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Christ the King

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  • Christ the King

    Procession through Mount Holly [North Carolina] carries on ancient tradition


    MOUNT HOLLY—As they beheld Sunday morning's solemn procession down NC 273, some local folks may have wondered just what was going on.
    More than 100 people, singing hymns and chanting the Litany of the Saints, marched three miles from St. Anthony of Padua Traditional Catholic Church in northern Mount Holly all the way to St. Joseph's, the oldest Roman Catholic Church still extant in the Tarheel State.

    Cars stopped, their drivers waiting respectfully. Some called out words of support. Officers of the Mount Holly Police Department and the Gaston County Sheriff's Office escorted the procession's participants.

    "We're honored and glad to do so," said MHPD Sgt. Jeff Skidmore.

    And on the line came: men, women and children, all united by the Faith. Beneath an ornate canopy carried by sturdy men, the Blessed Sacrament was encased in a golden monstrance, held high with great care and reverence by St. Anthony's pastor, Fr. Kenneth Novak of the Society of St. Pius X.

    The procession is a tradition of some seven years' standing with the St. Anthony's parish. But the tradition of such Eucharistic processions goes back about 200 times that far, says Novak, all the way to the Dark Ages.

    "But they really ought to be called 'the Ages of Faith,'" he observed, "for so they were: a time when all Christendom reached the zenith of its civilization and bore the most fruit. Processions just like ours were common throughout Europe for many centuries. And you can still find them today in cities and villages from Italy, Spain, France and southern Germany all the way to New York, Missouri and even quite recently in the streets of London, England."

    The purpose of Sunday's procession was to commemorate one of the most important holy days in the Catholic Church, the Feast of Christ the King, instituted 82 years by His Holiness, Pope Pius XI in response to the rise of communism and secularism—twin threats to the reign of the Social Kingship of Christ. And according to the faithful, to honor God and His Son is only right.

    "This is always a tremendously big event for me," said Kevin McMahan of Mount Holly, who was joined by wife Debbie and daughters Melissa and Abby. "The Feast of Christ the King means a lot to my family and me."

    Also attending was McMahan's neighbor, Ann Bowers of Mount Holly. A convert to Catholicism only just a month ago, the Feast of Christ the King had an extra-special meaning for Bowers.

    "This is my first time doing this," she said. "I think it's a special time, where we can show what we believe and what Christ means to us. I'm glad that so many people stopped and were so respectful, both of us and of what Christ did on the Cross for us."

    St. Anthony's chief catechist, David Whalen of Mount Holly, cited Scripture.

    "The Feast of Christ the King reminds us that our goal is to feast with Our Lord in His Kingdom of Heaven," Whalen mused. "And this is but a foretaste of that, in the here-and-now on earth, as it says in the 19th Chapter of the Apocalypse of St. John the Apostle."

    For Janene Palmquist of Belmont, the procession was a breathtaking experience.

    "It's an amazing privilege to process behind Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament," Palmquist declared, "and to witness to the world that Christ is indeed Our True King."

    In a characteristically erudite sermon, Novak cited Fr. T.J. Cronin, an early pastor at St. Joseph's in the 1840's, who selflessly served a blossoming Catholic community in Gaston County before succumbing to an epidemic of yellow fever.

    "His life was a sacrifice," Novak declared, "just as is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where the Precious Blood of Our Lord flows as a laver unto salvation."

    And what does it mean, that Christ be King?

    "It means He is King, anywhere and everywhere," Novak thundered, "the churchyard, the graveyard, the schoolyard, the playground, the boardroom and the bedroom. It is His right to be King over all things. It's easy enough to say that. But we too often find it very hard to do, whether we're at the computer, in the grocery line or at the tollbooth. The United States and most of the modern world simply possess a collective attitude that is alien to the Kingship of Christ."

    As Catholic priests have for 218 years, he also condemned the satanic chaos of the evil French Revolution and the anti-Christian corruption of its aftermath.

    "Not only did this mean the beheading of a godly and pious king and queen," Novak explained, "it also meant the dethroning of all things Catholic. A formerly Catholic country, she who was the first daughter of the Church, went utterly mad and sacrificed the Sacred and the Eternal in the name of that which was merely expedient and temporary: 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity,' that wicked threesome. What a joke! The Devil takes these words and twists them, emptying them of their original meaning. Today, society takes freedom for granted—a freedom that, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn warned us, has everywhere degenerated into license. Today, man thinks he has the freedom—and even the right—to practice sin and error.

    "And that mentality is contagious," he added warningly. "The very purpose of the American Revolution was understood as the overthrow of hierarchy. It is our failure to obey anyone outside of our own wishes that is such a curse in this land. In the popular thinking now, we're all equal—even to the lowest common denominator. But in reality, we're not all equal, and God never said we were. The illogical outcome of this dangerous type of thinking is that, for example, parents will eventually become obedient to children. And if we want that kind of equality, we'll end up being subservient to beasts. It'll be the Israelites and the Golden Calf, all over again."

    But Novak smiled and left his flock with words of encouragement.

    "However," he declaimed, "this won't happen if we allow Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, to reign in our homes, our hearts and our minds—to allow Him to govern our thoughts, our decisions and our actions. If Christ is allowed back into our schools and universities, our government and every facet of our society from which He is presently banished, we can restore Christendom. We can truly save the world and our souls by proclaiming—and by living—the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ.

    "We must never give up," said Novak, "even though the whole world be against us. Remember the words of St. Augustine: 'Good is still good, even if no one does it. And evil is still evil, even if everyone does it.'"