Feast of Christ the King
- This article describes the Feast of Christ the King. For the title of Christ, see Christ the King.
The Feast of Christ the King (in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, properly the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe) is a relatively recent addition to the western liturgical calendar, having been instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. In 1970 its observance was moved to the last Sunday of Ordinary Time and adopted by Anglicans, Lutherans, and many other Protestants along with the new Revised Common Lectionary, as well as by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Origin and history in the Catholic Church
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Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in his 1925 encyclical letter Quas Primas, in response to growing nationalism and secularism and in the context of the unresolved Roman Question. The title of the feast was "D. N. Jesu Christi Regis" (Our Lord Jesus Christ the King), and the date was "the last Sunday of the month of October - the Sunday, that is, which immediately precedes the Feast of All Saints". In Pope John XXIII's 1960 revision of the Calendar, the date and title remained the same and, in the new simpler ranking of feasts, it was classified as a feast of the first class.
In his 1969 motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis, Pope Paul VI gave the celebration a new title: "D. N. Iesu Christi universorum Regis" (Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe). He also gave it a new date: the last Sunday in the liturgical year, before a new year begins with the First Sunday in Advent, the earliest date for which is 27 November. Through this choice of date "the eschatological importance of this Sunday is made clearer". He assigned to it the highest rank, that of "Solemnity".
As happens with all Sundays whose liturgies are replaced by those of important feasts, the prayers of the Sunday on which the celebration of Christ the King falls are used on the ferias (weekdays) of the following week. The Sunday liturgy is thus not totally omitted.
Observance in other churches
Those churches that use the Revised Common Lectionary observe Christ the King Sunday (titled Reign of Christ Sunday by some) as the last Sunday of the liturgical year. These churches include most major Anglican and mainline Protestant groups, including the Church of England and the Episcopal Church as well as the Anglican Church in North America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other Lutheran bodies, the United Methodist Church and other Methodist bodies, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, and the Moravian Church.
In Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Sweden, this day is referred to as the Sunday of Doom, previously centred about the final judgement, though from the Lectionary of 1983 and forwards, the topic of the day is the Return of Christ. The Church in Wales, part of the Anglican Communion, the four Sundays before Advent are called the Sundays of the Kingdom and Christ the King is kept as a season and not just as a single festival.
- Fraternity of St. Gregory the Great calendar
- Churchyear.net, a Catholic blog
- Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas, §28, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 63
- motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis
- Examples are Pentecost and Trinity Sunday. Indeed before the reform of Pope Pius X most Sundays gave way to any feast that had the rank of Double, and these were the majority (Missale Romanum, published by Pustet, 1862)
- "Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 2014.
- Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings Proposed by the Consultation on Common Texts, Augsburg Fortress, 2005, p.p. 304-305, ISBN 0806649305