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Andrew Motyka is the Archdiocesan Director of Liturgical Music and Cathedral Music for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
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“How can we enter into this interior disposition except by turning physically—all together, priest and faithful—toward the Lord who comes, toward the East symbolized by the apse where the cross is enthroned? The outward orientation leads us to the interior orientation that it symbolizes. Since apostolic times, Christians have been familiar with this way of praying. It is not a matter of celebrating with one’s back to the people or facing them, but toward the East, «ad Dominum», toward the Lord.”
— Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship (October 2016)

Royal Stumbling Blocks
published 20 November 2013 by Andrew R. Motyka

HIS COMING SUNDAY Catholics, along with many other Christians, will celebrate the feast of Christ the King. In the Ordinary Form of the Latin liturgy, this year’s celebration takes a slightly different twist. The Gospel this year isn’t about the King of the Universe coming in glory (like it was in Year A). Instead, we get a different view of the King: the crucifixion.

The image of Christ crucified is crucial to Christians (unintentional alliteration? Check). It is what sets Christianity apart from every major religion: the fact that the all-powerful Creator of the universe became human and died in a slow, gruesome, humiliating way. This seeming contradiction did not escape the earliest believers, including Paul:

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (I Corinthians 1: 18, 22-25)

For believers, however, the crucifixion is not a moment of despair, but of triumph. We proudly profess our “weak” Savior, for we know that His weakness was the means of our salvation.

This year, our choir is singing an odd choice on Christ the King: Vexilla Regis, a hymn typically sung during Holy Week and for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. One verse of this hymn is particularly salient this Sunday, though:

Impléta sunt quæ cóncinit
David fidéli cármine,
Dicéndo natiónibus:
Regnávit a ligno Deus.

Now is fulfilled what was
foretold by David in his faithful
hymn, saying to the nations:
God has reigned from a tree.

The weakness of God is our salvation, and as our Introit on Holy Thursday proclaims, we should sglory in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ: in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection; by whom we are saved and delivered.