This article originally appeared on Catholic 365.
In 1925, in an encyclical entitled Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI instituted the Solemnity of Christ the King and decreed that it should be celebrated as an annual feast by the entire church on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, as “the crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of Christ.”
In the encyclical Pope Pius XI stated his hopes that the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King would serve as an “excellent remedy for the plaque which now infects society.” He goes on to list the various ills that had befallen society in the early 20th century:
…”the insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundation and on the way to ruin.”
A cursory reading of the Holy Father’s list, written nearly a century ago, reveal that little has changed in the world. The maladies that blighted mankind in 1925 appear to have only grown more intense and widespread – setting mankind on a course far from God, and further and further into the relentless pursuit of power, possessions and pleasure at any cost.
What is the solution to mankind’s woes? It remains the same as it was in 1925. Only a radical conversion and acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as King of the universe will solve the world’s problems. How does this conversion happen? It happens one soul at a time, deep in the hearts of each individual person.
Pope Pius XI explains that in order for Jesus to be enthroned as King, he must first reign in the minds, wills and hearts of each person. Jesus reigns as Lord of our minds when we “assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ.” He reigns in our wills when we “obey the laws and precepts of God.” He reigns in our hearts when we “spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone.”
As a 21st century lay woman who serves the Lord in my domestic church as a wife and a Mom, I am personally convicted by this encyclical. It is far too easy for me to read the news and despair over the future – pointing the finger at others for the causes of the troubles in the world. What Pope Pius XI’s encyclical challenged me to do is to examine my own conscience and ask the questions: Is Jesus Christ the King of my mind, will and heart? Have I submitted everything I am and everything I have to his Lordship? Through reading and meditating on the Holy Father’s words I have come to understand that I cannot expect Christ to be King of my home, my family, my town or my nation, if he is not first reigning as Lord and sovereign in my own heart.
As we celebrate the great Solemnity of Christ the King this year, I once again repent and ask the Lord Jesus to reign in my life. I resolve to submit to his Lordship in the minute by minute minutiae of the trenches of everyday life: choosing virtue over vice; prayer over social media; kind words over a harsh tone; charity over mindless spending; and faith, hope and love over skepticism, despair and criticism. In this way I hope to one day be enjoy “eternal bliss and glory with Him in His heavenly kingdom.”