Not many years after the founding of the American Republic, a young Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville toured this country and wrote the book Democracy in America in which he detailed both the good and the bad things he saw in this very young country. One of his observations was that he didn't think democracy could work very long, as it gave the majority the power to tax the money out any one's wallet -- the 'tyranny of the masses' would level all differences, make individual achievement irrelevant, and lead to the nation's impoverishment and downfall.
In one sense, de Tocqueville was correct, or even understated the problem. The reality of it is that any society of selfish and greedy people is doomed to mediocrity and failure, no matter what its political or economic system. The most altruistic King cannot benevolently preside over a government and rule a nation when all of his subjects are concerned only with their own advancement. Of course, in a democracy, where people are their own rulers, a self centered electorate would more quickly come to the demise suggested by de Tocqueville. The United States are a republic -- a system somewhere in between, but still doomed if without a virtuous people.
And, in that sense, de Tocqueville was wrong -- at least in his century. In the 1830s, by and large, Americas possessed the necessary virtue to prove him wrong. In its origins, our nation very clearly recognized the Kingship of Jesus Christ, even a hundred years before the establishment of this feast by the great Pope Pius XI in 1925. I do not mean, of course, that our States had established the Catholic religion as the official Church of the Republic -- nor did they establish any other denomination as the state church -- indeed, the creation of such a state religion was the only aspect of religious observance prohibited by the Constitution.
What I do mean is that the young United States were peopled by citizens who took the Rule of Jesus Christ seriously, both in forming the laws and customs of their states and municipalities, and in living their daily lives. Even at the turn of the twentieth century, our land could be aptly referred to as a part of Christendom. Our laws generally reflected the laws of God -- they respected the sanctity of human life and fostered the institutions of marriage and family; they provided for even the weak man to protect his family and what they owned from the oppression of the strong; the majority took very little away from anyone by the force of law or taxation. (There was no income tax -- the federal government was funded entirely from tariffs and luxury taxes.) It was universally acknowledged that the breadwinner of a family had to be able to take home a wage adequate to care for his family; even though no law required this. Christian institutions provided for most of the charitable needs of society; the hospitals and the orphanages, and so forth. People prayed, not only in their homes and churches, but in their schools and their civic gatherings. Their births and deaths and marriages were recorded in the family Bible, the one book most likely to be found in any American home, even if there was no other book.
But, unfortunately, we Americans have been hard at work to prove de Tocqueville correct. At the same time that the sanctity of life and family and the expression of Christian values and customs have come under severe attack, we have seen the less and less virtuous electorate work harder and harder to take the money out of everyone else's wallet, with greed increasing annually. The national debt went from ten or twenty dollars per person at the end of the nineteenth century, to a thousand times that much at the end of the twentieth. During that same period, the annual interest paid on that debt went from nothing ($0) to just a shade under 362-Billion dollars -- that is 362 with nine zeros behind it and a Dollar $ign in front of it -- and that is just the interest.1
Don't get me wrong, there have been some good things to show for this incredible amount of money -- rightly or wrongly, government has spent money on a number of things that have improved our existence. But we must ask ourselves if the decline in public morality, if the decline in the worship due to God -- while at the same time greed and self centeredness have increased as exponentially as the debt -- we must ask ourselves if all of this is worth the almost Seven Trillion Dollars we currently owe.2 We must ask ourselves both whether the money is being spent for Christian purposes, and whether or not it is moral to leave such a debt to our children.
If we ask ourselves about the future of an anti-Christian society, the answer is that there is no future. Not a day goes by without the sanctity of life and the unity of the family being in some way more undermined. The people of Western civilization are not reproducing themselves in adequate numbers to survive -- and it is not just contraception and abortion, but a selfish pagan mindset which sees children and family as a liability, a cost, and a loss of freedom.3 Not a day goes by without some loss of the personal liberties of Christian people -- in some cases it is bloody persecution and death, in others it is a "mere" infringement of rights we used to take for granted. There are formerly Christian countries today where our Good Friday Liturgy would be illegal, and parts of our Scriptures condemned as "hate speech." And what eternal future can we see for ourselves if we simply accept the pagan decline about us and our children without even thinking about whether or not it can be reversed??
The obvious question is, of course, "Can anything be done?" Can Western Civilization one day become Christendom again? Can Europe and the Americas return to being the Catholic continents they once were? What of Asia and Africa? With God all things are possible, but what can we, His frail little children, do to help Him? Simply stated, we must dedicate ourselves to the reign of Christ the King. When we renew our Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament after Mass today, we must mean what we say! We must consciously understand that Jesus Christ is uniquely King over all mankind; that He wants everyone to follow His laws; that He wants everyone to receive the graces that He gives through His Church -- " those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof ... those still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism ... those once His chosen people" -- He wants them all.4
Understand, please, that the Kingdom of Christ is not a military kingdom -- we can see that in today's Gospel. One does not convert pagans to the Catholic Faith by knocking their heads together and pouring baptismal water over them, for they would still remain pagans in their hearts. The Kingdom of Christ the King is not something imposed on people -- It is, rather, something freely given to them by God , their Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. In the magnificent preface for today's Mass, Pope Pius XI assures us that :
Truth and life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace. It is a pity that we don't hear this Mass and its beautiful preface more often. Truth and life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace are the rewards of those who choose to live in the Kingdom of Christ the King. But, perhaps, more importantly, it is only by forming our own lives around these virtues that we will spread the Kingdom to all of those others who God desires so much to be members of His kingdom. Only by practicing these virtues ourselves can we bring into the Kingdom those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, bound to false worship, or even to false "gods." With God all things are possible, but still He asks our good example for those who must be brought into the Kingdom (or be convinced to remain within It).
¡Viva Christo Rey -- Long live Christ the King! Long live truth and life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace. ¡Viva Christo Rey -- Long live Christ the King!