Feast of Christ the King
|Solemnity of Christ the King|
|Observed by||Roman Catholic Church|
|Liturgical Color||White or Gold|
|Observances||Eucharistic adoration for a full day|
|Date||Final Sunday of the Liturgical Calendar (being the Sunday before the First Sunday of Advent); from 20–27 November, inclusive|
|2015 date||22 November|
|2016 date||20 November|
|2017 date||26 November|
|2018 date||25 November|
|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, is a relatively recent addition to the Western liturgical calendar, having been instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI for the Roman Catholic Church. In 1970 its Roman Catholic 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 27 November. The Anglican, Lutheran, and many other Protestant churches adopted it along with the Revised Common Lectionary. 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 of Russia. Roman Catholics adhering to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite as permitted under the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum 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.
Origin and history in the Roman Catholic Church
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Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in his encyclical letter Quas primas of 1925, 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 established as "the last Sunday of the month of October – the Sunday, that is, which immediately precedes the Feast of All Saints". In Pope St. 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, Bl. 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".
As happens with all Sundays whose liturgies are replaced by those of important feasts, The prayers of the Sunday on which the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King occurs are used on the ferias (weekdays) of the following week. The Sunday liturgy is thus not totally omitted.
In 2016, the Solemnity day falls on 20 November (or 30 October for those using the traditional calendar). The liturgical vestments for the day are colored white or gold, in keeping with other joyous feasts honoring Christ.
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:
"The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. 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." 
Observance in other churches
Those churches that use the Revised Common Lectionary observe Christ the King Sunday as the final Sunday of their liturgical years. These churches include most major Anglican and mainline Protestant groups, including the Church of England, Episcopal Church, Anglican Church in North America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other Lutheran groups, United Methodist Church and other Methodist groups, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, and the Moravian Church.
In the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Sweden, this day is referred to as the Sunday of Doom, previously highlighting the final judgement, though after the Lectionary of 1983 the theme of the day was amended to the Return of Christ. In the Church in Wales, part of the Anglican Communion, the 4 Sundays before Advent are called the "Sundays of the Kingdom" and Christ the King is observed as a season and not a single festal day.
- 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 the Solemnities of Pentecost and the Most Holy Trinity. Indeed before the reform of Pope St. Pius X most Sundays deferred to any feast of 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.
- "Liturgical Calendar 2015". The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. 2015.
- Pope Pius XI, Quas primas, §33, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
- Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings Proposed by the Consultation on Common Texts, Augsburg Fortress, 2005, p.p. 304-305, ISBN 0806649305