Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Phil. 3:20-21
The reign of Christ establishes itself on earth as the Lord conquers each individual heart, gradually bringing into subjection the whole soul to Himself. It has always been the invitation of the Holy Spirit for each of us to submit more perfectly, out of love, to the immediate will of God. This is the maturing of spiritual direction which we participate in with Imago Dei as we encourage one another to be more given to Christ.
Madame Guyon, a 17th century spiritual director, served this same objective in the lives of others as she encouraged in them a growing submission to Christ. Guyon understood her ministry in terms of labouring for the increase of Christ’s reign on earth, beginning in the very hearts of those she counseled. To one of her directees, for instance, she wrote,
Since Jesus Christ appeared on earth, there is a general belief that the kingdoms of this world will ultimately be subject to His dominion. But we may ask, who hastens His coming, by now yielding up his own heart to His entire control?
Christ’s kingdom is established in the hearts of those who are disposed to give the Lord free reign in their lives. They bow to their King, prepared to do or to become whatever best serves their Master. Madam Guyon likens this quality of self-offering to the fluidity of water when she writes,
When the soul is perfectly yielding, it loses all its own consistency in order to take, any moment, the shape that God gives it, as water takes all the form of the vases in which it is put. Suppleness of soul, therefore, is of vital importance to its progress. It is the work of God to effect this.
God desires that His will be reflected in us, and the Holy Spirit invites and enables us to grow in the disposition of submissive trust that this requires. The increasing reign of Christ in our lives is simply an answer to the second petition of the Lord’s prayer, as applied to ourselves—“thy will be done in me as it is in heaven.” As Madame Guyon tells her directee, “When the divine Word operates in the soul, without any obstruction, the soul becomes what this Word wills it should become.”
The loyal subjects of a King are those who place their lives most completely at the disposal of His good will. Choosing to remain submissive, they offer themselves in preparation and anticipation of their Lord’s promptings. To those who long for the reign of Christ to be established in their lives Madame Guyon offers this counsel:
Your only preparation is abandonment to God, and remaining quiet in his hands. Possess your soul in peace as much as possible; not by effort, but by ceasing from effort; by letting go everything that troubles you. Be quiet, so that your heart may be settled. As we leave water to settle when agitated so will you have clarity according to the peace of God that is established in your soul.
Christ’s reign, characterized by the tranquility, gentleness and strength of our Lord’s own virtue, will reveal itself mostly in our countenance. As His sovereignty increases within us, there will be that much more evidence of the effects of His Peace on earth.
Jesus, may all that is You flow into me
May Your body and blood be my food and drink
May Your passion and death be my strength and life.
from St. Ignatius’ “Soul of Christ’ prayer