Sunday, June 20, 2010

Reflections on a Royal Wedding

On this centennial Fathers Day, a cheer or two to the future Queen of Sweden, the Crown princess Victoria, for walking down the aisle at her Stockholm wedding yesterday, escorted by her father, King Carl XVI Gustaf. It seems that in ultra-liberal, post-modern Sweden, her action was somewhat controversial. Apparently, even the Lutheran Archbishop who performed the service had earlier rebuked the Princess!

Current custom in Sweden (so I’m told) is for the bride and the groom to walk in together. To be totally honest, personally, I don’t really care all that much how people get down the aisle. For me, what happens at the altar is what matters, although I aprreciate that for many attendees at a wedding the bridal procession may be what they most want to see.

On the other hand, the symbolism of the separate entrances of the bride and the groom - and their corresponding departure together (as in the picture) - does speak effectively to how marriage creates a new family unit from previously separate ones. To whatever extent such traditional rituals reflect the reality we purport to be celebrating, they are an enrichment to the event, and perhaps need to be treasured more than we contemporaries are in the habit of doing.

In its 1963 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Second Vatican Council approvingly cited these words from an earlier, 16th-century reforming council, the Council of Trent: “If any regions use other praiseworthy customs and ceremonies when celebrating the sacrament of Matrimony, the sacred Synod earnestly desires that these by all means be retained.”

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