29 October 2012 - District Superior's Letter
As the Church approaches the end of Her liturgical year, She places before us several great feasts: Christ the King, All Saints day and All Souls day.
My Dear Brethren,
I wish to thank you for your prayers and the warm welcome extended to me as I settle in as the new district superior of the Australian district. I have already met a good number of the faithful and look forward to meeting many more as the opportunity may arise.
As the Church approaches the end of Her liturgical year, She places before us several great feasts: Christ the King, All Saints day and All Souls day. From these She wants us to draw great profit for our spiritual lives. Indeed it is for this very purpose that the Church has instituted feasts. Pope Pius XI in the encyclical “Quas Primas” tells us that “people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year – in fact, forever. The church’s teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart, and have a salutary effect upon the whole of man’s nature. Man is composed of body and soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God’s teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit for his spiritual life.”
So let us profit by considering the greatest of these three feasts, which we have just celebrated - the feast of Christ the King. This feast was placed at the end of the liturgical year and just before the feast of All Saints, by Pius XI, to set the “crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of Christ” and to “proclaim and extol the glory of Him who triumphs in all the Saints and in all the Elect.”
If we consider the three holy kings who sought out the King of kings we are struck by a great contrast. For while they made great sacrifices to undertake and complete a long journey filled with many dangers the world around them was fleeing from that King and even seeking to put him to death. The guiding star, which they followed, to the world was nothing but a star, whose light men continue to turn away from, refusing its leadership.
What is the real significance of the three holy kings, as they follow the star, and at last fall down on their knees before the Infant in the crib? Can it be anything else but true, sincere submission to the divine authority, and to all other authority representing it?
Today many claim to fight for freedom. They claim we must especially be liberated from the old ideas of religion and revelation. But how incongruous it all is! As if good order and success are at any time dependent on anything else than submission to some guidance or authority! Can an automobile, for instance, be expected to be safe on the highway, if it is started and no one guides the wheel? Such freedom always leads to disaster, because it is no freedom at all, but rather slavery to falsehood. God’s Law is supreme and must be obeyed by all.
Now, if God’s law is not respected, how can it be brought about that man’s law will be observed? Christ was consistent; for He taught that we owe temporal allegiance to temporal rulers, as we owe spiritual allegiance to spiritual rulers. No one has the right to despise the laws of his country, if they are not openly unjust; for they are joined to and support the divine laws. If he doubts their justice, he must have a valid reason, before he can resist them.
The Catholic Church, more than any other institution on earth, was founded to uphold and enforce the divine laws. She is therefore the most potent factor in civil liberty, and the greatest safety of the individual citizen, protecting him against tyranny.
But the skeptic outside the Church will say: “The Catholic Church destroys all liberty; her children must bow down like slaves to whatever she ordains.” On the contrary, the Church champions individual liberty. This becomes plain when we consider her idea of liberty, which is this: Each man may think or do what he has a right to think or do, but not what he wishes to do. For a man can wish the greatest wrong or injustice.
The Holy Mass, which we Catholics see enacted before us, represents this true idea of liberty in a most clear manner; for it is a sacrifice and it therefore teaches us sacrifice. If we wish to do something God does not want, we must sacrifice our desire – that is the only true liberty; otherwise we become slaves to our own desires.
It is this Sacrifice that has truly set us free and has won for Him the title of King of the human race. As St. Thomas explains to us, Christ’s claim to kingship rests upon three titles. Two of these are natural rights, and the third is an acquired right. Christ’s first title comes by virtue of the Hypostatic Union, where as man he transcends every creature, even the highest angels who must adore and serve him. The second, by virtue of his fullness of grace, Christ enjoys the highest degree of glory and of charity thus excelling all creatures and is the head of the Church. Finally, by virtue of the Redemption, he has acquired the right of Kingship.
Nor is this Kingship limited, covering every aspect of our lives, as Pius XI tells us: “Not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to Him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls.”
So let us meditate upon the mysteries of our Lord Jesus Christ in the feasts that the Church, throughout the year, places before us and drink deeply so that we become worthy and obedient subjects of the King of kings.
Sincerely yours in Christ the King,
Fr. John D. Fullerton