22 November: Feast of Christ the King (the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe). Celebrated on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, this feast day was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. As a response to the rise of secularization, atheism, and communism in the world and to publicly acknowledge the supremacy of Jesus Christ over all men and nations, Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Quas Primas. This encyclical added the feast of “Our Lord Jesus Christ the King” to the Church liturgical calendar. It designated the feast to be celebrated on the last Sunday of October. This date, near All Saints’ Day and four weeks before Advent, was carefully chosen. It reminded the people that Jesus Christ is not only King of this world, reigning over the nations; He is also the eternal King, glorified by the saints in heaven, who will one day come to judge humankind. In his encyclical, the pope noted that the world’s disorder was the result of nations rejecting Christ. The pope instructed the faithful to use this annual feast as a time to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; tying the celebration to devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the living Christ in the Eucharist. In 1969, Pope Paul VI further enhanced this feast. To emphasize Christ’s universal reign, he changed the feast day name to “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe”. He also changed the feast date to the last Sunday in the liturgical year, emphasizing even more strongly the connection between Christ’s kingship and His second advent (coming) to judge the world. Fr. Smith aptly referred to this new feast date as “the crown of Ordinary Time”. The pope also raised this feast to the highest rank of celebration on the Church calendar: that of a solemnity. Today, peace still eludes us; social, political and economic upheaval is still prevalent; and the nations continue to reject the Gospel. The world needs now, more than ever, our Christian witness to Christ the King’s rule over all things.
23 November is the feast day of Blessed Miguel Pro. It is a perfect tie-in to learn the phrase that this Mexican martyr bravely died proclaiming: “Viva Christo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”)
Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:
- Make crowns! (Or, visit Burger King today!) Here is a link for free printable Christ the King crowns.
- An easy Christ the King craft idea here.
- For a fun baking activity, make Christ the King cookie crowns.
- Set the table as if you were hosting a king for dinner: use cloth napkins, your best dishes. Light candles and fill fancy glasses with champagne or sparkling cider. You could also serve adults a Royal Flush cocktail made with Crown Royal.
- Make “Chicken á la king” for dinner: recipe here.
- Other dinner ideas “fit for a king”– a ham ‘jeweled’ with cloves; a crown roast; a very nice steak; or slow braised beef and vegetables with mashed potatoes. For dessert, a crown cake! (recipes here)
- Sing or listen to the hymn “For Christ the King” by Father Daniel Lord, from 1933. The Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah is another resounding piece of music that captures the enthusiasm of this feast day: “King of Kings and Lord of Lords! And He shall reign for ever and ever.”
- Have a family procession in honor of Christ the King – idea here.
- Most importantly, consecrate your family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: instructions here.
“If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone.” (Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI)
Born into a wealthy family in Grenoble, France, Rose learned political skills from her father and a love of the poor from her mother. At age 8, it became her dream to go to America and work with Native Americans after hearing a Jesuit missionary speak of his work there. Rose joined the convent of the Visitation nuns against her family’s wishes. When the French Revolution broke out, the convent was closed; so Rose took care of the poor, opened a school for homeless children, and risked her life helping priests in the underground. In 1804 she joined the Religious of the Sacred Heart. At 49 years old, St. Rose finally received permission to travel to St. Louis, Missouri, with four companions, and established the first convent of the Society at St. Charles. Cold, hunger, illness, poverty, and opposition did not diminish Rose’s vision and courage. She opened the first free school west of the Mississippi for Indians and whites. Rose was 71 years old when she finally obtained permission to work among the Potawatomi Indians. With three companions, she traveled by boat and oxcart to Sugar Creek, Kansas. Their convent was a wigwam, they slept on bare ground, and food was coarse. They opened a school for Indian girls and taught them sewing, weaving, and other household arts. Rose thought herself a failure because she could not master English or the Indian language, but her holiness made a deep impression on the Indians. Saint Rose prayed so incessantly that she was on her knees before the tabernacle when the Indians went to sleep and would still be kneeling there when they awoke. Wondering at this, some children put pebbles on the train of her habit one night. Next morning, the pebbles were still there. She hadn’t budged all night. This earned St. Rose the nickname Quahkahkanumad, meaning “She Who Prays Always.” The nuns cared for the sick and prayed with the dying. The Indians were deeply touched by their kindness and souls were won for Christ. Severe winters and lack of proper food sapped her health and Rose was sent back to St. Charles. She spent the last years of her life praying “for her Indians” and the rapidly growing Society she had established. She died at the age of 83, the first missionary nun to the Indians. St. Rose is the patron saint of perseverance amid adversity. She was canonized by St. Pope John Paul II in 1988.
“We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self. The truest crosses are those we do not choose ourselves. He who has Jesus has everything.” – Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:
- St. Rose taught Indian girls sewing and weaving. Here is an idea for paper weaving with children. OR, you could weave a paper Christmas tree in preparation of the upcoming season! Idea here and here.
- Today’s menu should include Native American Food. This cuisine’s defining theme is that most foods are locally sourced with seasonal ingredients. Some ideas: salmon (or other favorite fish), bison, turkey, or deer meat; veggies, cranberry sauce, corn, grits, succotash, beans, squash, or potatoes; corn bread and pumpkin pie. Click here for a dinner recipe idea.
- Pray to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne for the grace of becoming a prayerful soul. St. Rose was most known for her prayer life; perhaps the best way to honor her today is to spend time in prayer.
- St. Philippine did not convert people by speeches, but by prayer and great charity. Today, pray for someone who is your “enemy” and if possible perform some kindness for this person.
Born to pagan parents, this son of a veteran was forced at the age of 15 to serve in the army. Martin was baptized a Christian at age 18. He lived more like a monk than a soldier. One of the most famous stories associated with Martin happened while he was in the army: Martin came across a poor, naked beggar at the gates of Amiens who asked alms in Christ’s Name. Martin had nothing with him except his weapons and soldier’s mantle; but he took his sword, cut his own cloak in two, and gave half to the poor man. That night, Christ appeared to him clothed with half a mantle and said, “Martin, the catechumen, has clothed ME with his mantle!” At age 23, Martin refused a war bonus and requested dismissal from the army. He told his commander: “I have served you as a soldier; now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight. But I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight.” He was accused of cowardice and after great difficulty, was discharged. Martin then dedicated himself to God’s work. He traveled to Tours where he began studying under Hilary of Poitiers (a doctor of the Church). Martin was ordained as an exorcist. Martin also became a monk. He established a French monastery near Poitiers. He lived there for 10 years, forming his disciples and preaching throughout the countryside. The people of Tours demanded he become their bishop. Martin did not wish it (was so reluctant that he hid in a barn full of geese which honked loudly and gave him away to the archbishop!). He thus became bishop of Tours and served faithfully. Along with Saint Ambrose, Martin rejected putting heretics to death. He worked against the Arian heresy, paganism, and the Druid religion. He was an extraordinary evangelist and won many to the Christian faith. Once the devil appeared to him and spoke as if he were Christ. Martin recognized the deceit. Three dead persons he raised to life. When he was an old man, Martin fell into a painful fever. Although he longed for Heaven, Martin prayed: “Lord, if your people still need me, I do not refuse the work. Your will be done.” Sick and suffering, he was called to heaven on November 11, 397. Saint Martin of Tours is a patron of the poor, soldiers, horsemen, alcoholics, tailors, and winemakers.
Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:
- Listen to Fr Smith’s advice (and announcement of retiring as Advent Grinch until 2021)
- St. Martin’s day, also known as “Martinmas” arrives in autumn, the beginning of wine harvest and the time to slaughter winter meat. It is a day for great feasting. The tradition is to have “St. Martin’s goose” and taste the new wine on his feast. Some traditional Martinmas foods are: goose, wine, cakes, figs, fruits, nuts, and puddings.
- A symbol for St. Martin is a horse; horseshoe cookies are also traditional. Recipe here. The catch is that you should break your cookies and give half away, in honor of St. Martin!
- To remind us that we should be a light in the world like St. Martin was (bringing light to the life of a beggar), lanterns are a main tradition of Martinmas. Pull out some camping lanterns or make your own St. Martin paper lanterns. Free download of a St. Martin lantern here. Then, have a family procession or “lantern walk” and sing a traditional lantern song for Martinmas. Or, sing around a bonfire with your family!
- All of these traditions are based on the fact that St. Martin cut his cloak in half and gave it to a poor beggar. The perfect way to celebrate this feast would be to help the needy. Participate in a coat drive (help KofC and SVdP do this at our parish!) or take your unneeded coats/clothing to a local shelter.