This week, we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect of the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Quite frankly, this feast day just couldn’t come at a better time.
Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of the Universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
In December 1922, in the aftermath of World War I, Pope Pius XI wrote that true peace can only be found under the Kingship of Christ as “Prince of Peace.” Then, on December 11, 1925, Pope Pius XI announced this Feast and addressed Christ’s kingship in his encyclical, Quas Primas. One might say that Pope Pius had a prophetic thought that secularism would battle against the Church.
It is possible that the opening of this week’s Collect could be a modified version of the first paragraph of his encyclical. Pope Pius XI wrote that the evils in the world had come because the majority of men had removed Jesus and His law out of their lives, that Jesus and His law had no place in private affairs or in politics. He went on to say that as long as people and states refused to submit to the rule of Jesus, there would be no hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among the nations. He wrote, “In the Kingdom of Christ, 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.”
In the Latin form of the prayer, we find the word instaurare in Latin, meaning to renew or resume. As I thought about it, I realized that it had been a long, long time since the earth was God’s Kingdom and His alone. After the fall in the Garden of Eden, a life of slavery began for humankind. We may not think of sin as something that enslaves us. We only need to ask St. Photini, the woman at the well, about the difference between slavery to sin and freedom.
In the last part of this prayer, we ask that the whole creation (that includes you and me) would render His majesty service and proclaim His praise. St. Photini had it all: five husbands, and perhaps she also had the reputation of being a kept woman. Then Jesus came to town and she found out what freedom really was. She was set free from her former life, free from sin, free from shame, and the first thing she did was to render service to Jesus. To render, or deserviat in Latin, means to to serve zealously. And serve she did. As she proclaimed his praise, she announced to everyone that her newfound friend had set her free. She eventually became a martyr.
There’s just one thing. If we want to be free from the slavery that began at the fall of Adam annd Eve, we must enter into the service of Christ. The funny thing about this service is that it is not about a new slavery, it is authentic freedom. This freedom is what we beseech from God as we begin praying the Mass this weekend.
In his encyclical, Pope Pius XI reminds us that the faithful, by meditating upon these truths, will gain strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. He reminds us that Christ our Lord holds all power in heaven and on earth, and if this power embraces all men, there is not one part of us that is exempt from His empire.
The King “must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.”
Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, let your Kingdom come.
Thank you for praying with me,