It is for me as though Christmas had come again, a great hour of birth, the beginning of a new, strong and more beautiful time. I simply cannot get Pope Pius XI’s encyclical about the Kingship of Christ out of my head. My opinion is that it is a joyous message that belongs to the extraordinary graces of this age. The great Monarch Whom so many have longingly awaited is there. Christ the King! This manifesto of the eleventh Pius is the proclamation of the world monarchy of the Incarnate God over the nations!
Too long have we heard that “God is dead” from podiums and backstreets alike. He died in 1789, it is claimed, and the French National Assembly was the Sanhedrin that condemned Him. Since then His official role in the Sanhedrin of the peoples has been played out. The Middle Ages are long gone. The world has become liberal. Christ still ekes out an existence in the quiet chamber of private piety or as sacristy deity in a purely religious Catholicism; but as Sovereign of the Nations, as Lawgiver and Judge of the Peoples He has been forced to abdicate. The constitutions no longer know or acknowledge Him. At best He is a private person like any other before the law, but no longer the universal and absolute Monarch. By the state’s claim to power and the will of the people, religion and politics are separated and divorced.
“The King is dead,” says liberal politics. Officially He must not interfere in the temporal affairs of the nations. At least the economy does not use such radical language, although its effects are already disastrous. The economy says: “The King does not meddle in our affairs, the King is asleep! The King does not see what we’re doing. The King is deaf, dumb and lame. Christ does not bother about technology and business in everyday life. Commerce is a neutral zone, beyond good and evil,” it is claimed.
“Sunday may well belong to God, but weekdays belong to the repairman, the businessman, the farmer, the worker. What does Jesus have to do with the shops and factories, the offices and the department stores? What has He to do with price-fixing and wage questions, with rent contracts and balance sheets? God is too great to condescend to such little matters. Kings have better things to do.” So say Capitalism and Socialism.
“The King is not at home. The King is in Heaven,” sneers so-called ‘education’. On earth the professor reigns in His stead, and the school is his kingdom. Faith and science have nothing to do with each other. The classroom must be free territory, untouched by any religious influence and ecclesiastical domination. Each has his place: God in His Heaven, the scholar and free research in the school, or however else these people talk!
Like political pride and economic megalomania, academic arrogance does not want to hear about the sovereign and general Kingship of Christ. Whether one says: ‘the King is dead’, or ‘the King is asleep’, or ‘the King is absent’, the whole modern world together has sworn: ‘We will not have Him rule over us!’ It is the same refrain as on Good Friday: social deicide!
And then came Pope Pius XI with his encyclical Quas Primas and it sounded like the voice of many waters and the voice of mighty thunderings: “Alleluia! The King is not dead, the King lives! The King is not asleep, the King is awake! The King is not absent, the King is still there! Jesus lives, reigns and rules. We proclaim the unlimited, highest, all-embracing Kingship of Jesus not only over all persons, but also over all societies, states, peoples and governments. We proclaim the universal Monarchy of the Crucified over the entire modern world. We oppose 1789 with 1925! God’s Bill of Rights against the revolutionary Bill of Human Rights!”
The universal Kingship of Jesus over human society is no new dogma. It is simply the solemn manifesto of an ancient biblical teaching which is too often forgotten, but which belongs to that list of undeniable truths without which the human race cannot survive, if it does not want to commit suicide. The second Psalm already seems to have been made to order for the period after 1789. It paints a classic picture of the liberal century; furiously raging nations, peoples in revolt, conspiracies of princes against Christianity, the papacy and the laws of the Church: such is the content of its history. “Let us break their bonds asunder, and let us cast away their yoke from us.”
In reading the second Psalm one is transported into that summer night when the modern liberties were proclaimed - in vain! “He that dwelleth in Heaven shall laugh at them.” The ancient God lives yet. The Psalm continues. God holds fast to the universal Kingdom of Jesus even in the face of modern revolution and liberal democracy. The nations are to be the Messiah’s inheritance, the “uttermost parts of the earth” His possession. He shall rule them “with a rod of iron and shall break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Thus speaks the Psalm.
In the New Testament as well, the theme of the universal messianic kingship is stressed repeatedly. “Art thou a king?” asks Pilate. The answer could not be more explicit: “Thou sayest that I am a king. Rex sum ego! - I am a King.” And in another solemn moment Our Lord repeats: “All power is given to Me in Heaven and in earth” [Mt. XXVIII, 18]. “For He must reign, until He hath put all His enemies under his feet,” proclaims St Paul [I Cor. XV, 25]. Therefore is Christ the King, King in the complete sense of the word, without any limitations, not even in the sphere of secular power. We have no right to relate the clear texts of both the Old and the New Testament only to the spiritual Kingship of Christ. The whole Christ, God and Man, is King, fully and completely, over all things visible and invisible in Heaven and on earth. We repeat: Everything is subject to Him! Even politics! Even the economy! Even technology! Even commerce! Even science! Even the arts! The sovereignty of Christ knows no exceptions and no limits! [...]
He is King in word and in truth, not just a decorative figure like the constitutional monarchs. He is not merely Honorary Chairman of the United Nations. He is King not only according to right, but according to might. He really rules. He also uses His enemies, whether they are willing or not, in order to carry out, at least indirectly, His plans, and throws them away should they resist, like a broken vessel.
Long live Christ the King! Whether we are otherwise republicans or whatever, in this regard we must all be monarchists, because we are Catholics who have already sworn allegiance to the immortal King of the centuries. The King’s banner shall wave on all public squares, over all the schools, all the factories, all the city halls, from all the mountains! If in the future anyone asks us what policy we favour, we shall answer, ‘We know only one: Long live Christ the King!’
We know that it will not be easy. It is the way of sacrifice. It leads over the Mount of Olives to Calvary, the way to victory. But whoever is not ready to suffer and bleed for a cause is unworthy to live for it. Come! Let us go - let us die for Christ the King! †