“This Year of Mercy invites us to discover the core; to return to what is essential. This time of mercy calls us to look at the true Face of Our King, the one that shines out at Easter, to rediscover the youthful, beautiful Face of the Church…” –Pope Francis, close of the Year of Mercy. November 20, 2016
Sunday, November 20th, 2016 will be the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and Living Face of the Father’s Mercy. The Jubilee Year of Mercy will be at an end.
“On that day,” says Pope Francis, “as we seal the Holy Door, we shall be filled, above all, with a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity for having granted us an extraordinary time of grace. We will entrust the life of the Church, all humanity, and the entire cosmos to the Lordship of Christ, asking Him to pour out His mercy upon us like the morning dew, so that everyone may work together to build a brighter future….May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst!”
I would be remiss if I didn’t express gratitude to God for this Year of Mercy and most especially for His incredible, miraculous gift of His Holy Face on the Veil of Manoppello–the Face of all faces–the Face of the Mercy of God! Look at His Face! Look at those eyes filled with mercy and peace! It has been said that His eyes look both like a lion’s and a lamb’s.
This has been a very turbulent year in the world, and the next may become even more turbulent, as the enemies of Christianity wage war against the followers of Christ. It is all the more necessary that we keep our eyes fixed on the Face of the King and the Lamb.
“They will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings, and those who are with Him are called chosen and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14)
So, keep fighting the good fight and keep your eyes on His Holy Face, because…
“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)
“Whoever refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of my justice.” –Our Lord to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul (1146)
On April 11th, Divine Mercy Sunday of 2015, Pope Francis gave a great gift to all the people of the world: Misericordiae Vultus (Merciful Face). The first lines of the document declaring an “Extraordinary Year of Mercy” are both profound and powerful, “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian Faith.” In this beautiful letter (which can be read here) Pope Francis, the servant of the servants of God, extends to all who read it “Grace, Mercy and Peace.”
The Holy Year will open on December 8, 2015, The Solemnity of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, highlighting God’s greatest mercy in the history of mankind. “When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy” by choosing Mary to be the Mother of the Redeemer. The “Holy Doors” of Mercy will be opened beginning in Rome and then in Cathedrals and Co-Cathedrals throughout the world. The Holy Doors “will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope.” The jubilee will close with the liturgical Solemnity of Christ the King, “the living face of God’s mercy” on the 20th of November 2016. “On that day, as we seal the Holy Door, we shall be filled, above all with a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity for having granted us an extraordinary time of grace.”
In the letter Pope Francis invokes the Holy Spirit by praying, “May the Holy Spirit, who guides the steps of believers in co-operating with the work of salvation wrought by Christ, lead the way and support the People of God so that they may contemplate the face of mercy.” This prayer is an echo of the words of Pope St. John Paul II who prayed, ” May the Holy Spirit, which you have granted, bring to maturation your work of salvation, though your Holy Face, which shines forever and ever.” and of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who said, “The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s mercy.”
During this Jubilee Year of Mercy Pope Francis wants us to “Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and his merciful gaze, that we may experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity.” He calls us to be merciful to others and reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as a way of awakening our conscience and enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel so that “we become merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful.” (Lk 6:36)
“Pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year because it represents the journey each of us makes in life.” Pope Francis tells us that Jesus shows us the steps of the pilgrimage to attain out goal: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Lk 6:37-38) Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus asks us to “forgive and give.” “To be instruments of mercy because it was we who first received mercy from God.”
The season of Lent for the Jubilee Year will be a time to meditate on Sacred Scripture “to help rediscover the merciful Face of the Father.” The Pope cites (Hos 11:5) speaking of the unfaithful people of God who deserved a just punishment and anger, in which the prophets speech “reveals the true face of God:”“How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! How can I make you like Admah! How can I treat you like Zeboilim! My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come to destroy.” “Gods anger lasts but a moment, His mercy forever.”
The Holy Father also turns his gaze to the face of Mary, Mother of Mercy and our Mother, “May the sweetness of her countenance watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness.” Pope Francis asks us to address our Merciful Mother in the words of the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen), “a prayer ever ancient and ever new, so that she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes toward us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her Son, Jesus.”
The primary task of the Church, Pope Francis urges us, is to be “a herald of mercy,” “especially at a moment full of great hopes and signs of contradiction, is to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplation of the Face of Christ.”
The Salve Regina or “Hail, Holy Queen”
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears! Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.