This afternoon, I was rather enjoying myself as I sat, in the shade, by the Harbour, on what has to be one of the most beautiful days in history.
God and I had a good chat. I told him I loved but could He be a little quicker about the things I’d asked for? He told me He was the King of the universe who delights in giving good gifts – in His perfect timing, not mine. So it was pretty normal conversation for us.
Then I prayed the Rosary and was amazed (again!) at how much this prayer is all about Jesus.
But my favourite bit was when a bride and groom appeared to take their wedding photos. I’ve always loved weddings (shocking, I know). I watched as they took photos, and the groom hovered around his bride, holding her dress and directing her where to go so she wouldn’t damage that gorgeous, pouffy dress.
At every wedding there are in fact two “Ones”: the husband and the dress. How many times have we seen it happen? A woman tries so many, gets frustrated, sobs to her best friends, pigs out on some chocolate, drives everyone around her insane until, suddenly, the music changes, the lights go dim and the world goes quiet and that bride-to-be just knows she has found The One.
The One Dress she is going to walk down that aisle.
It’s the stuff of dreams.
But as soon as the bride walks down that aisle, that dress also becomes the groom’s responsibility. He was the one who was holding it up, protecting it from the dirt and the sand, navigating along the treacherous Harbour foreshore. It was like he had been given one sacred task and by george, he’d do it. He would protect that precious dress and keep it as spotless, sequinned and poufy as the day it left the shop.
He was almost Gollum-like in his determination and skill.
“We will take you on safe paths through the mist. Come, hobbits, come… the way through the marshes. Orcs don’t use it. Orcs don’t know it. They go round for miles and miles…”
But all of that got me thinking about what a wedding is supposed to represent, and the deeper symbolic meaning behind this almost manic obsession with having the best dress and keeping it spotless.
In Scripture, white robes represent purity and holiness. When Christ is transfigured on the Mountain, “his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them.” (Mark 9:2) And appropriately too, because
“White was the color of the vestments in the Old Testament. It was the color of the veil which divided the sanctuary. It was the attire of the high priest. It was the color of festivity (Eccles. 9:8), and of triumph (Apoc. 6:2), and a symbol of glory and majesty (Matt. 28:3).” (Archbishop Fulton Sheen, These Are The Sacraments, p. 21)
When we are baptised, we symbolically receive a white robe and the priest says,
“You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. Receive this baptismal garment and bring it unstained to the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ so that you may have everlasting life.”
Our white dress then, is a symbol of holiness and purity. Thankfully, it’s just that: a symbol. We don’t actually have a dress that we have to keep clean. That would make me a little paranoid, and let’s be honest, makes Jesus sound like a killjoy.
But it shows me just how concerned Jesus is for my purity, my integrity – my holiness and wholeness. He wants me to be complete, to be pure, to be to be spotless and radiant and beautiful. Not on the outside, but on the inside, in the core of my being. That’s how much He loves me. He supports me and guides me, He warns me against the filth of sin and empowers me to take another path.
He doesn’t do it because He’s some antsy control-freak kill-joy with a serious OCD issue but because He loves us.
Like a groom hovering around His bride, so Christ attends to us, serving us, loving us and giving Himself up for us.
“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Eph 5:25-27)
And the care that groom took to keep his brand new wife’s dress clean and spotless is nothing to the care that Christ takes with us, that we “may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness and which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Php 1:10-11)
The most beautiful, spotless dress for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.