The Royal Wedding Homily by Dr. Richard Chartres, Anglican Bishop of London

Prince William, Kate Middleton and The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

I hadn’t planned on watching the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton live, but I’m so very glad I did.

After I get a few hours of sleep, I hope to compose a little something about my thoughts on this most surprisingly sacred event in world history.

Until then, I wanted to share the transcript of Bishop Chartres’ absolutely marvelous homily from this morning’s wedding at Westminster Abbey. (The transcript below is from the official royal wedding Web site.)

It is, quite simply, the best wedding homily I’ve ever heard and among the very best homilies I’ve been blessed to hear on any occasion.

Here is what the bishop said to William and Kate after they exchanged their vows and her brother James gave a beautiful reading from the Book of Romans:

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.

Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.

In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.

William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.

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.

It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.

You have both made your decision today – “I will” – and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.

We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.

Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:

“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon,

Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.”

As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.

As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.

I pray that all of us present and the many millions watching this ceremony and sharing in your joy today, will do everything in our power to support and uphold you in your new life. And I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day:

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.     

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21 thoughts on “The Royal Wedding Homily by Dr. Richard Chartres, Anglican Bishop of London

  1. Cathleen, thanks for posting this!

    • Tom Wingfield

      Never dropped in here before, but similar impressions of the homily led me by. For once, the rescue of the image of God (our truest selves) by the work of Christ is expressed and eloquently related to our lives by someone in church leadership.

      See you again sometime.

  2. It was a beautiful, God-honoring ceremony. I loved the prayer they composed and the heart of service it expressed.

  3. Sarah

    Wow, that is beautiful… So glad so many people were able to hear such a wonderful message of love and hope.

  4. Anthony Gyening-Yeboah

    If this homily does not give humanity a paradigm shift, then I know not what else will do that.

    “We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.”

    This part of this homily is for the whole of humanity.

  5. Jsean P.

    This man is remarkable. His words brought tears to my eyes, as did the couple’s simple prayer. Just stop being haters and…well…the two primo commandments: love God, love one another. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Easy to understand, less easy to do. We have to keep trying. Thanks for the transcript. This is beyond worth saving.

  6. Pingback: Holy Royal Wedding: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” | Reflective Moments

  7. marybeth gardner

    The archbishop’s sermon at the royal wedding was truly a spiritual blessing for all…..not a sermon nor homily. The archbishop makes me proud to be human and gives all of us hope in bringing us to the brink of our true humanity…..in God’s image.

    • Not to get too particular, but he’s the Bishop of London, not the Archbishop. As for whether or not it was a homily or a sermon (or an “address”), apparently those terms are relatively interchangeable now. As someone who recognizes that language evolves, I’ll just let that one go.

  8. Sonny

    Thank you for posting this transcript. I agree with your assessment of the sermon. It was fantastic. God Bless

  9. So great to have a written account of this beautiful service. Hope the press put as much emphasis on the service as the guest list and outfits! Thank you.

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  11. As a Roman Catholic whose parish is St. Catherine of Siena, for the last 15 odd years, roughly, I was taken aback by the Bishop of London’s opening line, in which he quotes her, particularly having the coincidence of being on her feast day. (we had a special Tuscany oriented theme party at our church on Friday night here in Miami)

    It was an outstanding sermon, deep and incisive.

    All the other aspects of the ceremony, in terms of the readings, the opening hymn in honor of the late Princess of Wales and the direction of Most Rev. Rowan Williams were equally excellent.

    May God bless the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they seem such a beautiful couple on so many levels.

    Thank you for posting the homily and corresponding links , it is my first time at this site.

    Lastly, perhaps this link will interest you, if you haven’t already seen it, regarding Prince Harry’s speech and his use of the word “dude”, part of your blog’s title.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1382098/Royal-wedding-speech-Prince-Harry-pays-tribute-Prince-William.html

  12. melinda

    It was wonderful to know that a third of the world`s population heard the name of Jesus and the Word of God (Romans 12)

    Can you maybe explain why the prayer was in the spirit of Jesus Christ and not in the Name of Jesus Christ?
    Regards

  13. Karen Simokat

    Dear Bishop of London Richard Chartres,
    It was a blessing to hear your wonderful homily. It was well worth turning on the Royal Wedding just to hear your sermon. May God bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you.

    An American, Karen Simokat

  14. Caitlyn

    “It is, quite simply, the best wedding homily I’ve ever heard and among the very best homilies I’ve been blessed to hear on any occasion.”

    I wholeheartedly agree. This homily was incredible… honest, authentic… and lingers with me.

    P E A C E
    Cait

  15. nathan

    It is significate that the Bishop defined marriage as it rightly is to be: “Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.” His appeals to life, to birth, to future generations…Sounds like the Bishop might be next to join the Ordinate set up by Pope BXVI for Anglicans to come into full communion with the Catholic Church. Certainly the good Bishop can’t continue on sharing the Christian view of marriage and life and remain in good company with the post-modern Anglican Church.

  16. Paris R

    The wedding of William and Catherine was truly a mystical and deeply spiritual event and the Bishops homily was profound and thrilling. While watching and listening I felt as if this was a collective paradigm shift as well and that it was a privilege and blessing to be a part of it. I KNOW the feelings that I had while it was dark outside and I was watching this event unfold before me. It was unlike any experience I had ever had. Very happy to find this site and read that others shared such a deep experience.

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