Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Marriage is What Brings Us Together Today

Mawwage is what bwings us togeva today.
Mawwage, that bwessed awwangement
that dweam wivin a dweam.

Princess Bride's marriage scene is one that always makes me laugh. I think I like how the priest who is officiating is so lost in the ceremony that he is missing what is so obvious to the audience. It is clear that neither the bride nor the groom desire to be married and what is actually taking place is sham. I think about this because the Archbishop of Cantebury that married Prince Charles and Princess Diana sounded just like the actor on Princess Bride in the wedding scene.

Fast forward to present day. We are now anticipating the royal marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton which is to take place this week. On every station is a reminder of how many days remain before the marriage takes place. However, rather than get caught up in their excitement, I can not help but reminisce upon his mother's wedding day. I was 10 years old when Princess Di, as many of us affectionately referred to her, married her prince. The entire ceremony was broadcast on ever station and I watched it on the television in my living room. As a ten year old, I was transported into a wonderland as I imagined that perhaps there would be a prince for me if royalty still existed in the world.

I watched the horse draw carriage pull up to the large church lined with red carpet and marveled at the sparkling diamond tiara on her head, the veil that covered her face and the long flowing dress with it's yards and yards of material that stretched out behind her as she walked with her father down the aisle towards her prince charming.

The music inspired my mind heavenward, it transported me into the television and I felt that I was in the church with them along with the thousands of others there. The words spoken were of the mystical union of Christ and His Church, of marriage being God given, of children being brought into the marriage and then the Arch Bishop moved onto center stage and asked Prince Charles for his consent to have this woman as his wife and all that the marriage stood for, which of course was to love, comfort and honor her in sickness and health and to forsake all others as long as they both shall live. Only after they both were asked this and then said the words "I will" did the father of Diana take her hand and place it into the Archbishop's hand who then gave it to Prince Charles. What a beautiful gesture it was, I had no idea what it meant. Then the formal vows were made.

The rings were blessed and then exchanged and the words "with this ring, I thee wed". Then, the next vow "with my body, I thee honor and all my worldly goods I share in the Name of the Father, in the name of the Son and in the name of the Holy Spirit, Amen" solidified the vows. How beautiful and fitting to pledge not only their "troth" which is a vow of truthfulness, faithfulness and loyalty of person, but to also pledge their bodies. After all, if we are body and soul, then the marriage vows should include a pledge of both. The trinitarian relationship of God, who is love in it's perfection, sealed the vows. I am picturing in my mind the scene from Cinderella in which the swirls of light surround her and Prince Charming after they are married. I am sure if we could see the spiritual realm, we would see this same thing encircle our bodies upon the exchanging of our marital vows to one another.

I do not remember any of the readings or even what the Archbishop gave for his comments during the marriage. However, I have YouTubed it and I encourage all of you to do the same. For those of you who are interested, I have summarized his words so that we may be reminded that we are all called to be Kings and Queens of love so that through our marriages (even Holy Orders since that is participation in the Celestial Marriage) we can transform ourselves and the world into God's own image.

The Archbishop begins with a commentary on fairytales. How fitting this was since the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana was so much like a fairytale adventure for me. He likened the idea of marriage as being somewhat of an anti-climax since many people who read fairytales see marriage as then end. We grow up thinking of marriage as the "arrival" or the destination upon which everything culminates and then it is finished and the two ride off into the sunset. The words of a fairytale ending are "and they lived happily ever after". This is neither reality nor the truth of what marriage is. The christian view sees the wedding day as the beginning of a two persons lives together and not a place of arrival.

Every bride and groom are a royal couple on their wedding day. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, crowns are held over the heads of the couple being married to express the conviction that as husbands and wives they are Kings and Queens of creation. We are not just robots or puppets, but God has chosen to work through our yes, our lives, our marriages to create the future. We are God's crowning creation and we are sons and daughters of the most high God who is our King, therefore by virtue of our baptism, we are all royalty through our kinship with God.

Marriage is a transformation and a journey where each awakens within the other what never would have been if not for the marriage. In a good marriage, where the two live out their vows and living through the splendor as well as the sorrows this is achieved only through gift of self and the living of ones life for the other. The family is the place where the future is formed in love or formed in deformity. The hope of the world lies within the family and the family will not succeed if love is not present. The call should be to create the world more and more in His image, but the only way that will happen is when we embrace the call to be Kings and Queens of love. The challenge is that whatever burdens we lay upon one another, that it be matched by the love in which we support each other throughout our marriage.

If you do not have time to watch the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, then just listen perhaps you will just listen to the bells of the church on youtube at this link:

When you listen, imagine that this is the sound that is heard in Heaven whenever a soul enters heaven because it represents the celebration of all of the angels and Saints when an immortal soul is united to God forever in union and communion with Him. It is in this light that we begin to catch a glimpse of how beautiful the sacrament of Marriage is. It is not merely a "blessed arrangement" nor is it a "dream within a dream" but it is a union of man and woman pointing us to the truths within the mystery of the divine union between Christ, who is the Bridegroom and with His Church, His Bride (each one of us). When we give ourselves as a free gift of self to one another in marriage, in totality, in a faithful covenant which is open to children then our marriages become a sacrament. Our marriage can be a conduit of grace that helps husband and wife to grow in holiness.

"In this way, sacramental marriage is more than a union of a man and a woman; it is, in fact, a type and symbol of the divine union between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His Church, the Bride. As married Christians, open to the creation of new life and committed to our mutual salvation, we participate not only in God's creative act but in the redemptive act of Christ." Fr. John Hardon

My prayer for Prince William and his new bride, is that he model his life after that of Christ and give himself freely, fully, faithfully and fruitfully to her alone until death and they she receive his gift and open herself fully so that she can embrace her own call to greatness in loving her bridegroom with the love that Mary modeled to the world. I pray that Kate loves her husband, gives her full self to him and that their love brings forth spiritual and physical life to them both.

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