"I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Son, let this woman be a bride to you in the restoration of my people. Let her be a mother for these people, regenerating souls through the salvation of spirit and water.'" (Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias)

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Call of Christ the King

Many modern retreatants are profoundly uncomfortable with Ignatius' key Second Week meditation inviting them to reflect on the call of a temporal king in order to answer the call of Christ the King to help bring about God's reign. This makes total sense given the tragic history of Christian and American imperialism, colonialism, and abuse of the just war theory to sacrilegiously bless wars of capitalist aggression rather than last resort defense.

As a queer female abuse survivor I--and many of the marginalized directees I serve--prefer to reclaim the image of Jesus as a just and loving king serving God, our just and loving queen, by fighting oppression and sharing with us their royal priesthood and loving power to do the same. This goes along with the most exciting development in modern women's spirituality: adding the Queen archetype, for women in midlife, to the traditional Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

Another resource I find tremendously helpful in reclaiming this meditation is Kenneth Branagh's brilliant Ignatian reworking of a key scene (IV:8) in Shakespeare's Henry V. It made me weep the first half-dozen times I viewed it and I highly recommend it to Second Week directors and exercitants as well homilists on the related liturgical feast of Christ the King.

The original setting of this vignette is in the royal pavilion after the battle of Agincourt, followed by a ceremonial liturgical procession chanting the Te Deum and Non Nobis ordered by the triumphant king to celebrate the masses of French dead slaughtered by God for the benefit of the English. Branagh subverts this blasphemous theology by moving the scene to the battlefield with the procession consisting of the traumatized and grateful surviving soldiers beginning to grieve their dead, tend their wounded, and reunite with their desperately searching, ecstatically finding women.

A single voice begins the haunting Taize-like refrain of Psalm 115: "Not to us, O God, not to us, but to your name give the glory." The camera moves back and forth from the common soldiers to Henry--muddy, bloody, and tenderly carrying the body of a slain boy before laying it to rest with a solemn kiss and a humble prayer. Now that's a Christ the king I can totally embrace.

No comments:

Post a Comment