Saturday, November 25, 2023 at 5 pm at St. Patrick’s Church
When Pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ the King in 1925 with his encyclical Quas Primas, he wrote in the shadow of the Great War in the hope that its like would not be seen again. He asserted that Christ’s regal title reflects a present sovereignty over our hearts, minds, and wills, and that “not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire” (#33; cf. #7). Christ exercises in Himself the trifold executive, legislative, and judicial powers that our own constitution divides (#14). As government officials along with the common faithful believe in Christ’s kingship, they will gain the world “the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony” (#19), for “It will call to their [rulers’ and princes’] minds the thought of the last judgment” (#32). Thus, the pope beautifully asserted the principle lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of prayer is the law of belief (cf. #21).
In our own time, so afflicted by conflict around the world, it seems the need for such a feast to call to mind Christ’s kingship remains timely: that our prayer might impact more deeply our belief and carry forward into our behavior.
Therefore, let us celebrate this feast with due solemnity. As we celebrated the great feast of Pentecost with an extended vigil to our spiritual benefit, it would seem a fitting time to do so again for Christ the King.
Unlike the Pentecost Vigil, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe in the Roman Missal does not have distinct prayers, readings or an extended format for the Vigil to distinguish it from its proper celebration the next day. However, there is another option open to us: we are permitted to unite the celebration of Holy Mass with the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours.
We have recently had several occasions to pray the Liturgy of the Hours together as a community of faith. We celebrated Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer together during our recent 40-hours devotions, and occasionally pray it during our weekly holy hours. In addition, we also celebrated the feast day of St. Margaret Mary with the Liturgy of the Hours in Apalachin and during Fr. Van Lieshout’s recent visit. We anticipate more opportunities to pray it together during Advent. So it seems fitting for us to incorporate Evening Prayer into the celebration of the Vigil Mass for Christ the King.
What does this mean, practically speaking? The Liturgy of the Hours will invite us to pray additional psalms and the Magnificat during the celebration of a weekend Mass. There will be a worship aid to facilitate the celebration. Holy Mass will start at the same time (5 pm), but may last approximately 15 minutes longer than usual. Expect certain other liturgical options that are in character with the nature of this celebration, including incense and a chanted Eucharistic Prayer. It would also seem an opportune time to turn again to the liturgical east as we did on Christ the King last year, to unite our posture to our prayers and pray to Christ the King to reign more completely in our hearts. If any of these features present you with some difficulty, you may wish to explore other options. The anticipated Mass at St. James and all the Sunday Masses in our churches will more closely resemble the typical Sunday Mass.
Whether or not you keep this vigil with us in person, let us join together in prayer: that our devotion to Christ the King will bring about a profound conversion in our hearts and in the world.
I would greatly appreciate feedback on the spiritual value of this extended celebration from those who are able to attend. I invite you to write care of the parish office.
In the Lord,
Fr. Steven Lewis