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Blissful Bells (and Happy 2016)

December 30, 2015

 

NOTE: In August of 2013, 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, 2013, I wrote the following short story which takes place on December 30—a setting appropriate for this week’s post. I have extremely rarely re-posted a piece; however, opening the pages on this holiday short story again this year seems appropriate. On December 27, my sister and brother-in-law marked their 40th wedding anniversary. On their wedding day in 1975, the chapel on the campus of Indiana University was beautifully covered with snow for a very picturesque setting. As I wrote the following story in 2013, I had in mind the bridesmaids outfits which Nan and I wore to give more details to the description.

 

 

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 third anniversary on December 1; my parents who were married on December 4, 1942 (an who shared almost 55 years together); my cousins Carole and Tim who celebrated their 45th anniversary on December 5; and my sister and brother-in-law who (as I mentioned in my earlier note) marked their 40th anniversary on December 27. Happy Anniversary to all who celebrate December wedding anniversaries!

 

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2016!

Enjoy a sparkling new year! Cheers!

Alice and Leader Dog Zoe

 

December 30, 2015, Wednesday

 

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3 Comments
  1. Alice, what a nice story! I read it a couple of times – very nice ending to make it truly a “blissful” wedding. I liked the descriptions of the outfits of the briday party, and the differences in personality of the brides and grooms.

    my Mom nd Dad were married on Christmas day in my mother’s family home. My daughter, Salome’ and her husband were married on Christmas day in our home 6 years ago, too. Mom and Dad were married just shy of 50 years when he passed away suddenly 5 months earlier. And, I notice you wrote this story on my birthday in 2013, too.

  2. Thanks, Alice, for thinking of us! Happy New Year to you and Zoe!

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