In just a few days, the Church will celebrate the feast of Christ the King.
I never used to be good at remembering feast days or even knowing about them before they happened, but now it’s kind of my job — which has been a huge blessing for my own personal prayer life. I have to look ahead in the Church’s calendar to make plans for feast days and the novenas my husband & I will discern to pray in our ministry. Doing this has made me that much more prepared to fully celebrate the feasts – and that has made a world of difference for me.
So as the Feast of Christ the King approaches, I’ve been thinking about what it truly means to me, today — that Christ is my King.
My husband and I have prayed a lot of novenas, and most of them are usually oriented towards praying for some very specific intentions — like looking for a job, praying for better health, praying for a spouse, or for peace and an end to abortion. Those are very specific intentions, and we’ve invoked special patron saints for each of them.
The Christ the King Novena, on the other hand, is a little different.
Instead of praying for some outward change, the novena is much more focused on praying that God may work within us – within our hearts, our minds, and our bodies as our King. It’s about recognizing Him as our leader, and renewing our efforts to solely rely on Him.
We have three tasks as Catholics, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: to know our Catholic faith (CCC 429), to live our Catholic faith (CCC 2472), and to spread our Catholic faith (CCC 905).
Essentially, we want God to reign supreme around the world — for all nations and all people to recognize Him as the King. To do that, we have to first recognize that ourselves — and I mean to truly recognize it, so that He may permeate every part of our lives, and so that every breath, every word and every action done glorifies Him.
This novena may be a little hard to get excited about, because it’s a prayer that sort of requires putting our own desires and wants on the side, and submitting to God; asking Him, instead, to show us what He wills in our lives, and then allowing Him to work.
St. Josemaria Escriva once asked, “How would we reply if He asked us: “How do you go about letting me reign in you?”
In other words, are we truly living our lives recognizing Him as our King? Do we obey Him? Do we seek out His will in our lives? Do we share His commandments with others?
Or how about this — picture a throne in your heart. Are you sitting there, or is God?
As we get closer to the start of a new Liturgical year, this is the time to ask ourselves those questions. Just as many people make new year’s resolutions, this is a good time to make some new (Liturgical) year’s resolutions — that we may re-order our lives to glorify our King.
The Feast of Christ the King was actually created in 1925 during a time when the world was becoming increasingly nationalistic and secular. Governments were claiming more and more allegiance from their citizens and attempting to replace God. Pope Pius XI created the feast day, then, to help the faithful remember that allegiance to Christ is above any allegiance to government of a nation; that He is the King of Kings.
Pope Pius XI wrote about the significance of this feast in his encyclical Quas Primas (In the First). He said that the evil in the world was, “due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives.” As long as people refused to submit to God’s rule, he wrote, there would be no true, hopeful prospect of peace.
What Pope Pius XI wrote back in 1925 still rings true today.
Too many people don’t know Jesus Christ today. Too many people think they know Him, and say they don’t want Him to reign over them. They don’t like His teachings, or more accurately, what they know about them.
So we must show the world who Jesus Christ really is! We must bring Him to the people around us, and introduce Him — in our words and maybe more importantly, by our actions. We must show them His beauty, His love, His passion and mercy.
Our efforts to do that, though, no matter how great, would be hollow if we did not first give our hearts to God completely — because for Him to overflow in our actions with others, He must first overflow within us.
If we really want others to believe in Christ the King, we must show them how He reigns in our lives — and the fruit of His reign.
St. Josemaria Escriva said, “If we let Christ reign in our soul, we will not become authoritarian. Rather, we will serve everyone.”
This is exactly our calling and task here in this world: to make the Kingdom of Christ a reality, and to serve. We have to remember Christ’s Kingdom is not just a figure of speech — Jesus Christ is alive today, and He reigns.
Which brings me to this: the feast day of Christ the King is just a few days. I want to challenge you to do something — I’ll do it too; pick something in your life (maybe something that you like having control over). Take that, and ask God to reign in that area of your life — for Him to come first, for your will to be aligned to His. Pray that He will reign, truly, within you (not that you will live, but that He will live).
Need some ideas?
How about your finances? Ask Christ to reign within you with how you spend your money and with how you tithe.
How about your fertility? Ask Christ to reign within you and your spouse as you discern your call to be open to life.
How about your vocation? Ask Christ to reign within you in your vocation.
How about your politics? Ask Christ to reign within you in your political ideology.
Christ should reign first and foremost in our soul, and He cannot reign supreme within us if we don’t will that ourselves — and pray for it.
Remember this question: “How would we reply if He asked us: “How do you go about letting me reign in you?”
How would you answer?