Friday, April 07, 2006

My (Friend’s) Big Fat (Calvinist) Wedding



On Lady Day, Mrs Paulinus and our children were privileged to attend the happy event of my friend’s wedding in a Church of Scotland place of worship. Needless to say that on such a solemn and joyous occasion there were a few things that struck me.

The first was how awesome Christian vows of marriage are – what an incredible stretching of the human spirit, beyond the mawkishly emotional are the commitments that Christians make to each other in the Sacrament of Marriage. There is a very real martyrdom here, especially in an age when marriage is becoming less common. I am not ashamed to say that when I hear the marriage vows spoken (whether within or without a Church) I cannot help feeling a tear pricking my eye (probably at the enormity of the task placed before anyone who marries). I take the chance to renew my own commitment whenever I hear those words.

The other thoughts that went through my head in this Calvinist temple were the clear differences between a Catholic Church and a non-Catholic Church. Paulinus Minor Major took one look around and said “Where are the candles? Where are the statues?”

Where indeed, dear boy?

More importantly I always have the feeling of a metaphorical hole where the Real Presence of Christ should be. There is that feeling of emptiness that Waugh describes when relating the removal of the Sacrament fro m Brideshead in the latter pages of Brideshead Revisited. Interestingly in old (i.e. pre-Reformation) Anglican Churches, the feeling is not so marked. There is always the feeling that here the Old Mass WAS celebrated and before Henry’s men got to work Christ lived among men here.

There were two very positive notes about the liturgy of the Kirk. Boy, can these Proddies sing! I haven’t belted out “Now Thank We All Our God” like that since I don’t know when. Finally, when the Our Father was said there was a care taken over the words of Our Lord that puts us to shame in our speedy renditions (hopefully) in our desire to get to Communion.

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