Five years ago tonight, I was sitting in my pyjamas, with a slice of chocolate cake and a glass of champagne, watching the Royal Wedding.
It was beautiful. It was sublime. It was simply perfect. Kate totally stole my future husband (there’s always Harry, I suppose) and my ideas for a dress (lace sleeves are a must!), but I can forgive her because she was a perfect princess that day!
In fact, there was something hallowed about that whole day.
The Royal Wedding fell on the feast day of St Catherine of Siena. This is no coincidence. The Duchess of Cambridge’s confirmation saint is St Catherine of Siena and the homily during the ceremony, broadcast to millions, began with her words:
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.
I think God wants to do something special with this royal couple, particularly with Catherine.
Marriage today is brutally under attack and while we’re all happy to be swept up in the romance of the moment, people increasingly believe that marriage cannot last. You can’t actually be faithful to one man or one woman your whole life. Weddings might be all the rage but marriage, as Pope Francis, is out of fashion.
Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion. Is it out of fashion? In a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘forever’, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, I ask you to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you are incapable of true love. (Pope Francis, Address to World Youth Day volunteers, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 28th, 2013)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have the potential to do so much good.
This is why we need to pray for their conversion.
By this, I don’t mean that they have no faith in God or are horrible, selfish people. I mean the kind of conversion we’re all called to, whether we’re a murderer or a monk. This is the conversion of turning out hearts back to the God who loves us and gives us Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. He wants to do mighty things in this world, if only we have the courage and audacity to ask for them.
So pray for the conversion of William and Kate. Ask for the intercession of St Catherine of Siena. She told the pope off and made him return home to his duties in Rome so she has no qualms in dealing with the rich and powerful. Pray that her intercession would set a fire in our midst.
Maybe pray too for the intercession of another royal Kate, Catherine of Aragon who suffered so much for the truth and dignity of marriage as a God-given covenant. The breakdown of one marriage through the sins of one man managed to bring the Protestant Reformation to England. Imagine what one marriage could do?
If one person, being who they are meant to be in God’s grace, can set the world aflame, imagine what one holy marriage could do!
So pray, above all, for all marriages. As the Anglican bishop of London said in his homily,
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.
We need holy marriages, both in our ordinary lives and in the public eye. We need men and women to live the royal truth of marriage: to love each other in good times and bad, as kings and queens in the new creation, co-operating with the Lord of Life to bring forth new life into this world.
We need truly royal marriages.