Monday, November 22, 2010

Christ, Bridegroom and King: The Feasts of St. Cecilia and Bl. Miguel Pro


The Second Coming
At the end of the liturgical year, the Church gives us to meditate upon the second coming of Christ. As we consider the Final Judgment, Christ is presented to us under two figures: Bridegroom and King. The saints of November 22nd and 23rd, St. Cecilia and Bl. Miguel Pro, are particularly known for their devotion to Christ under these two titles – Cecilia’s Spouse is the King of Fr. Miguel. It will be helpful to consider what each of these titles reveal to us about Christ and the Day of Judgment.
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”
In the book of Revelation, Christ is presented as the Bridegroom and the Church is his spotless Bride. The relation of the bride to her bridegroom recalls the whole-hearted devotion which we are meant to have to Christ. It is for this reason (namely, allegorical testimony), that St. Paul tells us that, while the one who marries does a good thing, the one who remains celibate does better (cf. 1 Cor 7:38). The vocation to consecrated virginity is greater than that to married life, not because the individual is necessarily more holy, but because the virgin is a clearer sign of the Kingdom which is to come – where they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Moreover, it is happier to remain celibate, “An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction” (1 Cor 7:34-35).

St. Paul gives the rationality for virginity, and we cannot help but think of the purity and certain hope of St. Cecilia as we read these words, “For the world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31). Cecilia’s vow of virginity pointed beyond the present world to the world which is yet to come. Thinking of the things of heaven, where her Spouse awaited her, Cecilia shunned the things of earth – refraining even from those things which are good (married life) in order to strive for that which is better (an undivided heart given wholly to Christ).
As Bridegroom, Christ has a degree of authority over his Church – for he is the head of his body, the Church. Yet, what is particularly emphasized is the intimate union of love which Christ has for his Bride. As Bridegroom, Christ takes delight in his Bride – “Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved, ah you are beautiful; your eyes are doves!” (Song of Songs 1:15)
Viva Christo Rey!
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.’ So Pilate said to him, ‘Then you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.’” (John 18:36-37)
As King of the Universe, Christ exercises his authority over all peoples. Here we notice an important distinction between Christ’s title as King and his title as Bridegroom: Though Christ is Bridegroom only of those who are contained in his Church, he is King of all people both sinners and saints. The Lord says, “I will draw everyone to myself” (John 12:32). The just he will draw by bonds of love, but the wicked he will draw by bonds of slavery and subjection.
As the Good King, Christ will rule over his subjects with fairness: To the just he will give the joys of heaven, upon wicked he will inflict pains of hell. He will be the King of all!
It is on this account (i.e. Christ is King of all men), that it is more fitting to invoke the Kingship of Christ when faced with the enemies of the Church. Bl. Miguel Pro called out “Long live Christ the King”, for Christ’s kingdom extended even to those who murdered the holy priest and persecuted the Church in Mexico. While Christ was not the Bridegroom of these fiends, he was yet their King – and he will exorcise his dominion over them! Yet, even here, we recall that Fr. Miguel prayed for his persecutors, since Christ our King desires the conversion of his enemies more than their destruction.
The deaths of Cecilia and Fr. Miguel
It is an unusual coincidence, a gift from divine providence, that these two saints should be commemorated on consecutive days. There is a mysterious union in their manners of death, both having been killed by state officials. Moreover, it is interesting to note that, just as Cecilia did not die immediately from the wounds inflicted by her murderers, neither did Fr. Miguel die at the first shots of the firing squad. While Cecilia lay for three days before her death; Fr. Miguel was immediately shot again, this time at point blank range.

 
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

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