THAT devotion to Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords has been singularly marked out by the Divine Will to he the supreme guide in repairing the spiritual and social disintegration of our age is evident in three significant gestures by the Vicar of Christ.
In the dying days of the last century, Leo XIII had consecrated the human race to the Divine lleart of Jesus; as the peculiar needs of the new century became more defined, Pius XI had furthered this intention by instituting the feast of Christ's kingship; and in the first encyclical of his pontificate Pius XII declared that this cult was to be his whole inspiration and guiding light,
In its turn, the devotion has brought about a rapid transformation in Catholic Christian thought and action: for many it has brought a richer, deeper awareness of their membership of the Church, given birth to a genuine missionary or Catholic conscience, and implanted in the hearts and minds of many a revived sense of human solidarity or kinship, and a universal solicitude.
DIVINE ENERGY OF HOPE
THESE signs of a new spiritual maturity ot authentic spiritual growth in the members of the Church are themselves the fruits of a revival of a virtue without which the mystery of the Kingdom of Christ in all its aspects would be inconceivable and with which it must always be associated the divine energy of hope implanted into our souls at baptism and enabling us to enter and collaborate in God's plan for the salvation of mankind. We have Our Lord's condemnation of the man who buried his talent in the ground to warn us that it is not hope but a false optimism or pessimism which compromises the mystery of the Kingdom, when its subjects refuse to enter it except on their elan terms and live out their lives marking time, with their minds on the future alone, never taking into serious consideration the present or the here and now.
Without hope, they always evade reality.
Refugees from within, as the present Holy Father describes them. ale the dissatisfied or disheartened members of the Church who refuse to use their abilities or powers and take no part in the life of their time and country. Such abstentionism is even more unworthy when it is the result of lazy and careless indifference.
FILLING IN OF TIME
CHRISTIAN hope rejects this fatalism, this filling in of time, this boredom and spiritual atrophy, this policy of selfcontainment. So too does the Kingdom. All Christ's teaching about its mystery tells us that the genuine member of the Kingdom is one who lives for the future, but in the present. The certain knowledge that his Lord and Master will return at the end of time colours all his thought Almighty God, as Priest and King, is depicted as giving His blessing In one of the most remarkable of all mediaeval sculptures. It and deeds: it energises, transforms and rejuvenates his whole being. He is indeed one who waits, but one for whom everything in his life is caught up in the urgency and joyfulness of a future event and thus whose whole sense of time has changed. For him, hope with its lightness and buoyancy induces a readiness for action. Absence of this energy of hope is synonymous with a view of the Kingdom which is contrary to the whole of God's plan for the restoration of all things in His Son: it takes a short-cut between the space that separates the Ascension of Christ from his Return and condemns the Church to the existence of a lifeless corpse when in reality she is the Kingdom in via or on its way.
CHRISTIANITY IS CONTEMPORARY
S°. we find growing up in the Church certain views which sacrifice her essential organic growth on the altar of external ecclesiastical organisation. The laws of natural growth and development implicit in the Church's mission to take the many into an already existing "Oneness" are by-Passed. A contemplative regard for the constituent elements of the Church Is on the south door of the church In Molssac (France) and depicts an apocalyptic scene. The carving is of the earlv 12th century.
is suffocated by a practical, allabsorbing cult of her regulative functions. Means are mistaken for the end and the whole is treated exclusively in terms of one of its parts. The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven have no place in a view of the Kingdom which at times forgets that Christianity is always a supernatural creative treatment of actuality and, being transcendent and divine, is continually adapting its vital principle of unity to the needs of contemporary man in society.
MOVING TO THE END
INNATE, in the mystery of the Kingdom is the Divine Will that what has been done once and for all in Christ, the royal priest. may be done by every'one, that His mystery should become theirs, His passing their passing, and His sitting at the right hand of the Father their sitting as children of God and co-heirs with Christ. The mission of the Holy Ghost in the world, complementing that of the Son and making each child of God His temple, is one that respects both the original elements of each inviolable person and the actual circumstances in which the person is willed by God to live His life. There are no press buttons and no supernaturalism in the .Kingdom of God on this earth. If, therefore, we see the mission of the Church today more clearly as the mission to form man in his fullness and thus ceaselessly to collaborate with other elements in social life to build a solid basis for society. it is mainly as a consequence of a deeper understanding of the Kingdom of Christ as something eschatological or moving to a term or final end.
One of the reasons why the West has defected from the Church is the feeling in the past that she did not accept the whole of human nature. In revenge of a forgotten truth, the West in the past two centuries has, in re-discovering history as a movement towards a final end, put in the place of Christ's Kingdom such modem equivalents as enlightenment, reason, progress, socialism or universal humanism. Never at any moment can the Church forget that every creature groans and labours in its pain, even until now, being made subject in hope, and that in its state of spiritual pregnancy it can be delivered only by him who is the first-born of every creature.
GREATEST HOPE THE greatest hope for contemporary society is that, as the Church today finds herself able to dispense with an anti-Protestant ecclesiology or doctrine of her life saddled on her by force of circumstances in the past, she reveals a vision of the Kingdom in which no one and nothing is expendable. She is the Kingdom of no spare parts where every member must cmoankteribhuistioowz unique, irreplaceable The age of Christ the King is very much the age of the discovery of the dignity and value of the human person. And no one can doubt the providence of this in times when men everywhere are avoiding life, livings new form of non-existence and freedom at zero, glorying in the cult of failure, and refusing out of despair to face up to the claims of a nature made to the image of God and endowed by Him with both an eternal and a temporal destiny. It is against this background of the reality of Christ's sovereignty and supremacy. that we can understand why Catholic is missionary. The genuine Catholic Christian not merely belongs to the Church: he is the Church. The Church is missionary in her essence: so is her member. Ceaselessly she and they make actual what is real and implicit in the kingship of Christ. It is accorhplished not primarily by being missionary in the geographical way, by mere extension in time and place, but in the priestly way, by way of meditation. The Christian altar is the meeting place of God and man, There the Church, which is the total social body of Christ, offers its sacrifice which is Christ all in all. To that act of making holy and worthy of God, each living member of the Mystical Body brings his or he: world. For the Christian way of life is the deification of the normal and actual: not the extraordinary and fake; and the Christian is a member of a royal priesthood and kingly people, not part of a spiritual proletariate.