November 16, 2021
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
On the last Sunday of each liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King
of the Universe, or Christ the King.
Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 with his encyclical Quas primas (“In the first”) to respond to growing secularism and atheism. He recognized that attempting to “thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law” out of public life would result in continuing discord among people and nations. This solemnity reminds us that while governments come and go, Christ reigns as King forever.
During the early twentieth century, in Mexico, Russia, and some parts of Europe, militantly secularistic regimes threatened not just the Catholic Church and its faithful but civilization itself. Pope Pius XI’s encyclical gave Catholics hope and—while governments around them crumbled— the assurance that Christ the King shall reign forever. Jesus Christ “is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all mankind”
For Christians, when our faith is repeatedly marginalized in public life, we can fall into the habit of compartmentalizing our lives. We love Jesus in our private lives, but we shrink from acknowledging the kingship of Christ in social life. When we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, we declare to the world and remind ourselves that Jesus is the Lord of the Church and of the entire universe.