We offer no rewards except those which God Himself has promised to those that love Him, and lay down their life for Him; no promise of peace, save of that which passeth understanding; no home save that which befits pilgrims and sojourners who seek a City to come; no honor save the world’s contempt; no life, save that which is hid with Christ in God.
This is the promise of the Order of Christ Crucified, as described by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson in his dystopian classic Lord of the World. To understand the spirituality of Lord of the World, one must first come to know the deep personal faith and the journey of its author.
As a convert from the Church of England, Monsignor Benson had a circuitous route home to the Catholic Church, his own personal spirituality undergoing a radical transformation before he published Lord of the World. In his autobiographical conversion story, Confessions of a Convert, he says he chose the clerical life in the Anglican church as it was “the path of least resistance.” Considering this vocation, “Plainly there was only one religious life possible, that of a quiet country clergyman, with a beautiful garden, an exquisite choir, and a sober bachelor existence.” Benson, however, would not remain Anglican for long.
The Liturgy of the Hours is considered the common prayer of the entire Church (in addition to the Mass). It’s one of our greatest devotional gifts as Catholics, but also a very misunderstood and confusing one.
Priests and religious are required to pray the hours daily, but this is not just a prayer for them. The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours says that “Gatherings of laity are encouraged to fulfill the churches office”, and “the family… should also celebrate some parts of the Liturgy of the Hours, so as to enter more deeply into the life of the Church”. The daily routine of a breviary is a great spiritual tool. The scriptures are opened up, and the lives of the saints are glorified, and the prayer is in connection with the universal church.
Praying the breviary is a noble ambition, but can be quite confusing for the uninformed. When first approaching the Liturgy of the Hours, the terms can quickly become very overwhelming – Divine Office, Liturgy of the Hours, Breviary. This doesn’t even get into the many terms for different prayers and parts of the hours. Coffee and Canticles has a decent overview of the terms with their introduction to the four-volume breviary. Their site also hosts a great, albeit in-depth discussion of the Liturgy of the Hours that is updated regularly. For our purposes, it is enough to understand that Divine Office and Liturgy of the Hours are the same. The breviary is the physical book and will be the focus of this article.
Preaching Christ Crucified.
The great Catholic apocalyptic novels and nightmares of the last 200 years have introduced a unique spirituality that is fitting for the 21st century. While not a replacement for authentic devotion, the foresightedness of these novels can guide us through the present crisis in the Church. Chief among these apocalyptic novels is Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World.
In Lord of the World, the “Order of Christ Crucified” is created by the Holy Father as a new order, embracing martyrdom in all its forms as the novel’s Antichrist takes over the world and the final persecution of Christians takes place. While this apocalyptic vision is a reality for many Christians today, most are thankfully spared from its horrors.
This site takes it title from a more whimsical novel, G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. While not overtly spiritual and apocalyptic in the sense of Benson’s novel, The Man Who Was Thursday’s main characters are members of the final crusade, symbolically and titularly. This is a fitting title for those preaching Christ crucified and under their title this website endeavors to do the same.
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