Pope Pius XI established the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe in 1925 with his encyclical Quas Primas. The encyclical describes the nature and extent of Christ’s Kingship and how the Church should ever uphold the ultimate rule of Our Lord in the public sphere, especially in the face of rampant secularism. Pope Pius XI writes, “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony” (Quas Primas, paragraph 19). Catholic men, especially fathers, have the privilege and responsibility of leading the way in establishing both private and public recognition that Christ is King.
First, Christ must be made the rightful King of one’s heart, one’s family, and one’s home. Quas Primas explains that Our Lord’s kingdom “is spiritual and concerned with spiritual things” (paragraph 15). The spiritual reality of Christ’s kingship must be firmly planted in one’s private life before bringing Christ the King to the public sphere. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he told them to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”. These two petitions cannot be separated; a man must submit to the Lord’s will if he is to live in peace and lovingly rule with Christ in his home. Without establishing Christ as the source of his power — first through prayer and then virtue — a man’s share in Christ’s lordship devolves into tyranny. The one true King revealed his kingship most perfectly when nailed to a cross and the expectation is no less for Catholic men.
The family, as the foundational social unit, helps to establish the reign of Christ in society. As one establishes a vibrant life of faith in the home and participates in parish life centered on the Mass and Sacraments, grace overflows into one’s work and other social engagements. A virtuous life brings about the “well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony” Pope Pius XI references. While neither Jesus nor Pope Pius XI promise a perfect society, a society that respects the rights of the Church, honors and upholds the natural law, and protects and cares for society’s most vulnerable members will, unsurprisingly, receive the “great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony”. May Our Lord Christ the King reign in our hearts, our families, our Church and our world. Viva Cristo Rey!