On the last Sunday of each liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, or Christ the King.
Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 with his encyclical Quas primas (“In the first”) to respond to growing secularism and hostility against the Church. Today reminds us that while governments and ideologies come and go, Christ reigns as King forever. During the early twentieth century, in Mexico, Russia, and in many parts of Europe, atheistic regimes threatened
- Read More
not just the Catholic Church and its faithful but civilization itself. Pope Pius XI’s encyclical gave Catholics hope and—while governments around them crumbled—the assurance that Christ the King shall reign forever. Pope Pius XI said that Christ “reign[s] ‘in the hearts of men,’ both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all mankind” (Quas primas, 7).
Quas primas continues to ring true. The Holy Father speaks directly to the problem of what he referred to as “anti-clericalism,” by which he meant the attitude of those who were seeking to extirpate Christian influence from political life. We see a version of this same attitude today, for example, when it is suggested that belief in Catholic teachings renders a person unfit for a judicial appointment. And in recent years, aggressive secularist campaigns have sought to marginalize the Church and other religious institutions.
When our nation is beset by civil unrest, racial tension, and a pandemic, we do well to turn to Our Lord, who reigns over every people and nation.
In its core document, Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty, the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty "urge[d] that the Solemnity of Christ the King-a feast born out of resistance to totalitarian incursions against religious liberty-be a day specifically employed by bishops and priests to preach about religious liberty, both here and abroad."
Let us pray fervently that we will help others encounter anew Christ, our King, bringing the Gospel to the margins of society, that all might bear witness to Him before others.
Prayer to Christ the King
Lord, Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King
The beginning and end of all things,
You have made your Church to be a people
that bears witness to the goodness and beauty of your kingdom.
By your Holy Spirit, you have united us as one body,
called to live as one family of God.
Fill our hearts with your grace,
that we would be close to you
by being close to the vulnerable and marginalized.
Give us the patience to share one another’s burdens,
And give us the courage to always be friends of the truth.
May we remain with you always.