St. Ignatius Loyola discovered that a person can grow closer to Christ by using the power of the imagination.
As one of his spiritual exercises, St. Ignatius proposes that we first envision the most captivating leader imaginable.
We imagine someone with a clear sense of purpose, a beautiful and noble plan. Someone embarking on an adventure requiring great self-sacrifice. This leader personally invites us to join the enterprise. He promises us an equal share in the labor and in the fruits of its success.
Maybe we could take the fields of business or science as an example. Let’s each imagine our favorite entrepreneur coming to us personally to invite us to join his or her company, right as it was just starting up. It could be Henry Ford, or Walt Disney, or Steve Jobs, or any other great market visionary. “Work with me, share my life, and you will share in the rewards.”
Or we could imagine a brilliant scientist with a theory on how to cure cancer or lung disease or AIDS: “Share my hard work, my long hours in the lab, my painstaking research. Join me, and share in the glory of finding this cure.”
Or maybe it could be in the field of sports. When I was in my twenties, I coached a couple middle and high-school basketball teams. I could imagine Coach K of Duke, or John Thompson, or Dean Smith, saying to me, “Listen, work for me as an assistant. Spend the endless hours in the gym with me. We’ll build a championship team together.”
Awesome. Imagining such an invitation fills us with the prospect of an exciting life. After all, we work serving someone for some project or another anyway. Our life on earth inevitably involves labor. Wouldn’t it be great to work for someone I admire on a project that I believe in?
Wouldn’t we gladly make some pretty serious sacrifices in order to work under such circumstances? Wouldn’t anyone willingly sacrifice comfort, maybe even safety and security, for the sake of joining a captivating and noble enterprise?
And wouldn’t we naturally feel great love and loyalty towards the leader whose knowledge and vision, willingness to take risks, hard work, and self-sacrifice made it all possible?
…Everybody with me so far? We have now made it half-way through St. Ignatius’ meditation on the call of Christ the King.
Doesn’t matter who we are, what level of education we have, what level of employment we have, what enthusiasms we have or don’t have—doesn’t matter. All of us have received precisely this kind of invitation to live a life of noble endeavor—from the Son of God Himself.
His enterprise involves giving glory to God, building the divine kingdom, getting souls to heaven. His way of life requires poverty of spirit, humility, chastity–renouncing the honors and pleasures of this world. Christ promises the greatest reward possible: eternal happiness with God and the saints. “Follow me,” He says. “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
Let’s consider His invitation, and make our response.
ACT OF CONSECRATION TO CHRIST THE KING
Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before you. We are yours, and yours we wish to be; but to be more surely united with you, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to your Most Sacred Heart.
Many indeed have never known you; many, too, despising your precepts, have rejected you. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to your Sacred Heart.
Be King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you; grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.
Grant, O Lord, to your Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give tranquility of order to all nations; make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honor for ever. Amen.
(A plenary indulgence is granted for reciting this prayer in church on the Feast of Christ the King–November 20 this year. A partial indulgence is granted for reciting it under other circumstances.)