On Palm Sunday, the Church, the mystical Israel, views her meek king riding upon a gentle beast. In a few days, all outward appearance of his divinity shall be more hidden than ever. But now, on the day in which we cry out with the Jews of old “Hosanna!”, we see our Head, our King, in all his meekness, amidst shouts of praise, riding into the poor accursed city that shall kill its Redeemer. He rides on to his death, but alas, let us meditate for a while on his kingship.
Our Lord must be King of our intellect, imagination and will; He must reign supreme over all three. It is only when He reigns in our interior life that He can also reign in society. If we ourselves, Catholic priests, religious and lay alike, do not allow him to reign in our intellect, imagination and will, how can we expect to help the reign of Christ in society and not hinder it? Alas, all too often, we, even more guilty than the faithless because of the amount of grace given us, fail at allowing Christ to be King of our souls. We want to go to Heaven and avoid hell, but tire at the thought of working for it. But unless we strive to root out our most hidden and obscure vices, we pray hypocritically when we say with our lips “Thy Kingdom come”. Our hearts are not in it.
Christ must be King of our intellect. We allow Him to reign in our intellect when we, through the virtue of faith, purify the intellect. According to St. Thomas, faith “is the first principle of the purification of the heart in order to free us from error”. The intellect directs the will. Without an intellect firmly grounded in faith, on a vigilant guard against all error, the will shall be ensnared by human defects, faulty, fickle and weak; in fine, turned completely away from God. The enthronement of Christ as King over our intellect is accomplished by “judging more and more according to the spirit of faith” (Fr. Reginald Garrigou Lagrange). That means that we listen to the Revelation of our King—and then judge accordingly. It will do well for us to remember what the author of The Imitation writes about intellectual pride, the enemy of God: “All men naturally desire to know, but what does knowledge avail without the fear of God? Indeed an humble husbandman that serves God is better than a proud philosopher, who, neglecting himself, considers the course of heavens.”
“Gloria, laus, et honor tibi sit, Rex Christe Redemptor…”
He must be King over our imagination and memory. To actively purify the memory can be a dauntingly difficult task! Garrigou-Lagrange compares the purification of the imagination to writing with a pen without noticing its form. The imagination should serve the intellect by placing before our mind beautiful images of the mysteries of faith. Unfortunately, the memory is a wild horse that must be broken, otherwise it will run us to the ground. The memory too often rebels with thoughts of past offences which renew in our heart feelings of indignation. Have you really forgiven your brother his faults? Check your memory. It is really all too forgetful of its meek and loving King! The Imitation of Christ sums it up perfectly: “This is the reason why there are found so few contemplative persons, because there are few that know how to sequester themselves entirely from perishable creatures.” The road to perdition is wide.
“…mercifully grant that whithersoever these palms are taken,there the grace of Thy blessing may descend…”
Finally,Jesus must be ruler over our will. We must always render ourselves docile to His divine inspirations, be they painful or otherwise. When God asks us to give more and more, we must have his Sacrifice always before the eyes of our heart. Sometimes it is difficult to know the Will of God. Then we must pray for this knowledge. Some temperaments possess a very strong self-will. The people of these temperaments must surrender self-will to the Will of their King. They must possess a special trust that where ever the King will lead them, be it Calvary, Thabor, Carmel or Sinai, He will be doing what is best for them and the road will end in a happy eternity. All self-will has got to be vanquished. When this is accomplished, Our Lord can reign gloriously over our hearts. We shall be happy servants of the Good. Nay, we shall possess the Good!
owing Jesus Christ, our gentle King, to reign freely in our hearts, minds and souls, we are really procuring for ourselves the greatest peace one can experience in this vale of tears: the peace of Christ the King. Pax Christi Regis. We follow our King to Calvary this week. May the peace of Christ reigning in our souls be ever magnified by true compunction and deep sorrow as we prepare ourselves for the greatest triumph of the King and his Mother, our Queen. Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace.