Monday, October 19, 2009

Prayer of Dedication to Christ the King

The Breviary, in the selection of Preces Diversæ appended to it as part of the "excerpts from the Roman Missal", contains the following Act of Dedication to Christ the King:

Oratio ad D.N. Jesu Christum Regem

Domine Jesu Christe, te confiteor Regem universalem. Omnia, quæ facta sunt, pro te sunt creata. Omnia jura tua exerce in me. Renovo vota Baptismi abrenuntians satanæ ejusque pompis et operibus et promitto me victurum ut bonum Christianum. Ac potissimum me obligo operari quantum in me est, ut triumphent Dei jura tuæque Ecclesiæ. Divinum Cor Jesu, offero tibi actiones meas tenues ad obtinendum, ut corda omnia agnoscant tuam sacram Regalitatem et ita tuæ pacis regnum stabiliatur in toto terrarum orbe. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge Thee King of the Universe. All that has been created has been made for Thee. Exercise upon me all Thy rights. I renew my baptismal promises, renouncing Satan and all his works and pomps. I promise to live a good Christian life and to do all in my power to procure the triumph of the rights of God and Thy Church. Divine Heart of Jesus, I offer Thee my poor actions in order to obtain that all hearts may acknowledge Thy sacred Royalty, and that thus the reign of Thy peace may be established throughout the universe. Amen.

This is an excellent formula. Firstly, it states the truth that Christ is Lord and ruler of all - qui vivit et regnat, or as the Mozarabic Liturgy puts it, qui vivit et omnia regit, "Who liveth and ruleth all". Why? Because all that was made, was made by Him, the Word, and for Him (as St Paul teaches). Therefore, one submits to His most just rule and most gentle sway: and in doing so, ipso facto one renews one's Baptismal promises - turning to Christ, Who is the East; and turning away from Satan, spitting in his malevolent face! But in intending to live a good Christian life of moral virtue, one also intends not to hug oneself and forget one's neighbour - no, the blessings one all unworthy has received one hopes to bring to others, and in the present context that means advocating the truth about God's rights and those of His Church: for these being enforced, all men would profit. By uniting one's own sacrifices to the burning love of the Sacred Heart, and thus to Him Who is our Royal Priest and all-sufficient Sacrifice, we pray to advance the day when His Kingdom will come in all its fulness, and even now will extend itself insensibly throughout the needy world: for we have the unshakeable knowledge that in the end He will reign, putting all His enemies under His feet; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end.


It is interesting that on the website of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (whence I obtained this text, to save having to type it out), the prayer is marked as to be concluded with a Pater, Ave and Gloria. Now, whence this common practice of saying that any special prayer with its own proper text ought be concluded with so many "standard" prayers?

It must date from when illiterate persons (e.g. lay brothers or the unlettered laity) were told that, instead of reading Latin prayers, they should in place thereof recite so many Pater's and Ave's (which were learnt in Latin, not in the vernacular, until the time of the Reformation at least): for example, lay brothers were to recite a specified number of these prayers while the choir monks sang Vespers; and the laity were told to say so many such orations in place of reciting the proper Latin prayer to which an indulgence was attached (e.g. a mediæval woodcut of the Five Holy Wounds urged good Christian folk to say five Pater's and five Ave's in honour of Our Lord's Sacred Wounds in His Hands, Feet, and Side).

The obvious example par excellence is the Rosary, where the 150 Ave's correspond to the 150 Psalms. Later examples include Novena prayers, often featuring nine Ave's (or some other number) to be said daily for nine days. As Novenas and other evening devotions came increasingly to take the place of public Vespers, something of the old practice of enjoining the laity to say so many common prayers in place of the Latin Psalms and so forth may have been passed on to these.

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