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A Royally Happy Outcome

Looking like the princess that she is, the lovely Catherine Middleton today became the wife of Prince William. It was a wedding that had the attention of people the world over. I watched the beautiful ceremony with my daughters this morning, enjoying the vestiges of Catholicism still quite boldly present, such as the occasional use of Latin, the chanted music, and even the very place they tied the knot, Westminster Abbey, which before the reign of King Henry the VIII,  was a Catholic cathedral .

Despite years of history and the reformation, Catholic footprints haven’t lost their ability to make their presence felt. They still breathe, flowing into the English culture now and again with surprising freshness. “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” These words, first spoken by St. Catherine of Siena, are the Catholic wisdom which the Bishop of London chose to begin his sermon to   the newly married royal couple. Catherine and William were being encouraged to take their wedding vows to heart, and to live a life that would give others strength and hope.

The bishop followed with some good advice such as this:

 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.

I don’t know about you, but I’m praying for these two young people. Like it or not, they are role models. So, what they do does matter for the good of society. If their marriage drags along the disaster path of some of the previous royals, it will undermine the hope of many others that they too, can have a marriage that succeeds. And that is exactly what we don’t need. John Burns, in his New York Times essay, “A Royal Wedding, a Tarnished Crown,” put it this way:

Friday’s ceremony, more than a rite of renewal, is viewed as a step toward saving the monarchy — and a far from certain one, at that — after a quarter of a century in which its foundations have been shaken as never before in modern times, by the soap opera that Charles and Diana’s marriage became as well as the dissolute behavior of many other royals. 

With all the talk of alternative lifestyles, sexual freedom, etc., people still want to know there’s some place in the world with an inviting hearth and a warm home. They still want to see goodness and authentic love. A lot is riding on the happy outcome of this particular marriage. And, with William and Catherine’s previous experience of living together not building up habits of virtue, they’ve got some catching up to do.

Will the trail of selfishness and sorrow repeat itself?  Or will this be a story of the triumph of grace? I hope they can find their way to choose tenderness, which in his book Love and Responsibility, John Paul II defines as “the ability to feel with and for the whole person, to feel even the most deeply hidden spiritual tremors, and always to have in mind the true good of that person.” If Catherine and William are willing to sacrifice for each other in that way, then they’ll be able to enrich the world with a powerful example of a fruitful, beautiful family life, and a royally happy outcome.


Kathleen Woodman is a wife and mother of six girls, a grandmother, and an artist. She is a homeschooling pioneer (home educating since 1985), has taught many natural family planning classes, and has a B.S. in Business Administration.
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  • I have confidence in William and Catherine. I think they’ve learned a lot from the errancy of their elders and are truly committed to each other. My gut tells me this is going to work. Now I wish the Old Lady would change the succession to eliminate Prince Charles and pass the crown directly to William. That’s probably not going to happen, though, and we’ll all have to wait some decades to see William on the throne.

    The Bishop of London was at their wedding? The Catholic Bishop? Wow, I thought the Royals had a big allergy to the Catholic Faith, a legacy of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. William wouldn’t have even been allowed to marry a Catholic, I think. If they invited a Catholic Bishop to give the homily, that’s a real sign of progress.

  • Kathleen Woodman

    No, it was the Anglican Bishop of London, Dr. Richard Chartres, who gave the sermon at William and Catherine’s wedding. Sorry for the mixup.
    It would indeed be progress if a Catholics were no longer discriminated against by the 1701 Act of Settlement. That needs to go.
    Some of the British share your sentiments; they’d rather see the crown skip Prince Charles and land on the head of Prince William.

    The prayer at the end of the sermon the bishop gave, was lovely, too. It was written by the royal couple:

    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.

    I love that they want to help “those who suffer.” That would help to keep them grounded. I imagine Mr. Teresa, a friend of Princess Diana, is praying for them from her post in heaven.

  • The wedding of William and Catherine was one of the most explicitly Christian events televised of all time. With the NY Times estimate of 2.5 Billion watching worldwide (although Nielsen estimates only 23.7M here in the U.S.), the entire event was a celebration of MARRIAGE between one man and one woman. Amidst the beautiful pageantry (a totally fitting metaphor for how marriage should be celebrated, not just on the wedding day but always), and the life-on definitions of what a marriage is by the various declarations throughout the service, to the many invocations and blessings of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost), to the plethora of blessings and invocations of Our Lord Jesus Christ… the world watched with baited breath.

    Those watching, listening and participating included Sir Elton John and his “partner” in their tuxes sitting only yards from the altar. What pastor wouldn’t give his right arm (perhaps literally) to get the world’s most visible homosexual “couple” to sit through a sermon on Christian marriage? And ironically, the Anglican service and The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, presiding did it… although he’s doing nothing to remove practicing homosexual priests and bishops from his community.

    Nonetheless, the gospel went out to do the good that God intends, and for which and about which we may not understand. But the moral drama of the juxtaposition of the parties involved was amazingly and gratuitously vitreous. It was a day filled with all that was good, true and beautiful… and the extreme pageantry a appropriate metaphor for how the world needs to see and understand Christian Marriage.

  • goral

    Christian marriage is intrinsically beautiful. Not even the lofty, royal Rowan can impart more than is already there. As for the Holy Trinity, don’t get your mystical hopes up. The ears that heard those invocations can only associate that with “they took the last train for the coast, the day the music died.”

    In this case, wishful and hopeful thinking can’t hurt.