The Once and Future King

As much as I would like to, I am not going to write this article on the occasion of the Solemnity of Christ the King on King Arthur. I have taken the above title from T.H. White’s 1958 novel based on the fifteenth century ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ (The Death of Arthur) which Sir Thomas Malory compiled based on existing legendary material about Arthur’s adventures with his Knights of the Round Table. Just as an aside, while I am on the topic of Arthur, I will mention that among the growing circle of scholars who defend the existence of the historic personage of King Arthur, most of the research points in the direction of his having been an observant Catholic. In other words, Arthur knew that his nobility as a king was derived from a higher authority and kingship, that of Christ.

Even though he lives on in literature and myth, Arthur’s reign and influence were limited by the place and time within which he lived and sallied forth in battle for the cause of good. I want to emphasize that Christ’s Kingship is different, being inherently transcendent and universal. The vision of Daniel in our first reading reveals the one who is sovereign over every people, nation and language with dominion that is everlasting. Yes, the mission of Christ’s earthly life has run its course and in the mystery of the Ascension we claim that Christ takes His rightful place beside His Father to govern all things by Divine Providence, in perfect justice and superabundant mercy.

It is from that place that He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. As St. Augustine said in a famous sermon on the Psalms, “He will come whether we wish it or not…He will come, you know not when; and provided he finds you prepared, your ignorance of the time of his coming will not be held against you”. We must be ever ready for his return. Augustine points to reflection on Christ’s first coming as the most perfect way to ready ourselves for His return: “Let us not resist his first coming, so that we may not dread the second…He has come the first time, and he will come again to judge the earth, he will find those rejoicing who believed in his first coming”. This is what Advent—which begins next weekend—is all about. Our hope in the Lord’s return as the Future King is rooted in the truth that Christ was born humbly as King in Bethlehem, He was crowned as the King of Martyrs on Calvary and rose from the tomb as the Victorious King on the third day. Come, Lord Jesus! We acknowledge you as the true once and future King and we will not resist your coming!

A few notes not to be overlooked:

+ Priests throughout the world are vested this weekend in white or gold in honor of Christ, the King and High Priest. These same vestments will be worn in the Christmas season. This past weekend we donned red vestments for our transferred parish celebration of St. Clement’s patronage and martyrdom. Violet is the color of Advent. The ‘Green season’ of Ordinary Time is over until after the final day of Christmastide, the Feast of the Baptism on the Lord—this year, Sunday, January 13th.

+ Brace yourselves for the beginning of a new Church year and let us allow the liturgy have its way in forming our lives according to the succession of seasons. Watch for opportunities to learn about the liturgy and participate in spiritual and social offerings within our parish and around the Twin Cities. ’Tis the season for Christmas fairs, bake sales and bazaars!

+ Advent is meant to be a time of focused and intense preparation for the return of Christ. How are you preparing? There is a Saturday, December 1st Advent Day of Reflection being organized through the Archdiocese’s Office of Evangelization. Liz Kelly (back by popular demand) and Fr. Hagan will offer reflections. Additionally, on Friday, December 7th all are invited to St. Clement for a prayerful evening to celebrate the Immaculate Conception with Holy Mass, a potluck supper, concert by a remarkable singer-songwriter Luke Spehar, concluding with a time of quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. We are trying to offer substantive occasions for prayer and fellowship as an encouragement to enter the season and live it as intensely as possible.

+ Lastly, I am excited to share with you a visual rendering of the St. Hedwig sanctuary renovation project which is really taking shape thanks to some creative planning after we sustained some water damage from a rain storm earlier this fall. I draw your attention to a design element that ties into the second reading from the Book of Revelation: the beautiful gilded monograms of the Alpha and Omega, flanking Christ who reigns from the Cross. A number of details are still coming together in these next few weeks but it will be completed in time for Christmas. It has been a labor of love and I am grateful to all who have been involved, even since the earliest conversations over a year ago. This renovation brings glory to God and focuses our attention on Jesus Christ, our Eucharistic King. More details are forthcoming on how you can participate in helping us finance the project to completion. There will be a few additional artistic and devotional elements to be added in memory of Fr. Don Schwalm and Fr. Ted Guminga and additional memorial opportunities will be available.

¡Viva Cristo Rey!

Fr. Howe