Celebrating the Feast of Christ the King: John 18:33-37
Established in the 20th century — this feast is designed to give special recognition to the dominion Christ our Lord has over all aspects of our lives. But why and how did it come about?
The pope instructed the faithful to use this annual celebration as a time to consecrate themselves, or renew their consecration to, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, explicitly tying the celebration to devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the living Christ in the Eucharist. He also called for Catholics to make reparations for the widespread atheism being practiced in many countries.
In 1969, Pope Paul VI took several steps to enhance the witness of the feast day. To emphasize Christ’s universal reign, he changed the name of the celebration to the feast of “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of All” ( Domini Nostri Iesu Christi universorum Regis ) He also changed the 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. In addition, the pope raised the feast to the highest rank of celebration on the Church calendar, that of a “solemnity.”
Today, peace still eludes us; social, political and economic orders are shaking; and the nations continue in many ways to reject the light of the Gospel. We can be grateful, then, for the chance to celebrate each year the Solemnity of Christ the King — for the world needs now, more than ever, our witness to His rule over all things.
On the kingship of Christ
The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences … the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society, in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin. We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in the future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior. —Pope Pius XI, encyclical Quas Primas , no. 24