People today like to think of themselves as sovereign kings. If they cannot practice their power over others, at least they are kings over themselves. I can do whatever I want—many declare—as long as what I do does not limit the sovereignty of others, the morally scrupulous might add. But not everyone has this attitude. The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration have a beautiful prayer to Jesus in the Eucharist. I discovered it when I went to the perpetual vows of Sr. Gabriela, Sr. Anne Kelly’s older sister. The holy card passed out on the occasion of her vows had just one phrase from that prayer, “Jesus, King of Love, come, live, reign in me.” She does not want to reign; she wants Him to reign in her. Who is in power in your life? Who reigns in you?
It is true that as a human person, you do “reign” over yourself in a certain sense. You have “power” over your body because with just a thought your arms move and your legs walk. You have the capacity to use your intelligence to reason and reflect. With your will you can make choices about your life. But should all of this be done based on your whims and tendencies, refusing to let anyone else “tell you what to do”? Hasn’t that attitude led many into failure and despair? What about when you want to choose something good but do not have the strength? What about when you realize you aren’t always right in your reasonings?
My advice is simple. Allow Him to reign in you! Pope Pius XI, who instituted the Feast of Christ the King, insisted that all Christians should allow Christ to reign in them. How? Here is the answer in his own words, from the encyclical he wrote called Quas Primas:
1. [Jesus] must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ.
2. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God.
3. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone.
4. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.
Note that the Holy Father repeats, “He must reign…” rather than “He reigns…”. Why? Because Jesus does not necessarily reign in you, even if you are a Christian. Jesus is not a tyrant. You must constantly allow Him to reign in you and make decisions accordingly. Read those four senses in which Christ should reign over you. Does it seem extremely difficult? Pope Pius XI doesn’t think so. Letting Christ reign in you should not be a heavy burden but a sweet yoke, he explains! Christ the King is demanding and just, yet merciful and kind. If you let Him, and if you trust Him, He will reign from within you, pouring forth His grace upon you and inspiring you to choose Him and love Him above all things.
“Oh, what happiness would be Ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ!” (Quas Primas, 20).