Editor’s note: The following essay is taken from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s homily on the feast of Christ the King.
(LifeSiteNews) — Regnum eius regnum sempiternum est, et omnes reges servient ei et obedient – For his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
Once upon a time there was a king. Thus began the fairy tales we heard as children, at a time when ideological indoctrination had not yet come to corrupt children in their innocence and we could serenely speak of kings, princes, and princesses, and it was normal to think that at least in the world of fairy tales there could be a social order not subverted by the Revolution. Realms, thrones, crowns, honor, loyalty, and chivalry were all references that went beyond time and fashions, precisely because of their coherence with the divine cosmos, with the eternal and immutable hierarchy of the celestial orders.
There were also kings in the parables with which the Lord instructed His disciples, and He proclaimed Himself to be a king as He stood before Pilate clothed in mockery with a purple robe, crowned with thorns, holding a reed instead of a scepter. He was mocked by the scoundrels for being a king, and the governor of Judea recognized Him as king when He had the plaque affixed to the Cross indicating the reason for His condemnation to death: “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudæorum.” The Sanhedrin would have liked to correct that inscription:
Do not write: ‘The King of the Jews,’ but: ‘This man said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’’ (Jn 19:21)
And even today there are those who want to deny Our Lord that title which so disturbs His enemies, because of all that it implies. But at the very moment when the wicked shake off Christ’s gentle yoke and openly declare their rebellion against His sovereign authority, they are forced to fill that void, just as those who deny the true God end up worshiping idols.
Pilate said to the Jews, ‘Behold, your king.’ But they cried out, ‘Away! Away! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your king?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’ (Jn 19:15)
It is very sad to see how misguided minds, in order not to recognize an evident and salvific reality, prefer to make themselves slaves of a far inferior power, such as that of the state, and an invading state at that. On the other hand, those who serve Satan are also ready to serve the Antichrist as king and to recognize his kingdom, of which the New World Order is an ominous prelude. But isn’t that ultimately what we do every time we disobey God? Do we not deny universal and absolute Lordship to Him who holds it by divine right and by conquest, and then attribute it to creatures or usurp it ourselves? Do we not set ourselves up as supreme legislators whenever we pretend to take the place of the one on Sinai who gave Moses the tablets of the law? Did not our first parents do the same when they listened to the enticements of the serpent and broke the Lord’s command by eating the fruit of the tree? Or the Jews in the wilderness, when they worshipped the golden calf?
Kingly power is inextricably linked to divinity: the kings of Israel and the sovereigns of the Catholic nations considered themselves vicars of God, vested with a sacred power that was conferred by a quasi-sacramental rite. The exercise of kingly authority – and more generally of government – must therefore be consistent with the will of God Himself, from whom all authority emanates.
This coherence implies the recognition, on the part of the public authority, of the supreme power of God and the obligation to conform the laws of the state to the natural and divine law. He who believes that he can use the power of authority, whether civil or ecclesiastical, for a purpose different from, or even opposed to, that for which authority was instituted by God, is deluding himself miserably, and his destiny will be no different from that which providence has reserved for tyrants and sovereigns who rebel against the divine will.
This applies not only to temporal power, but also – and above all – to spiritual power, which by the hierarchical superiority of ends is intrinsically superior to temporal power, and precisely for this reason those who hold spiritual power must conform even more faithfully to what God has taught and ordained. And if it is true that it is an inconsistency when those given authority do not act in their private lives in accordance with the principles of faith and morals, it is quite unheard of that such inconsistency could extend to the exercise of authority itself.
For this reason the stains which weigh upon the personal conduct of an Alexander VI are incomparably less serious than those of a pope who, although having a life which is not scandalous, commits acts of government contrary to the end of the papacy. And today we must also come to terms with the reality of a “papacy” in which the personal scandals of Jorge Mario Bergoglio are even obscured by those that he commits by virtue of the authority that is – at least momentarily – recognized to him.
The Lord, who is a jealous God (Ex 20:5), wants to reign over His people, and He exercises this kingdom through His vicars in temporal and spiritual matters. He intended His Church to be monarchical. He did not intend to leave the Pope free to decide what he wants, but rather to act as Christi Vicarius and Servus servorum Dei, so that He would be the only High and Eternal Priest, the mediator between God and men, the universal king and Lord, so as to reign by means of the pope.
The idea of a democratic Church is not only a theological aberration and a blatant violation of the Lord’s hierarchical structure, but it is a nonsense that is refuted by its own proponents, since it is based on the false premise that it is possible to exercise authority apart from the good, perverting it into tyranny. Ecclesiastical and civil authority, by divine decree, are the expression of the supreme, absolute and universal Lordship of Christ, cujus regni non erit finis. Too often we forget that the Lord is not God as a result of universal suffrage. Dominus regnavit, decorem indutus est (Ps 92:1). The Lord reigns in all the universe: He has clothed Himself with majesty. Sacred Scripture here uses a verbal form with which it expresses the eternity, indefectibility, and finality of the Kingdom of Christ.
“Regnum meum non est de hoc mundo” (Jn 18:36): these words of Our Lord to Pilate are not to be understood in the sense that heretics and modernists are accustomed to give you, that is, that Jesus Christ does not claim authority over the government of nations and that He leaves them free to legislate as they wish, following the errors of secularism and liberalism. On the contrary, precisely because the Kingdom of Christ does not derive from earthly power, it is eternal and universal, total and absolute, direct and immediate. Ego vici mundum, the Lord reassures us. Therefore, not only is the world not at the origin of His authority, but rather it becomes its enemy as soon as it withdraws from it in order to serve the Princeps mundi huius, who is precisely a prince, who is also hierarchically subject to the supreme power of God, who allows him to act only in order to obtain greater good from it.
I have conquered the world, therefore, means that the world, however much it deludes itself that it can oppose the plans of providence and hinder the action of grace, can do nothing against the one who has already conquered it. That victory, which is total and irreversible, was accomplished through the Cross, a sign of the infamy reserved for slaves, with the passion and death of the Savior in obedience to His Father. Regnavit a ligno Deus. The Cross is the throne of glory, because through it Christ has redeemed us, that is, he has ransomed us from slavery to Satan.
Today both the state and the Church are held hostage by the enemies of God, and their authority is usurped by criminal subversives and heretics who arrogantly show their determination to do evil and their aversion to the law of the Lord. The betrayal of rulers and the apostasy of prelates are the punishment we deserve for having disobeyed God.
And yet, while they destroy, we have the joy and honor of rebuilding. And there is a still greater happiness: a new generation of laity and priests are participating with zeal in this work of reconstruction of the Church for the salvation of souls, and they do so well aware of their own weaknesses and miseries, but also allowing themselves to be used by God as docile instruments in His hands: helpful hands, strong hands, the hands of the Almighty.
Our fragility highlights the fact that this is the Lord’s work even more, especially where this human fragility is accompanied by humility. This humility ought to lead us to instaurare omnia in Christo, beginning with the heart of the faith, which is the Holy Mass. Let us return to the liturgy which recognizes Our Lord in His absolute primacy.
If Our Lord is King by hereditary right (since he is born of the royal line of David), by divine right (in virtue of the hypostatic union), and also by right of conquest (having redeemed us by His sacrifice on the Cross), we must not forget that, in the plans of divine providence, this divine sovereign has at his side, as Our Lady and queen, His own august Mother, Mary Most Holy. There can be no Kingship of Christ without the sweet and maternal Queenship of Mary, whom Saint Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort reminds us is our mediatrix before her Son’s majestic throne, where she stands as queen interceding before the king. Regina, Mater Misericordiae, Spes nostra, Advocata nostra.
The premise of the triumph of the divine king in society and in nations is that He already reigns in our hearts, our souls, and our families. May Christ also reign in us, and may His Most Holy Mother reign along with Him. Adveniat regnum tuum: adveniat per Mariam.
And so may it be.
+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop
October 29, 2023
Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Regis