Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Feast of Christ the King

To Jesus Christ our Sovereign King
who is the world's salvation,
All praise and homage do we bring
and thanks and adoration

Your reign extend O King benign,
to every land and nation;
For in your kingdom Lord divine
Alone do we find salvation

To you and to your Church, great King
We pledge our heart's oblation;
Until before your throne we sing
In endless jubilation

Christ Jesus, Victor!
Christ Jesus, Ruler!
Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer

The Liturgical Year in the Catholic Church (and in other liturgical churches) ends today with the Feast of Christ the King. Pope Pius XI proclaimed this feast in 1925 and it was celebrated on the last Sunday of October--and still is in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite. Pope Paul VI renamed the Feast and moved its celebration to the last Sunday of Ordinary Time as a Solemnity.

According to this site:

Pope Pius XI universally instituted The Feast of Christ the King in 1925 in his encyclical Quas Primas. Pope Pius connected the denial of Christ as king to the rise of secularism. At the time of Quas Primas, secularism was on the rise, and many Christians, even Catholics, were doubting Christ's authority, as well as the Church's, and even doubting Christ's existence. Pius XI, and the rest of the Christian world, witnessed the rise of dictatorships in Europe, and saw Catholics being taken in by these earthly leaders. Just as the Feast of Corpus Christi was instituted when devotion to the Eucharist was at a low point [I'm not sure about that], the Feast of Christ the King was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and the Church was waning, when the feast was most needed. In fact, it is still needed today, as these problems have not vanished, but instead have worsened.

Pius hoped the institution of the feast would have various effects. They were:

1. That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state (Quas Primas, 32).

2. That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ (Quas Primas, 31).

3. That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies (Quas Primas, 33).

I wonder what Henry VIII would have thought of a Pope establishing a feast which pointed out an authority above the King of England? Henry was a Christian, of course, with devotion to Jesus as Saviour and Redeemer; he worshipped Jesus in the Sacrament of the Altar. Would he have been able to separate his own Temporal claims to authority in England and the Pope's proclamation of Jesus's supremacy over all the world, superceding any nationalist claims? I find it interesting that the Church of England celebrates the Feast of Christ the King, but they also mark this Sunday as "Stir up Sunday". The collect for the last Sunday of the liturgical year begins with the words "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people" and it is the day to start making the Christmas pudding!!


  1. The collect for the last Sunday after Pentecost is very old and is in the Roman Catholic Liturgy also. I think there are other collects and readings (which I cannot just now bring to mind) from which a key word or phrase has been taken in centuries past as a reminder of some seasonal domestic task or particular food :)
    The Anglican Church does observe the feast of Christ the King.
    [Valerie, NZ]
    P.S. Thankyou for this blog.

  2. So how 'bout it, Ma'am, have you made your pudding yet? They can last for years, thanks to the preservative properties of brandy and sugar!

  3. tubbs, I have never made a Christmas pudding! Thank you, Valerie from New Zealand, for the comment. Have a wonderful Advent.