Christ the King

One of the aspects of the church calendar that I like is its cyclical nature. There is a rhythm and logic to it. The pope doesn’t arbitrarily decide when Christmas or Easter or any other feast is celebrated. The liturgical year has many moveable feasts.

A moveable feast is an observance in the liturgical calendar that occurs on a different date each year (that is, relative to our solar calendar). The key moveable feasts are a set number of days before or after Easter Sunday, which is the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox.

I have an obsession with the moon, so this dating method is music to my ears. Moveable feasts are contrasted with fixed celebrations. For instance, St. Ignatius of Loyola is always celebrated on July 31.

We celebrate today the Feast of Christ the King. The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe is commemorated on the final Sunday of Ordinary Time. It’s in late November and is followed by the four Sundays of Advent preceding Christmas.

The liturgical calendar is starting over! This celebration is yet one more celebration that tells us that we are seeing time and its passage as a gift offered to us by God. In that respect, we are countercultural, vis-à-vis secular Western culture, which is quickly abandoning its foundations in Christendom.

The mere fact of living in sync with the church calendar is a statement to our culture. People start preparing for Christmas earlier and earlier. Advent gets lost with all the rushing around.

On the other hand, we live the rhythm of the liturgical year in order to be helped to have a deeper encounter with the Lord.

On the Feast of Christ the King we celebrate the full and final triumph and return of the One through whom the entire universe was created, and in whom it is being recreated. That ending will mark the beginning of a timeless new heaven and a new earth when God will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death. (Revelations 21:4).

How do we celebrate Christ the King? One method is to consider Ignatius’ contemplation on Christ the King. The person praying with the Spiritual Exercises has just finished the first part of the Exercises. The person has become intimately aware of the reality of personal sin and God’s mercy.

Now, Ignatius is basically saying, I know that I am a sinner, but I’ve been forgiven and loved by God. I have to pick myself up and ask how God wants to make use of my gifts. The point of this exercise is that I may not be deaf to God’s call, but ready and diligent to accomplish God’s most holy will. It’s an imaginative exercise about God’s dream for the world.

The contemplation on Christ the King is a wonderful exercise, which makes abundant use of the imagination in inviting us to pray with our dreams to do great things in the name of God. You’ll find plenty of material online. T

his classic contemplative exercise is one of the aspects of Ignatius that has caused many readers and thinkers to associate Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote with Ignatius of Loyola. Let’s dream the impossible dream!

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 08:00h, 22 November Reply

    Thank you Philip!

  • Catherine von Zuben
    Posted at 20:12h, 22 November Reply

    Today’s feast of Christ the King is like none other: 50 people in the church – the 1st 50 to register online for a ticket; no greeting our friends; masks a must when on church property; hand washing seconds before receiving the Eucharist; cantor only singing hymns etc.. The Gospel message so beautiful, inviting us, even in these uncertain terrifying times, to care for our neighbour. Please God we will accept this invite and be grateful for what we have and help those who are in need.

  • Susan Tomenson
    Posted at 22:17h, 22 November Reply

    Wonderful, Philip. Thanks so much. You helped my prayer today on The Feast of Christ the King. I am at this time praying with The New Spiritual Exercises by Louis Savary. I am beginning The Call of the Kingdom.
    Bye for now- Susan

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