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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Christ the King
A letter from Father Alvaro Corcuera, L.C. to all the members and friends of Regnum Christi

Cristo en la cruz con medalla.

You can also read this letter in Adobe Acrobat Reader here.


Your Kingdom Come!

November 12, 2005

To all the members and friends of Regnum Christi

My Dear Friends in Christ,

On November 20th, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. On the same day, in Guadalajara, Mexico, 13 Servants of God will be beatified, among them is José Luís Sánchez del Río, a 14 year-old boy who gave his life for Christ during the religious persecution unleashed in Mexico between the years 1926-29. Our Founder has always admired the integrity and Christian authenticity of this adolescent, and in a letter on October 16, 2004 he named José Luís patron of ECYD, in addition to the already existing patrons: St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Agnes for the respective masculine and feminine branches.

Taking into consideration this coincidence, I would like to take this occasion of the Regnum Christi Day to reflect with you, in the light of the marvelous witness of these martyrs, on the need to be coherent men and women, authentic Christians and apostles.

Jesus Christ was an authentic man, aware of his earthly mission and coherent in fulfilling it, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work” (Jn 4:34). Not even the disagreement of his relatives who considered him crazy, nor fear of Herod, nor the opposition of the Scribes and Pharisees could separate him from the work his Father had entrusted to him. He fulfilled it with a fidelity that took him to his death. That is why at the end of his life he could say, “I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do” (Jn 17:4).

This authenticity we see in Christ and which shines forth in the testimony of José Luís Sánchez del Río, although “it is a universally attractive value” (Letter of Nuestro Padre, February 27, 1977), it is nevertheless an exotic flower, hard to find in today’s world. What an overpowering truth is hidden in those words of Pope Paul VI, “Today’s world needs witnesses more than words, and if it listens to their words it is because they are witnesses.” Considering that authenticity is a trait so appreciated, I ask myself why it is so rare in our society, even among Christians and souls consecrated to God. I believe that it is quite simply because authenticity requires a high degree of human and Christian maturity, of coherence and of love for the truth.

What is Christian authenticity?

Authenticity is to live the truth of our being (in our thoughts, words and deeds). It is a truth that we discover in God, our Creator and Redeemer. Human reason, enlightened by faith, shows me the objective truth of my identity: I am a creature redeemed by Christ; I am a Christian, called to live like Christ within his mystical body which is the Church and to be an apostle; I have a mission in life which consists in serving and loving God by means of the fulfillment of his holy will, which is manifested principally in the natural moral law and in the criterion of the Gospel. So, summing it up, authenticity demands a consciousness of what we should be by will of God and being coherent with what we should be. This coherence, we know quite well, demands a constant struggle against everything that separates us from the faithful fulfillment of God’s will.

It is important to clarify that authenticity is not synonymous with spontaneity. True authenticity is not based on the fact of saying or doing something without hindrance or constraint. Some schools of psychology and pedagogical methods promote the idea that in order to become authentic and achieve personal fulfillment in life one must systematically free oneself from all impediments and restraint of his personal freedom (the latter is improperly defined as his whims or absolute autonomy). By contrast, the Gospel tells us, and our personal experience confirms, that the fulfillment of my duty, perhaps even against what my sentiments or circumstances might dictate, is not a sign of hypocrisy or falsehood, but rather a magnificent sign of coherence.

Dear members and friends of Regnum Christi, I invite you to allow yourselves to be enraptured by the authenticity that shines brightly in Christ’s life and in the heroic fidelity of José Luís and all of the martyrs. Let us be authentic, let us be true men and women, who entirely fulfill God’s will in our lives, without any falsehood. May our love for God’s will be so strong that we overcome human respect, duality and make believe in our behavior. “No one can serve two masters” (cf. Mt 6:24). Jesus Christ left us some unambiguous pages concerning this topic. It is enough to contemplate a crucifix to believe it. These were also the words that John Paul II frequently recalled to us: Always faithful! In any circumstance, any mood, in times of adversity or calm, in suffering and at every moment. It is always helpful to remember, meditate and put into effect the extraordinary speech he gave us during his first apostolic journey to Mexico, pronounced at the Mass in the Cathedral on January 26, 1979. There he spoke of the steps of fidelity, which imply coherence and constancy. He said, “Do not deny in darkness what we have seen in the light.”

2. Implications of an authentic Christian life

a) Prayer as a means of discovering what God wants of us.

Prayer is an essential element for the forming of a clear and habitual consciousness of what God, fountain of all authenticity, wants of me at each moment. What is more, prayer not only enlightens me but it also provides me with the strength, the motivations to love God’s design and bring it to fulfillment. How moving it is to contemplate Jesus absorbed in prayer so frequently and for prolonged periods. Before making important decisions, in the hours of the darkness of his Passion, at all times Christ knew how to discover, through prayer, the necessary enlightenment and strength to persevere in the fulfillment of “his Father’s affairs” (Lk 2:49). With prayer, everything changes! We cannot even imagine the transforming power it has. Our sufferings become joys; sadness becomes consolation; weakness, strength and worries, peace. Christ withdrew himself to pray. There he made decisions; there he pleaded to his Father; from there he showed us the way, the best road of all. Pray, pray, pray. There is no doubt that this is the way for everything. Let us never forget that, together with the cultivation of prayer, the wise council of a spiritual director can help us know and better discern the concrete manifestations of the divine will.

b) Maintain a proper hierarchy of values

The divine will must be the supreme norm, above my passions and whims, fads and worldly customs and the invitations of the devil. Whatever helps me to fulfill God’s will is good; whatever hinders is bad. The saints give us a marvelous example of what it means to coherently live this proper hierarchy of values. “We must obey God rather than men,” Peter and the other apostles valiantly confessed before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:29). We have so many opportunities in our work and in general in our social relationships to give courageous witness to this truth, which on occasions can imply making difficult decisions or going against the tide! José Luís had his hierarchy of values very clear, “To die before betraying Christ and his country”, he repeated to his torturers. He had his heart set on the eternal homeland and in the words Christ says in the Gospel, “Come, my good and faithful servant. Share your master´s joy” (Mt 25:21).

In order to live coherently according to the supreme norm of God’s will, we must be faithful to the voice of the Holy Spirit in our conscience. “His conscience,” the Second Vatican Council reminds us, “is man’s most secret core, and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths” (Gaudium et Spes, n.16). In it, the fundamental moral law echoes strongly, “You must do good and avoid evil (bonum est faciendum, malum vitandum).” It is there, in the conscience, where we are alone with our Friend, who in the end only wants what is good for us, he wants our happiness!

Believe me, dear friends and members of Regnum Christi, one of the most terrible things that could happen to us is to lose the delicacy of our conscience, because as long at this exists, there is always a possibility of recovery, God will be able to give us a hand to pull us through. More than our physical health, we must take care of the health of our conscience; always declaring “good” what is good and “evil” what is evil; let us worry more about a deformation of the conscience than about a wound or an annoying comment. Nuestro Padre gives us practical advice concerning this, “Be authentic every day of your life. Do not go to sleep even one day with an interior crack or deformation, just as you would not be able to sleep with a broken arm. May the fracture or sprain hurt you and fix it. Do not wait for the pain of the conscience to go away and thus consolidate the deformation. There you would have a reason to fear!” (Letter to a Legionary on June 1, 1979) This is a truly useful resolution to make for our own lives: never go to bed without doing a brief conscience examen in order to see how we are responding to God’s concrete plan over our lives, to thank him for all the good that we may have done and rectify any sign of deceit or deformation!

To make God’s will the supreme norm of my life is, moreover, the source of happiness and deep, interior peace, for the soul seeks to please God at all moments, moved out of love and not out of fear. As the Imitation of Christ says, “The glory of the good man is the witness of a good conscience. Keep your conscience clean and you will always be happy” (Bk. II, c.6, n.12). It is also helpful to review, especially with the heart, the words of Psalm 118, “How I love your teaching, Lord! I study it all day long!” The same thing happens to us when we love a person: we love them so much and they love us so much that the joy of our heart is to do what is pleasing to them, to see them happy and to know that our gratitude to them manifests itself more than with mere words, but with deeds of fidelity to their will. That is why we call God’s will holy and we ask every day in the Our Father that his will be done. There is no greater petition in our lives.

c) Flee from falsehood in our lives, and thus, seek to be good and not just to give the appearance.

We must try to live with our eyes always set on God and not on others. One of the greatest enemies of authenticity is vanity and human respect, fear of what others might think or say about us. Sometimes it is necessary to be careful about our image and take into account the possible repercussions of our acts before others. However, when this leads me to silence my conscience, to neglect the fulfillment of my duty and omit doing good, then we prefer to betray God instead of having an undesirable reputation before others.

“People –Nuestro Padre says while writing to a Legionary– has always felt the need of a mask, be it for laughing or crying. Many men and women wear them. Don’t be fooled by appearances, brother. Many people embellish themselves, smile, wink at the mirror..., but with the mask on. Perhaps only when they have turned off the lights do they dare to take it off for a few moments, but they leave it on the nightstand, within reach in order to put it back on as the first act of the day.” (Letter, March 21, 1980). What should worry us is the image that God has of us; to build our lives minute by minute with my eyes set on him. This is the best image we can give to others, the most authentic, the one that “sells” the best. “You are not holier because they praise you or worse because they say bad things about you. You simply are what you are, and you cannot consider yourself greater than what God testifies about you” (Imitation of Christ, II, c.6, n.12).

Dear friends and members of Regnum Christi, we cannot fool God since “everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.” (Heb 4:13). It is he who has made us and who will judge us. But his is not the scrutinizing look of the policeman or inquisitor, but that of a Father who loves us, who cares for us and even if sometimes he disciplines us, it is only for our own good (cf. Heb 12:7; Job 5:17). What peace and security we feel in our soul when we live this reality, living always with our eyes set on God! We have nothing to fear, no reason to hide ourselves when we hear God’s footsteps in the garden, like Adam and Eve after their sin (Gen 3:8). We feel quite comfortable with him; we speak frankly and spontaneously with him.

d) Return to the Truth: learn how to humbly pick ourselves up and continue along the road

We all have our failures and limitations, but that does not make us incoherent, as long as we humbly recognize our weakness, sincerely ask God for forgiveness and return to the upright path. Frequent confession is the sacrament, which once again sets us in the truth of God and, together with the Eucharist, gives us the strength to live in it.

It is so easy to justify ourselves, put make-up on our image before others and even before ourselves with a long litany of excuses (“that was not my intention; there is no need to exaggerate; we are all human; everyone else does it; in these circumstances it can be done...”). Honesty with oneself is the essential condition for self-improvement, for being authentic; the sincerity, which Christ “the way, the truth and the life” proposes to us in the Gospel. “Living the truth in love” (cf. Eph 4:!5). “If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing” (1Jn 1:8-9). God’s greatest pleasure is in forgiving us. However, forgiveness without love, that is, without repentance, corrupts. In the same way, authenticity without sincerity is a farce. Let us ask God to grant us the grace of being truly honest and humble so that he never allows us to be separated from him nor distrust his love.

Dear members and friends of Regnum Christi, you know better than I that we live in hard times. Whoever wants to remain faithful and live their Christian faith authentically must be ready to bet it all on Christ. Today, perhaps, the reality of martyrdom that the first Christians experienced seems clearer than in the past. Our Christian vocation is a call to give witness, to be a sign of contradiction, a summons to the martyrdom of our daily fidelity. The martyrs like José Luís Sánchez del Río give us an example of this fact.

In Mary, the Virgin of the “yes”, the authentic and coherent woman by antonomasia, faithful to her word to God and to mankind, we can find a marvelous synthesis of what I have been trying to tell you and also a sure support in our daily struggle to become coherent men and women, authentic Christians. I implore her to obtain from God, together with the intercession of the future Blessed José Luís Sánchez del Río, the grace of final perseverance in the faith and love of God.

Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus,

Alvaro Corcuera, LC



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