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Feast of Christ the King

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Mass Propers for the Feast of Christ the King

Excerpted from the Roman Catholic Daily Missal.

INTROIT The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and divinity and wisdom and strength and honor; to Him be glory and empire for ever and ever. (Psalm) Give to the King, O God, Thy justice, and to the King’s Son Thy judgment. Glory be to the Father. The Lamb…

COLLECT Almighty and everlasting God, Who in Thy beloved Son, the King of the whole world, hast willed to restore all things, mercifully grant that all the families of nations now kept apart by the wound of sin, may be brought under the sweet yoke of His rule: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

EPISTLE Brethren: Giving thanks to God the Father, Who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the Saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have redemption through His Blood, the remission of sins; Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible: whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by Him and in Him; and He is before all, and by Him all things consist, and He is the head of the body of the Church, Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may hold the primacy because in Him it hath well-pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell; and through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, making peace through the Blood of His cross, both as to the things on earth, and the things that are in heaven, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

GRADUAL He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. And all kings shall adore Him, all nations shall serve Him.

ALLELUIA Alleluia, alleluia. His power shall be an everlasting power, which shall not be taken away; and His kingdom a kingdom that shall not decay. Alleluia.

GOSPEL At that time: Pilate said to Jesus: Art Thou King of the Jews? Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of Me? Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee up to me: what hast Thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from hence. Pilate therefore said to him: Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a King. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth My voice. Creed

OFFERTORY Ask of Me and I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession.

SECRET O Lord, we offer Thee the Victim of man’s redemption: grant, we beseech Thee, that Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Whom we are immolating in this sacrifice, may Himself bestow on all nations the gifts of unity and peace: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

COMMUNION The Lord shall sit as King for ever: the Lord shall bless His people in peace.

POSTCOMMUNION We have received the food of immortality and beg, Lord, that we who are proud to fight under the banner of Christ our King, may reign with Him for ever in His realm above: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

Commentary: Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, by Fr. Pius Parsch

The liturgy is an album in which every epoch of Church history immortalizes itself. Therein, accordingly, can be found the various pictures of Christ beloved during succeeding centuries. In its pages we see pictures of Jesus suffering and in agony; we see pictures of His Sacred Heart; yet these pictures are not proper to the nature of the liturgy as such; they resemble baroque altars in a gothic church. Classic liturgy knows but one Christ: the King, radiant, majestic, and divine.

With an ever-growing desire, all Advent awaits the “coming King”; in the chants of the breviary we find repeated again and again the two expressions “King” and “is coming.” On Christmas the Church would greet, not the Child of Bethlehem, but the Rex Pacificus — “the King of peace gloriously reigning.” Within a fortnight, there follows a feast which belongs to the greatest of the feasts of the Church year — the Epiphany. As in ancient times oriental monarchs visited their principalities (theophany), so the divine King appears in His city, the Church; from its sacred precincts He casts His glance over all the world….On the final feast of the Christmas cycle, the Presentation in the Temple, holy Church meets her royal Bridegroom with virginal love: “Adorn your bridal chamber, O Sion, and receive Christ your King!” The burden of the Christmas cycle may be summed up in these words: Christ the King establishes His Kingdom of light upon earth!

If we now consider the Easter cycle, the luster of Christ’s royal dignity is indeed somewhat veiled by His sufferings; nevertheless, it is not the suffering Jesus who is present to the eyes of the Church as much as Christ the royal Hero and Warrior who upon the battlefield of Golgotha struggles with the mighty and dies in triumph. Even during Lent and Passiontide the Church acclaims her King. The act of homage on Palm Sunday is intensely stirring; singing psalms in festal procession we accompany our Savior singing: Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit, Rex Christe, “Glory, praise and honor be to Thee, Christ, O King!” It is true that on Good Friday the Church meditates upon the Man of Sorrows in agony upon the Cross, but at the same time, and perhaps more so, she beholds Him as King upon a royal throne. The hymn Vexilla Regis, “The royal banners forward go,” is the more perfect expression of the spirit from which the Good Friday liturgy has arisen. Also characteristic is the verse from Psalm 95, Dicite in gentibus quia Dominus regnavit, to which the early Christians always added, a ligno, “Proclaim among the Gentiles: the Lord reigns from upon the tree of the Cross!” During Paschal time the Church is so occupied with her glorified Savior and Conqueror that kingship references become rarer; nevertheless, toward the end of the season we celebrate our King’s triumph after completing the work of redemption, His royal enthronement on Ascension Thursday.

Neither in the time after Pentecost is the picture of Christ as King wholly absent from the liturgy. Corpus Christi is a royal festival: “Christ the King who rules the nations, come, let us adore” (Invit.). In the Greek Church the feast of the Transfiguration is the principal solemnity in honor of Christ’s kingship, Summum Regem gloriae Christum adoremus (Invit.). Finally at the sunset of the ecclesiastical year, the Church awaits with burning desire the return of the King of Majesty.

We will overlook further considerations in favor of a glance at the daily Offices. How often do we not begin Matins with an act of royal homage: “The King of apostles, of martyrs, of confessors, of virgins — come, let us adore” (Invit.). Lauds is often introduced with Dominus regnavit, “The Lord is King”. Christ as King is also a first consideration at the threshold of each day; for morning after morning we renew our oath of fidelity at Prime: “To the King of ages be honor and glory.” Every oration is concluded through our Mediator Christ Jesus “who lives and reigns forever.” Yes, age-old liturgy beholds Christ reigning as King in His basilica (etym.: “the king’s house”), upon the altar as His throne.

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