Saturday, October 25, 2008

1st Vespers of Christus Rex

On my way home, I had the sudden inspiration to stop off at the church at Highgate, which has a proper and fitting perpetual adoration chapel: and there, before Our Lord in His Sacrament, I said 1st Vespers of Christ the King.

Christus vincit!  Christus regnat!  Christus imperat!

There are many versions of the Laudes Regiæ (e.g. EWTN's); here is another - while it prays for the Pope and Ordinary, in the main it is a joyful act of worship of Christ as our King:

Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.
Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.
Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.

Exaudi, Christe,
Domino nostro N. a Deo decreto summo Pontifici et universali Papæ: vita.
Exaudi, Christe,
Episcopo N. et omni clero sibi commisso: pax, vita et salus æterna.

Christe, Fili Dei vivi, Tu illum adiuva
Jesu, Fili David, Tu illum adiuva
Salvator mundi, tu illum adjuva.
Redemptor mundi, tu illum adjuva.
Sancte N., tu illum adjuva.
Sancte N., tu illum adjuva.
Sancte N., tu illum adjuva.

Rex regum, Christus vincit.
Rex noster, Christus vincit.
Pax nostra, Christus vincit.
Salus nostra, Christus vincit.
Spes nostra, Christus vincit.
Gloria nostra, Christus vincit.
Misericordia nostra, Christus vincit.
Auxilium nostrum, Christus vincit.
Fortitudo nostra, Christus vincit.
Liberatio et redemptio nostra, Christus vincit.
Victoria nostra, Christus vincit.
Arma nostra invictissima, Christus vincit.
Murus noster inexpugnabilis, Christus vincit.
Lux, via, et vita nostra, Christus vincit.

Ipsi soli imperium, gloria et potestas per immortalia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Ipsi soli virtus, fortitudo et victoria per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Ipsi soli honor, laus et jubilatio per infinita saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Christe, audi nos! Christe, audi nos! Christe, audi nos!

Kyrie eleison! Christe eleison! Kyrie eleison!

Feliciter! Feliciter! Feliciter!

Tempora bona habeas. Tempora bona habeas. Tempora bona habeas.

Te pastorem Deus elegit.
In ista sede Deus conservet.
Annos vitæ Deus multiplicet. Amen.
Hunc diem Multos annos.

Multos annos. Amen.

Here is something I had long forgotten I had:


The 23rd November in some places (USA, Mexico, Society of Jesus, etc.) is the feast of Bl Miguel Pro, Jesuit martyr (†1927), who was executed by firing squad during the Mexican Persecution, whose last words were ¡Viva Cristo Rey! 

A few years ago, while I was doing the Thirty Days' Retreat, for Mass on this day an old eccentric Jesuit came to the altar in gold vestments, and announced that “It’s the feast of Bl Miguel Pro, priest and martyr, and I’m celebrating a Votive Mass of Christ the King!”

The Mexican Catholics’ rallying cry while under persecution was significantly enough ¡Viva Cristo Rey! - they knew that the Kingdom of Christ was stronger than the kingdom of Satan.

This is what this feast is about: “Thy kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  Remember always: God's Kingdom will come, whether we want it to or not: so it behooves us to bend our stubborn hearts to agree with this ineluctable truth!  

Christ is a king: He is King, Priest, and God - cf. Ps 109.  In iconography He is the Παντοκρατορ, the Ruler of everything. In Latin art one sees the Majestas Domini, the Majesty of the Lord.

This, then, is the Feast of Christ the King, our King, or as I prefer to call it, Christus Rex.  I love this feast and have so much to say about it – my heart swells! 

This feast “crowns the year” (cf Pss), as it comes toward the end of the liturgical year and sums it up.

The Church sings at Vespers of the 23rd of December:

O Emmanuel, Rex & Legifer noster, Expectatio Gentium & Salvator earum, veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.

(Christ, you are God with us, our King, our Lawgiver, the Hope of all nations and their Saviour, come to save us, Lord our God.)

The Old Testament and even the customs of all nations were a preparation for the Gospel: it is noteworthy that one image of kingship was that of the Shepherd.  Consider the following: Ps 2; Ps 44 – royal epithalamium (wedding song) foreshadowing the Incarnation; Ps 71 – the reign of the everlasting King; Pss 95ff – the Royal Psalms; Ps 109 – the Christ (Messiah) is king and priest; Ps 144.

Consider the whole year of salvation as reminding us that Christ is King:
  • Advent – the coming of our king.
  • Christmas – our King is born for us: Nobis natus, nobis datus
  • Epiphany – Christ is revealed as king: “and falling down they adored Him”. We come seeking Him Who is born king of the Jews. The Magi return by a different way… They learn Who is king. Already Herod misunderstands, and his kingdom is drenched in innocent blood. Always this happens!  (Contrast Christ as a good king with Herod, that false usurper and evil tyrant.)
  • Palm Sunday: Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit, Rex Christe, Redemptor.
  • But then… Vexilla Regis prodeunt. Crucify him! We have no king but Cæsar! 
  • Before Pilate (Jn 18:33-37; cf. Omnis potestas a Deo sunt (Rom)), Our Lord solemnly confesses: I Am a king...
  • He reigns on His Cross: Dicite in nationibus quia Dns regnavit a ligno. – Regnavit a ligno Deus! (cf Ps 95)
  • His triumphant Resurrection & Ascension.
  • His session ad dexteram Patris – "He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet".
  • Rev 1:5-8 He is King of kings, he made us kings & priests, all shall see him, Alpha et Omega, upon His triumphant Return, the Return “in dread majesty to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire” (Fr Oppenheimer’s sermon from 1994/5).
  •  His sovereignty eternal, all shall bow to him (Dan 7:13-14; cf. Irish hymn Sancti venite).  "And of his kingdom there shall be no end." - "If thou should hear that Christ’s kingdom hath an end, then hate this heresy" (St Cyril of Jerusalem).
Until His Return, He reigns in the Church, in men’s hearts, even in society.  A church is aptly named a Basilica – the king’s house.  The Church is as much a visible society as the Republic of Venice or the Kingdom of France (Bellarmine).

This feast was instituted by Pius XI (Quas primas) to combat laicism, the privatization and consequent melting away of religion.  Religion is a duty of justice, for the State as well as the individual.  While Constantine, however imperfectly, brought in the Christian state, lasting down through the Middle Ages, owing to the rise of secularism the attempt has been made to have Christ banished, as it were, from the public sphere.   

We must fight for the social reign of Christ the King, that even now, as sings the Preface of the Mass, we may have some foretaste of His definitive reign, “a kingdom of justice, love and peace”.

We must fight for the truth: there is a duty of legislating in accord with Christian norms and natural law. (Cf. Vatican directives for Catholic politicians: no private morality vs public expediency.)  Both the Australian and Irish Constitutions invoke God explicitly.  Still even nowadays, there are chaplains for Parliament, and prayers there, and Red Masses for lawyers and judges.

Examples of politicians bad and good:
  • Cardinal Wolsey – If I had served my God as well as I served my king, I would not die like this.
  • St Thomas More – I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.
Ask God that we may be better subjects of his, and truly let Christ reign in us (for he must reign first in us – take the beam out of our own eye first!), and work to extend his kingdom in the world, for thus we will fulfil our baptismal vows, rejecting the world, the flesh and the devil, and bringing Christ into everything.

"Open wide the doors to Christ!"  (JPII)  There can be no contradiction between freedom and Christ’s Rulership, Headship, Kingship – Mary realized this, as is evident by the optative case of her Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum – O that it be done to me according to thy will!  Her Fiat was renewed daily, even at the foot of the Cross – so should our own.  Recall always with regard to Christ our King that Cui servire regnare est – to serve Whom is to reign; or (Cranmer!) Whose service is perfect freedom.

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

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