For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ---Ephesians 6:12

"The age of casual Catholicism is over; the age of heroic Catholicism has begun. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead must be Catholics by CONVICTION." ---Fr. Terrence Henry TOR, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Friday, December 26, 2008

Feast Day Of Christ The King

Father Brankin of The Shrine (St. Odilo Parish in Berwyn, IL) delivers a stirring homily in which he pulls no punches. While some might find it a dangerous mixture of things which should not be mixed (P+R), I find it to be quite refreshingly honest and overdue at a time in which our culture deems itself too busy and too important for God.

I know the actual feast day was November 23rd, but this homily was too good to pass up.

[Ramblings-- Fr. Brankin
Imagine what Europe must have been like after the Fall of the Roman Empire. The barbarians—some of our ancestors—had invaded and destroyed as much as they found. There were no great nations and kingdoms—just areas ruled over by strongmen—chieftains—gang leaders basically.

When you think about it—all the present noble families of all the kingdoms of Europe-- probably most of them were just families who along time ago were able to beat up other families. And that’s how they became rulers and nobles. It was not much more than that.

It took many centuries to sort out how to live peacefully in the aftermath of the Fall of the Roman Empire because there was precious little order or civilization or even government left. But the Church was right there to pick up the pieces.

This is the Era often called the Dark Ages—where the Church was faced with the dual task of preserving and re-civilizing whatever was left from the old days. At the same time she had to replace terrible pagan customs like abortion and exposure, divorce and ritual suicide with something Catholic—something Christian.

The so–called Dark Ages were not as dark as they were the streaks of light in the Dawning of a new day. Christian Civilization was being born.

This was the time—and it took more than a few hundred years—that Christians learned how to live in peace and charity and in the love of Christ. They learned how to pray and how to live as families and members of villages.

They learned how to farm and make all the things we take for granted—like wine and cheese and
various kinds of foods and breads.

The monasteries and cathedrals were all being built. Art and music began to flower, and people were learning how to live together in some measure of co-operation. Kings and princes, dukes and thanes, were judged in the glow of Christ’s holy light as taught by the Church.

In those days, if a king was unjust to his people—if the poor citizens chafed under the king’s rules and were burdened by his taxes and harassed by his soldiers— if the king was immoral in the conduct of his life—the Church through the bishops and Pope—would stand in front of that king and tell him “No, you may not do that to the people—it is immoral and unseemly for a Catholic king to legislate and behave in such a way.”

In fact if a king in that era were to be excommunicated by the Church because of his conduct and policies—then all his people were absolved of any allegiance to him. This threat pretty much kept these former barbarian strongmen from hurting the people too much. The Church was not only the teacher of civilization but also the leader of kings.

But she could be so because the kings and leaders and people of that era actually believed in Christ and truly did acknowledge Him as Lord.

And they obeyed when the Pope spoke because they knew that he spoke for Christ—and in their heart of hearts they knew that one day it would be Jesus Himself who would judge whether or not they led their people morally and properly.

This was what we mean by the rule of Christ the King. And His Kingdom has been traditionally been called Christendom—where Christ teaches us a way of life. Christendom is a Christian civilization where families and leaders and laws reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. It means morals and customs life and culture are fashioned and molded by Christ Himself through the Church.

To say that Christ is our King is not to say that the Church should run the government. But it is to say that a government runs best—and helps its people the most if its policies and provisions follow Christ and His Church. Any government that dismisses the Church is not just dismissing the pope and few loud Catholics—it is dismissing Christ and therefore God and places itself on the road to its own self-destruction and the destruction of its people.

And I do not care if the government is the government of the United States—its rules and laws must be Made under God—under Christ the King— whether it acknowledges Him or not. And no politician—even Barack Obama— can deny the Authority of God. That’s why the bishops told Obama recently—“If you sign the Freedom of Choice Act as you have promised and force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions—we will close those hospitals down—and will not resell them to you or anyone else. We will not knuckle under to laws that are anti-life, anti-love, and anti–Christ.

Now we as a country have not bound ourselves or our politicians to Christ the King for many years. This actually is not a Christian country—even though it is loaded with Christians. As Americans we do not follow Christ. Let’s face it. He is not our King. We got rid of George III and Jesus all at the same time.
Every time the media prattles on about the separation of church and state—and how the Church should keep out of politics—especially abortion or gays—they are actually saying how we should not follow Christ.

Which is when we have to ask ourselves that same question: Do we follow Christ? Do we listen to His Church? Or is our real allegiance to some petty politician who promises us more money in return for our silence about the immoral things he wants to do.

If the Feast Day of Christ the King is supposed to mean anything more than “blah blah blah—Christ must be the King of our hearts—blah blah blah,” it is supposed to mean that we citizens must pay close personal attention to the teachings of the Church especially when it comes to war or our abortion or pornography or family or immigration policies. What does the Church say? What does Christ say? and then after we have accepted those teachings, then we must do all in our power to get our government to observe those same teachings.

If Christ is to be our King then we owe allegiance to Him and Him alone—and our loyalty to Christ will be proven by our believing and practicing the faith in our own lives and then by voting and campaigning for the public implementation of the moral teachings of His Church in the life of this country. That’s what the Pope meant in 1920 when he began this Feast day of Christ the King.

And when that happens in big enough numbers then we might see the rebirth of Christian civilization once again—where we become a people once again for whom Christ is truly King.]


Paul said...

I love Fr. Brankin, Matt, but I have a few mixed feelings here. I support our invasion of Iraq, while Fr. Brankin has been steadily opposed to it, based on the "Just War Theory" of the Church. But there are reasonable arguments on both sides of that position, or else all thinking Catholics would have deserted Bush, willy-nilly. (Not me.)

Other than that, though,Fr. Brankin remains a beacon to us all.