass is offered in celebration, thanksgiving, and supplication in support of their new marriage. Liturgically that seems to me to work better than inserting the wedding into the Mass.
The music was the chant propers, sung by the bride's father with me and another friend of Felicity's; and the exquisite Mass for four voices by William Byrd, sung by the Santiago Singers, from St Andrew's University, from which Felicity is just graduating. They also sung the glorious Duruflé Ubi Caritas during the signing of the Register. At Communion, Patricia (the fiancée of one of Felicity's cousins) sung Franck's Panis Angelicus quite beautifully.
This was almost certainly the first High Mass in St Catherine's (Felicity's parish church) since the introduction of the new rites. The altar was moved back to its proper place, which transformed the Sanctuary; the flowers were beautiful; and there is a stained glass window depicting a saint who features in Tom's family tree.
All in all the ceremonies were magnificent. Even Mrs T, who greatly prefers the meditative silence of a Low Mass to the music and exuberance of a High Mass, found that she finally understood High Mass - it was absolutely appropriate for the occasion.
The reception was lovely. A huge amount of planning and care had gone into creating a lovely homely atmosphere in Morland Hall; the decorations were largely made by Felicity and her bridesmaids, the food was lovely, the speeches were enjoyable and witty without being embarrassing, the Ceilidh band were excellent, and everyone had a lovely time. Even I was seen to dance...
There was the added pleasure, as usual on these occasions, of seeing many other friends: both the families, of course, but also others whom we know from NACF gatherings, Chartres, and various other links.
And then, by way of contrast, we had a Low Mass on Sunday morning at the Hall, again celebrated by Fr Withoos, who preached a second excellent sermon. The contrast with the High Mass of the previous day was dramatic: yet this too was completely appropriate for the occasion.
After a shared lunch and further conviviality, Tom and Felicity left for a brief honeymoon in Rome (it has to be brief, as Felicity is collecting her degree at the end of the week).
So remember the newly-wed couple in your prayers: I am confident that they will grow in happiness and holiness, but prayers are always important!
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