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Dumbing Down the Feast of Christ the King

by Christopher A. Ferrara
November 26, 2015

Viewing with alarm the rapid descent of a once Christian civilization into utter barbarism — a descent now all but complete — Pope Pius XI established the Feast of Christ the King in 1925 with his encyclical Quas Primas.  In the same encyclical Pius XI explained that when the Church speaks of “the Social Kingship” of Christ she means that Christ is King of all nations as well as all individuals, and that all men and nations, regardless of what religion they may profess, have an objective duty to embrace the true religion in obedience to Christ the King:

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. Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. [internal quotation of Leo XIII omitted]

Of course, given the “opening to the world” at Vatican II, and the consequent surrender of most of the human element of the Church to the spirit of the age — the spirit of democratic pluralism in a State divorced from the Church — this traditional teaching will hardly do. The modern churchman will hear nothing of a Christ who is king of all nations, even Muslim ones.  

It was inevitable, therefore, that the Feast of Christ the King would undergo the necessary post-Vatican “adjustments” in keeping with the ongoing disaster some still dare to care a renewal, but which even Paul VI lamented was “a day of clouds, of darkness, of groping, of uncertainty.

For one thing, in 1969 Paul VI himself moved the Feast of Christ the King from the Sunday before All Saints Day to the Sunday before Advent.  As Taylor Marshall rightly observes (in keeping with a longstanding traditionalist objection to the innovation), the date change was supposedly motivated by a desire to stress “the eschatological importance of this Sunday,” meaning that while “the original date of Christ the King of Pius XI in 1925 expected temporal nations to declare Christ as their King here and now” the new date “expects an eschatological (end times) fulfillment.”  In other words, Christ is rhetorically removed from the affairs of nations and His rule is deferred to the end of the world.

In same vein, as Father Z observes on his popular blogsite, the collect for the Mass on the Feast of Christ the King was tinkered with during the post-conciliar “liturgical renewal” to remove suggestions of Christ’s kingship over nations in the here and now.  I borrow from his comparison, which I have arranged typographically for my purposes:

Pre-Vatican II version:

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.

Paul VI version:

Almighty eternal God,
who desired to renew all things
in Your beloved Son,

the King of the universe,

graciously grant that

the whole of creation,

having been freed from servitude,

may zealously serve Your majesty and praise You greatly without end.

Notice the following:

First, under the new version, Christ is no longer addressed as King of the world but rather King of the universe, which neatly conceals His rule over nations — the very point of the Feast.  But the purpose of the feast day is to commemorate the Kingship of Christ over men and nations alike, not animals, nature in general, planets, stars, galaxies or intergalactic void.

Second, “mercifully” in the original gives way to “graciously” in the new version, lest anyone be offended by a God who is merciful toward those deserving of punishment, a God who punishes those He rules being most unfashionable these days.

Third, the new version replaces “families of nations” with “whole of creation,” so that it will not be apparent that the Feast of Christ the King is about His kingship over the men and nations of the earth.

Fourth, while the original collect speaks of “the wound of sin,” meaning Original Sin, the new version expunges that term, evidently deemed offensive to the itching ears of “contemporary man,” replacing it with the vague notion of “servitude.” But servitude to what? 

Fifth, the original collect’s reference to “the sweet yoke of His rule” obviously had to go, even though Our Lord Himself spoke of His “yoke” (Matt. 11:30) — meaning His rule over all men. The liturgical reformers, led by the infamous Bugnini, could not tolerate such an explicit reference to the rule of Christ, for “modern men” do not like to be ruled by anyone, even God. Thus “the sweet yoke of His rule” was replaced by the blandly inoffensive “serve… and praise.”

In sum, the new version of the Feast of Christ the King is designed precisely to hide from the nations the very truth Pius XI established the feast day to enshrine in the liturgical life of the Church. But then hiding the truths of the Faith is essentially the entire program of a human element of the Church now more concerned with “dialogue,” “ecumenism” and “interreligious dialogue” than it is with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.  The diabolical triumph of this trinity of pseudo-dogmas is what the Third Secret of Fatima entails, as the world will know when its entirety is finally revealed.