Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Royal Wedding or Holy Matrimony?

Google Doodle for The Royal Wedding
Yesterday the long awaited wedding of Prince William and commoner Kate took place.  My wife recorded the wedding and we watched the proceedings last night up to the return to Buckingham Palace.  We will catch the much talked about kiss some time today.  Yes I am a man and I watched the wedding!  Amazing!  Are my testosterone levels falling?  Has Alzheimer's claimed an early stake on my mind?  Well we can discuss my hormonal and mental state later, this post is devoted to the sermon at the wedding service.  I was quite touched by it.  I managed to find the text at Cathleen Falsani's blog The Dude Abides, which I must admit I need to check out:

The Dude Abides, The Royal Wedding Homily by Dr. Richard Chartres, Anglican Bishop of London

Here is the text of the homily.  Note the bold emphasis is mine.

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.
Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.
In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.
William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.  A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.
It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.
You have both made your decision today – “I will” – and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.
We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.
Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:
“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon,
Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.”
As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.
As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.
I pray that all of us present and the many millions watching this ceremony and sharing in your joy today, will do everything in our power to support and uphold you in your new life. And I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day:
God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.
In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.
Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Quite actually I could have bolded the entire text. One of the things that impressed me about this ceremony was that this was the marriage of a man and woman,  the same substance as you and I.  It was not the marriage of a future king and queen.  It was not Prince William and Duchess (to be) Catherine, it was simply William and Catherine.  This is extremely important to me for I don't believe that God recognizes royal blood or common blood...it is all Sacred to God.  William and Catherine are made of the same stuff as you and I.

I like St Catherine's quote, "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."  The fact that the world is not on fire would seem to indicate that all of us are failing at this mission.  Yet I would submit that this royal wedding was an example of Being who God meant us to be.  What is so terribly interesting about this wedding that one third of humanity chose to endure it?  William and Kate lived together!  What the hell is the big deal?  Yes, most of the interest can attributed to the celebrity and the pageantry of the event,  but by becoming wed in the sight of God, are not William and Catherine becoming more of who God meant them to be?  I don't believe in my heart that God particularly gives a shit about marriage licenses, but I do believe that God very much cares about our love for each other.

"Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves."  In a previous post, I spoke of marriages occurring in bed not a church.  I very much believe that,  William and Catherine were already married in the sight of God, this was just a public recognition of the fact.  William and Catherine were drawn together by that desire for union that we all possess to counter the very profound loneliness of human existence.  Indeed, we have a physical mandate driven by our genes and instincts to reproduce, yet that could be done without the marriage, the union of woman and man.  It is our deep need for a rock of stability to cling to during the storms of life that we marry.  Those words we utter during our marriage vowels are not just corny aphorisms, they mean something, and in my heart of hearts I believe that we most fulfill what God meant us to be by joining together in a state of Holy Matrimony...regardless of whether a marriage licenses and the church are involved or not.  The ceremonies that occur in the church are not the true wedding.

In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.   A royal wedding?  Who cares!  The royals are no better than you and I, but indeed, every wedding should be a Holy wedding!  And this is something, that no matter what our station in life, we can do.  We can be royally and Divinely wed regardless of whether or not we choose to create life.  In my mind the marriage, the couplehood, the Union of Souls, is prime and children are a secondary blessing of the union.  Yet what a magnificent statement...'the king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future."  My feelings about children are complicated.  I am not a big children person yet I love this notion of life flowing through us.  We are a medium of flow...what a beautiful concept.  Of course much of the world will be coaxing William and Catherine for an "heir and a spare"...even cranky old me, but I hope they are girls, and I hope that William and Catherine will recognize that their daughters are as much as an heir and a spare as boys are and stop at two.  There are quite enough children in the world...both royal and commoner.

"...married in the sight of a generous God"   Curious wording, a generous God.  Almost sounds as though there are numerous gods and this one is generous.   I think generosity understates God.  Grace is a far better concept. 


And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.  A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.   There is a lot to chew here.  First I would have to state "And in the Spirit of the Grace of God, wife and husband are to give themselves to each other."  Husband and wife is patrician and trite, let's mix it up a bit.  Again generosity understates God's love for us...to me it is the Grace of God.  "Love finds it centre beyond ourselves".  I believe in the Divinity of the Soul, yet I agree that the centre of love is beyond ourselves...that thinking conscious ego that appears to be in control.  That centre that is beyond ourselves is actually deeply within ourselves...residing in our Souls. 

"Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul"  Amen!  Capitalize the word Soul and switch the order of a few words, and I would have been proud to be the author of this statement.  I would change that to "the richer our Souls become."  I don't believe we can become richer in soul, because our Souls are Divine, they are already Infinite but I do believe that lying in close proximity our Souls can become richer.  Faithful and committed (with or without a marriage license) to me, the unapologetic monogamist, are absolute requirements.  We can bullshit the world but we can't bullshit God or ourselves, a marriage must be faithful and committed.  If it is not then you simply are not married regardless of the stack of legal documents that we and our lawyers wave around.    

In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.  Delete "are seeking to".  Be there no doubt, marriage, true marriage--not just a piece of paper, brings us into fuller life.

Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art.  I have found this to be true in my marriage.  My wife has civilized me into a decent human being and in that fashion I am her work of art.  I am not sure that my brush has touched her life,  certainly not to the degree that her's has affected mine.  Any credit that can be given to me as a decent and responsible human being can be directly given to my wife.  I would hate to think what I would be without her.

As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.  Another area where there is a lot to chew.  I have said in the past that our culture has secularized sex, and here the Bishop speaks of secularizing marriage.  I think he is absolute right.  We are lonely beings that know we will die.  If we do not recognize the Divinity within us, our Soul, and we do not believe in God, then yes, we are placing on a mere man or woman a very great burden...relieve my anxiety of death and oblivion.  A mere man or woman can not do this.  We are going to die.  If our marriage is only that of a mortal woman and a mortal man then we are in existential deep shit.  Oblivion is but an hour, a day, a year, or a few decades but it is coming as certainly as the sun will rise.  We are all death row prisoners lacking only the luxury or curse of a fixed known date.

But fall in love and you will feel the Divine.  Make love and you will experience the Divine.  Sex is only for reproduction?  Then nature sure as hell chose a curiously inefficient method for us to reproduce.  Sex is the method by which we strip away the arrogance and anxiety of our egos and  touch and experience the Soul of another being and realize there is something far more to this world than birth and death.  That feeling of Oneness with each other, the loss of identity, the rightness of the world is you and your lover experiencing the Divine intermingling of your Souls.  If you don't feel this, if it is just a piece of ass--nothing more than a hookup, if it is just something you do when drunk or high, if all you feel is the throbbing of genitals and not the blazing of your Souls, then you are not doing it right, and ultimately you will fail and the anxiety of death and oblivion remain and you will continue to seek and fail until you discover the Divinity within yourself and your partner.

As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light.  Perhaps stated more specifically than I like, but indeed a truth.  Although in a fashion I find following the example of Jesus Christ to be a curious example.  Jesus, the Man, remained unmarried and as far as we know (and the official orders of Christianity insist) celibate. Personally I doubt Jesus was celibate, I hope he wasn't.  I would have preferred Jesus to have been married and thus provide us an example.  I stray from my point, and that point is that I do believe that as we move towards our partner in love, God's Grace will quicken within us and will increasingly fill our lives with Light which is the recognition of both the Divinity beyond us and within us.  

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.  This is an area within my life that I need much work.  I often lose sight of the forest for the trees, and very much can be stingy with my time, love, and energy.  It is also why I know I haven't fully embraced the faith that I would like to think  I have.  Not faith in the usual evangelistic definition of faith...that is have faith in what we (the evangelists) tell you to believe, but the faith that comes from a journey of seeking God on one's own terms.  If I fully embraced what I think I believe, I would be a far different person, knowing little fear and possessing a great calm.  No, my belief is not yet a faith, but rather a theory.  It needs proven.  When I do prove it, this life or the next, then I will possess little fear and great calm.

A bit of pageantry to inform the rest us

What right do I have to address a duchess and duke?  And yet in my Yankee arrogance I shall.  Catherine and William, I am not royalist.  Despite your lofty Earthly station, I feel no need to bow or curtsy.  You by birth are no better than I.  I do regard you as a Divine sister and brother along with the rest of humanity.  As such it is my profound hope and desire that your marriage has been and will continue to be one of Holy Matrimony.  Am I confused, a doddering old fool that can not keep my dates straight?  Well I am a doddering old fool, but I haven't confused my dates.  Catherine and William you have been married for quite some time now, only you and God know that date, yesterday was just a bit of pageantry to inform the rest us.  While perhaps I am not a royalist, I do believe that royalty has its place both in the United Kingdom and the world.  As such it is my profound hope that your Holy Matrimony will be shining example of what all of us can be...

 who God meant You and Us to be, and that We will set the world on fire!

 
May The Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

God Save The Queen!  Indeed! And May God Save All Of Us.


To Bishop Richard Chartres:  Bravo Sir!  Thank You.  You have given us a magnificent sermon.  May God Bless You!

Image Credit:  

William & Catherine, Reuters

Google Doodle:  SearchEngineWatch.com


4 comments:

  1. Man....you are an analyzer and a deep thinker. Both of which I am not.
    Good post...and no..." I don't hate it".. Good insights. I like the way you broke the homily down and added your own introspective.
    I watched some of the Royal Wedding....I think it was when they were leaving the church and the carriage ride to the Palace and the big kiss on the balcony. OMG ......the throngs of well wishers , people lining the streets ..wow.....big doings down there.
    Well good for them, the Brits need something to cheer about and take their minds off the economic downturn they have suffered thru the past 3 - 4 years.
    With any luck William and Kate will live happily ever after, unlike his parents.

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  2. Thank you for the very kind comment. You have alluded to much in your comment. I was amazed at the throngs. I read an article in the New Yorker recently about crowds and how easy it is for people to get jammed together and suffocate or get trampled. One would think that happens only in a panic, but more often it happens under "normal" circumstances. The throng moves forward and people in the leading edge can get jammed together so tightly that they can not breath. The crowd outside of Buckingham Palace gave me the chills, that was simply unbelievable.

    My feelings on royalty is rather complex. The U.S. of course takes pride in the notion that "all men are created equal". Years ago Nancy Reagan refused to curtsy to the Queen, stating that we fought a war 200 years ago about that sort of thing. Bravo Nancy, I didn't like most of the aristocratic airs that Nancy put on, but I was damned proud of her on that one. We have no classes, ask anyone, regardless if they make $10 thousand or $10 million, they will tell you that they are in the middle class. We know it is bullshit, but that is the ideal. So the big deal about Kate being a commoner rankles me. She is just as valuable of human being as any blue blood, and a hell of lot better looking I might add. So I am anti-royalist American. Yes, but further complicating the matter, I am an Irisher, and you know us Irish, we are supposed to hate the Brits. Well that is the ideal anyhow. Then I think that the bastards burnt down the White House during the War of 1812. But the truth of the matter, I am very fond of Great Britain and the House of Windsor. It is the mother country, the sun never sets on the empire, and somehow when I hear the word queen, I think of Elizabeth, and yes, I regard her as the Queen (even to some degree my queen), and yes I would bow or curtsy or whatever the hell is expected of me, not because I have to--because I don't, and that is important, but just out of respect and some weird fondness for the monarchy.

    Because I am anti-royalist American, I have a great sympathy for royals. They didn't ask for their situation, they were born into it. I believe they have kind of painted themselves into the corner. They have this shaky deal where the monarch is considered God's representative on Earth by the Anglican Church, which was set up by Henry the VII, so he dump one of his wives. In a practical sense they have turned that over to the Archbishop of Canterbury, but the theoretical office still exists. As such they are expected to live in a degree of "morality" that one should not be born into. Yes we can ask the pope to be celibate because we wants to be pope. But I don't think we have the right to demand that Charles stay in an unhappy marriage, or William not to shack up with Kate, just because they are royals. Ain't none of our business, but the poor bastards are often criticized for ideals that most of us will not tolerate in our own lives.

    We are now supposed to call Kate, Catherine. Bullshit! She is Kate, and it is my profound hope that Kate will breathe a breath of fresh air into House of Windsor and turn some of that stale blue blood vibrant red. They are going to live in a 5 room rented house and Kate is going to cook! This is the best thing that has happened to the House of Windsor in a long long time. Don't screw it up William...you have a keeper.

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  3. Wow, this whole post, including the comments was beautiful and thought provoking. I've spent my entire lunch hour reading this, savoring each word more than I did my turkey salad!

    I admire and envy you Sextant because you listen and read and make your own sense of what you see and hear. I'm more of a see it, enjoy it or not enjoy it, then clear it out of my mind so as to not clutter it up while I proceed ahead ready for the next thing to come my way. I wish I were contemplative like you are. I wish that I could hear something like this homily and break it down to have meaning not only for myself but for others who choose to read it. You're an amazing writer and artist. You state that you don't know how much your brush has touched your wife's life...well I know that it's touched mine. You are a true artist of words.

    And my very favorite is that last line. "Don't screw it up William...you have a keeper." Amen!

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  4. Alicia,

    You make me blush, but I think in describing yourself you inversely described me. I am terribly cluttered, stuff flies around in my head like fallen leaves in a wind storm.

    It is my sincere hope that because Kate and William were a couple prior to this wedding, indeed in my estimation already in a union, that Kate will be more than what Diana was a generation before, a virgin vessel to bear the royal brood. Kate is indeed a keeper and if William follows the footsteps of his father, my already low regard for my gender will, I am afraid, will sink into dregs.

    My favorite line is from St. Catherine...

    Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.

    My wife has made me who God meant me to be, or at least a hell of lot closer than what I could have attained on my own.

    Alicia, thank you for your kind words regarding my post. And Alicia...keep searching, make the world a better place.

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