Sarah Damm details simple ways families can celebrate the kingship of Christ.
True peace of Christ can only exist in the Kingdom of Christ. (Pope Pius XI)
In 1925, Pope Pius XI instituted a new feast day in the liturgical calendar: the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He did so to remind the entire world that Jesus Christ is King of all aspects of life and every square inch of Heaven and earth.
As this feast day approaches on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, let’s look back on its history, explore how to celebrate it in our homes, and reclaim Christ’s Kingship in every area of our lives.
A Brief History
In 1925, the world was forgetting the Kingship of Christ, especially in the political sphere. Pope Pius XI saw the empire of Christ rejected in many countries. And this led to a division of sorts: Christ could be King of the heart and Church, but He was unwelcome to be King of anything that reached beyond that. So, the Vicar of Christ established this feast day, so the world “may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior.”
He went on to say that once we “recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.”
In his charity and wisdom, Pope Pius XI included all persons under the banner of Christ’s Kingship. In his encyclical, Quas Prima (In the first), he quotes Pope Leo XIII to emphasize this point:
His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ.
A Link to the Saints
The Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ was set to be observed annually on the last Sunday of October, the Sunday just before the Feast of All Saints. This was to emphasize the link between Christ the King and the saints. For it is when we recognize Christ as King that we become saints. The saints chose to fight under the banner of Christ’s Kingship while they lived on earth, which transformed them into saints in Heaven. Likewise, we are called to claim Christ as King now, so we may one day be counted among them in Heaven.
In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved this feast day to the last Sunday of the liturgical year, to indicate Christ’s Kingship at the end of time, when He returns. And while this is certainly true, we must also manifest the reign of Christ right here, right now.
Honoring Christ the King
Whether we celebrate this feast day on its original date or its new one, here are four ways to reclaim Christ as King:
1) Lectio Divina
In the days leading up to this feast day, spend time praying with Scripture passages that call to mind Christ’s Kingship.
- Daniel 2:44
- Daniel 7:14
- Psalm 72
- Psalm 93
- Philippians 2:10-11
- Colossians 1:11-20
2) Dedication to the Sacred Heart
Pope Pius XI’s institution of the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ includes an annual dedication of the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This traditionally takes place after Mass on the feast day, before the Blessed Sacrament.
However, if your parish does not observe this, why not bring this practice into the home?
- Display an image of Christ the King or the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
- Pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart and the Divine Praises.
- Recite the Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King. (A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who piously recite this prayer, and a plenary indulgence is granted, if it is recited publicly.)
3) Sacred Music
From traditional to contemporary, create a playlist of sacred music that honors Christ as King. Have it quietly playing in the background of your day, or sing a hymn as part of family prayer. Here are a few suggestions:
- Crown Him With Many Crowns (Public Domain)
- The King of Love, My Shepherd Is (Public Domain)
- To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King (Public Domain)
- Hymn to Christ the King (Sarah Hart)
- King of Kings (Hillsong Worship)
- King of My Heart (Kutless)
4) Royal Celebration
Celebrate the feast day with a truly magnificent celebration, fit for the King of Kings.
- Set the table with special care, including a tablecloth, place cards, and flowers. Set a place for the King!
- Serve Chicken à la King for dinner (or another family favorite).
- Bake a Crown Cake for dessert.
Reclaiming Christ as King
Above all, the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ is a day of worship, adoration, and reverence. It gives us an opportunity to pause and consider how we live in the reality of Christ’s Kingship.
May we profess that Jesus is not only King of our hearts but that the domain of His Kingship encompasses so much more. Let us spend this special feast day truly contemplating what it means to acknowledge Christ as King.
In what ways can I allow Christ the King to reign more in my life?