Dreaming About a June Wedding
It was a sultry day, more grey than yellow, the Bride was an ex-patriot Brit, her father an old friend of mine from Cambridge University and before that Durham in the UK , over for the occasion; and the bride, a Cambridge Rowing Blue; a 6’2” inch beauty, and an Olympic finalist, now an International Banker working with BNS here in Toronto. The groom was a second generation Toronto Italian, a C.A, graduate of the old Jesuit School Brebeuf College, and a very bright, kind and gentle man. I wish them ‘ad multos annos’. They asked me to speak, and I hope I did them proud.
Italian weddings go very very long, and this was no exception. They begin at noon and end in the wee hours of the morning. First there is pre-Service, then there is Mass, then a mid-afternoon lubricant which the Bride insisted on being called ‘Tea’, and then off to a multi course dinner, gifts for everyone who attends, singing, dancing, money aplenty for the couple, and lots of expressive affectivity. Everyone gets kissed three times by everyone else. Poor Brenda she has never gotten used to Italian ways, and I saw her wince more than once when one of the old men insisted on his three cheeks. For my part I am used to being kissed by men after all these years, and my close Italian friends like Rocco Rossi kiss me whenever we meet, and I kiss back. It just seems natural, after all I used to kiss my Dad. Alas, the visitors from the UK did their best, but were really not that comfortable. I laughed endless at my friend the Father of the Bride, who did his best to put on a brave face but by the end was kissed out. All in all it was a wonderful day and saw the melding of two very different cultures. Pictures speak a thousand words and the dress of the two families summed it all up. There was the Mother of the Bride, decked out in sensible English and wearing the traditional hat, as did various other women from the UK. The right side of the aisle saw men decked out in tight pants and gold chains, with only the occasional tie and lots and lots of chest hair on display like it was today’s cod piece. I exaggerate of course, but not too much. The bride and groom drove off in a London Taxi, to the chagrin of the Italians who kept wondering when the stretch Limo was going to appear. Weddings and baptisms are left overs of the ancient fertility cults for many people from southern Europe. They do it differently than anything we do in the Anglo world. My youngest is going to a friend’s wedding a few weeks, and he tells me the wedding is already costing over $125k. Baptisms are celebrated equally, with the baby lying in an elevated pram in front of the head table, and money gifts of many hundreds of dollars expected, along with a fancy gift. Then again, they serve a 15 course dinner, dance and then also send you home with a gift. It really is “All together grand’.
Now to what I wanted to write about. The priest who presided over the Wedding Ceremony did a fine job with what he had to work with. But he came out with something that I consider totally uncharitable and outrageous, and I recoiled. He announced that those present who were not Catholic could not receive Communion. My inclination was to stand up and protest. Firstly those present with no belief were not likely to partake anyway, and those Anglicans, United Church People, Presbyterians and others who believe in the Eucharist and the Lords Supper were denied. It is like asking people to dinner and then telling them not to eat the main course. Why the fuss? Most Christians believe that Christ is somehow present in the Eucharist. They differ only in how they explain it philosophically. Catholics explain it by transubstantiation, in with and under the appearances of bread and wine, Lutherans by consubstantiation, present along with the bread and wine, Calvinists say that Christ is ‘virtually’ present in the bread and wine. SO WHAT? None of us are cannibals, we don’t believe we are eating flesh and drinking blood. The sacrament is a symbol but a symbol with a reality, not just an empty sign, but it is open to all. Many members of Toronto’s Oxford and Cambridge Society were present yesterday, and most of them who are Christian are not Catholic. I WAS ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED TO SEE THEM IGNORE THE narrow minded LITTLE PRIEST WHO MEANT WELL, AND PARTAKE IN THE BANQUET TO WHICH THEY WERE INVITED. To the uber orthodox mong you, think not of PJ Skinner, but ask what Jesus Christ would do?
The priest cast a negative shadow on yesterday celebration. But then what is new? I want to believe that the Church just has to catch up to where God is. I say that openly about gay marriage and inter faith communion as I do about many many other things. Words about faith and social justice have little meaning when they isolate and cast asunder so many of Gods children. Lets take a look at what’s in our own eyes, and focus on money laundering inside the Vatican Bank, and less about human sexuality and who takes communion.