Royal Wedding Focuses Attention on Value of Marriage
If you pick up a newspaper or watch TV these days, you are virtually certain to discover that marriage has become a huge topic in the news. The reason, of course, is that Britain’s Prince William, second in line to the throne, is about to marry his fiancée Kate Middleton.
More precisely, I suppose, it is their wedding that is making the news. Almost daily I hear somewhere about the wedding “countdown” – the number of days remaining before the April 29 service in London’s historic Westminster Abbey.
Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will preside at the couple’s wedding ceremony. Also present will be Bishop Richard Chartres of London, said to be a trusted friend of the groom’s father, Prince Charles.
It has been reported widely that Bishop Chartres and Archbishop Williams played roles in the young couple’s marriage preparation, exploring the challenges and meaning of married life in much the way engaged couples so often do in the marriage-preparation programs of our times. It seems, though, that the royal couple’s marriage preparation was conducted in a “confidential” manner.
Archbishop Williams anticipated the royal wedding in his 2010 Christmas Day sermon, expressing his hope that it would refocus society’s attention on the value of marriage. “It is certainly cause for celebration that any couple, let alone this particular couple, should want to embark on the adventure of Christian marriage, because any and every Christian marriage is a sign of hope, since it is a sign and sacrament of God’s own committed love,” the archbishop said.
He proposed that in the year of the royal wedding his society “think through, carefully and imaginatively, why lifelong faithfulness and the mutual surrender of selfishness are such great gifts.”
There are times in marriage “when we may feel stupid or helpless, when we don’t feel we have the energy or resources to forgive and rebuild after a crisis or a quarrel, when we don’t want our freedom limited by the commitments we’ve made to someone else,” Archbishop Williams said. But he added that “many of us will know marriages where something extraordinary has happened because of the persistence of one of the parties, or where faithfulness has survived the tests of severe illness or disability or trauma.”
During the time before their wedding, Prince William and Kate Middleton would have “plenty of inspiration around, more than you might sometimes guess from the chatter of our culture,” the archbishop said in his sermon. He commented:
“We can all share the recognition that without the inspiration of this kind of commitment in marriage, our humanity would be a lot duller and more shallow – and, for the believer, a lot less transparent to the nature of the God who keeps his covenant.”
Prayers — both for William and Kate, and for all who are married – have been posted on the website of the archbishop of Canterbury. One prayer asks God to “look in favor on William and Catherine, and all who are made one in marriage.” The prayer petitions God to “deepen their love and strengthen their wills to keep the promises they will make, that they may continue in lifelong faithfulness to each other.”