Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Christ our King

Father John J. Lombardi

I recently heard the somewhat famous raido-t.v. talk show host Glenn Beck-a reformed alcoholic-witness his story. He was with his three children and his wife said: We need to base our lives on God. So, to prove the point that He was, Mr. Beck asked his children with wife present, "What is the most important aspect of our lives?" Expecting them to say, God, or faith, they said, instead: "Fun." Nonplussed he came back and asked again and again, baiting them on and they responded, now the eleventh time: "Nonviolence." Finally he said God was, and meant it, and added: You gotta' give your allegiance to something bigger. Each day I simply try to follow the Ten Commandments and live them…"

You don't usually see Hollywood types or stars witness so straightforwardly. However, some people don't believe in God or the Commandments-although we're told (and don't you forget it): about 80% of Americans believe in God and many regularly pray and go to church weekly or monthly. So, then, these are the "Two Stories of America".

In this Sunday's Gospel (Lk 23:35-43) we have a story of two responses to God. One is the "Good Thief" who confesses his sins and Jesus not only forgives him but says: "Today you will be with Me in Paradise". That easy? Yes. He is infinite. Can you ask for anything grander from Him: Eternal Bliss? Now, the other responder is the unrepentant thief who basically curses Christ: "If you are Christ, then save us and yourself".

Been there, done that? Perhaps we're all a little of both, however fleetingly. Recently I saw a video of Christopher Hitchens-atheists-debating recent (Catholic) convert Dinesh D'Souza, who was eloquently saying that "believers" have a different standard of morality and life. For instance, D'Souza described how Mother Teresa hugged a leprous person and a man responded: I wouldn't do that for all the money in the world. Response from the saint: "Neither would I. I do it because Christ is in that person." Well, as D'Souza said, this Mr. Hitchens began coughing and saying, "Gag me. Ooh. How saccharine." This was nothing new for Hitchens also mocked religion: 1-in his new book "God is not great" (a direct blow at Muslims-and us Christians); and 2-the title of a past book on Mother Teresa is too filthy to print here as well as an attack on her character.

Point/s: 1-God is mocked thru incidents like these and like the Gospel's unrepentant thief; 2-don't get angry about these souls: help them by praying for them; not becoming "dark" like their actions and tactics, but by praying the Fatima prayer: My God: I believe, adore and hope and I love You. I pray for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You. So simple-and needed.

Many atheists today, I've come to believe (pardon the pun) do not believe because of "The Big Three": morality (they bristle at ethics and being good-like Hitchens' response above to Mother Teresa); authority (don't wanna' be told what to do by others); and the supernatural (they believe religion is fabricated: made up without any extraordinary-ness to it). Well, in fact, some atheists do embrace these "Big Three" albeit in unique ways. Some push authority by forcing sex ed on kids and unwanting families and contraceptives upon the poor-in Third world countries; and Planned Parenthood targets 65% of their monies toward minorities and inner city populations. And, they believe/practice a kind of "alternative authority". Recently in

Fort Collins, CO., the American Civil Liberties Union forced a group to remove Christmas trees from a public display: this is rather called authoritarianism. Other atheists believe in morality by promoting ecosystems and environmentalism and rights for animals. And supernaturalism? Some atheists believe in a kinda' supernatural by their placing trust in Darwinistic evolutionism-which has never been scientifically proved (never will be) and yet has become The Grail for some atheists and scientists.

Now, there is hope in and thru some scientists and the science field. Just think of how, last week, some scientists found ways to create useable stems cells from adult persons' skin, thus not having to use stems cells from fetuses or babies, in unethical fashion. Wow: thanks God-and scientists! Many scientists were protesting, and many scientists are finding Intelligent Design in creations and thus tracing it all back to God-the Intelligent Designer. And much of this language is subtly reaching into the science field as well as schools and peoples' brains and hearts. What was once a field somewhat devoid of the Divine has now become immersed in it-either thru attributions to God directly or talk about Him-pro or con, you cannot get around Him these days!

Paul Davies, a scientist and--get this--Director of "Beyond," a program at the Univ. of Ariz., in a recent New York Times editorial stated: science and physics laws have an origination somewhere, and for reasons; our Earth is so fine-tuned for us humans and seemingly the only place in the cosmos we could live--this is called the "anthropic principle"; and that science, as powerful and seemingly objective and empirical as it is, really does have a faith-type of system for it cannot explain everything and, in the end, relies on principles of non-reason (faith-entrustment).

Okay: I recently was enlightened by an economist who said that if you take away "the transcendent" (God, supernatural principles), humans will choose something, someone else and lack a higher purpose to life, and oppositely, bad choices will fill the void. As a matter of fact a somewhat infamous agnostic economist, Robert Fogle- (Jewish by birth, now non-believer), who won the Nobel prize in economic history--1993, said our greatest needs are spiritual and that there is a threat to belief today which hurts economic incentives, and people need virtues and values to function in any kind of society. Further, he said, inequality will come not by Marxist revolt and markets but, rather, by virtue and higher purposes. My economist-friend said that what is happening in Europe is an aggressive secularism and where materialism remains as a threat-hurting people and Faith and families there…Do we want this or, as the agnostic says above: a "Higher Purpose" and virtues?

Before becoming Pope Benedict, he spoke about a "dictatorship of relativism" where secular, godless values are imposed on people and transcendent/God and these higher values are eviscerated equaling a void and valueless world. The west is going this way-but hopefully not as far as the unrepentant thief on the cross or the atheists. We must note, however: atheism and secularism have agendas: they're not simply neutral, benign enterprises sometimes doing good. Whenever you minus God you multiply godlessness and with that comes loss of human dignity, virtue and destabilization of western culture. Translation: chaos.

Pope Pius XI began the Feast of Christ the King in 1925 when the state and totalitarianism

were reigning and threatening Western European culture. They were out of control and either neglecting or rejecting Christ and His Kingship and Christianity. So the Pope was, in essence, saying: Christ is King, not any nation-state, and was helping Catholics to celebrate, ritualize and remember that in the midst of rising dictators and false forms of aggressive governance, that the Lord Jesus had supreme provenance over all creatures and governments. Today we see even in our beloved US of A, a rebellion against this (some say our country was not founded by religionists; or by Christians; or neither should it be so today, or that there is an absolutist separation between religion and government, etc.). So: we Catholics and Christians need to define our allegiance (to Christ) and the fact that our country is founded in the Lord God (although no particular religion or denomination is favored or publicly promoted). Look at our Declaration of Independence which mentions God; our Supreme Court has the Ten Commandments displayed; and the United Nations Universal Charter of Human Rights is based mostly on Christian principles. Many today are trying to divorce the ground and root of all this from our Faith and living it out. This has happened in Western science but now science is re-founding its grounding in God.

How To respond:

God is King-not the state or anyone else. Continue to give your devotion to God thru our Holy Catholic Church-Christ is King and our Mother is our Church! Pray: Last Saturday at the end of Mass right before Eucharistic Adoration someone began speaking or singing in the back of the church-couldn't tell until I realized a pilgrim from Ghana, Africa, began singing in spontaneous praise, the wafting song "Soon and Very Soon"-I'm gone to see the Lord, Alleluia, we're going to see the King." How appropriate, I thought right before the Feast Day of this weekend!

When you wake up in the morning, do the ABC's of Life. A = Awareness of Him as Lord and Adore Him: Lorrd Jesus I need You, love you and trust You. Then B= Breathe in His Holy Spirit (Jn. 20: )-as the resurrected Christ breathed upon the apostles; take and make ten conscious breaths of His Divine Love. C= Consecrate your day to Him thru Mary, by praying: Mary help me to offer up all my thoughts words and deeds to the Lord and build up His Kingdom.

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi