He was from Texas and she was from California, preparing to attend the 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid. The first few times Rosanna and Matt talked over Catholic Match and Skype--starting on Divine Mercy Sunday--Rosanna noticed how full of life Matt seemed, filled with joy for the Catholic faith. Yet she'd been praying for guidance about her vocation. They continued having dates over Skype and in person, and in Spain that summer, Rosanna experienced peace that God was calling her to marriage--quite possibly with Matt.
Shortly after Rosanna returned home, Matt asked her to be his girlfriend at a church in San Diego, feet away from statues of Our Lady. Over the next two years, they dated according to a traditional courtship approach they felt called to and flew out to visit each other as often as they could. But monthly flights started feeling old. After a Tridentine Mass, in a candlelit chapel devoted to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Matt read Rosanna a poem he'd written and got down on one knee.
From the Bride: We got married on the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel at my home parish in Southern California, which is run by Norbertine monks. We had picked the date somewhat haphazardly. We smiled, though, when we realized that not only was it a Marian feast day, but a feast deeply loved by my great-grandmother, Dolores, a third-order Carmelite who loved Our Lady of Good Counsel so much that she named one of her daughters "Buen Consejo." I also realized the Marian image in my room growing up was one of this particular devotion to Our Lady. And lastly, I am a marriage and family counselor by profession; what better honor and title of the Blessed Mother to celebrate our marriage? When we went to Rome for our honeymoon, we attended Pope Francis's weekly audience and were blown away to find the topic he addressed was none other than the gift of "good counsel."
Matt and I decided to have a our nuptial Mass as a hybrid of an English and Latin novus ordo Mass. We chose to have a few parts, such as the Creed, sung, as we both love sung liturgy. The Norbertines utilize many traditional “smells and bells” in their Masses, and we were so happy to include those traditions in our liturgy.
Receiving the Lord together in the Holy Eucharist, kneeling side by side, for the very first time as husband and wife was even more exciting than the nuptial vows that we exchanged. Two traditions we incorporated were the Spanish lasso from my Filipino roots and a Croatian tradition where the bride and groom hold a crucifix while saying their vows. After the wedding, by a statue of Our Lady of La Vang, Matt and I shared our first kiss on the lips. It was something we'd felt called to abstain from during our courtship, and was a delightful, fun milestone moment.
The reception venue was the clubhouse at UCI, where my grandfather was a doctor and professor, and where my parents met. We wanted the theme of our wedding to be "Culture of Life." Our cake was inscribed with life abundantly, and John 10:10, with the full verse, "I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly," on a chalkboard poster behind it. We also designed our own monogram, an R and an M entwined with a cross, in the style of monograms that frequently adorn Marian altars. We peppered the banquet tables, laid so beautifully with coral and pink flowers by our florist, with frames featuring pictures of saints and some of their most inspiring quotes. As Matt and me come from a few different ethnic backgrounds, we chose saints from Italy, Japan, and the Philippines to reflect our heritage. In these simple centerpieces, we wanted to reflect the universality of the church, full of all kinds of people but with one powerful, singular focus: the call to holiness and the worship of Jesus, the Bread of Life. To celebrate our first kiss, we also had a sign inspired by the Song of Songs: "Kiss me, my love, that your name be on my lips. You intoxicate my being with the fragrance of your presence."
Matt washed my feet during the reception in order to symbolize how Christ, the groom, humbled himself and washed the feet of his disciples: his body, the Church. I remember choosing the song "The Spirit and the Bride" by Matt Maher, days before the wedding, to be played during the washing. When I discovered the song, I broke down in tears, realizing the goodness of the Lord, and his love for me in all of my brokenness. To think that I would be marrying Matt in just a few days, my broken self and all, that God had brought so much healing into my life through Matt, and that he would continue to heal and grow both of us through our marriage, just humbled me to my knees.
I think those few minutes that Matt washed my feet etched a deep meaning into both of our hearts that day. We were saying, in a symbolic way, that we were both laying down our lives for one another; that there was no turning back, that we were "one flesh" in the eyes of God now. It's something I still flash back to when we hit rough spots. Our marriage crucifix, the one Matt and I held as we took our vows, hangs above our bed. Every day, we are reminded of the great sacrament we partake in, and the heights of holiness to which we are called.
Photography: FS Photo Studio | Church: St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, Costa Mesa, CA | Wedding Reception Venue : University Club at University of California, Irvine | Flowers: Blooming Branch | Cake: KH Bakery | Hair & Make-Up: Make Me Up | DJ: Ultimate Events