Feast of Christ the King
|Solemnity of Christ the King|
|Observed by||Roman Catholic Church|
Anglican Communion
Other Christian denominations
|Liturgical Color||White or gold|
Eucharistic adoration for a full day
|Date||Final Sunday of the Liturgical Calendar (being the Sunday before the First Sunday of Advent); from 20–26 November, inclusive (in Ordinary Form), or final Sunday of October (in Extraordinary Form)|
|2020 date||22 November (ordinary form); 25 October (extraordinary form)|
|2021 date||21 November (ordinary form); 31 October (extraordinary form)|
|2022 date||20 November (ordinary form); 30 October (extraordinary form)|
|2023 date||26 November (ordinary form); 29 October (extraordinary form)|
|First time||31 October 1926|
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, commonly referred to as the Feast of Christ the King, Christ the King Sunday of Reign of Christ Sunday, is a relatively recent addition to the Western liturgical calendar, having been instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI for the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. In 1970 its Roman Rite observance was moved to the final Sunday of Ordinary Time. Therefore, the earliest date on which it can occur is 20 November and the latest is 26 November. The Lutheran, Anglican, Moravian, Methodist, Reformed and United Protestant churches also celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, which is contained in the Revised Common Lectionary; the Methodist, Anglican and Presbyterian Churches historically observed this as part of the liturgical season of Kingdomtide, which runs between Trinity Sunday and the Feast of Christ the King. Roman Catholics adhering to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite use the General Roman Calendar of 1960, and as such continue to observe the Solemnity on its original date of the final Sunday of October. It is also observed on the same computed date as the final Sunday of the ecclesiastical year, the Sunday before the First Sunday of Advent, by Western-rite parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.
Origin in patristics
According to Cyril of Alexandria, "Christ has dominion over all creatures, ...by essence and by nature." His kingship is founded upon the hypostatic union. "[T]he Word of God, as consubstantial with the Father, has all things in common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created."
"From this it follows that to Christ angels and men are subject. Christ is also King by acquired, as well as by natural right, for he is our Redeemer. ...' We are no longer our own property, for Christ has purchased us "with a great price"; our very bodies are the "members of Christ." A third ground of sovereignty is that God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as His special possession and dominion. "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matthew 28:18)
The Feast of Christ the King has an eschatological dimension pointing to the end of time when the kingdom of Jesus will be established in all its fullness to the ends of the earth. It leads into Advent, when the Church anticipates Christ’s second coming.
Roman Catholic Church
Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in his encyclical Quas primas of 1925, in response to growing secularism and nationalism, and in the context of the unresolved Roman Question.
The title of the feast was "Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Regis" ([of] Our Lord Jesus Christ the King), and the date was established as "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 revision of the calendar in 1960, the date and title were unchanged but, according to the simplification of the ranking of feasts, it was classified as a feast of the first class.
In his motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis of 1969, Pope Paul VI amended the title of the Feast to "D. N. Iesu Christi universorum Regis" (Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe). He also moved it to the new date of the final Sunday of the liturgical year, before the commencement of a new liturgical year on the First Sunday of 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 of "solemnity".
In the extraordinary form, as happens with all Sundays whose liturgies are replaced by those of important feasts,[note 1] the prayers of the Sunday on which the celebration of the feast of Christ the King occurs are used on the ferias (weekdays) of the following week. The Sunday liturgy is thus not totally omitted. In 2020, the Solemnity day falls on 31 October for those using the former calendar.
In the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Sweden and the Church of Finland, this day is referred to as Judgement Sunday, previously highlighting the final judgement, though after the Swedish Lectionary of 1983 the theme of the day was amended to the Return of Christ. A distinct season of Kingdomtide is or has been observed by a number of churches on the four Sundays before Advent, either officially or semi-officially.
In the Church in Wales, part of the Anglican Communion, these four Sundays before Advent are called the "Sundays of the Kingdom" and Christ the King is observed as a season and not as a single festal day.
The Continental Reformed Churches, such as the Christian Reformed Churches, assign the following hymns to be used on the Feast of Christ the King: "Crown Him with Many Crowns", "Lo! He comes with clouds descending", and "Rejoice, the Lord Is King".
In the Presbyterian Churches, such as the Presbyterian Church (USA), at the Feast of Christ the King (Feast of the Reign of Christ) "the church gives thanks and praise for sovereignty of Christ, who is Lord of all creation and is coming again in glory to reign (see Revelation 1:4-8)."
The Feast of Christ the King is observed in the Methodist Churches, such as the United Methodist Church, as the last Sunday of the liturgical season of Kingdomtide. The season of Kingdtomtide itself starts on Trinity Sunday and culminates in the Feast of Christ the King. Methodist parishes have been dedicated to Christ the King.
United Protestant Churches
In United Protestant Churches, such as the United Church of Canada, Uniting Church of Australia, Church of North India, Church of Pakistan and Church of South India, the Feast of Christ the King (Reign of Christ), is observed as the last Lord's Day of the liturgical kalendar.
Significance for the laity
While the encyclical that established this feast was addressed, according to the custom of the time, to the Catholic Bishops, Pope Pius XI wanted the Feast to impact the laity:
"If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God."
- Richert, Scott P. (29 July 2018). "When Is the Feast of Christ the King?". Learn Religions. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
- "Lectionary" (PDF). Moravian Church. 2012. p. 2.
- Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings Proposed by the Consultation on Common Texts, Augsburg Fortress, 2005, pp. 304–305, ISBN 0806649305
- Fraternity of St. Gregory the Great calendar
- Pope Pius XI, Quas primas, §7, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
- Quas primas, §13. sfn error: no target: CITEREFQuas_primas,_§13 (help)
- Pope Pius XI (December 11, 1925). "Quas primas". Vatican.va.
- Pope Pius XI, Quas primas, §28, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 63
- motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis
- "Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 2014.
- "Liturgical Calendar 2015". The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-02-04.
- "All Saints to Advent". The Church of England. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
- Meeter, Daniel. "Christ the King: Service planning for the last six Sundays of the church year". Christian Reformed Church in North America. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
- "Christ the King/Reign of Christ". Presbyterian Mission Agency. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
- "Liturgical Colors and the seasons of the church year". United Church of Christ. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
- Baber, Charlie (21 November 2017). "Changed from Glory Into Glory". United Methodist Insight. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
- "Kingdomtide". First United Methodist Church of Orlando. 7 September 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
- "Christ the King Methodist Church". Christ the King Methodist Church. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
- "Reign of Christ A". Pilgrim Uniting Church. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
- Pope Pius XI, Quas primas, §33, Libreria Editrice Vaticana