21 November: Feast of Christ the King (the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe). Celebrated on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, this feast day was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. As a response to the rise of secularization, atheism, and communism in the world and to publicly acknowledge the supremacy of Jesus Christ over all men and nations, Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Quas Primas. This encyclical added the feast of “Our Lord Jesus Christ the King” to the Church liturgical calendar. It designated the feast to be celebrated on the last Sunday of October. This date, near All Saints’ Day and four weeks before Advent, was carefully chosen. It reminded the people that Jesus Christ is not only King of this world, reigning over the nations; He is also the eternal King, glorified by the saints in heaven, who will one day come to judge humankind. In his encyclical, the pope noted that the world’s disorder was the result of nations rejecting Christ. The pope instructed the faithful to use this annual feast as a time to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; tying the celebration to devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the living Christ in the Eucharist. In 1969, Pope Paul VI further enhanced this feast. To emphasize Christ’s universal reign, he changed the feast day name to “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe”. He also changed the feast date to the last Sunday in the liturgical year, emphasizing even more strongly the connection between Christ’s kingship and His second advent (coming) to judge the world. Fr. Smith aptly referred to this new feast date as “the crown of Ordinary Time”. The pope also raised this feast to the highest rank of celebration on the Church calendar: that of a solemnity. Today, peace still eludes us; social, political and economic upheaval is still prevalent; and the nations continue to reject the Gospel. The world needs now, more than ever, our Christian witness to Christ the King’s rule over all things.
23 November is the feast day of Blessed Miguel Pro. It is a perfect tie-in to learn the phrase that this Mexican martyr bravely died proclaiming: “Viva Christo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”)
Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:
- Make crowns! (Or, visit Burger King today!) Here is a link for free printable Christ the King
- An easy Christ the King craft idea here.
- For a fun baking activity, make Christ the King cookie crowns.
- Set the table as if you were hosting a king for dinner: use cloth napkins, your best dishes. Light candles and fill fancy glasses with champagne or sparkling cider. You could also serve adults a Royal Flush cocktail made with Crown Royal.
- Make “Chicken á la king” for dinner: recipe here.
- Other dinner ideas “fit for a king”– a ham ‘jeweled’ with cloves; a crown roast; a very nice steak; or slow braised beef and vegetables with mashed potatoes. For dessert, a crown cake! (recipes here)
- Sing or listen to the hymn “For Christ the King” by Father Daniel Lord, from 1933. The Hallelujah Chorusfrom Handel’s Messiah is another resounding piece of music that captures the enthusiasm of this feast day: “King of Kings and Lord of Lords! And He shall reign for ever and ever.”
- Have a family procession in honor of Christ the King – idea here.
“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.” (Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI)