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In the Palace of the King

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In the Palace of the King

Today’s Solemnity of Christ the King brought to mind this little excerpt.  It’s from a letter written by St Francis de Sales to Madame Brûlart, whose husband was president of the Burgundian Parliament.

You tell me you do nothing at all in prayer.  But what would you want to do that you are not already doing, that is, presenting and re-presenting your nothingness and your misery to God.  The most eloquent appeal that beggars make is to show us their sores and their neediness. But sometimes, you tell me, you can’t even do that much and just stay there like a shadow or a statue.  Well, that in itself is no small achievement. In the palaces of princes and kings there are statues that serve only to please the eye of the prince; be satisfied then to serve the same purpose in the presence of God.  He will bring the statue to life when He chooses.

We have the good fortune to have unlimited access to the court of the King.  When reading accounts of the try-hard courtiers of history, I’ve sometimes wondered why they don’t just give up when they try to woo royal patronage and don’t even attract the King’s wrath let alone his favour.  What is it, then, that enables us – that drives us, even – to come again and again to the Palace of Christ the King?  It is surely the knowledge that each of us can say, ‘He loves me like there is no other’.

When we come to the Lord in prayer, we sit at his feet to adore, to thank, to chat, to say sorry, to ask, to listen or simply to be in his presence.  But what is it that compels us to enter into his presence?  We are greatly blessed when we pray because we want to.  As weekday preface IV says, ‘You have no need of our praise, yet our desire to thank you is itself your gift’.  It is a wonderful thing, isn’t it, to feel moved to pray and realise that that is a present to you from God; a present that he has given you and no one else knows about it.  In that circumstance, one can’t help but pray.

There are other times, however, when I feel no desire to pray whatsoever.  In those circumstances, I need to kick myself into the King’s palace and sit at his feet, knowing that God only asks us for our faithfulness (while thinking, ‘which is lucky, because at this moment, that’s all I have’).  In those circumstances, I can see where Madame Brûlart is coming from and need to remember how St Francis closes this topic:

We are very fortunate to be able to remain in the presence of God; so let us be content that he will make us bear our fruit sooner or later, every day or only occasionally, according to His good pleasure to which we should be fully resigned.

Let’s resolve, then, to visit the palace of Christ the King regularly and frequently, to be in his presence without seeking any reward but simply because he loves us and he longs for our presence.

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