This past Sunday, December 23rd, The Dash and I had our Rite of Betrothal after Low Mass. At last, at last, after a beautiful, challenging, blessed and amazing-beyond-my-dreams courtship of fifteen months, we are betrothed and will be getting married!!!
Along with not feeling too well (which the joy of the morning helped smooth over! 😉 ), I had lots of butterflies and was fervently hoping my hands wouldn’t get too clammy from nerves, because, you know, we would start holding hands that day, and all . . .
We had choir practice, which started in the rectory chapel and ended in the choir loft. (I missed a portion of practice because I was determined to get to Confession during Advent if it killed me, and things had been so hectic this month that I hadn’t been able to go since the 1st.) I must say that The Dash always looks incredible, but he looked incredibly incredible that morning. After practice, he and I stayed behind in the choir loft for a moment so he could tie his tie, I could make sure his collar was flat, and the both of us could beam at each other from nervous joy–I’ll always love that memory!
Then there was Mass, which was a beautiful combination of recollection and of things speeding by under the anticipation of yours truly. After it ended, The Dash and I decided we should probably move up to the front left pew and wait for Father to come back from the sacristy, since we didn’t really know what we were doing, and so we said our after-Mass prayers there. Our two dear friends/mentor couple/witnesses joined us in the pew and prayed with us . . . and our families and nearly the entire community came up close by and remained for the Rite. It was so humbling and such an honor that so many of our friends stayed after Mass for our betrothal, with all their hungry little ones in tow. We were truly surrounded by the family who has witnessed and supported our whole courtship, and the blessing of their love was overwhelming to both of us!
Now, I have read through the Rite of Betrothal a thousand times over, but leading up to our betrothal, I didn’t go over it at all, mainly because I was unsure which version our parish priest had, and I wanted my experience of our betrothal to be humble and fresh, without me constantly anticipating every word because I’d memorized it out of liturgical OCD.
However, I do think it wound up being identical (or nearly identical!), so I’ll link to it here. (You can find it under “Individual Rite Booklets.” I really wish the site wasn’t so abrasive in tone, but I can’t find the Rite anywhere else available for viewing, so just bear with it 🙂 ) Going through the Rite with The Dash was more beautiful and profound than the million times I’d daydreamed about it leading up to then.
Father brought us to the Communion rail in front of Our Lady’s altar, which neither of us was expecting and was simply the most consummately perfect thing ever, to be betrothed right in front of Our Blessed Mother to whom we’ve consecrated everything. Oh, the goodness of God!
First, there was Psalm 126, then the Allocution (Father’s address to us on the importance of what we’ve discerned and what we’re about to do), then the exchange of promises that we repeated after Father (I made sure to meet The Dash’s eyes the entire time; he deserves nothing less!), after which Father crossed his stole over our hands and declared us betrothed. Then came the blessing of the engagement ring, and The Dash putting it on my hand in the name of the Blessed Trinity. Finally, Father read from the book of Tobit (joy!!!), gave us a final blessing, and then opened the Missal for us to kiss the image of Our Crucified Lord at the beginning of the Canon–first The Dash, then me.
And that was it. Surreal and beautiful, ordered and right, so full of peace. I have never been so happy! We took a few pictures with Father and our families, and then The Dash took my hand and we finally began to enjoy that expression of affection we’d been waiting so, so long to do! Bliss!!!!
We spent a nice, quiet, restful day together as we’d planned for a while to do . . . pretty much because we were exhausted from the week, the month, the whole incredible hike of our courtship, and had wanted for a very long time to sit, not say much, and rejoice in just being together and soaking in the fact that we were betrothed and it was all real, and that we really could hold hands 😉
And our Christmas was very blessed indeed. Christmas Eve, I had practically everything to do in terms of wrapping, card-making . . . it took most of the day! 😀 But we all came together for dinner, The Dash included, and then headed out for Christmas Eve High Mass . . . after nearly three years, this was the first Christmas at our parish where I actually had a singing voice, praise God! I got to sing every single carol, chant, and polyphonic piece with all my heart–so much joy! We got to church around 7 and arrived home around 11, after having stood out in the frigid air and chatted happily with all our friends, and with Lena, The Dash and I doing a gift exchange with some of our close friends. Our good friend had hand-crafted a beautiful customized wooden plaque with The Dash and I’s initials and our betrothal date, with room left for our wedding date . . . we were both so astonished at his talent and thoughtfulness! Right now, it’s hanging over my bed, right under The Song of the Angels 🙂
And then, at last, there was Christmas Day. We opened gifts and stockings, visited my grandmother in her new apartment . . . but oh, to be engaged and betrothed at Christmas is the most wonderful thing ever (well, of course, unless you’re married, but I’ll embrace what I’ve been given 😉 )! To be able to hold hands (especially for The Dash and I, with touch being one of our most predominate love languages) and have his arm around me sometimes is so precious and so worth waiting for. It’s hard to describe it. The deeper closeness that such (appropriate) signs of physical affection have brought us over the past few days sends me sky-high with elation (naturally!), makes me miss him even more when we’re not together . . . but it also strongly reinforces to me how right it was for us not to have them during courtship when we were still discerning and not yet promised to one another, and needed to develop vital communication skills.
It goes without saying that to start using moderated signs of affection after a fifteen-month courtship is very new and very wonderful, and it absolutely takes increased vigilance and continued prayers for chastity and purity. It also takes renewed focus on the importance of communication . . . because it can be easy to grow slack in communicating because you assume you’re already connected, thanks to feeling so bonded through those signs of affection 😉
So please do pray for us in our engagement! We are so thankful for everyone’s prayers and know for certain we would not be where we are today, were it not for the generous and faithful intercession of others on our behalf! May God reward them and you!