SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING
On this final Sunday of the liturgical year we join the universal Church in celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King, our patronal feast. When Dom Gerard McGinley founded the Abbey back on May 26, 1951 he dedicated it under the patronage of Christ the King. The abbey’s official name is Our Lady of Christ the King. The more common everyday title is Abbey of the Genesee since it is a long standing tradition of the Order that the monasteries take their name after the place in which they are founded. Since we are located in the beautiful Valley of Genesee with the Genesee River bordering our property all along the eastern edge Abbey of the Genesee is quite appropriate. It seems that the name Genesee comes from the Seneca Indian word for beautiful banks referring to the river banks in what is now Letchworth State Park, some fifteen minutes upstream from the Abbey.
The choice of the patronage of Christ the King mostly likely comes from the prologue of the Rule where St. Benedict tells his readers that This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord (Prologue 3). While noting that doing battle under Christ the King may not be as popular a concept in our day as it was back in Benedict’s time anyone undertaking the following of Christ is reminded by St. Paul in Galatians 5:17 that the spiritual life is a battle between flesh and spirit. In any case here at Genesee we are celebrating the day in a worthy manner.
While continuing our community shared reflections on Michael Casey’s book: Strangers to the City this past week we resumed our community dialogues continuing the topic of the master plan for our buildings. It seems the more pressing need has to do with the improvement of our reception room area, new retreat house and new cell wing for the community. An important factor under consideration is the inadequacy of these buildings since their use has grown substantially from what it was when they were first constructed. Another important topic soon to be discussed is proposed changes in the daily monastic schedule.
Speaking of sharing early colds are making the rounds of the brethren in keeping with the monastic way of holding everything in common, keeping nothing only for oneself. Hopefully they will build up community resistance as the colder days approach.
What did Jesus mean when He spoke of the Kingdom of God? The word kingdom here is an abstract noun. It does not mean an area of land – Kingdom of Britain, Belgium, Holland. It means not the domain but the dominion of God – not a territory in which God is king but a condition of heart and mind and will where God is Lord of all.
In Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom there is one set of paradoxical facts. He speaks of the Kingdom as being past (Lk 13:28), present ( Lk 17:21), future (Lk 12:32) all at the same time. How can the Kingdom be past, present and future all at one time? We find a key in the Lord’s prayer (Mt 6:10) Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. If that is so the Kingdom of God is a society on earth where God’s will is as perfectly done as it is in heaven. That is why the kingdom can be past, present, future.
Any man in any age and generation who has perfectly done God’s will was in the Kingdom; those who do God’s will are in the Kingdom but the final consummation when the whole world will do God’s will is something still to come.
And Jesus Said; a handbook on the parables