Friday, December 12, 2008

Quas Primas: Giving It a Go

As I stated a while back, I am going to try to do Quas Primas justice, though I’m sure that my efforts will be in vain. It’s too good to pass up, especially for Advent, when so many of the proclamations of Our Lord’s Kingship occurred. Pius XI even comments on how so many of the Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament had this Kingship as their theme. For example:

That of Isaias is well known: "For a child is born to us and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God the mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace. He shall sit upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever."

Of course, Christ’s own words are sufficient to demonstrate that He certainly was a King, far moreso than any mere earthly ruler:

Moreover, Christ himself speaks of his own kingly authority: in his last discourse, speaking of the rewards and punishments that will be the eternal lot of the just and the damned; in his reply to the Roman magistrate, who asked him publicly whether he were a king or not; after his resurrection, when giving to his Apostles the mission of teaching and baptizing all nations, he took the opportunity to call himself king, confirming the title publicly, and solemnly proclaimed that all power was given him in heaven and on earth. These words can only be taken to indicate the greatness of his power, the infinite extent of his kingdom. What wonder, then, that he whom St. John calls the "prince of the kings of the earth" appears in the Apostle's vision of the future as he who "hath on his garment and on his thigh written 'King of kings and Lord of lords!'." It is Christ whom the Father "hath appointed heir of all things"; "for he must reign until at the end of the world he hath put all his enemies under the feet of God and the Father."

And naturally, and perhaps most fittingly for this day so soon after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we have Gabriel’s joyous words to the Blessed Mother:

This same doctrine of the Kingship of Christ which we have found in the Old Testament is even more clearly taught and confirmed in the New. The Archangel, announcing to the Virgin that she should bear a Son, says that "the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."

Maybe I’m completely screwed up, but it seems to me that living in liberal democracy-type societies has completely warped our mind’s perception of authority. What is a senator, congressman, or president? Just some guy like me who was picked by other guys like me to keep the trains running on time. Sure, if we were going to meet the President, we’d probably dress nicely and mind our manners, but that would probably be the extent of our acknowledging of his position. Kings get genuflections, kissed hands, bows, and general abasement.

Part of me wonders if the lack of respect that we show to Christ and the sacraments which bring Him near us (incessant, loud talking in Church; ignoring confession; receiving the Eucharist in a state of sin; wearing crap clothes to Mass; and so forth) isn’t because we have no idea of how to respond to kingly authority. It reminds me of the following line in the Clint Eastwood classic, Unforgiven, when English Bob (Richard Harris) is discussing the assassination of President Garfield:

If you were to try to assassinate a king, sir, the, how shall I say it, the aura of royalty would cause you to miss. But, a president, [chuckles] I mean, why not shoot a president?

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