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Novena for the Solemnity of Christ the King

November 4, 2015

[Translated from the Spanish original]

 

To the members of Regnum Christi

on the occasion of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

 

Dear friends in Christ,

In a few days we will celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King in the context of the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Legion and Regnum Christi. For decades we have prayed to God with that petition that he himself taught us: “Thy Kingdom Come! Christ our King, thy Kingdom come!” (see Matt 6:10).

Today, in these historical circumstances, we have to pray it with even more persistence and conviction than ever before, if that is possible. We want Christ to reign in our hearts, in the heart of our families, in our teams and sections, in our apostolates. We want him to appear and reign in the lives of people and in society through our prayer and our apostolate.

That is our prayer, that is what we insistently ask for today. May your Kingdom come in my heart! Certainly this is what we ask for out of love every time we pray the Our Father, every time that we repeat this short prayer. And we do it with great confidence.

But it is necessary that the words pass from our lips into our life. We have to ensure that it is a deep and very real desire. To do that, we can ask ourselves what it means to have Jesus Christ come as king into our life, into our heart. It means that he takes possession of us, just as a king takes possession of his kingdom. It may be that he takes our heart after one or more battles waged against us, or it may be that we surrender peacefully. But he takes possession. “You seduced me, Lord, and I let myself be seduced” (Jer 20:7).

Following the readings of the Solemnity of Christ the King, I leave you some reflections on what it means to have the Kingdom of Christ come into our lives.

  1. He who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, … has made us into a kingdom (Rev 1:5b-6)

The lived experience of the love that God has had for us is at the root of our vocation to Regnum Christi. This merciful love is not an abstract reality but rather appears in very concrete ways in history, in the history of each one of us and of the Movement as a whole. To recognize the loving hand of God that continues to guide us gently and firmly in both the happy years and in the dark moments we have only to open our eyes and ask for the gift of faith. For mercy has a face: Jesus Christ, our King and Lord.

He wanted to descend to our smallness, to our existence, that at times might appear gray and meaningless, to reveal his infinite mercy to us. He did not hold back anything to make us understand the love he feels for each one of us: he generously poured out his blood to the last drop.

He lifts us up and not only cleanses us but goes so far as to take our poverty upon himself and makes us participants in his mission. He has made us into a kingdom, a people who belongs to him. And, out of pure love, he invites us to do activities and to create institutions through which this kingdom can be established in the hearts of people, of families and of society. He wants us to do it in the concrete circumstances of our own history. He wants us to be a sign of the presence of his kingdom in the world, trusting more in his grace and in the fact that he chose us than in our own strength.

  1. My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36)

Jesus Christ has come to establish a kingdom different from the kingdoms of this world, which are transitory and passing. His is an “eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace,” as the preface of this feast day reminds us. It has standards, therefore, that are different from the standards of the world.

Today Jesus invites all of us Christians to bear witness that we belong to him and to the Church. It is not merely about “giving time” to the Lord, perhaps through our prayer or apostolate, but of “giving our heart.” In other words, it is not only our multiple activities that proclaim the presence of the kingdom that is already among us (see Luke 17:21) but the consistency of our life with our Christian vocation and the enthusiasm and generosity with which we surrender ourselves, to repay Christ for his love, giving him the first place in our lives and loving him through our service to our brothers and sisters.

It is true that to live consistently and to swim against the tide today is no easy task. But precisely because of this, the witness we can bear to divine mercy and to the truth that sets us free is all the more eloquent. Therefore, we ask the Lord to grant us this grace and that it might bear fruit in us.

At times we describe things that happen only according to what we see with our own two eyes, which results in a true, if external, description. However, we can also describe reality in another way: with our dreams and projects, or as something in motion, in transformation, with a finality not of this world. And this is also a true description. It is to accept that Christ the King is present and active in the world in his Providence and that he acts directly with his grace and also indirectly with his apostles and through their hearts and actions. Christ comes to the world and establishes his kingdom in the hearts of people and through these people in others, in families and in society. A kingdom of the presence of God, of grace, justice, love and peace.

Describing reality using as the starting point the God who wants to reign and who is active is to see not only with the eyes of the body but with faith, hope and love. With faith we see that God is present, that he acts, that he calls us and continues calling workers into his harvest. We see and feel the heart of Christ crucified, handed over out of love for us, and we share his sentiments. Christ comes to our mind and shows us that our life is also a mission; he comes to our heart and helps us to love as he does. He fills us with hope and we trust him who says, “I am with you and will be with you until the end of time” (see Matt 28:20). With hope, dreams become projects and difficulties are turned into opportunities to love.

  1. You say I am a king (see John 18:37)

Faced with a kingdom that is not of this world and that is always under construction, today it is easy for many to ask us Christians skeptically in relation to Christ, as Pilate himself did, “Is Christ a king?” (see John 18:37).

We know the answer. In fact, we proclaim it every time we say, “Christ our King! Thy Kingdom Come!” But the world today does not believe in teachers as much as in witnesses, who prove by their life that the Kingship of Christ is a reality lived every day.

Perhaps this feast is an opportunity to make Regnum Christi a movement that is even more open and welcoming, where more people can enter into contact with the love of God; a movement in which we know that Christ has washed our feet and our soul, and through this experience of divine mercy, we want others to experience it through our selfless service. How beautiful it would be if in each locality we could more consciously practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy through our apostolates!

We are aware that the family is in a big crisis on a global level. We are acquainted with the good news of the family proclaimed by the Church and we also know that in many aspects it is contrary to the mentality of the world. Let us work so that every Regnum Christi member bears witness to his appreciation for the family. Let us foster initiatives to accompany couples who are preparing themselves for marriage, the recently married, those who are discovering the miracle of fatherhood and motherhood. Let us accompany with compassion and great respect those families in difficulty and those who live in family situations that are difficult to resolve. Let us pray for the family and also for charity and unity among the members of our spiritual family. Let us not be afraid to announce the truth of God about matrimonial love and the family with conviction and mercy and so bear witness with our life before the world that Jesus Christ is king.

Looking at the scene in the Gospel and the dialogue between our Lord and Pilate, it strikes us that Jesus does not seem to be a king according to the criteria of the world. He has thorns for a crown. He seems to be weak and a failure. But precisely in this way he teaches us that the most important thing to proclaim his greatness and his dominion over the whole universe is not great successes according the world’s way of judging but in always doing the will of the Father out of love. It is a kingdom of love and grace.

This year we also have the grace of the plenary indulgence that Pope Francis has granted us for this feast day, not only to the lay members, to whom Saint John Paul II granted it habitually, but also to the Legionaries and the consecrated members. In the same way, a novena has been prepared, rich in texts from Sacred Scripture, which can move our hearts to celebrate this feast as a family.

I pray to Our Blessed Mother, Queen of Apostles, that she obtain for us the grace of being more conscious that Christ has loved us so that we might be the seed of his kingdom in this world and bear witness to the truth that he himself is. May she help to us to show the merciful love of God to our brothers and sisters, especially to families.

Count on my prayers. I ask that you remember me in yours,

Fr. Eduardo Robles-Gil, L.C.

Novena for the Solemnity of Christ the King

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