Saturday 24 May 2008

Speech by Bishop Erik Norman Svendsen

Speech by Chaplain-in-Ordinary to HM The Queen, Bishop Erik Norman Svendsen

The Wedding of His Royal Highness Prince Joachim and Miss Marie Cavallier on 24 May 2008

Dear Bride and Bridegroom
There is much sweet music and romance about a wedding. It is easy to see and hear. Especially when the wedding takes place on a day in May when everything is turning green, and in the mediaeval Møgeltønder Church with its rich furnishing and interior decorations. But if we open our eyes and listen carefully we discover that much more is at stake.

At the wedding ceremony today, the bride and bridegroom place their entire future lives in each other’s hands. It is all connected to the small word “yes”, in Danish “ja” and in French “oui”, which is to be said in answer to the two questions put to each of you when I ask if “you will take each other in marriage and love and honour each other.”

“Ja/oui”. So short and so simple. For that “yes” is all that the bride and bridegroom have to say to confirm that the two of you will share life together for better or for worse till death do you part. Indeed, it might be appropriate to say “yes please” in order to underline that it is not a matter of course, but a gift you receive from each other, and basically from God.

Every time two persons agree to share life together, it is a matter of a great decision. A decision of saying yes to each other and a decision of repeating that yes every single day. Every single day you must show that you want each other, and show it in both big and small ways. The imagination is the only limit. It does not always have to be put in words. It can be expressed through a glance, a smile, a kiss, or a caress. But of course also through words. A relationship is in crisis if the two persons do not talk, but only shout at each other. So, whether it is in French or Danish, do not forget to say “ja/oui” to each other every day.

Every day you must repeat the yes you have said here today. In new ways every day. This is all married couples’ duty – it is also your duty. But duty must be linked to inclination and wish if it is to be love. For better and for worse there must be an inclination and a wish to stand up for each other, especially when it is needed. The ability to hear the need for a “yes” from the other person decides whether the relationship is renewed every day. If it is not possible to hear the other person’s need for a “yes”, there is a risk that love will gradually fade because there is no real understanding of what the other person needs. By saying “yes” to each other today, you confirm that you wish to share life based on consideration and love.

As two persons who have met each other at a mature age, you have naturally deliberated carefully before deciding to say “yes” to each other in the full light of publicity. Both of you have, in different ways, experienced divorces, and you have been in love with others before you two met. From his former marriage, Prince Joachim has two wonderful sons: Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix, who are also present here today. Your yes to each other also comprises a yes to these two as an important part of your relationship. It applies to you as to many other couples today that when you fall in love at your age, the person you love often has children. Dear Marie Cavallier! You come as the person who can give both an extra hand and an extra smile to the two Princes, especially when they are staying at Schackenborg Manor, which is the home of you and Prince Joachim.

You already share the French language and you both take pleasure in French culture. Indeed, without the French language you might not have reached the close contact that has now brought you to the altar. In future, you will also share Danish language and culture, and Marie Cavallier is busily involved in supplementing that part of her education. In spite of great differences in the way you grew up, you share much in your backgrounds that will contribute to a rich and stimulating life for the two of you. We Danes may not always be very good at appreciating the cultures and languages of other countries. We do like to protect our own and fear that as a very small nation we will have difficulty in competing with large nations. However, that danger is not very great for people who live in such a historically and culturally endowed place as Møgeltønder. Here, Danish language and culture has always been up against the outside world – and managed to survive.

Møgeltønder with Schackenborg Manor in the border area between north and south is a beautiful meeting place for a French-Danish couple and a fine starting point for a life that will take you far and wide, not just in the Kingdom of Denmark, but throughout the world. Your roots are here, and from here your world begins. Therefore, it is particularly appropriate that the wedding today takes place at Møgeltønder Church, which serves both as chapel to Schackenborg Manor and parish church. The 800-year-old church was built to the honour of God and to our benefit, with room for the preaching of the word of God that Jesus spoke and lived, and with room for our greatest happiness and most profound grief. Both aspects are part of human life, and here in God’s house both aspects are seen and interpreted in the light of the love of God in Jesus Christ.

Today on your wedding day the sun is shining “in all its splendour” irrespective of what the weather is like outside. For the sun that shines in God’s house is not the astronomical sun, but Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the “light of life” that shines on our human lives. “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,” says Jesus (St John 8, 12). The light of life which is Jesus himself and which he gives to us is – in contrast to the cold, glaring light that makes us close our eyes – warm and life-giving, and it makes us open our eyes so that we can see both God and each other.

In His image God has made us,
He came here, in flesh and blood;
He accepts ev’n all non-virtuous
lets us in His goodness flood;
He who leaves no one behind,
let Him bring to us His mind.
(The Danish Hymn Book 706, 4)

Of course we know that the sun will not shine in all its splendour every single day, not in an astronomical sense and not in a figurative sense. There will also be grey and sad days, and days that will be difficult to get through for one reason or another. You will not only encounter friendliness and devotion, but probably also envy and meanness. We all experience that at different levels in life. Members of the Royal Family are no exception, on the contrary! Your response to that must be to stand firmly together and robustly ignore much of it.

All you have to do is to take each other’s hand and whisper the words that only the two of you know the meaning of. Like all other lovers you share something which both of you know binds you together. Do not be sparing with these words but give them to each other in order to tell each other that criticism that is not justified must be ignored. Criticism that is justified, however, must be used to help the other person to learn and grow. This is perhaps a married couple’s most important task and it can be accepted in the knowledge that it comes from the person you love and who loves you.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.


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Blogger logansrest said...

An absolutely beautiful message but even more important so very very true! How many couples remember this afterwards?

11:42 pm  

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