29 October 2017

The Feast of Christ the King

Today, in the General Roman Calendar of 1960, approved for use by Traditional Institutes such as the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter and other Traditional groups, is the Feast of Christ the King. In the General Roman Calendar of 1969, it has been moved to the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, a not insignificant change as we shall see. It was instituted by His Holiness Pope Pius XI, of Blessed Memory, in 1925 by his Encyclical Letter, Quas Primas.

Quas Primas was a a development of ideas going back to the Church Fathers, but concretely  presented earlier by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, and Pope Pius himself. Pope Leo had said in Annum Sacrum,
 His empire extends not only over Catholic nations and those who, having been duly washed in the waters of holy baptism, belong of right to the Church, although erroneous opinions keep them astray, or dissent from her teaching cuts them off from her care; it comprises also all those who are deprived of the Christian faith, so that the whole human race is most truly under the power of Jesus Christ. 
And Pope Pius had said in his Ubi arcano Dei consilio
 ...(A)s 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.
A short comparison of the Rites: 

 The Collect from the Traditional Roman Rite:
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 nations, now kept apart by the wound of sin, may be brought under the sweet yoke of his rule.Who with thee liveth and reigneth, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
And for comparison, the Collect for the Feast from the Missal of Pope Paul VI:
Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
A pretty stark difference, eh? From all the nations of the world brought under the sweet yoke of Christ's rule to all of creation rendering service and proclaiming God's praise. The last time I checked, all of creation, except Man and the fallen angels, did all of that as essential to their nature.

With one exception the readings have been changed, as well. In the Traditional Rite, the Epistle is Col 1:12 - 20, and the Gospel is John 18:33 - 37. The Gospel from John survives in Year B in the three year cycle, Year A being Matt 25:31-46, and Year C, Luke 23:35-43

The point of these alterations, along with the change of date, seems to have been to remove the idea that Christ should reign as King today, the date being in the Time after Pentecost, in our hearts, our homes and families, in our societies, and in our nations, to be replaced with the idea that Christ will reign at the end of time, with the date on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time. over all creation. This, of course, removes the pesky idea that Christ is King, even now, over protestant. Muslim, Jewish, pagan, and atheist hearts, homes, societies and nations. That would be triumphalist and exclusionary!

And, by placing it on the last Sunday in October, it was deliberately placed close to 'Reformation Day', kept by many protestant churches on the same Sunday to celebrate the heresiarch Luther's rebellion against Christ's Holy Catholic Church.

The doctrine of the Feast is expressed very well in this prayer from Fr Stedman's Jesus+Mary+Joseph Novena Manual: 
 MOST SWEET JESUS! Come near to us, Thy children. Receive from our hands that crown which those who are but dust of earth, try to seize from Thee. Enter now in triumph among us, Thy fervent Lawmakers may break the tables of Thy Law, but whilst they lose their thrones and are forgotten, we, Thy subjects, will continue to salute Thee « Hail, Christ, our King! 
They have said that Thy GOSPEL is out-of-date, that it hinders progress, and must no longer be considered. They who say this soon disappear into obscurity and are forgotten; whilst we, who adore Thee, continue to salute Thee « Hail, Christ, our King! 
The proud, the worldly « those who possess unlawful riches « those who thirst for riches, honors and pleasures alone « declaring Thy moral law to be for past ages « will be hurled against the Rock of Calvary and Thy Church and falling, will be reduced to dust, and sink into oblivion, « whilst we, Thy followers, continue to salute Thee « Hail, Christ, our King! 
Those who seek the dawn of a material civilization, divorced from God, will surely die, poisoned by their own false doctrine, deserted and cursed by their own children « whilst we, who would console Thee, will continue to salute Thee« Hail, Christ, our King! 
Yes, hail to Thee, O Christ, our King! Put to flight Lucifer, the fallen angel of darkness, from our homes, schools and society « force him and his agents into Hell « chain him there everlastingly « whilst we, Thy friends, continue to salute Thee« Hail, Christ, our King!
Stedman, Fr. Joseph F.. Jesus, Mary, Joseph Novena Manual: The New Revised (Kindle Locations 935-952). Confraternity of the Precious Blood. Kindle Edition. 

An excellent explanation of the ideas and doctrines of the Feast of Christ the King may be read in Mr Michael Davies', 'The Reign of Christ the King'. This booklet is a transcript of the keynote speech at the Catholic Voice International Conference in Chicago in the early 1990s. I was also a speaker at the conference on the subject of Christ the King and Monarchism, so I got to hear Mr Davies deliver his speech, after having been privileged to have dinner with him the night before.

And for those who do not have access to the prayers and hymns of the Traditional Office of Christ the King, here is a 'Little Office' I compiled some years ago, based on the example of the approved Little Offices, such as the Immaculate Conception, St Joseph, and the Holy Angels.

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