Today was the feast of Christ the King for those of us following the vetus ordo calendar. To be honest, it is not a feast I ever really gave any serious consideration to either on the vetus or novus calendars. This year, however, for whatever reason, the feast has merited a bit more of my attention. This post will be a collection of lose thoughts about what we are commemorating today.
I suspect that the annual threefold reading of the Holy Rule might have something to do with the feast’s grabbing my attention as in the Prologue our Holy Patriarch says that those who submit to it take up arms “to battle for Christ the Lord, the true King”; later on in the Rule he mentions the acceptance of good monks from other monasteries because they “all serve one Lord and fight under one King everywhere”; the Kingdom of God is mentioned throughout the Rule, a kingdom that must be fought for.
I must say that for a long time I understood this feast of Christ the King as just an “eschatological” feast, pointing to Chirst’s Parousia, His Second Coming, when He shall come as Judge to “judge the living and the dead and the age by fire” [this ending of quite a few prayers of exorcism has always stuck in my head]. Yet lately I’ve found myself wondering about the “immediate” implications of Chirst’s kingship, of what that means for us while we’re in the world. The Epistle reading today mentions:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For in Him were created all things in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers. All things have been created through and unto Him, and He is before all creatures, and in Him all things hold together. [..]He, Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the first place. For it has pleased [God the Father] that in Him all fullness should dwell […]
The Father has given the Son authority over all Creation. Just as the Father exercises dominion over all creatures, so does the Son now, and not only at some future point in time when history will come to an end. The Offertory text of today – Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for an inheritance and the ends of the earth for Your possession. (Ps 2:8) – seemed to merit the Son asking His Father for the Gentiles, to bring those sheep not of the fold into His flock. While I have prayed Psalm 2 on many occasions, only today, in the context of this particular feast, did I suddenly recall a similar verse. My mind wandered to the temptation of Chirst in the desert by Satan:
Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. (Mt 4:8-9)
Here we have the Father of Lies once again quoting Scripture! Here the Murderer from the beginning tries to usurp the place of God, offering what is not his to give and, irony of ironies, to the one who is already king of all!
Centuries later though, after having convinced Man that he doesn’t exist, he whispers into Man’s ear “There is no God. Look around at the world – take it; it is yours. All you need do is adore yourself.” Turning his back on the true ruler of the world Man places himself in his stead, Man forgets His Law and becomes autonomous in the etymological sense of the word – a law unto himself.
The feast of Christ the King, it seems to me, serves not only to remind us of the King of Kings coming in His glory at the endtimes, but also of the fact that God is active in the world, sustaining it; that He is not the God of the Deists who made everything and then just abandoned Creation; and that He is constantly looking down on the children of men to see if any understand and seek Him. I look around at the state of the world, especially the Western world, at the perverse and abominable laws our formerly Christian countries have passed (and continue to pass, oblivious that they are spiraling in a maddening, suicidal descent into nothingness), laws that even some Catholics foolishly laud, and am reminded of the following admonitions from Scripture:
If you walk in my precepts, and keep my commandments, and do them, I will give you rain in due seasons. And the ground shall bring forth its increase, and the trees shall be filled with fruit. The threshing of your harvest shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land without fear. (Lev 26:3-5)
But if you will not hear me, nor do all my commandments, If you despise my laws, and contemn my judgments so as not to do those things which are appointed by me, and to make void my covenant: I also will do these things to you: I will quickly visit you with poverty, and burning heat, which shall waste your eyes, and consume your lives. You shall sow your seed in vain, which shall be devoured by your enemies. I will set my face against you, and you shall fall down before your enemies, and shall be made subject to them that hate you, you shall flee when no man pursueth you. (Lev 26:14-17)
These are not arbitrary demands from some authoritarian God; they are the admonishments of the One who made us, who made the world, who knows every thing’s nature, and is warning us of what will happen if we go against our nature; in these admonitions we can see that man is an integral part of creation and that sin affects not only himself but creation as a whole . These are the words spoken to the people of Israel when He made covenant with them. The following of God’s Law has not been made void with the New Covenant; if anything, with the bestowing of God’s grace through Christ in the Holy Spirit, we are under an ever greater obligation to keep it, to be faithful, for we are part of the Mystical Bride of Christ. As Catholics, we are a priestly nation that is to intercede on behalf of the current “Gentiles”. It behooves us to help guide our countries, to pray on their behalf, to pray for our leaders that the laws they pass may be just and reflect God’s law and, as such, reflect Christ’s dominion over the earth.
I was reminded recently of some words of Sr. Lucia regarding my country’s future. She warned that if Portugal approved abortion that it would be lost; however, it it didn’t, then it would be saved. While it was approved 10 years ago, I cannot but find the tragedy that befell Portugal this past summer symbolic. In the centenary year of the apparitions of Fatima, apparitions in which the Blessed Mother showed three young children the raging fires of Hell into which unrepentant sinners fall, that Portugal should be ravaged north to south by fires the likes of which none have any memory of. I know that it is not currently a popular opinion to think that God chastises, but I recall the above cited Scripture (and there are more) and the warnings of Our Lady and I cannot help but wonder…
We would do well to remember that Christ is King and we are but stewards of this world. He has given us talents to invest, to make His dominion manifest in this world, and if we ignore this we do so at our own peril.
Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit, Rex Christe, Redemptor!