Thursday, July 3, 2008
Christ the King, the Social Kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ
The Social Kingship of Christ
From Modernism and its rejection of the social claims of Jesus Christ to relativism and the collapse of Christianity in Europe – Pope Benedict sees the connection. Do the English and Welsh bishops? Their recent decision to abandon three Holy Days of Obligation suggests they are committed to a religious minimalism which makes the fewest possible demands on their declining congregations. Fortunately, the thousands of young folk who annually make the arduous Chartres Pilgrimage as part of the new evangelisation called for by John Paul II think differently. Gino D'Oca introduces the concept of Christ’s Social Kingship and what it means for us today.
“Cujus regni non erit finis” (...of whose kingdom there shall be no end).
We live in an increasingly morally relativist and thus permissive society, one in which all attitudes and lifestyles must be accommodated in the name of liberty, equality and dignity. (However, this ‘dignity’ is false. The foundation of genuine dignity is in fact truth. Through his knowledge of truth man obeys God, and only then can he obtain perfection, the most dignified state possible. If he drifts away from truth, something that is always likely in a climate in which all abominations are tolerated or even embraced, then his ability to obtain perfection is obliterated.) This deluded ‘philosophy’, best termed Modernism, sanctions all the contemporary evils that cry to heaven for vengeance, from capitalist-fuelled materialism to widespread personal immodesty.
Attempting to define Modernism in specific terms is impossible, for error by its very nature is disordered and evolves, in contrast to the timeless and constant qualities of truth. Nonetheless, A. Cavallanti (in Modernismo e Modernisti, Brescia, 1907) describes its core essence as “a morbid state of conscience…that professes manifold ideals, opinions, and tendencies. From time to time these tendencies work out into systems, that are to renew the basis and superstructure of society, politics, philosophy, theology…” The Catholic publicist M. Périn (1815-1905) tells us that the ultimate aim of the modernist is “the ambition to eliminate God from all social life.”
A Modernist mindset
Of course, one need only ask receptive Catholics, even those least doctrinally versed, and they will often respond that this ‘vanquishing of God’ from society is the phenomenon they most strongly associate with our times. Interestingly, Pope St Pius X’s words from 1907 seen even more relevant today: “Modernism leads to atheism and to the annihilation of all religion. The error of Protestantism made the first step on this path; that of Modernism makes the second; atheism makes the next.” (Pascendi Dominici Gregis)
Modernism was born at the French Revolution, since it was then that many of those principles which the Church had rebuked as outrageous, were first unleashed with full force under the motto of “liberty, equality and fraternity”.
How does this slogan manifest itself in reality? Liberty: freedom from any supernatural order, freedom of expression and thought, thus a rejection of Church teachings; equality: a belief that no one religion is true, all are equally valid or invalid; fraternity: the submission to a general consensus that takes into account opinions based solely on these versions of liberty and equality.
Thus the aim of Freemasonry, or those adhering to its principles such as modernists and present-day liberals, was to apply in the social, political and ecclesiastical spheres a rationalist, free-thinking, and subjectivist ideology, eventually resulting in the deification of man, and emancipation from the Church. And therefore it is not surprising that the separation of the Church and state in Catholic lands was the most triumphant accomplishment of those motivated by these masonic ideals.
It was partly in response to the vicious and highly concerted modernist movement, that in 1925 Pope Pius XI published the encyclical Quas Primas to institute a feast to be celebrated by the Universal Church on the last Sunday in October, the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King. His Holiness speaks of the usefulness of feasts: “Man is composed of body and soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God’s teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit for his spiritual life” (Quas Primas, § 21). And then specifically of the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King:
The annual and universal celebration of the feast…will draw attention to the evils which anti-clericalism has brought upon society in drawing men away from Christ, and will also do much to remedy them. While nations insult the beloved name of our Redeemer by suppressing all mention of it in their conferences and parliaments, we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity and power, all the more universally affirm his rights.’
Our Lord Jesus Christ as King
Christ exercised three principal offices during His time on earth; that of teacher, priest and pastor. As teacher, He sought to free mankind from the slavery of its ignorance that persists to the delight of the master of deception, Satan: “He that committeth sin is from the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John, 3: 8). As priest, Our Lord offered Himself on the cross as a true and proper sacrifice to bring about man’s reconciliation with God: “You are not redeemed with corruptible things…But with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter, 1:18-19). Finally, as pastor, that is lawgiver and judge, He showed mankind the right path to salvation, as Pius XI tells us: “Not only do the gospels tell us that he made laws, but they present him to us in the act of making them. Those who keep them show their love for their Divine Master, and he promises that they shall remain in his love” (Quas Primas, § 14). In our recitation of the Nicene Creed we reaffirm our belief in, and obedience to, the eternal Kingdom over which Christ as king exercises this pastoral office, “of whose Kingdom there shall be no end.”
Devotion to Christ as king has been apparent from apostolic times. In the Old Testament, notably in the psalms, (see also the testimony of the prophet Isaias, IX, 6-7), we read the prophesies of the messianic kingship. Whilst even at the Annunciation the royal dignity of Christ is made explicit by the angel: “And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever” (Luke, 1: 32). Likewise as He enters Jerusalem on an ass, that first Palm Sunday, he is received by the disciples as a king; ‘Blessed be the king who cometh in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven, and glory on high’ (Luke, 19: 38). And as His earthy ministry draws to a close, He professes Himself king before Pilate, and stresses the divine nature of His royal office: “My kingdom is not of this world…Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born” (John 18: 36).
In Quas Primas Pius XI provides two reasons why Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly king. The first relates to the hypostatic union, that is the unity of the divine and human natures in the one person of Christ. Through this union He bridges the gap between heaven and earth, a point reiterated by St Augustine: “Lo, thou art far from God, O man, and God is far above man. Between them the God-man placed Himself” (Sermon on the New Testament, LXXXI). Therefore, since Our Lord is God, He is king. However, His empire eclipses all earthly realms formed by man-made constitutions, for He is king of all creation, heaven and earth.
The second reason given is on account of His work of redemption, one which was of course only adequate due to the hypostatic union. By the shedding of His precious blood on Calvary He conquered all souls (1 John 2: 2; 1 Tim. 2: 6 etc). Thus since we were both created and redeemed by Him, we are by right His subjects.
Christ as King in society
A belief in, for want of a less over-used term, a politically correct brand of religious liberty leads men to think that there can and should exist a separation of the Church from any matters of the state. True liberty means the freedom of the soul to seize and adhere to truth. There is nothing at all charitable about telling other religions that they offer another means of salvation. The Holy Ghost does not choose for there to be separated churches and ecclesial communities, it is men that decide such. As St Augustine states regarding separated and heretical Donatists, ‘It [baptism] does not belong to you. That which is yours are your bad sentiments and sacrilegious practices; and that you have the impiety to separate yourselves from us’ (De Baptismo Contra Donatistas). Consequently, only the true Church of Christ, the Roman Church, has the right of say in civil matters. Those who support a politically correct ‘ecumenism’ tend to deny a unity of Church and State because in practice they place all faiths on the same level, and so they declare that no one religion can exert its teachings over another.
Those who deny ecclesiastical authority in civil matters are, to quote St Paul, like the pagans, “a law unto themselves” (Rom. 2: 14-15). And alas it is these men that form our contemporary civil governments, men who dethrone Christ and effectively march under the three-pronged Masonic banner.
One of the worst examples of a civil government having as its foundation a Godless system was the former Soviet Union. And even after its collapse seventeen years ago, the moral degeneration of Russian society continues unabated. The realities of modern Russia are a record abortion rate – five to six per woman; rampant alcoholism; widespread premature death; an AIDS epidemic; terrifying levels of child abuse and prostitution, and ever increasing financial criminality, not to mention crippling poverty.
Pope Pius XI saw the rise of Communism and other regimes of terror, and stressed to the world that Christ alone is the rightful claimant to dominion over our lives, not deluded men:
His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptised persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ…Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society’ (Quas Primas, § 18).
Nowadays, the reality is that believers cannot rely upon civil authorities to uphold satisfactorily the moral law – the present times speak for themselves. Our societies will not be able to continue on this phoney and perilous path which ignores the truth that it is the teaching of Christ alone that is the instrument of world peace and justice; “And all creation being made subject to His dominion He might deliver…a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace” (Preface for the Mass of Christ the King, Traditional Rite).
However, let us not delude ourselves into thinking that all followers of Christ today accept His social kingship. Many Christians are deceived by the subjectivist climate that now prevails, and believe that the Church ought to stay out of political matters, leaving each individual ‘free’ to follow his own code of morality, or even dogma! They ignore the fact that the Church in fulfilling her proper role has from the earliest times had an impact upon every aspect of life, and that faith in its true sense – a complete assent to the revealed truths of God – can only be realised through its being a way of life, or a manner of being in, and thinking about, the world. Evidence of this is the fact that Our Lord did not simply preach moral precepts demanded by God, but actually exercised them. A saint, Pope Pius X, did his utmost to safeguard fallen and weak-willed mankind by exercising the authority of the Church’s Ordinary Magisterium to express doctrinally the fact that a severance of the Church of Christ from civil affairs “is a thesis absolutely false, [and] a most pernicious error…” (Vehementer Nos, 11 February 1906).
Christ as King in our lives
In his encyclical Pius XI also describes how we ought to make Christ king in our own lives. Christ must become king of our thoughts precisely because He is God, and thus truth. In addition not only is He king of our minds, but also of all nature. Consequently, in making Him the king of our will we must also strive to obey the law of God that is inscribed on our hearts, submitting ourselves to His precepts of love and charity. (The author of nature, God, has imprinted and engraved a law into the souls of all His rational creatures permitting them to reject evil and embrace good. See for example Romans, 2: 15.) Evidently the ways of the Kingdom of Christ are not the ways of the world; we call to mind Our Lord’s words when in dialogue with His disciples: “You are not of the world; I chose you out of the world” (John 15: 19).
A rejection of the Social Kingship of Christ by men, including many in the Church, has helped the spirit of atheism to penetrate little by little into all domains. Secularism, which is nothing less than an expression of an atheistic or agnostic belief system, is the order of the day. However we must not forget that to be on Christ’s side means to share with Him in all the opposition and humiliation that He so acceptingly endured: “If we suffer with Him we may also be glorified with Him’ (Rom. 8: 15-17). In defending our stance against modern evils and the insults of the enemies of Christ, we must hold steadfast to the Church’s teachings, which cannot be abstracted from their source, God.
I end with the words of Pius XI, discussing the distressing results of uncrowning Christ:
The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences…we lament them today: the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretence of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin (Quas Primas, § 24).
[Taken from "Mass of Ages" November 2006, The Latin Mass Society's quarterly magazine]