The Liturgical Year: Feast of Christ the King

From Liturgical Catechism by Rev. M. S. Canon McMahon (1930)

What is the next outstanding feast of Our Lord?

The Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, established by Pope Pius XI, now gloriously reigning, on 12 December 1925, and celebrated on the last Sunday of October, the Sunday before the Feast of All Saints.

Against what specific evils of our time is the establishment of this new feast mainly directed?

  1. The denial of Christ’s authority to rule all nations;

  2. The denial of the right of the Church to teach the human race, to make laws, to rule over peoples unto their eternal salvation;

  3. The putting of the religion of Christ on a footing with false religions.

  4. The putting of the religion of Christ under civil authority.

  5. The setting up of a natural religion in place of the Divine religion.

  6. Impiety and neglect of God, with their attendant evils of enmities and rivalries between nations, of insatiable greed masquerading as public spirit and patriotism, of discord and division between citizens, of blind unrestrained self-love, which makes private gain and private advantage its one aim and universal standard, of unhappiness in homes through neglect of domestic responsibilities, of the loss of stability in family life—all leading to the total destruction of human society. (Encyclical, Primas)

What, in brief, is the object of the Feast?

To stamp out the plague of anti-clericalism and secularism which infests modern society, to bring men to acknowledge and to vindicate the rights of Christ over individuals and over peoples and thus establish “the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ”.

Why is a new feast of Christ's Kingship established in addition to other feasts in which His Kingly Dignity is signified and celebrated (e.g. the Feast of the Epiphany and the Feast of the Sacred Heart)?

Although in all the feasts of Our Lord the material object of worship is Christ, nevertheless their formal object is something entirely distinct from His royal title and dignity.

Why is a Sunday chosen for the feast?

In order that not only may the clergy perform their duty by saying Mass and reciting the Office, but that the laity, too, free from their daily occupations, may in a spirit of holy joy give ample testimony of their obedience and subjection to Christ.

Why is the last Sunday of October chosen?

Because it occurs towards the close of the liturgical year, and thus the Feast of the Kingship of Christ becomes a fitting completion and consummation of the mysteries of the life of Christ already commemorated during the year, and before celebrating the triumph of All the Saints we proclaim and extol the glory of Him who triumphs in all the saints and in all the elect.

What will be the fruits of that conviction of Christ’s Kingship to which the annual celebration of this feast will lead?

The conviction that all power in Heaven and on earth is given to Christ, as King, will make Christ reign in our minds, which should adhere with perfect submission and firm unwavering belief to the revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ; will make Christ reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God; will make Christ reign in our hearts to the exclusion of all inordinate desires; will make Christ reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments towards the interior sanctification of our souls, or as the Apostle Paul says: “as instruments of justice unto God.” (Rom 6:13)

How does the Mass, Dignus, express the idea of the Kingship of Christ?

In the Collect we pray that the whole world be subject to the most gentle sway of Christ, the King of the Universe.

In the Gospel, Pilate asks: “Art thou the King of the Jews?” Christ replies: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Pilate again asks: “Art thou a king then?” Christ replies: “Thou sayest I am a king… Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

In the Preface we return thanks:

to Thee, Eternal God, Who hast anointed with the oil of gladness Thine only begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, eternal Priest and universal King; that offering Himself up on the altar of the Cross, an immaculate and pacific Victim, He might accomplish the mysteries of man’s Redemption; and, subjecting all creatures to His rule, might deliver over to Thy boundless Majesty an eternal and universal Kingdom, the Kingdom of truth and of life, the Kingdom of holiness and of grace, the Kingdom of justice, of love, and of peace.

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