DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     November 18, 1999     vol. 10, no. 219


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE

      Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat focuses on Sunday's Feast of Christ the King. The Catholic author G.K. Chesterton said it best, "The right kind of monarchy is one where everybody goes about with the permanent conviction that the king can do no wrong." That would only apply to Christ the King for all other monarchs are fallible. Pat points out that we need to realize that and give our Ruler all the respect and adoration we can as loyal Christians. A King can delegate and Jesus has done just that by delegating His authority in His Vicar of Christ on earth - Pope John Paul II, the 264th successor of Peter. Pat points out that the same allegiance is due His delegate for he comes in the name and by decree of the King. The Kingdom established by Christ is not a democracy, but rather a kingdom where entrance can only be attained through obedience to the King and all He asks, even fighting to the death for our King. That is the gist of Pat's column today, If Christ is King...?

    If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at KnightsCross@aol.com

If Christ is King...?

        "....the chief causes of the difficulties under which mankind was laboring. And We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations." (Pope Pius XI 11 December 1925 Feast of Christ the King; QUAS PRIMAS [On the Feast of Christ the King])

        Almost prophetic words from Pope Pius XI. Truly, we have left the teachings of Christ at the church doors. That His teachings have no place in the workings of our lives nor of politics. In fact, His teachings are even under considerable attack in politics.

        "Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ; and that We promised to do as far as lay in Our power. In the Kingdom of Christ, that is, it seemed to Us that peace could not be more effectually restored nor fixed upon a firmer basis than through the restoration of the Empire of Our Lord. We were led in the meantime to indulge the hope of a brighter future at the sight of a more widespread and keener interest evinced in Christ and his Church, the one Source of Salvation, a sign that men who had formerly spurned the rule of our Redeemer and had exiled themselves from his kingdom were preparing, and even hastening, to return to the duty of obedience." (Ibid)

        Obedience is what we have left behind. What does it mean for us to proclaim Christ the King?

        In the Middle Ages (and even ancient times) to declare loyalty to a king was to enter into a covenant with him. You swore loyalty and faithfulness to him and he swore protection to you (essentially). In doing so, your possessions, your very life, where his when and if he had use of them.

        When a squire was about to be knighted, he not only received a tap on the shoulders from the king's sword (dubbing him a knight of the king), but also a strong blow to his arm, denting his new armor. This was to signify that you swore to take blows in the defense of your king. (This was why the bishop used to slap [lightly] those receiving the sacrament of Confirmation.)

        When you declared so and so your king, you swore to follow him through thick and thin. It didn't matter if you agreed with him or not, whether you liked doing it or not. You remained obedient to him.

        In Shakespeare's "Henry V", we read how his soldiers wished they were anywhere but where they were. But their duty committed them there with him even though they didn't know if he was in the right.

        "...methinks I could not die anywhere so contented as in the King's company; his cause be just and his quarrel honourable.

    That's more than we know.

    Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough, if we know we are the King's subjects: if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the King wipes the crime of it out of us." (Henry V)

        One didn't swear loyalty to their king with a proviso. "I swear loyalty and faithfulness to King So and so, except for..."

        Of course there were good kings and bad. Kind and cruel, generous and covetous. Such is the nature of mankind. "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man" (Mark 7: 21-23)

        We had kings who embodied these vices. Did King Richard the Lion Hearted go to the Holy Lands on Crusade to save the Holy Lands or did he covet glory, power, and wealth? Did even Henry V go to France for right or for greater power and glory? "Cheerly to sea; the signs of war advance: No king of England, if not the king of France." (Henry V)

        But we have a great and glorious King in God. A King who loves and is concerned for us, His subjects and children.

        But swearing loyalty to a king means sacrifice, as does proclaiming Christ the King. "If any one comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build, and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14: 26-33).

        So, just as a loyal and faithful subject of an earthly king places his entire life at his king's disposal, so we too are called to give our entire life to God.

        Pope Pius XI (I believe) was accused of being against democracy. But it seems that he was more concerned with the effect of democracy on the Church, which is sworn to faithfully follow her King. "It was a great joy, a great consolation, that filled Our heart when in the majestic basilica of St. Peter Our decree was acclaimed by an immense multitude with the hymn of thanksgiving, Tu Rex gloriae Christe. We saw men and nations cut off from God, stirring up strife and discord and hurrying along the road to ruin and death, while the Church of God carries on her work of providing food for the spiritual life of men, nurturing and fostering generation after generation of men and women dedicated to Christ, faithful and subject to him in his earthly kingdom, called by him to eternal bliss in the kingdom of heaven." (QUAS PRIMAS (On the Feast of Christ the King; Pius XI)

        Many of today's democracy's had their birth in blood and upheaval. A number of kings lost their head (some literally) in the name of democracy. As a political system, democracy only makes the rule of the people more direct. For even a king ruled, essentially, by the consent of the people he ruled. Many kingdom's changed kings due to civil unrest and strife. In fact, few kings could stand without the support of his people. But the Kingdom of God is not like that.

        "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 [Ephesians 3:9] 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," [Daniel 7: 13-14] since the Word of God, as con-substantial with the Father, has all things in common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created." (Ibid. #7)

        The truth of God cannot be voted on. His commands cannot be debated but must be followed with faithfulness and loyalty. This is what Christ meant when He said "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men" (Mark 7: 6-8).

        The Pharisees didn't hold to God as their King. Rather, they craved the attention of men, to hold to power, prestige, and wealth. Christ, through His Church, gives us a command, but many answer. "Well I disagree" Or, "I will not serve." They claim to follow Christ as their King, but their actions and words betray them as followers of men or themselves.

        Either Christ is your King, or He isn't. There isn't a middle ground, there isn't a "Yes, but..." "The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a King who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.' But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them" (Matthew 22: 2-5)

        So we, today, seem to say the same thing. We hear His word, His commands, His invitation, but we refuse to go. Many make light of it, mock it as for the feeble minded, the weak and ignorant. We make our own lives more important, going off to fulfill our lives (our farm) as we desire or pleasure (our business) as we want without a thought to the promise we made of faithfulness to this King of kings.

        Others even attack those who bring His message, the Pope and Magisterium (ref. Luke 10:16). Mocking and ridiculing them, spreading slander and innuendo. "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people. For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith; but they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men" (2 Timothy 3: 1-9).

        Christ cannot be our King, our Lord, our God unless we are willing to give Him our all. Unless we are willing to deny our very selves, our wants and desires, and follow Him with no reservations.

        He cannot be our King unless we are willing, as we promised at our Confirmation, courageously confess Christ as King and Lord, and confess, especially, the cross which is a stumbling block to some and a foolishness to others (ref. 1 Corinthians 1: 18-25).

        Let us then renew our faith and loyalty to Christ the King with the prayer said by St. Ignatius of Loyola:

          "Take, O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. You have given me all that I am and all that I possess; I surrender it all to You that You may dispose of it according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will have no more to desire."

        Or we can simply pray: "Not my will, but Your will be done."

    Pax Christi, Pat

November 18, 1999       volume 10, no. 219


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