This solemnity was established in 1925 by Pius XI by the encyclical letter Quas primas. The Pope is then concerned about the evolutions of a world still bearing the consequences of the First World War. He sees this new solemnity as a response to triumphant atheism and secularism, “a protest against the loss of power of the Church over society” in the words of Brother Patrick Prétot, theologian and professor at the Higher Institute of Liturgy of the Catholic Institute of Paris.
The Church also celebrated in this year 1925, the 16th centenary of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, which proclaimed the equality and unity of the Father and the Son, and thereby the sovereignty of Christ.
Solemnity took on another meaning during the twentieth century, after the Second Vatican Council which emphasizes its eminently eschatological dimension. It is thus moved from the last Sunday in October to the last Sunday in November, at the end of the liturgical year of which it is in a way the crowning.. It thus calls, according to Benedict XVI, to turn its gaze towards the future, “towards the final destination of history which will be the definitive and eternal reign of Christ”, as he explained in his homily of November 25, 2012, during the last Consistory of his pontificate.
The faithful celebrate on this Sunday the one who does not exercise a power of domination but who reveals his royalty by offering himself nailed to a cross. The liturgical texts of this last Sunday all speak of this eternal reign and what it implies, whatever the year, A, B or C. This year, it is the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (25, 31-46) which evokes the Son of man who will sit on “his throne of glory” and who speaks explicitly of “king” who “will separate men from them. one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats “.
This year, the celebration will be unprecedented since at its end, a delegation from Panama, the last host country of World Youth Day (WYD), will pass the baton to a group of young Portuguese who will host the next gathering in 2022. Normally the presentation of the WYD Cross and the copying of the icon of Maria Salus populi romani takes place on Palm Sunday, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic this tradition has been postponed by a few months.
Feast of Christ the King, Jesus, Christ the King, Pope, Liturgy, Liturgical year, Vatican City
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