Yesterday was the Solemnity of Christ the King, a fairly new feast for the Church.
The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism, a way of life which leaves God out of man’s thinking and living and organizes his life as if God did not exist. The feast is intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ’s royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations.
Americans, even with our fascination with British Royalty, don’t look at kings the same way as countries with monarchies, but this doesn’t mean that we don’t have our own kings and queens. Elizabeth Scalia wrote a whole book about our idols, which can include everything from money and sex to political figures and Hollywood stars. It’s not about conservative or liberal, Catholic or Protestant – everyone has idols and things they elevate above God in their lives.
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Throughout history, various monarchs have done things that show their subjects that they are like them in some way. During World War II, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret sewed for the war effort with their Girl Guide troop and even had the same clothing rations as other British children:
…On 2nd February 1940, the King and Queen returned to London and the princesses went to Royal Lodge, the family’s comfortable house in Windsor Great Park. The princesses still had to cope with rationing and clothing coupons – the Queen and Queen Mary had a certain number of extra coupons for their official clothes, but the princesses had the usual allocation for children. …
…Windsor Castle was certainly more a fortress than a house. It was very gloomy, as all the paintings had been removed from the walls, the glass chandeliers had been taken down and the state apartments were muffled in dust sheets with their glass fronted cabinets turned to face the walls. It didn’t feel much like a home at first. Low powered light bulbs had been substituted for the usual high powered ones, causing Crawfie to describe it as living in a “sort of underworld”. When air raids started, they all went to the shelter in one of the castle dungeons. Beds and bathrooms were put in and a few home comforts were provided, but walls were reinforced and beetles still scuttled along the floor. The children wore siren suits and slept in the shelter every night when bombing was really bad – a similar experience to many who slept in their Anderson shelters every night, although they probably would have been envious of the princesses’ better bathroom facilities! …
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On Sunday at Mass, I was gazing at our crucifix and pondering these kinds of stories of earthly monarchs who did what they could to relate to people and help people feel like their king (or queen) was just like them.
I thought about how God our King came to us, took on flesh for us. And how He, like no other king, lowered Himself for us. Christ spared Himself no pain, took on unimaginable suffering, and died for me.
My King did not keep Himself from pain or harm. He suffered. He lived like me, only perfectly and without sin. He knows what it’s like to navigate in a crazy, upside down world full of fallen people.
My King loves me so much that He took my punishment willingly to spare me the pain I deserve.
When we are tired and hurt, the Cross gives us a chance to realize that these things don’t happen because God does not love us; after all, He suffered, too. By looking at the Cross, we can see that it’s through these sufferings that our Hope rises up, just as Christ rose on Easter morning. There is darkness before the dawn, but God does not abandon us.
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.