Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
"Immortal King of Ages Lord Jesus Christ, our God and Savior! In the Jubilee Year 1050 anniversary of the Baptism of Polish [people], in the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, here we Poles stand in front of you (together with their authorities, clergy and laity) to acknowledge your reign, surrender to Thy law, entrust and take you to our homeland and the whole nation…We confess before heaven and earth, that your reign we need…Wishing to worship the majesty of Thy power and glory, with great faith and love, we cry out: Rule us Christ!”
So prayed the Polish bishops at the Church of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, on Nov. 19 in a major ceremony formally declaring Jesus Christ as King of Poland. It was the day before the feast of Christ the King in the Church’s liturgical calendar. Poland’s President Andrzei Duda took part along with thousands of pilgrims in the Mass and ceremony. (Scroll down to read the entire prayer-declaration here.)
The ceremony marked the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and the 1,050 anniversary of Polish Christianity.
This ceremony was not over on Saturday since the Polish Bishops Conference asked all churches and parishes to do this Jubilee Act of Acceptance of Jesus Christ as King and Lord on Sunday, Nov. 20.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, president of the Polish Episcopal Conference, said, “The only Ruler of states, nations and the whole of creation, the King of kings and Lord of rulers! We entrust your Polish and Polish rulers.” He asked to make all those in power exercise it fairly and for governments to be right in line with the laws Christ the King. He confidently entrusted everything in Poland to Christ’s mercy, “especially those members of the Nation, who do not follow your ways,” give them mercy and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and bring “all of us bring to eternal communion with the Father.”
What a glorious day it was at the Church and Shrine of Divine Mercy. Before Mass began, Krakow’s Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was the principal celebrant, had this to say to all those eagerly attending: “We would like to invite Him into our hearts and families, to our communities and environments. We want to invite him for all that Poland is. Do not be afraid of such an act. Jesus Christ takes nothing away from us, and gives everything. His reign threatens no one, because it is expressed through love, which was crucified.”
This ceremony did not technically enthrone Christ as King, because as King, Christ is already enthroned. He is King of all creation. This ceremony made that recognition officially clear that is where all Poland and its people stand, believe, and accept, placing themselves under Christ the King. (Watch video of the consecration)
The bishops also said the provisions and obligations contained in the Act shall be deposited in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Poland, and entrusted to the intercession of Poland’s holy patrons.
Not only were the major clergy taking part, but so were representatives from among government officials and the Polish Parliament.
On television, Senator Jan Maria Jackowski explained that the faith is the strength of Poland. He said “if we keep our core values, we build the common good. However…if we forget about the great heritage of this force that gives us faith and what gives us the heritage of the Gospel, it would not be so good. We see what is happening in the countries where de-Christianization is progressing at a rapid pace.”
In this act, Poland wanted to recognize their true King.
In their explanation, the Polish Episcopal Conference gave wonderful insights into this glorious day for Poland and its people. They didn’t have to say anything about the clear example they gave to every country under the sun.
The bishops said that recognizing Jesus has “salvific significance.” Poles understand the great temporal threats but realize “infinitely more serious is the loss of salvation,” the bishops explained. “Today it threatens a growing number of people as a result of the rejection of the truth — as a result of the rejection of Christ, who is the Truth.”
Then they get to the heart of the matter. “Adoption of the reign of Jesus Christ is to be the founding act of faith of the nation.
“The aim of this act is not to earthly power or wealth, but the surrender of personal, family and national life to Christ and living according to the laws of God. This act should affect the temporal affairs, but cannot constitute an abuse of the Holy Name of Jesus to the achievement of the temporal objectives. It is an expression of obedience to God, that is, the human response of love to the Love of God, [and] it is also an act of justice, that devotion to God what is due Him.”
Prompts Mystical and More
One the promptings, so to speak, for this major act began two decades ago in the Archdiocese of Krakow, explains the same Polish conference. It was connected to the beatification process of Servant of God Rozalia Celakowna, a Krakow nurse and mystic who died during World War II.
Her writings brought to light that in private revelations Jesus asks for this act on the part of the Polish nation, that if the Polish people acknowledge him as their King and Lord completely “through the enthronement, not only in different parts of the country, but throughout the country with the government at the helm. This recognition has to be confirmed by the abandonment of sins and complete return to God.”
Private revelation became the inspiration and was grounded with a clear Scriptural basis and broad development of the teaching of the Church, especially in Pius XI’s 1925 encyclical Quas Primas (On the Feast of Christ the King).
The Episcopal conference highlighted what Pius XI wrote at the end of the encyclical on Christ the King: “If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. 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 (Romans 6:13).”
In the encyclical, Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King to be celebrated worldwide, also had this to say. "Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ.”
“When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony."
Bishop Andrzej Czaja who was chairman of groups preparing for this Jubilee Act of Acceptance of Jesus Christ as King and Lord, gave the homily at the Mass. In an interview he shed light on many parts of this Jubilee Act.
He made it clear the work of enthronement of Jesus is not merely about some external act of recognition of him as King and Lord, but must be deep, spiritual and internal and which radiates to all spheres of life and bears fruit in society.
“To accept Jesus as Lord and King,” you have to “open the doors of the heart, the doors of our homes, churches and workplaces, as well as live with him, give him space and let [him] reign in all spheres of life, including social, economic and political.”
Again, for the Polish people — and what should be for all of us — Bishop Czaja recalled the words of St. Pope John Paul II in his homily inaugurating his pontificate. And which the episcopal conference also recalled in their statement:
"Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ! To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic systems, political systems and the directions of civilization. Do not be afraid!"
On Nov. 19, when Poland and the Polish people, from the bishops to the government, did that through the Jubilee Act of Acceptance, their example became a testimony to the world to do the same.