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Short Story: Blissful Bells

January 1, 2014


NOTE:  In August, my writers’ group was given a prompt to write about two very different brides—one who laughed during her ceremony and one who was thinking more of something other than her husband-to-be.  Thus, on August 27, I wrote the following short story which takes place on December 30—a setting appropriate for this week’s post. 



Blissful Bells


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



            Father Martin always exuded a contagious joy whenever he performed the blessed sacrament of marriage.  On this December 30th, midst the holiday season, he evoked even more bliss than usual from his congregation and the wedding party—especially the bride.  Since Mary Catherine, the bride, taught music and drama at a nearby high school and since she was the choir director at Saint Xavier’s, the beautifully chic bride sang “Ave Maria” at her own ceremony.  During those serious minutes, the bride’s satin,

Flamenco-style dress shimmered in the morning’s sunlight that streamed through the stained-glass windows; her impeccable voice bellowed into the cavernous cathedral and rivaled the strong notes of the pipe organ.  Most people on the bride’s side of the congregation were waiting for Mary Cat to do something unusual after the final measure; but being the temporarily subdued ham she was, Mary Catherine only took a light bow an smiled broadly as she winked at her husband-to-be and then at Father Martin.  The bride had promised Father Marty that she would behave appropriately during her marriage ceremony. 


            Nevertheless, as soon as Father Martin asked the bride the important question, Mary Catherine blurted out “I do!  I do!” and then unabashedly roared her signature laughter.  The four bridesmaids—dressed in strapless, emerald green velvet gowns with gold brocade scarves draped over their shoulders—did their best to stifle chuckles.  The groomsmen, in brown tuxedos and emerald green vests and ties, shook their heads in disbelief.  In a brown tux and gold vest and tie, the groom placed his arm around Mary Cat to steady her.  She looked directly at Father Martin and shared a devilish smile with the priest:  they and only they—among all present—knew that in less than 48 hours, Father Martin would simply be a brother—Mary Catherine’s long-lost and very recently found twin brother Marty and no longer a priest.  She was delighted that he was able to perform the marriage ceremony for her and her groom just before Martin left the priesthood.

            While the wedding party and guests were in the vestibule and on the outdoor stairs of the cathedral, Father Martin turned to the main doors and then began to walk down the side aisle to take in a moment’s peace before the photographs around the altar ensued.  He noticed that one young woman had lit a candle and was kneeling, at prayer.  Father Martin paused for a couple minutes; then, as soon as the woman walked toward him, he recognized her—the bride whose marriage ceremony would be the last he would ever perform.  “Mary Margaret, you are several hours early.  Is everything alright?”


            Mary Margaret smiled gently and whispered: “Oh, yes, Father.  I just wanted to see another wedding today, to see how the cathedral looked from another perspective.  I am so glad that I ran into you now.  I have something for you.”  She handed him a sealed envelope and continued:  “Please open this envelope just before you announce Sergio and me to the congregation, at the end of the mass.  Please read aloud the card as your introduction of my husband and me.  You can trust me, Father Martin.  Will you promise to do what I have asked?  What is in this envelope is so important to me.”


            “Of course, the bride’s wish is my command.”


            Late that afternoon, Mary Margaret pulled the white velvet, long skirt up to her waist and carefully tucked in the shimmering white satin blouse.  One

bridesmaid—wearing a cranberry velvet, full-length skirt and a pink satin blouse—placed a white fake-fur stole around Mary Margaret’s shoulders.  Next, another bridesmaid handed the bride a bouquet of snowflake mums and pink roses.  In the midst of all the chatter, excitement, and well wishes surrounding Mary Margaret, she was calmly thinking not of her husband-to-be, but of Father Martin. 


            Less than one hour later, at the conclusion of the mass, Father Martin opened the envelope, read the note silently, waited a few moments to be able to breathe again and calm the rapid beating of his heart.  Then, he was able to announce to the congregation:  “Mary Catherine Bliss and I, Father Martin Bliss, invite you to applaud and congratulate this blessed and happy couple—Sergio Campanelli and his beautiful bride and my triplet, Mary Margaret Bliss Campanelli.”


            On the golden birthday—thirty years of age on the 30th of December—the Bliss triplets were finally re-united.  Having left her wedding reception, Mary Catherine ran down the aisle and hugged her brother, sister, and brother-in-law.  Fortunately, the main aisle of the cathedral was wide enough for the groom, Mary Margaret, Mary Catherine, and Martin to link arm-in-arm and blissfully walk through the most joyful of congregations.  The blissful bells of Saint Xavier’s rang as Father Martin had never before heard. 



Post-script:  Amazingly, I know four couples who were married in December:  my friends Jenna and Nick who celebrated their first anniversary on December 1; my parents who were married on December 4, 1942; my cousins Carole and Tim who celebrated their 43rd anniversary on December 5; and my sister and brother-in-law who marked their 38th anniversary on December 27.  Happy Anniversary to all who celebrate December wedding anniversaries!


Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2014!


Alice and Leader Dog Zoe


December 31, 2013



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  1. What a charming story!

    • Thank you, Fran. Happy New Year to you and your family! Take care in this snowy winter–Alice

  2. Thank you, Alice, for sharing such a sweet story to start the new year. I hope you have a great 2014.

    • Thanks, Abbie! I will talk with you on Sunday, due to weather changing my plans. Best wishes for your new publication in the new year! Alice

  3. Thank you for this delightful story, Alice. I enjoyed reading a few details from my own December wedding in the story.
    Love, Mary

  4. Thanks, Alice; and the same to you and Zoe!

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