Christ the King, and honor in worship

Christ the King (try as I might, I couldn’t identify the artist).

This Sunday is the Solemnity of Christ the King — properly “Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of the Universe” — the last Sunday of the liturgical year, before Advent begins it anew, when we celebrate Jesus’s Divine Kingship over all Creation.

I had a brief thought this morning at Mass, in response to the criticisms of some Protestant friends, that Catholic worship is “empty ritual” or “rote.” When the king of a great earthly kingdom visits — when the President of the United States, or the Queen of England, or a senator or a governor or even a powerful CEO, makes an appearance — there is an expected protocol, an established ceremony, in welcoming that person and celebrating his or her presence. The act of that ceremony — and the people’s participation in it — shows that person the honor, respect, and reverence befitting his or her position.

How much the more should we do the same for the Almighty King of the Universe, the Lord of All Creation! Our liturgy — all the texts, and psalms, and chants; all the vestments and vessels and incense; all the buildings, all the art, all the music — they are to honor our King, to celebrate His Presence, His coming to us in the Sacraments; to lift high His Name, in heavenly praise with the angels — but also to magnify Him before all the world. Almighty God, the King of the Universe, took on flesh and walked among us, and still He is in our midst, in His Holy Spirit — and in His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. How can we not do these things?

4 thoughts on “Christ the King, and honor in worship

  1. You celebrate Christ the King. Its another thing to obey his wishes. Like the second commandment. Are you a member of a religion that has its members bowing befor graven images? All the while calling themselves christian. Thanks for your time.

    • Now, let’s see here, Mr. Bozo. This is what the Second Commandment actually says (Exodus 20:4–6):

      You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

      This is referring explicitly to idolatry, to making and worshipping idols, representations of gods made of wood or stone or metals, as practiced by the Egyptians and many other peoples in the Middle East and around the ancient world. It goes hand in hand with the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

      Catholics don’t make or worship idols. We don’t bow before or serve images or statues or any other such as our gods, or believe them to be anything divine or supernatural: they are just images or statues. If you think that making any “graven image” of anything is in itself a sin, then Protestants are guilty of this, too, for all the many kitschy paintings of Jesus they make (they’re also guilty of really bad art).

      Catholics have paintings and statues of Jesus and Mary and the saints for the same reason that Protestants have so many paintings of Jesus: to inspire worship and devotion. We don’t “worship” the paintings or statues any more than Protestants “worship” their Jesus paintings, or “worship” photographs of their loved ones who have passed on. For Catholics, paintings and statues are exactly the same: to remind us of people we love; to remind us to give worship to God, who alone is worthy of worship.

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