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The Feast of Christ the King

On December 11th 1925 Pope Pius XI published his Encyclical Quas Primas in which he instituted the Solemnity of Christ the King.

 

“Therefore by Our Apostolic Authority We institute the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ to be observed yearly throughout the whole world on the last Sunday of the month of October – the Sunday, that is, which immediately precedes the Feast of All Saints. We further ordain that the dedication of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Our predecessor of saintly memory, Pope Pius X, commanded to be renewed yearly, be made annually on that day.”


He explains the reason for this Feast and devotion in the first paragraph the same encyclical:

 

“In the first Encyclical Letter which We addressed at the beginning of Our Pontificate to the Bishops of the universal Church, We referred to the chief causes of the difficulties under which mankind was laboring. And We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ; and that We promised to do as far as lay in Our power. In the Kingdom of Christ, that is, it seemed to Us that peace could not be more effectually restored nor fixed upon a firmer basis than through the restoration of the Empire of Our Lord. We were led in the meantime to indulge the hope of a brighter future at the sight of a more widespread and keener interest evinced in Christ and his Church, the one Source of Salvation, a sign that men who had formerly spurned the rule of our Redeemer and had exiled themselves from his kingdom were preparing, and even hastening, to return to the duty of obedience.” (Continue reading here.)

 

This feast is so important for our own day because through it we recognize that man is not the measure of all things in our lives but rather it is our Lord Jesus Christ.  We must understand that everything we do must relate to Him and we cannot separate in part of our life from the rest and keep it from our Lord.  Yet this is what many Catholics do when they go to the voting booth, as they soon will.  We must remember that all authority, whether temporal or spiritual, comes from Christ.  Our Lord made this clear when he said the following to Pontius Pilat: “Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above.” (John 19:11).  And it is as Saint Cyril of Alexandria said: “Christ has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature.” (In huc. x.)

 

Here are the prayers and hymns for the Solemnity of Christ the King as it was originally published by Pope Pius IX and is still celebrated as such in the Extraordinary Form:

 

Propers for Holy Mass for this Feast:

 

Introit (Apocalypse 5:12, 1:6; Psalm 71:1)

Dignus est Agnus, qui occísus est, accípere virtútem, et divinitátem, et sapiéntiam, et fortitúdinem, et honórem. Ipsi glória et impérium in saecula sæculórum. Deus, iudícium tuum Regi da: et iustítiam tuam Fílio Regis. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.  Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculórum. Amen Dignus est Agnus, qui occísus est, accípere virtútem, et divinitátem, et sapiéntiam, et fortitúdinem, et honórem. Ipsi glória et impérium in saecula sæculórum.

           

Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honor. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  O God, with Your judgment endow the King and with Your justice, the King’s son.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.  Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honor. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.

           

Collect of the Feast (used also in all the Hours of the Divine Office):

Omnipotens sempitérne Deus, qui in dilécto Fílio tuo, universórum Rege, ómnia instauráre voluísti: concéde propítius; ut cunctæ famíliæ Géntium, peccáti vúlnere disgregátæ, eius suavíssimo subdántur império: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus per ómnia sæcula sæculórum. Amen.

 

Almighty and everlasting God, who in thy beloved Son, the King of the whole world, hast willed to restore all things: mercifully grant that all the families of ations, now kept apart by the wound of sin, may be brought under the sweet yoke of his rule. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

 

Gradual/Alleluia (Psalm 71:8, 78:11; Daniel 7:14):

Dominábitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flúmine usque ad términos orbis terrárum.  Et adorábunt eum omnes reges terræ: omnes gentes sérvient ei. Allelúia, alleluia. Potéstas eius, potéstas ætérna, quæ non auferétur: et regnum eius, quod non corrumpétur. Allelúia.

 

He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.  All kings shall pay Him homage, all nations shall serve Him. Alleluia, alleluia.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away: and His kingdom shall not be destroyed. Alleluia.

 

Offertory (Psalm 2:8):

Póstula a me, et dabo tibi gentes hereditátem tuam, et possessiónem tuam términos terræ.

 

Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for an inheritance and the ends of the earth for Your possession.

 

Secret:

Hóstiam tibi, Dómine, humánæ reconciliatiónis offérimus: præsta, quaesumus; ut, quem sacrifíciis præséntibus immolámus, ipse cunctis géntibus unitátis et pacis dona concédat, Iesus Christus Fílius tuus, Dóminus noster: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

O Lord, we offer You this sacrificial Victim of mankind’s reconciliation with You; grant, we beseech You, that our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Whom we offer in this sacrifice, may bestow upon all peoples the gifts of unity and peace. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

 

Communion (Psalm 28:10-11):

Sedébit Dóminus Rex in ætérnum: Dóminus benedícet pópulo suo in pace.

           

The Lord is enthroned as King forever; may the Lord bless His people with peace!

 

Postcommunion:

Immortalitátis alimóniam consecúti, quaesumus, Dómine: ut, qui sub Christi Regis vexíllis militáre gloriámur, cum ipso, in coelésti sede, iúgiter regnáre póssimus: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

We have received the food of eternal life, and we beseech You, O Lord, that we who are proud to serve under the flag of Christ the King may forever reign with Him in the Kingdom of heaven.  Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. Amen

 

Hymns from the Divine Office for this Feast:

 

Matins

Aeterna imago Altissimi

Lumen Deus, de Lumine,

Tibi Redemptor, gloria,

Honor, pietas, regia.

 

Tu solus ante saecula

Spes atque centrum temporum

Cui iure sceptrum Gentium

Pater supremum credidit

 

Tu flos pudicae Virginis

Nostrae caput propaginis

Lapis caducus vertice

Ac mole terrans occupans

 

Diro tyranno subdita,

Damnata stirps mortalium,

Per te refregit vincula

Sibique caelum vindicat.

 

Doctor, Sacerdos, Legifer

Paefers notatum sanguine

In veste: Princeps Principum,

Regumque Rex Altissimus.

 

Tibi volentes subdimur,

Qui iure cunctis imperas:

Haec civium beatitas

Tuis subesse legibus.

 

Iesu tibi sit gloria,

Qui sceptra mundi temperas,

Cum Patre et almo Spiritu,

In sempiterna saecula. Amen.

O thou eternal Image bright

Of God most high, thou Light of Light,

To thee, Redeemer, glory be,

And might and kingly majesty.

 

Sole hope of all created things,

Thou art the Lord and King of kings,

Whom God, long ere creation’s morn,

Had crowned to rule earth yet unborn.

 

Fair flower from the Virgin’s breast,

Our race’s Head for ever blest,

The stone that Daniel saw on high,

Which falling, o’er the world doth lie.

 

The race of men, condemned to lie

Beneath the direful tyrant’s yoke,

By thee at length the shackles broke

And claimed the fatherland on high.

 

Priest, Teacher, Giver of the law,

Thy Name the rapt Apostle saw

Writ on thy vesture and thy thigh:

The King Of Kings, The Lord Most High.

 

Fain would we own thy blessed sway,

Whose rule all creatures must obey;

For happy is that state and throne

Whose subjects seek thy will alone.

 

All praise, King Jesu, be to thee,

The Lord of all in majesty;

Whom with the Father we adore,

And Holy Ghost, for evermore. Amen.

 

 

 

Lauds

Vexílla Christus ínclyta

Late triúmphans éxplicat:

Gentes adéste súpplices,

Regíque regum pláudite.

 

Non Ille regna cládibus:

Non vi metúque súbdidit

Alto levátus stípite,

Amóre traxit ómnia.

 

O ter beáta cívitas

Cui rite Christus ímperat,

Quæ iussa pergit éxsequi

Edícta mundo caelitus!

 

Non arma flagrant ímpia,

Pax usque firmat foedera,

Arrídet et concórdia,

Tutus stat ordo cívicus.

 

Servat fides connúbia,

Iuvénta pubet íntegra,

Pudíca florent límina

Domésticis virtútibus.

 

Optáta nobis spléndeat

Lux ista, Rex dulcíssime:

Te, pace adépta cándida,

Adóret orbis súbditus.

 

Iesu tibi sit glória,

Qui sceptra mundi témperas,

Cum Patre, et almo Spíritu,

In sempitérna saecula. Amen.

Christ’s flag unfurled in glory raised,

Triumphing o’er the serpent’s stings;

Come humbly forward all ye lands,

Applauding the great King of kings.

 

No force or threat doth he need use,

Not by coersion leadeth he;

Raised on the cross he draweth all,

With love unto his fruitful tree.

 

O! Thrice blest city of the Lord,

Wherein Christ ruleth without dearth;

Fervently she doth execute

His heavenly edicts to the earth,

 

No fiery weapon can e’er harm,

The peace ’stablished by Jesus’ hand;

In happiness and unity,

The ranks of Christ secure do stand.

 

A marriage blessed by faith in thee,

Yields virtuous offspring from the womb;

Like seed in fertile soil doth grow,

In virtuous homes do children bloom.

 

We yearn and long to shine on us,

Thy light, O sweet and winsome King;

All thus submitted to thy reign,

To us, thy gift of peace do bring.

 

O Jesu! King of all the world,

Honour and glory be to thee;

With Father and with Paraclete,

Glory through all eternity. Amen.

 

Vespers

Te sæculórum Príncipem,

Te, Christe, Regem Géntium,

Te méntium, te córdium

Unum fatémur árbitrum.

 

Scelésta turba clámitat:

Regnáre Christum nólumus:

Te nos ovántes ómnium

Regem suprémum dícimus.

 

O Christe, Princeps Pácifer,

Mentes rebélles súbiice:

Tuóque amóre dévios,

Ovíle in unum cóngrega.

 

Ad hoc cruénta ab árbore

Pendes apértis bráchiis,

Diráque fossum cúspide

Cor igne flagrans éxhibes.

 

Ad hoc in aris ábderis

Vini dapísque imágine,

Fundens salútem fíliis

Transverberáto péctore.

 

Te natiónum Praesides

Honóre tollant público,

Colant magístri, iúdices,

Leges et artes éxprimant.

 

Submíssa regum fúlgeant

Tibi dicáta insígnia:

Mitíque sceptro pátriam

Domósque subde cívium.

 

Iesu tibi sit glória,

Qui sceptra mundi témperas,

Cum Patre, et almo Spíritu,

In sempitérna saecula. Amen.

To thee, O Prince of all that be,

Thou Christ, O King eternally;

O Framer of the mind and heart,

Our one true Judge we say thou art.

 

The wicked protest, wail and cry,

Christ Jesus’ reign they would deny;

Rejoice we at thy glorious name,

Thou Highest King we do proclaim.

 

O Christ! The Source of all our peace,

Make all our sinful thoughts to cease;

And still in us our loves misplaced,

As Thy one sheepfold be we embraced.

 

For this, hanging on cruel tree,

With arms outstretched, for all to see;

His heart is pierced by soldier’s spear,

Revealing burning love most dear.

 

From this the altar of the tree

Thy blood flows forth from Calvary;

As wine to us it doth appear,

To thine own heart it draws us near.

 

Thou Governor of all that be,

May all thy creatures honour thee;

All those who rule, O Lord renew!

Source of all precepts just and true.

 

To regal glory, all submit,

All crowns and honours we do remit;—

To thy scepter—so sweet and mild!

Submit we as a little child.

 

All glory be, Jesu, to thee,

Thy scepter over all that be;

All glory, as is ever meet,

To Father and to Paraclete. Amen.

 

 

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