One of the difficulties about preaching is there is too much to say and too little time to say it. This is especially true of the celebrations that only come around once a year. So for Christ the King on Sunday I spoke about Blessed Miguel Pro and “Viva Christo Rey!” and the need for majestic Catholic worship and the response of thanks and willingness to serve.
What didn’t get said was the reason for the institution of the Feast of Christ the King in the first place. The feast was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism and the rising tide of the sort of democratic political forces that not only proclaimed equal rights for all men, but did so not on the true basis that all are created in the image of God, but on the principles of secular humanism–that men’s equality to one another is the primary virtue on which a new kind of egalitarian society would be created.
The Catholic Church is not against the idea of equality and the essential human dignity of each person, but Pius XI saw the result of communism and the Bolshevik revolution and the rise of different atheistic revolutionary forces which were not simply a call for social equality, but were a secular, atheistic and humanist attempt to make man and the utopian societies they wished to create the summit and goal of history.
In the face of this Pius established the Feast of Christ the King to say boldly, “No matter what great utopian dreams of a great society you have, Christ is the King. No matter what democratic mob rule you bring about, Christ is the King! No matter what atheistic regimes you establish which persecute the church Christ is the King! No matter what humanistic philosophies you teach, what materialistic creeds you endorse, what atheism you teach our children, Christ is the King! No matter what kingdom of death you establish with your prison camps, your hospitals of euthanasia, your experiments on the disabled, your abortion mills and your decadent culture Christ is the King!
This is where the Catholic faith is always at her strongest–not when she conforms to the world, but when she stands up to criticize the world, and this is the sure and certain, slow death of Christianity–when it conforms to the world and simply and silently goes along with the flow.
It is no co incidence that the feast of Bl.Miguel Pro happens at the same time of the year as the splendid feast of Christ the King for Bl. Miguel, like all the saints, in his own way and through his own vocation, illustrates one aspect of the church’s mission and therefore incarnates the whole of the church’s mission. Serving valiantly as a priest in the midst of the cruel Mexican persecution he dies just two years after the feast of Christ the King was established. With his cry of “Viva Christo Rey!” he makes the bold statement with his life that Pius XI meant to have on the lips of all Catholics.
Jesus Christ the King says, “My Kingdom is not of this world” so whenever we see a regime gearing up to create a utopian society a culture where all is controlled to bring about some great new dream or some brave new world, let Catholics shudder for the Catholic Church and Christ the King will most surely be regarded as that worldly regime’s obvious and most virulent enemy. When you see these things take place be prepared for the persecution will most certainly be around the corner. When faced with a monstrous regime and religious persecution every Catholic must be prepared to cry with Bl.Miguel Pro – “Viva Christo Rey!”