Wedding Season. As a young child, I was not aware such a season existed. In my humble Texas academy of learning, we were brought up to believe in only four seasons: Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall…that was it. There was never any mention of this elusive fifth season of cake, toasts, and starched shirts. As I have grown older, and supposedly wiser, I have come to the realization that there is, indeed a fifth season every year, and it is a joyful, stressful, annoying, fun time.
This weekend, I was privileged enough to enjoy not one, but two weddings. Saturday night was the wedding for Jenni’s cousin, while the Sunday was wedding was in honor of my friend Steve’s wedding. We had fun at both, although the amount of fun we had during the Saturday wedding, hindered our ability to have optimal fun at the Sunday wedding. Greg even drove in from Wichita for the Sunday wedding, and the three of us (Jenni, myself, Greg) spent most of the time sitting at a table in the corner, nursing hangovers and trying to seem as though we enjoyed being there. Well, the truth is we DID enjoy being there, but the headache and the upset stomach and the bright lights were a bit too much for us, I think. If Steve’s wedding had been on another weekend, things would have been different.
Regardless, the Saturday wedding was the big hit of the weekend, even with the pre-wedding countdown show that is called Irish Catholic Mass.
We arrived at the Lady of Sorrow Who is Named Elizabeth Catholic church in our Sunday best; which for Jen was a nice summer dress, and for myself was an itchy, uncomfortable white collared shirt with too much starch, and a tie. We met up with Jen’s brother (also uncomfortable) and mother, and sat down to begin the wedding/mass ceremony of joy.
I have been to a Catholic church, before. So I was a bit prepared for what was to happen. I was hoping that since this was a wedding, that I would be spared some of the intricate details, rituals, and awkward moments…I was wrong. From what I could see, the mass was conducted as if it were Sunday; with prayer readings, rituals, and bible readings. Every now and then, the priest would say something that would spark a response from the congregation…minus the people like me, who had no clue what was happening. Most times, I felt as though I were in the wrong class…everybody around me seemed to know the answers, and had read the material…while I sat there like a deer in headlights, frozen. “As long as he doesn’t call on me, I’ll be fine” I thought to myself as I knelt down in prayer. Crazy Catholics, and their kneeling. Those little bumper pads they have you kneel on don’t seem to help, too much. Especially the muscles in your butt…I walked funny all day Sunday, because I’m not used to sitting like that for more time than it takes to put the DVD into the player.
By far, the best part of church had to be communion. Up until now, I had pretty much kept to myself, and tried as best as I could to get through the mass, without bursting into flames, or making a huge mistake that would get me banned from all Catholic churches, everywhere. The only time I spoke was at the beginning of mass, when Jenni’s mom tried to give me some grief about something or other, and I whispered “Hey! Don’t give me sass in here! This is GOD’S HOUSE!” which elicited a response of laughter from the women behind me, who seemed to think I was the coolest thing since Vatican II. After my moment of glory, I spent the remainder of the service in quiet solitude and respect.
Then came Communion. The priest addressed the congregation, and said something along the lines of the following:
“We will now begin the act of communion. For those of you who are Catholic, please come up to the front, to receive the Holy Blessing of Communion. For those of you who are not Catholic, please come up to the front, with your arms crossed over your chest, and ask for a blessing from me.”
He was basically saying, that if you weren’t Catholic, you could not participate in communion along with everybody else. Even though I had been baptized, and I had taken my Confirmation class at my church, and I had been participating in the ritual of communion to honor Jesus since I was 14, this guy was telling me I wasn’t allowed to worship God because he said so. The insanity and hypocrisy had finally taken its toll, and I could no longer sit there in quiet reflection and respect. I found myself shaking my head, and suddenly I heard myself say out loud, “That’s WEAK!”
For a second, there was silence. I saw Jen slowly turn her head towards me, brandishing a look that would cause most men to cower in their seats, and wet themselves. I held my ground, and stared right back at my girlfriend with a ‘so what?’ face…and then I heard the chuckling. The women behind me, as well as others in the rows in front of me, thought this was hilarious. They lost it. When I say “lost it” I don’t mean to imply that they started laughing and hollering, rolling around on the floor, or slapping their knees. It was ‘church laughter’ which is quiet and reserved, but present, nonetheless. The point had been made: this was bullshit, and their laughter made me feel better.
So as I knelt there, stifling the laughter trying to erupt out from inside of me, I bowed my head and began to pray in my own way, and decided that I would take communion as a SPY. I asked Jen how to look Catholic, and how to cross myself, and all of that. She showed me, and soon I was prepared to take communion as a pretend Catholic.
Before they began the ritual, they played bells. They chimed the bells when the priest blessed the bread and they chimed them again, for the wine. I held back the laughter once more, at the thought of the “Catholic Dinner Bell” signaling the time to eat the body and blood of Christ.
So I took communion as a spy, and was able to complete my worship. The rest of the mass was pretty standard, except I noticed there was no singing, which is different than I’m used to. After the mass, there was the shuffling of feet, and the general disorder and confusion that follows a large group of people trying to exit from the same location. We all headed to the basement, where the reception was to be held. How is THAT for irony? Booze and drunkenness occurring in the basement of a Catholic Church.
The reception was fun, and I had the privilege of enjoying a chocolate fountain (which I’ve decided I MUST have at my wedding), free drinks, and good food for my reward of surviving mass without much incident. I noticed there were no Catholic Dinner Bells this time, so I just ate my food and went on with my life. I met lots of people from Jenni’s family…and I forgot most of their names, almost as quickly as I learned them. We got to dance, drink, and be merry while I avoided the hands of some of Jen’s more inebriated aunts (I got my ass pinched 3 times that night). I also had the privilege of having one of Jen’s family members tell me that because Jen was tall, that she would give me a large, strapping boy when we procreated.
All in all, the wedding was fun, and I had a good time. I’m glad that the Wedding Weekend is over, though. I think I have just enough time now, to store up energy for the next wedding, of the season, which is set to take place in a few weeks.
Ah, the joy of the Wedding Season.