The feast of Christ the King was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI whose motto was “Christ’s peace through Christ’s reign”. It was created in a time of great social upheaval. A few years earlier Russia had been taken over by the atheistic communist Party which sought to eliminate all Christian influence on society. Elsewhere in Europe anti-religious secularism was being promoted. In Pius XI’s words: “society is threatened with irremediable ruin because of its rebellion against God and his Christ”. (Encyclical: Quas primas)

This feast is an “idea” feast. Unlike many feast which celebrate an event in the life of Jesus (e.g. his baptism, resurrection …) in “idea” feasts the Church is emphasising some aspect of its teaching, doctrine, or practice that is seen to be important for that particular time and that is being neglected or distorted. In this case what is being emphasized is that the peace and harmony that people desire can only come from a true devotion to God who created all things and for whom all things exist. (Other “idea” feasts are the feasts of Corpus Christi, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus – both of which seek to remind Catholics of the importance of the Eucharist)


The kingdom that we celebrate today is “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.” Those who respect truth and life, who live in holiness and grace, and who work to bring justice, love and peace, will “inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the creation of the world.”

After we have obeyed the Lord, and in his Spirit nurtured on earth the values of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, and indeed all the good fruits of our nature and enterprise, we will find them again, but freed of stain, burnished and transfigured, when Christ hands over to the father: “a kingdom eternal and universal, a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love, and peace.”

On this earth that Kingdom is already present in mystery. When the Lord returns it will be brought into full flower.                                                                                                                                        Vatican II, Constitution on the Church in the Modern World 1965: 39  

Gerald Darring                                                    https://liturgy.slu.edu