My dear young friend,
I received with great amusement your letter detailing the plans of your
wedding. How often you have told me that things are different in your time, and
how often I remind you that they remain the same.
As with us, you divide the wedding into two parts. First you repair to the
church, there to receive the blessing of God upon the holiest of earthly
sacraments. Then you depart - in grand ceremony – to another place, there to
revel. We do the same, alas, for the same reasons.
We bear the same fault, I fear. We begin the wedding in holiness, and end it
in debauchery. You meet your bride at the altar of God, there to unite by the
most solemn of vows. Then you leave that sacred place quickly, lest you be
reminded of those vows. Your revels are conducted at a safe distance from the
church. There you bring to your bride all the base humor and debauchery you and
your friends can devise. This, you say, is customary. It is a long standing
custom, I fear – you received it from us. I suspect it has not improved with
Consider the folly of our ways. You begin with solemn oaths; then eat and
drink to the accompaniment of the foulest of jests in which fidelity in marriage
is mocked. One minute the vows; the next the sneers. What is your new wife to
think of your fidelity? Should she begin her marriage with a parade of innuendo
which makes clear that no one expects you to be faithful to her? Even if you did
not intend such, does this humor befit the beginning of a marriage? Does it not
more likely plant the seeds of doubt in her mind – and yours?
No marriage can be happy without trust. If she cannot trust you – rightly
or wrongly – she will be miserable. Is any revelry worth that? It saddens me
to see it in my time, and it saddens me to hear of it in yours. Please, do
May I suggest that your guest list contains an omission? You have invited all
of the important people you know. It is pleasing to be born into a family which
is known to the rich and the powerful, is it not? It is even more pleasing when
both bride and groom have that privilege. But all this is a matter of your
birth, not your choice.
You have forgotten to invite Jesus Christ. Whom of your acquaintance is
richer than the one who created all things? Who is higher than the one to whom
all authority is given? Who is more powerful than God himself? Surely this is a
most serious omission.
“But,” you will ask, “how can I do that?” He has instructed you in
this matter. Do you not recall his parable in which the king sent out his
servants to bring in those for the wedding feast? He sought the poor. You have
invited the rich; in due course they will invite you in return. Invite the poor,
so that their Lord and protector may invite you to His banquet.
How you are to do this I know not, for so much is changed in your time. But
surely not that; surely the poor are always with us. There are those of your
acquaintance for whom a meal such as you plan would be a grand feast indeed.
Have you ever known hunger? Those whose bellies gnaw them in the night will
bless your name for this.
Wishing I could attend, I remain,
Isaac the Alchemist