Blog Template Theology of the Body: The Royal Wedding...theological notes, etc.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Royal Wedding...theological notes, etc.

The Church of England's Book of Common Prayer (a Protestant liturgical text which, incidentally, is authorized for use by Catholics) explains that William and Kate's wedding will signify to all millions of viewers "the mystery of the union between Christ and His Church." Furthermore, their wedding surrounds "a holy union," intended by God for "mutual and comfort in prosperity and adversity...and the procreation of children." One of my friends points out that it's at such times that the grand institution of monarchy fulfills it's properly evangelical role by providing for occasions which highlight the proper union of culture and sacraments in the lives of royal persons...excellent, excellent point.

Since William and Kate are both baptized, and presumptively suited and disposed, their exchange of vows will constitute an indissoluble sacrament, whereby their souls are really united and marked for one another (oh dear..such public intimacy!) Hardline readers of Apostolicae Curae will rejoice in such fullness of sacramental life on William and Kate's side of the Tiber, but that is another issue for another day. What is interesting is that while the Book of Common Prayer makes much of marriage as a "covenanted" union rather than a sacrament, the Windsors' laudably respectful treatment of the indissolubility of marriage reveals something of a kickback to the old ways; for instance, Edward was ousted for marrying a divorcee, Charles refrained from remarry during Diana's lifetime, and the Queen has expressed reservations about her archbishop's flamboyance on point.

The traditional order of service for Anglican marriages does not require the inclusion of holy communion in the marriage rite. However, the presence or absence of holy communion is quite telling as to the theological leanings of the royal couple; it was Martin Luther who insisted, even before Henry VIII, that Christian marriage should be treated as a civil contract and a creature of the state, ideally enacted outside of church and the Eucharist. Thus the absence of holy communion from this royal wedding might refer to a distinctly bare-bones reading of the Anglicansim which William will one day govern, even more so than the treatment of other issues such as whether there will be lots of candles on the altar (I've heard the Queen doesn't like them) or whether the bride will display bare shoulders in church (ditto).

A rather thorough sampling of some of the invited heads of state is offered here . Pope Benedict is not among them; Muammar Gaddafi, Swaziland's King Mswati, and Mr. Bean, are. It is particularly lovely that Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh will be there. He may be one of the first prelates of Rome to attend a British royal wedding since...June 11, 1509, shortly after Katherine of Aragon arrived in London to wed the Defender of Faith.

The weekday selected for the royal wedding, Friday, would be highly illicit for any other week of the year, since traditionally Fridays are days of penance, fasting, and recollection of Christ's suffering. However, the royal wedding falls on Easter Friday, the Friday following Easter within the eight-day octave of the Resurrection Feast. Thus it's fitting to feast and to marry. Plus, it's gracious to provide for a national three-day weekend.

I really love the traditional selection of music for royal weddings...can't wait to hear William and Kate's selections:

On that note, I'll conclude with the words to a hymn sung at the royal weddings of Prince William's grandparents and great-grandparents, because it's one of my favorites, and because it's so apropos of good royal manners to acknowledge The Sovereign at these events...

Praise My Soul the King of Heaven

Praise my soul the King of Heaven
To His feet thy tribute bring
Ransomed, healed, restored forgiven
Evermore His praises sing
Allelujah! Allelujah!
Praise the Everlasting King.