With the passing of Queen Elizabeth, several parallels to our Faith emerged. Here was deceased royalty brought to bear on a grieving nation, and all of the pomp and circumstance, along with the throngs of people along the route of the hearse, brought to mind both our King, Jesus Christ, and His Mother, the Queen of Heaven.
One particular act of humility brought that further to mind.
In one widely reported, powerful moment, Princess Anne, the late Queen’s daughter, curtsied to her mother’s casket as it proceeded along the road. It was a simple but most profound gesture of respect and, one might say, servility to the power of the throne upon which Queen Elizabeth sat for over seventy years. Yet, it spoke of mystery, too.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Here was a vehicle carrying a draped casket, which everyone along that passageway was convinced held the United Kingdom’s deceased monarch. No questions asked; no doubt raised. Thousands pressed tightly together, displaying various signs of homage, believing it was the earthly remains of the Queen that was passing by them. They accepted that as fact. Even Princess Anne, obviously, held the same faith in that assertion. So many gaped wondrously; they wept; they waved; they bowed heads; they paid the Queen honor by their confidence in her presence, even at a distance.
This morning, during Mass, as I looked forward at the tabernacle, it struck me that every day, in tens of thousands of Catholic Churches and chapels, the eternal King of the Universe is present. Moreover, He is alive, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. We believe that because our Faith informs us of this truth. Indeed, Truth itself in Perfect Love is gazing back at us while we set our sights on Him, albeit also unseen.
Furthermore, even a passing royal hearse carries an occupant who is destined to be laid away behind stone, body dead to the world. Consider how this contrasts with the One who rose from the tomb. Our Lord is a permanent Presence who can be visited for at least numerous hours a day—sometimes in Adoration Chapels for twenty-four hours a day, and often for as long as one desires.
Yet, where are the masses of grateful, adoring people? How many rush to acknowledge His Reign, which is forever? Looking around, I see many empty pews. I want to cry, “But here is your King!”
Yes, He is “hidden,” but that did not stop the crowds for Queen Elizabeth!
By an optimistic rationale, one might wonder if people are so accustomed to Jesus’ open availability that they assume there is always time to “visit.” Have they already forgotten the Covid pandemic, when doors were shuttered and visitors were fortunate if they could glimpse the tabernacle from a distant, exterior doorway?
Or, at worst, do they not believe that this is truly Jesus Christ waiting for them?
As awful as it is to contemplate, it is likely—given the statistics of Catholics who no longer believe in the Real Presence (almost two-thirds)—that Our Lord is deserted for lack of faith. They see, but they lack sight.
One cannot help but wonder how many Catholics may have raced to see the passing hearse of Queen Elizabeth, or turned on the telly to follow the procession, truly convinced she rested peacefully in that casket they were watching move toward Buckingham Palace.
Would the same have joined a street procession behind a priest upholding a monstrance in the public square of any town or city?
This is not meant to disparage the love Queen Elizabeth’s subjects displayed, or their public attendance at their final farewell to Her Majesty. Queen Elizabeth lived nearly a century. She oversaw the royal family and exerted its influence with dignity and appropriate restraint, exuded tremendous confidence and courage during many conflicts, and displayed moral integrity. While one may be puzzled by what could be considered “acts of omission” in an increasingly anti-Christian world even in Britain, the Queen’s personal life was marked by a deep spirituality remarked on by numerous spiritual leaders—including Catholics—whom she encountered over the decades.
Finally, speaking of queens, our forever Queen, Mary, is always in close proximity to her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. She, too, dies no more; rather, she reigns forever. We cannot see her either, but we know she is ever by the tabernacles of the world.
Aside from kneeling before the tabernacle, should we not also give a slight curtsy to our Mother, even symbolically, when before a statue representing her proximity?
And before anyone protests that this is iconic idolatry, return to Queen Elizabeth’s last temporal ride and the curtsy given to an earthly Queen who, for all her earthly accomplishments and accolades, falls far short of the glory of our heavenly Queen.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]