WHERE DOES ONE begin? Scotland, I suppose. I’ve known Abby since Day One in St Andrews. I was among the number of poor souls who were foolish enough to participate in the ‘overseas orientation’ for non-UK/RoI students. Through pure chance, a group of us who sat down to dinner in Andrew Melville Hall that night decided to venture into town that evening and see what was what. We went to the Central, which became my regular for a very long time, until replaced by the Russell for my tertian and magistrand years. Jon I met just over a year later, during his first few weeks at St Andrews (as I entered my second year). It was at the Catholic Society and he told me he came from Bristol. I was fairly ignorant of Bristol other than that it is home to the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum. I asked Jon about the museum and his answer was such as to confirm that he and I were on the same page of the book, so to speak. He didn’t come much to Canmore at the start and so we were not instant friends, though I do recall running into him in the corridor of New Hall at 2 or 3 in the morning one night and striking up a brief conversation (most likely telling him he ought to be coming to Canmore, since like-minded folk are a dime a dozen there).
Anyhow, by some time or another we were all best of friends, and both Jon and Abby have been the source of (and butt of) so many of the great amusements we enjoyed at St Andrews. Good God, how many laughs! In Canmore, the Cellar Bar, the Central, the Russell, in flats, in Edinburgh, in Rome, in Dublin, in New York, and most recently in California, whenever one is with Jon and Abby there is always a good time to be had, and an appropriately inappropriate comment to relish. I have picked up the habit of simply saying “ledge” (that is, short for “legend”) every time I utter the name of Jon Burke. Abby once desired that I verbally express precisely what it was that makes Jon such a legend, but all I could say was that it was of the same nature as the Sacraments in Eastern theology: appreciated, nourishing, and clung-to, but ultimately a mystery.
It was California then, which was host to our latest adventure, namely the joining in matrimony of Miss Abigail Hesser and Mr. Jonathan Burke. I flew in on Wednesday and upon checking in at the hotel, the desk clerk handed me a written message from Jon: “We’re in the bar, free cocktails!” The wonderful rehearsal dinner was the next evening, and I was privileged to have the best seat in the house, with Fr. E and Mrs. Hesser on my left and Abigail and Jon on my right. But Friday… Friday was the wedding!
The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in the Californian capital of Sacramento has been renovated over the past few years and was in tip-top shape for the Hesser-Burke nuptials.
A number of us were gathered outside…
…while preparations continued within.
Finally, it was time.
A proud Mr. Hesser escorts his eldest daughter down the aisle.
Fr. Emerson gave a fitting exhortation on the nature of holy matrimony and its importance and relevance.
And then, the rings were exchanged, the vows made, and Jon and Abby became Mr. & Mrs. J.G. Burke.
After the nuptials, a sung Mass in the Tridentine rite, with full choir, followed (with the kind permission of the Bishop of Sacramento).
It was a lovely day for a wedding.
Och aye! Mr. Moore, Snr.
Then, to the reception.
Mr. and Mrs. Burke arrive.
After dinner, the first dance.
And then the happy couple were off to spend the next two evenings in Napa Valley.
Our good selves, meanwhile, went straight to the bar.
Ana tried on her father’s waistcoat.
This was the last photo of the evening, or morning, since it was about 3:00am. Strangely, the camera managed to capture the blurriness. Adrian and Ellie and I remained, speaking to the Swiss-French bartender Michel in our bastardized French (or my bastardized French and Adrian’s capable French). We learnt that in la Francophonie, a gin and tonic is called un gin et tonique. Fopps.
I paid a price for drinking all that gin the next morning, when I awoke with a splitting headache, though luckily an only mildly disturbed stomach. (Those who remember my last almighty boozer will recall that it was my last and ever shall be). Thanks heavens for Uncle Bob, who drove us back into Sacramento the long way, down the banks of the Sacramento river with the windows down and the fresh air reinvigorating us along the way.
I am afraid, dear reader, that I have not even tried to impart to you the true maginificance of this occasion, for any such attempt was bound to result in failure. Looking back, it was a heavenly occasion. To be witness to the nuptials of good friends, and then to receive the Blessed Sacrament, in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, in the City of the Blessed Sacrament, on the River of the Blessed Sacrament, one is struck by the portents of things to come, and to look forward to the day when our earthly banquets, at which the bonds of friendship and amity are continually strengthened, are replaced by that heavenly banquet when, by God’s grace, true communion with Christ will be obtained. And surely that is the very purpose of marriage: another gift of God for the forgiveness of sins, the cultivation of sanctity, and the salvation of souls.
May God bless Jon and Abby and grant them many happy, healthy, and holy years to come.