“As a deer yearns for running streams, so my soul is longing for you, my King and my God. My soul is thirsting for God, the living God, when shall I see Him face to face?” (Ps. 42)
“I would like to ask many of you to think about this: “There will be a day in which I encounter the Lord face to face.” And this is our goal, our encounter. We do not await a time or a place; rather we are going to encounter a person: Jesus. Thus, the problem is not “when” these premonitory signs of the last days will occur, but rather that we find ourselves prepared. It’s also not about knowing “how” these things will happen, but instead “how” we have to act today, in awaiting these things.”–Pope Francis (Angelus Address November 15, 2015)
On the last Sunday of the liturgical year before Advent, November 22, 2015, we celebrate the coming of the King – “The Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe,” the majestic title given by Pope Paul VI in 1969. When referring to this feast day Pope Francis has added seven words, “– and living face of the Father’s Mercy,” in Misericordiae Vultus, the document declaring the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The Feast of Christ the King was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI in response to the world’s increasing secularization. He wrote in Quas Primas:
“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.”
The virtue of Christ’s claim to kingship, which embraces the whole of mankind, as Creator and Redeemer, Pope Pius XI explained, is that societies as well as individuals owe Him obligations as King. Pope Pius XI also asserted the Church’s right to be free from secular authority.
“When we pay honor to the princely dignity of Christ, men will doubtless be reminded that the Church, founded by Christ as a perfect society, has a natural and inalienable right to perfect freedom and immunity from the power of the state; and that in fulfilling the task committed to her by God or teaching, ruling, and guiding to eternal bliss those who belong to the kingdom of Christ, she cannot be subject to any external power.”
This assertion was true and necessary to proclaim in 1925 and even more true and necessary today as the Church’s freedom to govern itself and proclaim the Gospel is seriously threatened. We must also defend and honor the name of our God and King as well, particularly when the name of God is used to carry out barbaric and horrific acts of violence against mankind, made in His Image. As Pope Francis stated in his Angelus address, “to use the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy.” Blasphemy is the greatest sin against the face of God. (Prayers of reparation may be found here.)
The date for the Feast of Christ the King, which was originally set by Pope Pius XI as the Sunday preceding All Saints Day, was moved by Pope Paul VI to the end of the liturgical calendar, the last Sunday preceding Advent, to more perfectly anticipate the “Coming of the King,” and look forward to His coming, that day when we will see our King face to face in hope.
“Hope: this virtue that is so hard to live.” says Pope Francis. “The smallest of the virtues, but the strongest. And our hope has a face: the face of the Risen Lord, who comes “with great power and glory,” and this will manifest his love, crucified and transfigured in the Resurrection. The triumph of Jesus at the end of time will be the triumph of the cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself for love of neighbor, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power, the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals of the world.”
While earthly “kings” may forcibly impose their power over their subjects, Jesus Christ Our King comes to us as a Good Shepherd and Servant of all. Though “All power in Heaven and on earth has been given Him ,” the Almighty King of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega is also our Crucified King. When we turn back to His Face in repentance and love, He “Who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood,” turns His Merciful Face towards us.
We can look forward in hope to His coming again. But He must reign in our minds, in our wills, and in our hearts. We must desire to love and serve Our King, Christ Jesus alone, for “Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen.” (Rv 1:7)
Prayer to Christ the King
O Lord our God, You alone are the Most Holy King and Ruler of all nations.
We pray to You, Lord, in the great expectation of receiving from You, O Divine King, mercy, peace, justice and all good things.
Protect, O Lord our King, our families and the land of our birth.
Guard us we pray Most Faithful One.
Protect us from our enemies and from Your Just Judgment
Forgive us, O Sovereign King, our sins against you.
Jesus, You are a King of Mercy.
We have deserved Your Just Judgment
Have mercy on us, Lord, and forgive us.
We trust in Your Great Mercy.
O most awe-inspiring King, we bow before You and pray;
May Your Reign, Your Kingdom, be recognized on earth.
The Next Solemnity of Christ the King will be at the conclusion of the Jubilee Year November 20, 2016, on the Sunday dedicated to “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe–and living Face of the Father’s Mercy.” (The Face of Mercy, Bull of Indiction–Pope Francis)