Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Quite appropriately, the solemnity of Christ the King falls the day after the feast of Bl. Miguel Pro, the Jesuit martyr of Mexico. In a wildly misjudged attempt at public intimidation, the Mexican government allowed photographers to capture the moment their marksmen exacted the punishment which would befall all who brought the sacraments to the people. But as both rifle and camera aimed at their target, Fr. Pro extended his arms in a cruciform pattern, yelling “Viva Christo Rey!” Far from intimidating the Mexican people, the picture was a rallying cry for all those who profess a king above all earthly one.

Here in this country, we remembered the life and death of John F. Kennedy this week, an event whose significance is much more ambiguous. The Kennedy presidency marked the highpoint of Catholic influence upon American culture, the moment in which Catholics had arrived on the scene. Optimism was high as the new president showed Catholics that they could journey all the way to the top of the political scene. One church in the Northwest even commissioned a John F. Kennedy stained glass window. Yet beneath the brilliant surface of Catholic success lurked the spectre of accommodation and fracture. Had Catholicism transformed the world or had the world transformed Catholicism?

Today on the Solemnity of Christ the King we remember the fundamental ambiguity of worldly regimes and the success they promise. Martyrs like Miguel Pro would not compromise the promises of the faith for the temporary satisfactions of the world. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?

November 24th, 2013