Following is an article written by Fr. Luis Garza LC
concerning the spirituality of the Legion of Christ and the Regnum
Christi movement and the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion. Written and
published this past summer in Spanish, it has been
translated for the North American audience.
Recently many have questioned whether
the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement in
fact have a specific charism. Some have even concluded that
we do not.
I think Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal De Paolis
have clearly stated that there indeed is a charism. During
this renewal process, all the Legionaries, consecrated members and the
1st and 2nd degree members of Regnum Christi have been
working on describing what the essential charism is that unites
Clearly Regnum Christi and the Legion have a charism –
but what is it? With this personal reflection, I in
no way am trying to come up with a formal
study of the charism or a complete explanation. I simply
want to put forward what I believe to be the
source of our spirituality and the virtues that flow from
it. The Constitution and Statutes review process will certainly end
up expressing these ideas more clearly and with greater understanding.
speaking about the spirituality of the Legion and Regnum Christi,
we first need to understand what a spirituality of a
religious institute or of a movement (that is, of a
charismatic reality in the Church) is.
An institute’s spirituality is the
way that its members relate to God and the service
they offer him. It is a unified whole composed of
convictions and ideas that can be seen in the way
the member lives his life. The components of a spirituality
are not separate truths -- as if they were loose
pieces lumped together. Each element is related to the other
components. Each way of understanding the Christian mystery (each spirituality)
must give a complete vision and --while not leaving aside
any truths of the Faith-- may emphasize certain aspects. This
is what defines a spirituality as a spirituality.
The spirituality of
a movement thus highlights some truths of the faith over
others; it stresses some virtues without losing sight of the
completeness of Christ’s example. It sanctifies its members and it
also has a specific purpose; it makes use of certain
characteristic means and spiritual practices. Even its liturgy, while faithful
to the rubrics, takes on a specific character.
So what is
the spirituality of the Legion and Regnum Christi?
I believe our
spirituality is born from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It
is in this devotion and from this mystery that all
the essential elements are fully explained.
There are three ways of
understanding devotion to the Sacred Heart & its spirituality: 1)
As one more devotion among the treasury of the Church’s
devotional practices; 2) As a way of understanding the mystery
of Jesus Christ which gives pride of place to some
virtues that are related to the Heart: meekness, compassion, and
so forth; 3) The conscience and humanity of Christ, in
whom we have access to the mystery of God.
Legion´s beginnings, acts of devotion to the Sacred Heart were
given great importance. Over time, these acts have fallen into
disuse both in the Church and in Regnum Christi. Although
traces of the devotion remain, such as the weekly Eucharistic
hour with its purpose of reparation, the tradition of masses
on the first Fridays of every month (one that is
still practiced in some of our works of apostolate), the
reparation to the Sacred Heart we do during the three
days of Carnival, and so forth, these acts of devotion
to the Sacred Heart no longer are given any particular
It is not necessarily important to insist on the devotional
practices in defining a spirituality. Many of these acts of
devotion are indeed changeable and depend on social and cultural
We still do, however, attach great importance to virtues
that come from the mystery of the Sacred Heart: a)
the ardent love we have for God and, in Him,
all people – such that we also burn to bring
them the Gospel; b) the acceptance of the cross and
suffering as the greatest proof of love; c) the gift
and total oblation of ourselves to the point of shedding
the last drop of blood; d) reparation and atonement for
our sins and for the sins of all humanity; e)
the mercy, kindness and charity of Christ´s own heart; f)
the importance given to Christ’s humanity, etc. At the same
time, our “Christ-centeredness” focuses primarily on the human person of
Jesus, whose image is the heart of Christ. Our relationship
with Christ is made real in relation to the incarnate
Christ, who like us was born and who lived and
died out of love for all. The Christ who lives
in obedience to the Father, but also in obedience to
St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin and all human authorities.
The Christ who is poor and who gave himself totally
to others. The Christ who is chaste, whose love is
reserved for his Father and for men. The Christ who
spares himself no fatigue to energetically announce the coming of
the Kingdom. The Christ who learned suffering out of obedience
and who takes upon himself the cruel sacrifice of the
cross. The Christ who forms his apostles and then sends
them to announce the coming of the Kingdom. The Christ
who relates to his disciples, who enjoys the good things
in life, acknowledging them as gifts and praising the Father.
The Christ who makes his life a constant prayer.
we call “the Legionary Christ” (Warner Sallman’s painting, the Head of
Christ) has always hung in the most prominent places
in our houses. I personally see these above-mentioned characteristics in
this painting and, seeing this painting, feel drawn to love,
imitate and follow Christ.
These are the fundamental traits of devotion
to the Sacred Heart. It is necessary to say something
more about what makes up this mystery and try to
go to a little deeper in order to fit together
the elements that underpin our spirituality. That is what I
will try to do in the following pages.
History of the
Sacred Heart´s Spirituality
In this section, I don´t intend to write
a complete history of the spirituality because I am not
qualified to do so. I only want to mention some
aspects that will help us understand better the spirituality of
the Heart of Christ.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart sprang from
gazing on Christ’s pierced side and seeing his humanity. In
other words, its base is the Incarnation and the essence
of the devotion comes from the climactic moment of Christ’s
mission here on Earth when blood and water poured forth
from his heart. In this context, one can say that
the elements that make up devotion to the Heart of
Christ have always been present in the life of the
Church and her spirituality, though perhaps not always so visibly.
devotion as we know it today began in the Middle
Ages in monastic spirituality (St. Bernard, St. Matilda, St. Gertrude).
Jesus’ heart (the heart of the divine-human person of Christ
as the source of infinite love) became the point of
departure from which the movement of mystical love developed. From
this pierced heart the gift of the Spirit comes, who
descends into our soul to unite and incorporate us into
Christ. St. Gertrude has visions of the Sacred Heart in
which she reveals the infinite love of the Heart of
Christ to humanity.
St John Eudes writes in Cœur Admirable: "Consider
that the adorable Heart of Jesus is the principle and
source of all the mysteries and states of His life
as well as of all His thoughts, words, deeds and
sufferings for our salvation. His heart burning with love prompted
Him to perform all these things for us. Thus it
is that we owe honor and love to this most
amiable Heart for countless reasons, and to show our affection
we must celebrate this Feast with all possible devotion… We
must acknowledge our infinite unworthiness to take any part in
the celebration of such a holy solemnity because it belongs
to heaven rather than to earth; and because the Feast
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a feast of
the Seraphim rather than of sinful men."
It was St. Margaret
Mary Alacoque who received the apparitions of the Heart of
Christ from which this devotion developed into its current form.
We discover in the first apparition, which she recounted in
a letter to Fr Croiset, the substance of the devotion.
She writes, "And He showed me that it was His great
desire of being loved by men and of withdrawing them
from the path of ruin into which Satan hurls such
crowds of them, that made Him form the design of
manifesting His Heart to men, with all the treasures of
love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation which
it contains, in order that those who desire to render
Him and procure for Him all the honor and love
possible, might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures
of which this Heart is the source. He should be
honored under the figure of this Heart of flesh, and
its image should be publicly exposed and even carried on
my person over my heart so that He might imprint
his love into it, fill it with all the gifts
with which his own is filled, and destroy in it
all inordinate affection."
This devotion was the last effort of His
love that He would grant to men in these latter
ages, in order to withdraw them from the empire of
Satan which He desired to destroy, and thus to introduce
them into the sweet liberty of the rule of His
love, which He wished to restore in the hearts of
all those who should embrace this devotion.
The Congregation for Divine
Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments summarizes this devotion
as follows: "Devotion to the Sacred Heart was particularly strong
during the Middle Ages. Many renowned for their learning and
holiness developed and encouraged the devotion, among them St. Bernard
(+1153), St. Bonaventure (+1274), the mystic St. Lutgarda (+1246), St
Mathilda of Marburg (+1282), the sainted sisters Mathilda (+1299) and
Gertrude (+1302) of the monastery of Helfta, and Ludolf of
Saxony (+1380). These perceived in the Sacred Heart a "refuge"
in which to recover, the seat of mercy, the encounter
with him who is the source of the Lord´s infinite
love, the fount from which flows the Holy Spirit, the
promised land, and true paradise. In the modern period devotion
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus underwent new developments. At
a time when Jansenism proclaimed the rigors of divine justice,
the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus served as
a useful antidote and aroused in the faithful a love
for Our Lord and a trust in his infinite mercy
symbolized by his Heart. St. Francis de Sales (+ 1622)
adopted humility, gentleness (cf. Mt 11, 29) and tender loving
mercy, all aspects of the Sacred Heart, as a model
for his life and apostolate. The Lord frequently manifested the
abundant mercy of his Heart to St. Margaret Mary (+
1690); St. John Eudes (+ 1680) promoted the liturgical cult
of the Sacred Heart, while St. Claude de la Colombière
(+ 1682) and St. John Bosco (+ 1888) and other
saints were avid promoters of devotion to the Sacred Heart."
(CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS,
Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, December 2001, nn.169-
With the passing of time, some aspects of devotion to
the Sacred Heart and their meaning have become more fully
understood. I would like to mention two in particular. The
first is the link between the Sacred Heart and Christ
the King and the second is its relationship to Divine
These natural developments in the devotion have come about
in different ways.
The relationship between the Sacred Heart and
Christ the King was stated by Pope St Pius XI:
"The way has been happily and providentially prepared for the
celebration of this feast ever since the end of the
last century. It is well known that this cult has
been the subject of learned disquisitions in many books published
in every part of the world, written in many different
languages. The kingship and empire of Christ have been recognized
in the pious custom, practiced by many families, of dedicating
themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; not only families
have performed this act of dedication, but nations, too, and
kingdoms. In fact, the whole of the human race was
at the instance of Pope Leo XIII, in the Holy
Year 1900, consecrated to the Divine Heart." (PIUS XI, Encyclical
Quas Primas¸11 December 1925, n. 26.)
The relationship with the infinite
mercy of God was revealed to St Faustina Kowalska. Pope
John Paul II said in his homily at her canonization:
"Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus, quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius...Give thanks
to the Lord for he is good; his steadfast love
endures forever" (Ps 118: 1). So the Church sings on
the Octave of Easter, as if receiving from Christ´s lips
these words of the Psalm; from the lips of the
risen Christ, who bears the great message of divine mercy
and entrusts its ministry to the Apostles in the Upper
Room: "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent
me, even so I send you.... Receive the Holy Spirit.
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven;
if you retain the sins of any, they are retained"
(Jn 20: 21-23).
Before speaking these words, Jesus shows his hands
and his side. He points, that is, to the wounds
of the Passion, especially the wound in his heart, the
source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured
out on humanity. From that heart Sr Faustina Kowalska, the
blessed who from now on we will call a saint,
will see two rays of light shining from that heart
and illuminating the world: "The two rays", Jesus himself explained
to her one day, "represent blood and water"(Diary, Libreria Editrice
Vaticana, p. 132, John Paul
II, Homily of Canonization, 30 April
In our own history, we cannot forget the spiritual environment
into which the Legion of Christ, the first part of
the Regnum Christi family, was born. Since the late 1800’s,
devotion to the Sacred Heart spread rapidly in Mexico and
frequently the Sacred Heart was enthroned in homes. These were
very difficult years for the nation and for the Church.
Mexico underwent a revolution that ended in 1917. Then a
new constitution was written in which, for all practical purposes,
the rights of the Church were denied. This was the
situation from which the fight for religious freedom would later
Beginning in 1914, praying for a peaceful solution, the Mexican
bishops sought to consecrate the country to the Sacred Heart
and dedicate a large statue in his honor. This monument
was finished in 1920. Built in Cerro del Cubilete, Guanajuato,
it was at the geographic center of Mexico. In 1923,
the foundation stone was laid for what would be an
even larger and more impressive monument. However, between 1926 and
1928, Mexico suffered a bloody religious persecution and a war
that produced countless martyrs who died shouting "Long live Christ
the King." In 1928, after the war, the Mexican government
destroyed the first monument. The present monument, that of Christ
the King, was built in the ´40s, a sign that
Mexicans, both bishops and the people, understood well the link
between the Sacred Heart and Christ the King.
this spiritual environment that existed in Mexico, and without doubt
due to divine inspiration, the original name the founder gave
to the Legion of Christ was "Missionaries of the Sacred
Heart and Our Lady of Sorrows." Although, as I have
indicated, the early Legion made much more explicit reference to
the Sacred Heart and placed much more emphasis on devotional
practices directed to him than are common today, the spiritual
heritage continues, because, as I will explain below, our entire
spirituality from the beginning through to today is rooted in
the Sacred Heart.
But it is also quite clear that the
Lord’s inspiration did not stop at the centrality of the
Sacred Heart, but our spirituality followed a natural development converging
on Christ the King. Following the Legion of Christ’s foundation,
over time groups of lay people were founded and all
our ministry now revolves around the Kingdom of Christ. The
movement was called "Regnum Christi." I think we can say
that our spirituality moves between the two poles: that of
the Heart of Christ and of Christ the King.
of Christ´s Heart
In this section, I want to reflect on
the elements that comprise this spirituality of the Heart of
Christ, bringing out what has been the Legion of Christ
and Regnum Christi’s spiritual heritage from the very beginning.
of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi is essentially
Christ-centered. That is, Jesus Christ is the source and model
of every member’s life. However, I find that by focusing
specifically on the Heart of Christ, we can discover those
aspects of the life and person of Jesus Christ that
reveal our identity and are more characteristic of us. I
am not trying therefore to replace “Christ-centeredness” with the Sacred
Heart. I simply want to specify what exactly Christ-centeredness is
for us and thus discover the path that is most
characteristic of us – most “our own.”
A. Essential aspects of
I. Love and mercy
a. Self-giving love and the concept of militancy
Church’s tradition has always seen Jesus’ pierced side as the
foundation for the theology and spirituality of the heart of
Christ. St. John invites us to enter into spiritual intimacy
with Jesus (Jn 19:37 : "They will look upon him
whom they have pierced" which, in the words of St.
Ambrose, is the secret room). According to exegetes, when St.
John uses the verb "look," he refers to "seeing" with
the eyes of faith so as to able to grasp
the meaning of the symbol it represents.
By faith we come
to know Jesus Christ´s oblation of himself as a son
to the Father, and his great desire for our salvation,
which is symbolized by His blood being shed for us.
By the symbol of water we understand that Jesus gives
us His Spirit so we can live for Him. Gazing
“on Him whom they have pierced" is to a participation
in the richness of the life of the Paschal Lamb
who offered himself up for the salvation of the world.
defining aspect of Christ´s heart is that it burns with
love for all men. It is a heart that thirsts
(exegetes see in the Gospel of John --John 19: 25-29--
an expression of the Divine Heart’s thirst for souls). It
is the final moment of Christ’s life, when he has
fulfilled all and offered all that he gives us the
Spirit and the gift of Mary as our mother. Thus
he institutes the path and life of the Church. As
he departs, he gives us the treasure of his mother
and the Spirit who will complete the work of the
Following Christ’s example of loving oblation and self-giving, we should
be ready for anything, offering our lives for others and
surrendering ourselves out of love for the Father. Christ’s love
gives us the courage and magnanimity (a concept that Pope
Francis recently used in his "Address to Students of Jesuit
Schools of Italy", Friday, 7 June 2013) to undertake great
works of apostolate and go to the frontiers of evangelization;
it causes us to give that little bit more love
as we serve others and to look for more effective
ways to ensure that Christ reigns in the hearts of
every person, in culture and society, just as the Church
has done from the beginning of its history. This love
helps us to become all things to all people, going
the extra mile to search for a soul despite the
fatigue we might feel, and following Christ’s example in working
so that everyone who is called becomes an apostle and
a leader, sent (apostles) to influence others (leaders).
We live in
this stream of God’s love and therefore are consumed with
an ardent desire to make Christ known and loved more.
We want every person, every family, every nation, culture and
society to accept and be conquered by the “sweet empire
of Jesus Christ.” No one can be excluded from this
love and for this reason we pray, “Thy Kingdom Come!
is within the desire to be more and more like
Christ by our love for Him where our militant spirit
finds its place: it is the militancy of love that
impels us to look to do more and do everything
with perfection and with great zeal.
b. Mercy and Charity
Christ’s love is
such that it led to his death. It led him
to give his life for the sheep, silently, without asking
anything in return. Because of his love, he was ready
to pour forth his mercy upon Judas, on the good
thief and so many others. The good thief did not
miss the opportunity because the slightest step towards him is
enough for Christ to pour out his mercy and salvation.
have already referred to the profound link the Sacred Heart
has with the Divine Mercy as expressed in the apparitions
to St. Faustina. In her diary she wrote these words
coming from Jesus himself: "Every soul believing and trusting in
My mercy will obtain it…The last hope of salvation for
them is to flee to My Mercy….I am love and
mercy itself. The souls who especially venerate and glorify My
mercy… are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls
will shine with a special brightness in the next life.
Not one of them will go into the fire of
hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at
the hour of death."
Christ is love and mercy itself. His
love is a love that forgives and raises mankind up
out of its misery. It is here where the abyss
of man’s misery meets with the infinite abyss of God’s
mercy. Christ’s love offered up and made an oblation saves
man, who was lost.
Only by experiencing this mercy in one’s
own life can one in turn be merciful and forgive
others. All the members of the Movement greatly value the
frequent reception of the sacrament of reconciliation in our own
lives and with great great zeal we try to help
others to understand its beauty and goodness. Legionaries are noted
for their great love and priestly hearts when, in persona
Christi, they hear confessions and serve as instruments of God’s
Without doubt, God has tried to teach us to see
everything with eyes of mercy and forgiveness and not to
set ourselves up as judges of our fellow brothers and
sisters. Our recent history is truly a sign that we
need to have a heart like Christ’s, meek and humble,
understanding and full of goodness. Attentive and exquisite charity --that
distinctive characteristic that has always been ours and is a
reflection of Christ’s heart—springs from this.
There is another aspect of
Christ’s merciful love I would like to highlight. It is
related to what have been our life and our spirituality.
Christ came to proclaim the Kingdom to the poor and
it is mainly on them he pours out his mercy.
In the world, many persons and even entire peoples suffer
the sickness of poverty and injustice. We have always had
in our constitutions and statutes apostolates in accord with our
charism that promoted the human and social development of individuals.
It is true that --the extraordinary works of apostolate begun
and directed by lay members of the Movement and the
Legion’s launching the Mano Amiga school network notwithstanding-- whatever we
do will always be too little. Therefore, every one of
us, both at a personal and institutional level, must ask
if we live with austerity and witness to a life
of poverty and if we are detached from everything. We
must ask ourselves if we are doing all we can
to promote the the human person and to proclaim the
Gospel to the poor. This will certainly be a sign
of the merciful love of God who works through us
to bring His light and consolation to all men.
is sick from other forms of poverty as well: loneliness,
abandonment, sadness, lack of faith, arrogance and self-sufficiency. There are
plenty of rich people who are poor because they live
in sin without knowing and loving Jesus Christ. Many of
them surround us in this so-called post-Christian world where hope
seems to have died despite people having everything at their
disposal. We cannot be indifferent knowing that there are entire
countries where practice of religion does not exceed ten per
cent of population. St. Francis Xavier, writing to St Ignatius,
told him that he longed to go and preach to
European universities so that the students who were absorbed by
their studies because they had “more learning than charity” would
go to baptize and preach the gospel in the missionary
countries and in particular in India. We must be both
charitable and learned and be instruments of the Holy Spirit
to bring the love of the Heart of Jesus Christ
to many Christians who no longer recognize themselves as Christians
and help them in their conversion.
The best way for us
to confront and solve the poverty (both spiritual and material)
in which the world is awash, is by living out
our charism which seeks to establish the Kingdom by forming
the apostle-leader. It will be these apostle-leaders who, united with
us, will go into the entire world to preach the
Good News and create a civilization of justice and love.
to the Sacred Heart seeks among other things to make
up for the offenses against his love. This reparation is
the satisfaction offered to God to restore the sinners’ honor
and inherent rights.
In this sense, reparation is an expression
of love, as has been stated in the Encyclical Redemptor
Miserentissimus written by Pius XII: "But to all these duties,
more especially to that fruitful Consecration which was in a
manner confirmed by the sacred solemnity of Christ the King,
something else must needs be added… we mean that duty
of honorable satisfaction or reparation which must be rendered to
the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For if the first
and foremost thing in Consecration is this, that the creature´s
love should be given in return for the love of
the Creator, another thing follows from this at once, namely
that to the same uncreated Love, if so be it
has been neglected by forgetfulness or violated by offense, some
sort of compensation must be rendered for the injury, and
this debt is commonly called by the name of reparation."
(PIUIS XI, Encylical Letter Miserentissimus Redemptor, 8 May 1928, n.
If we closely examine our history, we can easily discover
that God is calling us again to give importance in
our spirituality to atoning and making reparation for our sins
and those of our brothers. Certainly we cannot do this
from self-justification’s high ground. Rather we must make reparation, humbly
acknowledging our sins and knowing that God´s mercy alone is
what obtains our forgiveness."
d. The Eucharist
Clearly in this context we can
understand how we live our devotion to the Eucharist, the
sacrament of love, and the radical importance we place not
only on theory but on very personal and experiential Eucharistic
devotional practices. The Eucharist for us really is our life,
where we encounter the truth of who we are, the
place of encounter with Christ our King and Lord, and
our resting place. Besides being the sacrament of love, the
Eucharist is the same mercy of God by which we
receive the gifts of redemption. The Eucharist is, when it
comes down to it, the only treasure you can bring
to souls. We should not forget that we are bearers
of His precious blood so that the Precious blood, as
medicine, may heal the wounds of a sick and suffering
II. Christ´s Humanity
5. Reaching Christ through his humanity
In the Congregation for Divine
Worship‘s directory quoted above (#166) it says:
"Understood in the
light of the Scriptures, the term "Sacred Heart of Jesus"
denotes the entire mystery of Christ, the totality of his
being, and his person considered in its most intimate essential:
Son of God, uncreated wisdom; infinite charity, principal of the
salvation and sanctification of mankind. The "Sacred Heart" is Christ,
the Word Incarnate, and Savior, intrinsically containing, in the Spirit,
an infinite divine-human love for the Father and for his
Christ’s humanity has always been one mode of accessing Christ.
Our spirituality is “incarnational.” In his book, The Imitation of
the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Fr Arnoudt, S.J. writes:
therefore, My Child, lest thou hearken to them that say,
that there is a higher and better road for more
perfect souls; a way, not of My Heart, but of
the mere Godhead, away, which, setting aside or overlooking My
Humanity, can lead thee in a sublime manner to thy
end, through the Divinity alone. Whosoever says this to thee,
be he a man or an Angel, believe him not,
trust him not. For, through My Humanity, I came to
men: and, through this same Humanity, must men come to
We relate to Christ who became incarnate in the womb
of the Virgin, who was born in Bethlehem, who was
shown to the world, who preached the Gospel and performed
miracles. We relate to the Christ of Gethsemane, of the
Trial at the High Priest’s house, and of Calvary, and
to the triumphant Christ who conquers the world. Above all,
we relate to Christ who forms and projects his apostles
to go first to the towns and villages of Galilee,
but later throughout the whole world proclaiming the gospel.
f. Consequences of
travelling this path towards Christ
The most important consequence that comes
of walking this path to reach God is that our
spirituality gives a correct importance to human nature. We even
have a maxim: "first the man and then the saint."
We don’t envision a purely spiritualized Christianity, filled only with
liturgical gestures. We conceive it instead as “real life” –
full of the scars of those who confront the weight
of their misery. We know that grace does not destroy
nature, but rather presupposes it, perfecting it to enable us
to reach God.
There is a whole program of life and
a deeper understanding of the mystery of Christian life here!
There is also an important ascetic path to achieve, so
that by grace nature becomes identified with Christ and we
attain the virtues necessary to imitate and follow Jesus Christ.
We should beware the danger here of sidelining grace and
falling into a somewhat voluntaristic way of approaching the spiritual
life. This way of seeing our spirituality would suck people’s
spiritual life dry and cause them great frustration. Nevertheless, we
are aware of the need to collaborate freely with grace.
Everything must be understood through the prism of substantial humility
that, following Christ’s example, makes us realize who we are
and helps us to be convinced deep down in our
hearts of the need for God’s grace and mercy of
Another consequence is that we treat people we encounter in
our apostolic activities with "humanity" and simplicity. Our relationship with
them should be filled with the warmth and closeness that
Christ showed in his dealings with those he encountered. We
seek to put people at the center and help in
all aspects of their lives so that Jesus Christ reigns
entirely in the person’s life.
And lastly, we know that all
human experience has been touched and raised up by the
Incarnation and Christ’s humanity. Because of this we benefit from
the good things God gives us, and we learn to
value both the beauty of nature and the creations of
the human spirit: art, music, and so forth.
III. The Kingdom
a. The Sacred
Heart and the Kingdom
Pius XI said the purpose of the
feast of Christ the King was to fulfill, to bring
to perfection and to reaffirm the consecration of the world
to the Sacred Heart made by Leo XIII. The feast
of Christ the King is therefore the development of consecration
to the Heart of Christ.
In fact, in the Encyclical Annum
Sacrum Leo XIII says: "For by consecrating ourselves to Him
we not only declare our open and free acknowledgment and
acceptance of His authority over us, but we also testify
that if what we offer as a gift were really
our own, we would still offer it with our whole
heart." (LEO XIII, Encyclical Letter Annum Sacrum¸25 May 1899, n.
By consecrating the world, Pope Leo XIII, on behalf
of all mankind, declared and accepted the royalty of the
Heart of Jesus. Later, Pope Pius XI would reaffirm this
by declaring the Feast of Christ the King. For both
Popes, the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the
Sacred Heart are the same thing, namely, Christ reigning with
his Heart and his love.
In Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pius XI wrote:
"Now when we did this, not only did we set
in a clear light that supreme sovereignty which Christ holds
over the whole universe, over civil and domestic society, and
over individual men, but at the same time we anticipated
the joys of that most auspicious day, whereon the whole
world will gladly and willingly render obedience to the most
sweet lordship of Christ the King. For this reason, We
decreed at the same time that this same Consecration should
be renewed every year on the occasion of that appointed
festal day, so that the fruit of this same Consecration
might be obtained more certainly and more abundantly, and all
peoples might be joined together in Christian charity and in
the reconciliation of peace, in the Heart of the King
of kings and Lord of lords." (PIUS XI, Encyclical Letter
Miserentissimus Redemptor, 8 May 1928, n. 5.)
St. Margaret recounted in
the first revelation that the goal of Christ´s loving redemption
was "to withdraw them from the empire of Satan, which
He intends to destroy, and in order to put us
under the sweet empire of His love."
b. What “Kingdom” means
always spoken of the Kingdom and we use the concept
at all times. What exactly is the Kingdom? I am
not going to define it or attempt a theological explanation.
I propose these ideas as personal reflections that perhaps can
illustrate the elements of this concept.
First of all, the Kingdom
is not a univocal term. It is a reality with
different meanings depending on context.. Generally it is the expression
of the Lordship of Christ over all creation and in
each of our lives.
- The Kingdom is the entirety of the
Church, not just the Church on earth: To establish the
Kingdom is to make Christ’s presence more complete, more definitive
throughout all creation. Our work for the Kingdom is bound
together with the men and women who throughout history and
in the future have been, are, or will be walking
the path that we are on, who are following Christ.
We cannot forget this characteristic of the cosmic and eternal
kingdom. This zeal to bring about the Kingdom more fully
in this world is a zeal of love for the
Church, for the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ and
head of the Church, the bishops and pastors and all
the faithful. This Church is our home and our family.
Kingdom in the community and family: We are not alone
in the fight, because we are supported by the prayer
and intercession of the saints in heaven; by so many
good souls on earth; and united also with all those
who in Purgatory are purifying their lives so as to
be able to enter eternal glory. Every good deed, every
action in accord with God’s plan, raises humanity up and
conforms it more to Christ. The people whom God in
his Providence have linked to our lives (I am thinking
mainly of our own families and communities) are those who
make the Kingdom real, because in this union we become
more and more a reflection of the Trinity and fulfill
more perfectly God’s plan. There is a direct flow of
graces from one another so as to enrich each other
until Christ is all in all.
- The Kingdom in our own
lives: More directly and immediately, this kingdom is a reality
in our own lives. Establishing the Kingdom means each one
of us personally identifies more with Christ, we become his
close followers, and our lives becomes a reflection of Christ’s
life, thus fulfilling God’s will for us. The Kingdom of
Christ is not only an exterior reality that touches the
outer sphere of the person. It is rather a Kingdom
that is primarily inside each person. By grace, the person
changes his will to identify with Christ’s. In his thoughts,
there is no room for any thought except for those
about the Kingdom and love. His feelings are permeated with
those of Christ. His whole being becomes more and more
like Christ. He imitates Christ’s life, follows His doctrine and
loves what He loves. There is nothing in that person
that remains outside the influence of the Kingdom. In truth
we are “Christified.” I need to clarify what “permeated with
Christ’s feelings" means. It is not a work of self-will
or of asceticism, even though some asceticism is needed on
the path of purification and preparation. The Kingdom is a
kingdom of grace, not a kingdom of this world. It
does not come about because of human effort, but because
of the mercy and goodness of God. It is our
duty to beg for grace, appealing to the mercy of
the One who desires all men to be saved. Still,
some “fight” and some asceticism will be part of our
daily lives on the path to purification.
- The Kingdom in society
and culture: The Kingdom is built in society and culture
as well. These structures are necessary for people to live.
Establishing the Kingdom means associating these structures more and more
with God´s plan for the world, allowing Christian life to
flourish in its fullness. Even structures can be conformed to
Christ and what He wants for us.
In the end, what
we seek is the glory of God through establishing the
Kingdom of Christ. We know that Christ´s kingdom suffers violence
and the “only by force they take it.” So we
are contemplative and conquering, because evil must be conquered by
good, hate by love, pride by humility.
B. What flows from this
When we come to Christ by way of his humanity,
we can’t help but discover that obedience to the Father
is an essential aspect of knowing Jesus. His whole life
was an act of surrendering himself to the Will of
the Father out of love. Christ is in the bosom
of the Father, and this embrace is the basis and
motive of his obedience. It was necessary to fulfill the
scriptures by fulfilling God´s plan because Christ and the Father
are one. But at the same time, by Christ’s human
nature, there is an obedience that required human mediation and
even brought Christ to be crucified. Christ learned obedience through
suffering. Here is the true redemptive sacrifice of Christ’s Heart
that out of love and obedience to the Father gave
himself to all men.
The basis of our obedience is faith
and it thus takes on special value. Obedience is the
sure way of identifying with and following Christ. And not
in the external sense only: to enter the mystery of
Christ’s obedience is to enter the mystery of his heart.
By obedience we also make our lives a sacrifice and
so establish the Kingdom. That’s why obedience is so important
for us -- and while it is very demanding, yet
it is also liberating.
By obedience we want to fulfill God’s
will and be coherent in how we live our lives.
In order to do this we need a humility like
Christ’s, who allowed himself to become man out of love.
role in Christ’s redemption
I mentioned above that when the Sacred
Heart says he thirsts in the final moment of his
life, he entrusts to us the Spirit and gives us
Mary as mother. A sword of pain pierces her heart
and the exchange of a Son for sons is made.
At that moment, in a mystical way, this story of
Mary´s love for us all began. From that moment on,
we can look to Mary as Mother of consolation and
hope, companion for the journey, intercessor, sweet shepherdess, our life´s
guide, a model of virtue and an ally in our
efforts to bring the love and mercy of God to
St. John Eudes was the first to propose the
alliance of the Heart of Christ and the Heart of
Mary. The sword of sorrow united for ever these two
hearts and when we go to Mary, she leads us
to know Christ’s heart. John Paul II used this same
idea when he said: "At the foot of the Cross,
we meet Mary, the Sorrowful Mother. We remember her the
day after commemorating the Exaltation of the Cross. When the
Centurion’s lance pierced Christ’s side, in her the prophetic words
of Simeon were fulfilled ´and you yourself a sword will
pierce´ (Lk 2, 25) The prophet’s words announce the definitive
alliance of the Hearts: Christ’s and the Mother’s, and the
Mother’s and Christ’s. “Heart of Jesus, in which dwelt the
fullness of the Divinity”. Heart of Mary - Heart of
the Sorrowful Virgin - Heart of the Mother of God.
May our prayer at the hour of the “Angelus Domini”
be joined today to that of the admirable Alliance of
the Hearts!" (John Paul II, Angelus, 15 September 1985.)
this union, Our Lady of Sorrows is our patron, because
under this title Mary teaches us to stand at the
foot of the cross and to gaze at Him who
was pierced, to understand Christ’s infinite love for humanity, and
to understand as well that we are instruments of this
love. With her, we learn that the life of a
Christian is marked by suffering, the cross, and obedience, characteristic
elements of following Christ. Mary is with us to make
our life less heavy, to form our hearts and to
help us to gaze always at Heaven with hope-filled eyes.
At the end of his Life, just as Christ
entrusted to us His mother, he also gave us the
Spirit. The Church’s life began under the sign of hope.
We are all aware that the Holy Spirit is the
author of our holiness: he who makes every good deed,
he who inspires changes of heart and apostolic projects. Our
devotion and vision of the Holy Spirit as the sweet
guest of our souls seeks to discover how it is
that the Spirit establishes the Kingdom and brings it to
reality in the lives of people, families, society and culture.
want to end by explaining our shield. As we know,
it is not an emblem we came up with but
is shared by many groups in the Church. In it
are marked the principal characteristics of our spirituality.
In the heart
we see Christ’s humanity, his Incarnation. We relate to the
person of Christ, the living Christ who was born, who
preached, formed apostles, died and rose for us. This heart
is inflamed with love. It is a love for the
Father that expresses itself in love for all men, one
that gives the last drop of blood, without expecting anything
in return. It is a total love, one that radically
consumes the Heart. From this love, we derive the urgency
of the mission, as the charity of Christ impels us
(cf. 2 Cor 5:14).
It is a heart crowned with thorns.
Grace can make suffering, when it is freely accepted and
offered up, a path of spiritual realization and a privileged
way to obtain graces for others.
But it is also
a heart that is at the cross´ center, the instrument
par excellence of God´s mercy. When we identify with the
cross of Christ we make it our mission to offer
Christ´s mercy to all men.
And lastly, the letters "ART" (
Adveniat Regnum Tuum! -- in English Thy Kingdom Come!), each
letter at the furthest parts of the cross, indicate that
the desire of the Heart of Christ is to reign
in the hearts of men, family, society and culture.
emblem is placed in the middle of two sectors, one
red and the other white (the colors of the Legion´s
flag). Red speaks of blood and suffering offered up. White,
of the purity of love.
With this explanation I conclude
this reflection. If indeed this is the center and source
of our spirituality, we should honor and refer to the
Sacred Heart and his infinite love for our fellow men
in the following areas:
- In our formation: in order to live
a love full of meekness and mercy, a love of
reparation, being militant and having zeal for souls and establishing
the Kingdom seeking God´s glory and being able to accept
suffering and give ourselves without reserves out of obedience and
the self-offering of our lives.
- In our liturgy: so as to
be able to understand the centrality and links among the
solemnity of the Sacred Heart, of Christ the King, and
Our Lady of Sorrows (which the Church has approved our
celebrating with the status of a Solemnity) as well as
Pentecost - seeing how the Holy Spirit is the gift
of Christ´s Heart to his Church and he is what
sustains our apostolic efforts.
- In our prayer and devotions (so that
the contemplation of these mysteries becomes our spiritual nourishment and
we rediscover the true meaning of some of our characteristic
- In how we transmit our spirituality (so that the synthesis
of our spirituality and explanation of our apostolic charism spring
from the Heart of Christ).