Saturday, 24 November 2007
Hail Redeemer King Divine
Extract from 'Quas Primas'  [Pius XI]
7. It has long been a common custom to give to Christ the metaphorical title of "King," because of the high degree of perfection whereby he excels all creatures. So he is said to reign "in the hearts of men," both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all mankind.
He reigns, too, in the wills of men, for in him the human will was perfectly and entirely obedient to the Holy Will of God, and further by his grace and inspiration he so subjects our free-will as to incite us to the most noble endeavors.
He is King of hearts, too, by reason of his "charity which exceedeth all knowledge." And his mercy and kindness which draw all men to him, for never has it been known, nor will it ever be, that man be loved so much and so universally as Jesus Christ.
But if we ponder this matter more deeply, we cannot but see that the title and the power of King belongs to Christ as man in the strict and proper sense too.
For it is only as man that he may be said to have received from the Father "power and glory and a kingdom," since the Word of God, as consubstantial with the Father, has all things in common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created.8. Do we not read throughout the Scriptures that Christ is the King? He it is that shall come out of Jacob to rule, who has been set by the Father as king over Sion, his holy mount, and shall have the Gentiles for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession. In the nuptial hymn, where the future King of Israel is hailed as a most rich and powerful monarch, we read:
"Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the scepter of thy kingdom is a scepter of righteousness."
There are many similar passages, but there is one in which Christ is even more clearly indicated. Here it is foretold that his kingdom will have no limits, and will be enriched with justice and peace: "in his days shall justice spring up, and abundance of peace...And he shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth."
From The Papal Household Preacher - Fr Raniero Cantalamessa
The solemnity of Christ the King was instituted only recently. It was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in response to the atheist and totalitarian political regimes that denied the rights of God and the Church. The climate in which the feast was born was, for example, that of the Mexican revolution, when many Christians went to their deaths crying out to their last breath, “Long live Christ the King!”
But if the feast is recent, its content and its central idea are not; they are quite ancient and we can say that they were born with Christianity. The phrase “Christ reigns” has its equivalent in the profession of faith: “Jesus is Lord,” which occupies a central place in the preaching of the apostles.
Sunday’s Gospel passage narrates the death of Christ, because it is at that moment that Christ begins to rule over the world. The cross is Christ’s throne. “Above him there was an inscription that read, ‘This is the King of the Jews.'” That which in the intention of his enemies was the justification of his condemnation, was, in the eyes of the heavenly Father, the proclamation of his universal sovereignty.
To see what this feast has to do with us, we need only recall to our minds a very simple distinction. There are two universes, two worlds or cosmoses: the “macrocosm,” which is the whole universe external to us, and the “microcosm,” or the little universe, which is each individual man. The liturgy itself, in the reform that followed Vatican II, felt the need to accent the human and spiritual aspect of the feast over the, so to speak, political aspect of the feast. The prayer of the feast no longer asks, as it once did, “that all the families of nations, now kept apart by the wound of sin, may be brought under the sweet yoke of [Christ’s] rule” but that “every creature, freed from the slavery of sin, serve and praise [Christ] forever.”
Let us consider again the inscription placed above Christ: “This is the King of the Jews.” The onlookers challenged him to manifest his royalty openly and many, even among his friends, expected a spectacular demonstration of his kingship. But he chose only to show his kingship in his solicitousness for one man, who was, in fact, a criminal: “‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied to him, ‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.'"
From this point of view, the most important question to ask on the feast of Christ the King is not whether he reigns in the world but whether he reigns in me; it is not whether his kingship is recognized by states and governments, but whether it is recognized and lived in me.
Is Christ the King and Lord of my life? Who rules in me, who determines the goals and establishes priorities: Christ or someone else? According to St. Paul, there are two ways to live: either for ourselves or for the Lord (Romans 14:7-9). Living “for ourselves” means living like someone who takes himself to be the beginning and the end; it is a life closed in on itself, drawn only by its own satisfaction and glory, without any perspective of eternity. Living “for the Lord,” on the contrary, means living for the Lord, that is, with a view to him, for his glory, for his kingdom.
What we have here is truly a new existence, in the face of which, death itself has lost its definitiveness. The greatest contradiction that man has always experienced -- that between life and death -- has been overcome. The contradiction is no longer between “living” and “dying” but between living “for ourselves” and living “for the Lord.”