|Statue of Christ the King. Świebodzin, Poland. 33 metres tall, for every year of Our Lord's life.|
During a rainy and humid evening in Krakow this summer I wandered around the Polish city, trying to take in its strange blend of splendid medieval buildings and modern shopping centres bearing the names of ubiquitous global brands. As a nation, it is in the cross hairs of a Europe which has seen Catholicism slowly fading from sight since the Second Vatican Council, even more so than it did under Communism in that country. My stroll took me past the thousands of young people singing, talking and eating together as World Youth Day began to take shape that week and millions prepared for the noisy spectacular. Eventually, jaded with the sheer size of the events within the city, I arrived at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. A Church which dates back to the 13th Century, it is a haunting entity (as all things beautiful and holy are) which has housed St. Maximilian Kolbe and Pope John Paul II in the past, even preserving a pew favoured by the latter: with a plaque upon it, illuminated through some clever stained glass window placement. It is as much a monument as a Church, to the suffering past of Poland's Catholics and to the stoic endurance under the twin ideological evils of Nietzsche's Nazis and Marx's Communists.
In 2016, against all Cultural Marxist declarations of the end of history and the irrepressible advancement of secular Europe, Poland has boldly declared Jesus Christ as their King.
Following a failed effort in 2006, the Polish nation was entrusted to the Kingship of Christ on the aforementioned title's feast day. The President attended an event at the Divine Mercy Church in Krakow, as the Bishops made their nation consecrated subjects not firstly to the state but to the Lord Himself.
Why make Christ the King? Is that not, even to a Traditionalist, a merely symbolic act?
Cyril of Alexandria wrote : ''Christ has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature."
To recognise Christ as the King is to recognise that his authority is natural, that the blessing of a homeland and sovereign nation state derives originally from a concept of property that can only exist through Natural Law.
But doesn't making Christ the King exclude non-Catholic minorities?
Pope Leo XIII stated : "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ."
Isn't this just a sentiment caught on a wave of nationalist populism in the wake of Trump?
Pope Pius XI stated that if men knew that we are all one, under Christ, then love and peace would be the only logical results. All authority is derived from and subject to Christ.
If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.
The reaction of incredulous atheists on social media is tinted with their increasing helplessness as the rate at which the world seems to have found secularism to be a fraud, a utopia for everyone but the common man or woman. The Dictatorship of Relativism is impervious only when one does not recognise the Divine Right of Christ.
The ornate and the decorative have their place in faith, as in the Franciscan Church in Krakow, but suffering and prayer give them their true beauty. For they represent something eternal amidst all the temporary. Which is what Christ's Kingship is. A reminder that having lived our lives in accordance with the laws of God's kingdom, we may receive full measure of good fruit, and counted by Christ good and faithful servants, we may be rendered partakers of eternal bliss and glory with him in his heavenly kingdom.
Below is a photograph I took on a recent trip to Sauchenshausen Concentration Camp in Germany, where Poles suffered under both Nazis and Soviets. The prayer book, belonging to some poor Polish soul who suffered in the labour camps, states trustingly on the front:
Badz Wola Twoja
Thy Will Be Done.