Editors Share | Participating in the Mass

At the start of a new year and a new season of the liturgical calendar, we consider ways to refresh our habits and live each day with intention. Today, the Spoken Bride team shares some of the practices that shape their preparation for and engagement during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

 

Stephanie Calis, Editor in Chief & Co-Founder

In this season of raising young children, my husband and I have had to adjust our expectations of what we hope to “get” from the Mass, and I think after several years we’ve reached something of a sweet spot. In doing so, my view has shifted to the reality that Mass is, in fact, not about getting, but about gift: Christ’s free, faithful, total, and fruitful sacrifice poured out and re-presented to us at every liturgy. I have to remind myself that even on days when I miss every other word of the homily or when my baby tries to escape under the kneelers over and over, Jesus is truly present and desires to enter into my life and vocation in such a specific, intimate way.

That said, I do make efforts to devote myself to worship and prayer. As I approach the altar for communion, the song “Sanctuary” frequently echoes in my head, underscoring for me the beautiful nuptial significance of the sacraments and helping dispose me to receive the Eucharist. The thought of humbly approaching the altar, walking toward the Bridegroom, is so moving to me.

My husband and I try to take turns handling and praying with our kids after communion, so that we can each have personal prayer and reflection time. We sometimes alternate taking them outside immediately after Mass, as well, to give each other additional time to pray in the chapel. Since college, I have always prayed after Mass the St. Michael prayer (which my parish now says collectively, before the final blessing), a prayer to St. Raphael for friends and family members and their future spouses, and have renewed my consecration to Mary.

 

Jiza Zito, Creative Director & Co-Founder

My family arrives early, brings missals, and says a prayer of thanksgiving after Mass. I try to go to confession at least twice a month with my husband or as a family, and to daily Mass at least once a week.

 

Andi Compton, Business Director

I meet with my Gospel Group weekly and we read the Sunday Readings and discuss the readings, upcoming feast days, and liturgical living. I am an Every Sacred Sunday drop out—at this season in my life with five kids, including a newborn, I just can’t remember to bring books and take time to write notes. But I do use the Laudate app to keep up with the readings whenever I’m in the cry area and a book isn’t available. Our goal is to make it to confession once a month. Our two oldest can now receive reconciliation and it’s so important to us to model us admitting that we are sinners in need of forgiveness by going regularly.

Honestly, during this season of my life, I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough because what I plan to do is interrupted by my actual life. I’ve learned to think of these interruptions as opportunities to offer up for our family’s salvation and any other intentions I can think of. At Christmas Eve Mass I was really wrestling with all my emotions of the process of bringing the whole crew to Mass (baths, getting dressed, leaving too late, parking far away, walking through the crazy parking lot, not finding seats, dealing with usherettes on power trips) but when the Eucharist was held up and the priest said “Behold, this is Lamb oh God…” a very clear voice in my head saying “This is why.” So even if you’re in a season where you can’t do all the things you desire in your prayer life, know that you can find Jesus exactly where you are.

 

Mariah Maza, Features Editor

There are many little habits I have started to acquire that allow me to prepare better and go deeper into the great gift that is the Catholic Mass. I am not perfectly consistent yet, but I find that my spiritual life is much stronger when I am more intentional about them.

Something new I am doing this year is using the Every Sacred Sunday Mass journal to pre-read the readings at home on Sunday or Saturday, take notes, reflect, and prepare spiritually for my upcoming week. I also use the journal to take notes during the homily! I haven’t received any weird stares yet.

In preparation for receiving the Eucharist again the next time I am at Mass, I strive to make daily (if not multiple times a day) spiritual communions. There are many different prayers you can chose from to “make” a spiritual communion. I pray, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

When my husband and I are driving to Mass together, we pray St. Ambrose’s before Mass prayer in the car. I keep the paper with the prayer on the visor above the driver’s side, so I never have to think about remembering it; it is always there. I also try to listen to Christian or sacred music or ride in silence.

Additionally, I find it much easier to focus my Mass time when I arrive at least 10 minutes early to say hello to Jesus and tell him what my intentions for the Mass are.

For several months now, I have been accountable for attending daily Mass on Thursdays. A dear friend agreed to go to morning Mass with me on Thursday, and then we get coffee together! This makes sure I show up instead of making an excuse or sleeping in, and it cultivates a beautiful friendship founded on faith and virtue (and coffee).

During Mass, whenever I am about to enter the communion line, I pray in my head, “Mama Mary, prepare me to receive your Son in a way that does not desecrate His most holy body.” It can be so easy for me to get distracted right before I get up receive the Eucharist or while walking in line. I forget that I am walking the wedding aisle to my Bridegroom. So I call upon Mama Mary to clear my head and keep me focused on the sacrament.

When the priest raises the Body and Blood after consecration, I pray “my Lord and my God, thank you Jesus.”

I try not to go more than two weeks to a month between confessions. Getting over the “public shame” of staying in your seat during communion if you are not properly disposed to receive has also been transformative for my conscience and my soul. It also increases humility and my desire to get to confession so I can receive in a state of grace at the next Mass.

And finally, I veil at every Mass, in adoration chapels, and in the church when I go to confession, because those are all places I am in the presence of the Eucharist. Veiling has been immensely transformative for me. It changed my interior dispositions during Mass and even transformed the outward way I dress inside and outside of church. I am in love with this tradition the Church offers us as women.

 

Stephanie Fries, Editor at Large

I love to volunteer as a lector at Mass as a way for me to serve in our community and to engage more intimately with the readings. I am re-building a habit of bringing a small notebook with me to Mass so I can note specific readings or excerpts from the homily that I want to reflect on again at home. I strive to consistently pray a prayer of Thanksgiving after Mass, “for the beauty of this day and the sacrifice of your son.”

 

Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager

My family and I have recently started attending a Latin Mass parish. I know this is not the case for everyone, but we are blessed that we are relatively close to two parishes that offer the TLM (one of them is the parish we were married in!). My husband and I both have experienced great fruits since attending consistently.

We like to prepare by making sure we have the readings handy during Mass. We currently use the missal and leaflets that are offered at our Church since we don’t have our own Missals yet. It is one of my goals for 2019 to acquire our own though! In a pinch, the Laudate app on my phone has been helpful as it has all the daily readings and prayers of the Mass.

After communion, I like to pray the Anima Christi prayer, and I also try to kneel and pray in silence. It can be tough with two small children though. We each get up with one of the kids at least once during the Mass due to someone needing to go to the bathroom or getting too fidgety. When I get frustrated, I try to remind myself that this is just the season of my life right now. Quietly explaining the parts of the Mass or pointing our candles, the Crucifix, or statues seem to help draw their attention to the Mass. My kids also seem to prefer to sit closer to the altar so they can see. Getting to Mass a little early makes this possible and gives us some extra prayer time. We sometimes also bring in a couple books or quiet toys. We try to go to daily Mass a couple times a week at a few different parishes nearby, too.

Outside of Mass, we pray a family rosary together every night. It has become part of our routine before the kids go to bed and it’s so nice to have those 15 minutes of quiet and peace together. The kids definitely fidget and sometimes fall asleep before we finish, but it definitely feels like it brings peace and order to our day, no matter how the rest of the day has been. In addition, I try to go to the confession at least once a month. My goal for this year is to add in at least 20-30 minutes of spiritual reading in during the day, as well.

Editors Share | Wedding Readings

It’s our privilege to be invited into your story and vocation. In gratitude, we love to share ours with you, as well. Today, the team shares the meaning behind the readings used at their wedding Masses.

 

Christina, Associate Editor

First reading, Tobit 8:4b-8: When I was single, St. Raphael was one of my most-loved intercessors, thanks to the book of Tobit--one of the most under-appreciated books in the Deuterocanon. That alone was enough to make this reading a top contender, but in the end we chose it because of the important role prayer has played (and will continue to play) in our relationship, and because the prayer of Tobias and Sarah recounts the establishment of marriage by God in Genesis. It’s like getting two Old Testament readings for the price of one!

Second Reading, 1 Cor. 12:2713:8a: For the longest time, I swore I would never choose this reading for my nuptial Mass, simply because everyone chooses it. But, as my husband Kristian and I were praying about which readings to choose, we kept coming back to St. Paul’s famous “hymn to love.” It is the perfect description of the kind of love Christ has for his Church, and the love Kristian and I strive to show each other.

Gospel, Luke 1: 26-38: We chose this Gospel because it is the preeminent example of the fact that “nothing is impossible for God.” Throughout our single years, Kristian and I both struggled to believe we could, like Mary, trust in the Lord completely and place our lives in his hands. When we met and fell in love, our faith in God’s ability to do the seemingly impossible was renewed. In response to this gift,we hope to make Mary’s fiat our own throughout our life together.

 

Stephanie, Co-Founder + Editor in Chief

First Reading, Tobit 8:4b-8: Valentines’ Day of my sophomore year of college, I read an article by the Vatican’s Zenit News describing several individuals who’d met their future spouses after habitually saying a particular prayer to St. Raphael, the intercessor of Sarah and Tobias’ relationship in the Book of Tobit, the patron of “happy meetings,” and of Christian marriage. Honestly, I was skeptical, but having known the ache of singleness and deep desire to be known and seen, I began saying the prayer daily for my future husband.

God is never outdone in generosity. Three years later, I met my husband, and we continued praying to St. Raphael in thanksgiving, and for friends and family, as we dated. When the time came to choose our wedding readings, an Old Testament reading reflecting our devotion to him seemed like a natural choice. This reading from Tobit, the wedding night prayer of Sarah and Tobias, is beautiful to us for its words of love prevailing over lust and life over death. A love that praises the Father and is life-giving is what we strive for in our marriage, and we revisit these words often.

Second Reading, Eph. 5:2a, 21-33: I have to admit choosing this passage as our Second Reading was partially rooted in defiance. St. Paul’s instruction that wives be subordinate to their husbands is so widely rejected or misunderstood. We hoped for an opportunity to shed some light and clarity on what is actually a beautiful framework for self-giving, self-emptying love that imitates Christ’s own sacrifice. Our priest did illuminate the true meaning of this reading wonderfully in his homily.

Gospel, John 2:1-11: From the start, Our Lady has been the avenue of grace upon grace in our relationship. At Cana, as Jesus readies himself to perform his first public miracle, water into wine, his mother instructs the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” My husband and I loved the fact that it’s at a wedding where Christ chooses to begin revealing his glory, elevating marriage to a sacrament, and moreover, that Our Lady speaks not only to the servants, but to us. Seeking to follow Jesus, through Mary, is a constant pursuit in our marriage, beginning with that Gospel right before we said our vows.

 

Andi, Business Director

First Reading, Genesis 1:26-28, 31a: I love this reading for its simplicity. At the time of our wedding in 2007, the definition of marriage was much less controversial. This is where it all began: God creating man and woman and affirming them as good. He then blesses all of creation and commands them to be fruitful and multiply--something we hoped would happen soon after our wedding.

Second Reading, Eph. 5:2a, 21-33: During my courtship with my husband, my girlfriends and I delved into this passage from Ephesians and what it really meant for husbands and wives. When wives submit themselves to the mission of their husbands, whose role it is to die to themselves for their wives and family. We were blown away by the beauty of it all.

The Gospel we chose is same as Stephanie’s, and we selected it for a similar reason.

 
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Jiza, Co-Founder + Creative Director

Our Lady and the Solemnity of her Assumption played a significant role in our courtship, and since the date of our wedding providentially fell on that day, we decided to have our Nuptial Mass fulfill the Holy Day of Obligation. Our wedding was celebrated as a Solemn High Mass in the Tridentine Latin Rite (Extraordinary Form); within the Extraordinary Form, the readings are on a one-year cycle (vs. a three-year cycle in the Novus Ordo). Therefore, the readings for August 15, our wedding day, are always an Epistle from Judith 13:22-25 15:10, and a Gospel from Luke 1:41-50. It was so special for us to honor Our Lady in such a way.

Your story is a blessing to our community. We look forward to hearing the stories behind your own wedding readings in the comments and on our social media!

Consider a Betrothal Ceremony: What it Is, Why it's Significant + How to Plan One

DOMINIKA RAMOS

 

When my husband and I became engaged, we decided to have a betrothal ceremony. At the time, we knew very few couples who had had one, and fewer people still who knew anything about it. 

A betrothal ceremony, or a Rite of Betrothal, is the traditional way of becoming officially engaged in the eyes of the Church. It's a short but beautiful ceremony, in which the couple solemnly pledges to marry one another on a specified date. We were drawn to the ceremony for several reasons:

image:  Jiza Zito

image: Jiza Zito

As a blessing for our engagement.

My husband and I were both in school during our engagement. In the midst of scouring the web for bridesmaid dresses and trying to keep up with reading for class, it was a lovely pause in our lives to solidify our response to the call of marriage and receive graces that helped make our engagement a period of deeper spiritual enrichment than it might have felt otherwise. 

One element I particularly love about the Rite is that it includes a blessing over the engagement ring. There's a temptation as a newly engaged young woman to scrutinize and compare rings with other engaged friends, yet having your ring blessed can be a powerful reminder to reject comparison. It's a gift to receive your engagement ring again after the ceremony, now transfigured by the blessing into a sacramental. These days when I'm changing diapers or washing dishes and catch a glance of my sacramental engagement and wedding rings, it serves as a reminder to say a quick prayer for my marriage and family. 

As an opportunity for our families to come together to celebrate our engagement.

We tried to keep things simple in planning our wedding, so our betrothal ceremony became the perfect opportunity to get our families together in lieu of having an elaborate engagement party. If you or your fiancé come from a family that isn't particularly religious, the ceremony can be an opportunity to express to them your belief that marriage and family are founded on, and strengthened by, faith.

As a reflection of how seriously we took marriage.

Far more than being a nice thing to do, a Rite of Betrothal contractually obligates the engaged couple to be married on a specific date. What the man has proposed to the woman then becomes a binding agreement, which, if the engagement were to be called off, would have to be formally dissolved by a priest. Thus, for the couple and for the witnesses, the ceremony sets the tone for the gravity of marriage as not merely a declaration of love, but a profound covenant wrought by God.

Betrothals can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish. We held our betrothal ceremony after our parish's Saturday Vigil Mass in the small chapel where we'd gotten engaged, with only our immediate family members present. However, another bride I know had hymns, flowers, formal invitations, and a guest list of fifty.

You might have yours after Sunday Mass with family members and your bridal party and go out to brunch afterwards. You might have a larger ceremony and have a reception in place of an engagement party. Or you might have it at your parents' home, with a private Mass and an intimate dinner, if you have a family friend who is a priest.

Unless your priest is familiar with old and somewhat obscure devotions of the Church, it's likely that he won't have heard of a betrothal ceremony. The priest who did our ceremony (and later celebrated our marriage) happened to be a zealous convert to the faith, so he was thrilled when we introduced him to this tradition. If you're met with hesitation, seeking out a priest who is more comfortable with traditional liturgical practices might be the way to go. 

Engagement is frequently seen as a frustratingly harried waiting period, but it's not. It's a pilgrimage. And a betrothal ceremony is a holy seal and blessing sending you on your way down the path to your vocation--down the path to greater union with God. In a world where the meaning of marriage is constantly misshapen to fit personal desires, a betrothal ceremony is a beautiful and bold way of witnessing to the truth of God's design for this sacrament.

The text for the Rite of Betrothal can be found here.


Dominika Ramos is a native of Houston, Texas though she dreams of spending her days frolicking in the English countryside. She and her husband met at the University of St. Thomas, where she studied English literature, and they were married at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham on the Feast of the Visitation in 2014. Her life is currently composed of running Pax Paper, a hand-lettering and illustration business, blogging about the transcendental aspects of motherhood (among other things) at A Quiet Quest, and chasing after her rambunctious and delightful toddler son.  PAX PAPER | BLOG | INSTAGRAM