Monday 29 October 2012

Christ our King

In our Extraordinary Form Mass yesterday morning we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. This is a Kingship that goes unrecognised by some governments and even by some Catholics. We seem happy to sing ‘Hail Redeemer, King Divine’ or the more contemporary ‘Majesty’, but I wonder how well this is translated into everyday life. Andrew spoke in the previous post about catholics with a small ‘c’; Catholics who have consciously rejected the Church’s teaching on contraception, abortion, cohabitation, pre-marital sex  –in short, anything that is contrary to the secular culture in which we live and which secular ‘wisdom’ proposes as ‘good’.

Yet what is good is determined by God alone, and is summed up for us in the Ten Commandments which form the basis of the moral law. I suspect that too many folk view the Commandments as a set of rules God devised to test us, rather than –as I see them- a reflection of God’s nature by which He seeks to keep our character conformed to His. As individuals and as a society we ought to seek that conformity. Governments may well have the responsibility of making prudential judgements on practical matters such as how much tax is to be collected and by what methods; how education is to be organised; how healthcare is to be arranged, but they do not have the authority to decide the moral law. Unfortunately this seems to be how they are perceived today, both by governments themselves and by much of the public; both seem to equate making something legal with making something right and good. Abortion, contraception, same-gender unions etc, may all be granted legal status by a government, but are not thereby made good; they remain contrary to the law of God. Governments and individuals who reject God’s laws in these areas overstep their authority on the fallaciousness of today’s relativism: “Nothing is always right or wrong; true or false; what is true for you may not be true for me”.

There is an intrinsic contradiction in such relativism since it claims that “it’s true that nothing is true”. As such, relativism provides no foundation upon which to build a civilised society since it allows for everyone to determine one’s own morality, thereby removing from society any authority to promote right or prohibit wrongdoing. Even a democracy where the majority vote holds sway cannot be claimed as the arbiter of right and wrong, justice or injustice, for majority opinion can change and revert back again; it is unstable and as such, quite unable to be utilised as a means of determining right from wrong.

Politicians, courts and individuals who seek to make or hold contraception, abortion, same-gender unions, cohabitation etc legal, would do well to remember that there is a law-maker above us all, and to whom we must one day give an account. He who placed the laws of physics in creation also placed a moral law in the heart of man -both are ignored at our peril. The celebration of Christ the King should remind us all that we do not reign supreme; God does, and that those who exercise authority in the world -or in the Church- do so under Him. Their responsibility is certainly great, but it is just as certainly limited.

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