by Jim Paulin, Detroit CPP
Coronations are magnificent. The formality and splendor bear witness and impart legitimacy to the ascension of a sovereign to the throne. Typically, the ceremony includes a coronation oath, anointment, investiture, enthronement, and homage. The custom whereby the Holy Roman emperor was crowned by the pope dates from the coronation of Charlemagne on Christmas Day, 800. Certainly, the presence of the pope indicated a divine bestowing of the power to rule the kingdom. This regal tradition was of tremendous significance as there was little to differ between the authority to be reckoned with either from the Church or the King. Power is ordained from a higher authority. Unlike every other coronation, there was one in which a crown was not necessary nor was there any power greater able to endow anything more, yet a crown was given and received.
“Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne”. The opening verse of this popular hymn by Matthew Bridges in 1852 reflects a yearning by Christians to glorify their Lord and Savior. The hymn goes on to crown him eight times with titles like “Lord of Life” ,”Lord of Peace” and “Lord of Love”. While these titles and crowns are appropriate, the Scripture passages describing Jesus ruling in all His power in John’s visions as described in the Book of Revelation never mention His wearing a crown even though His attire is given in vivid detail. Crowns are laid down before the Lord by twenty four elders in worship however, The King of Kings radiates splendor and might and needs no such symbol.
God is Love. The title of Pope Benedict’s first encyclical gives insight upon why the Almighty would accept a crown. “In His death on the cross, Jesus, giving Himself to raise and save mankind, expressed love in its most sublime form.” Inconceivable by human standards, the Lord of Lords who sits at a white throne with even the Earth and sky fleeing His presence and judging the living and the dead by their conduct on the last day does submit to His coronation.
The pageantry is a ceremony alive with sights, sounds, scents, tastes and most of all, tactile sensations exquisitely applied. A cohort of Roman soldiers do the honors as they represent all of mankind; everyone. Anointed by flagellation rendering open wounds and blood, investiture by mockery, ridicule and spit and coronation with a woven cap of piercing thorns, The Lamb of God accepts His one and only crown of love as an integral part of His kingdom.
We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.