Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Sash Without a Country

Sorry, All,

I inadvertently left out two key words in composing the final sentence of my post a moment ago: "in France."  It is in France that I recall seeing those bright red sashes at all the civil ceremonies preceding the church ones.  And yes, as it happens, I've been to a surprising number of these civil, followed by ecclesial, French weddings!  (Probably around ten.)

Incidentally, one of those French weddings was an "interfaith" wedding between one of my oldest and closest friends, who is American and secularly Jewish, and his fiancee, who is French and more or less secularly Catholic.  The ecclesial service, at which I read, was a rather awkward affair in the half-heartedness with which Rabbi, Priest, bride, groom, and most of their families recited the liturgical texts -- so much so that I rather wished they'd not involved Temple or Church in the event at all.  (Not that I had or should have had a say in any of this.)  The civil ceremony, for its part, in this case seemed much more dignified than the "religious" one, if for no other reason than that there was no pretense involved.  (And the sash was very impressive!) 

Intriguingly, my other best friend, who also is American and Jewish but in this case actively practices his faith, also took part in an interfaith wedding this past summer, with his practicing Episcopalian fiancee.  It was officiated jointly by my friend's Israeli Rabbi and his fiancee's mother, who is an Episcopal priest.  The earnestness with which all parties in this case approached their appointed tasks, and the eagerly, even anxiously helpful efforts each officient made at explaining the meanings and histories and traditions of all liturgical elements contributed by each to this beautiful ceremony, were profoundly moving.  God felt to be Present at this beautiful wedding with a fullness I've but rarely observed.  The civil ceremony, by contrast, was altogether bureaucratic. 

And there, perhaps, you have in a nutshell the difference between church/state wedding ceremonies in pluralistic America and long-monistic France.

Thanks again for listening,



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