Saints Simon and Jude

Today is the feast of the holy Apostles Simon and Jude. Here is something Pope Benedict XVI said on them in October 2006. In the Sarum calendar, this feast is celebrated as an Inferior Double like the other Apostles, and has a higher priority than the twenty-first Sunday after Trinity, which is simply commemorated.

Needless to say, the feast of Christ the King in the Roman rite was instituted only in 1925 by Pius XI and celebrated on the last Sunday of October. In the rite of Paul VI, it takes the place of our Sunday next before Advent. One can understand this happening in the 1920’s in the midst of the various emerging totalitarian regimes in Europe, especially Hitler and Mussolini. Paul VI obviously wanted to emphasise the eschatological dimension of this feast rather than relativise the fascination the Dictators had once held over their people in Germany and Italy. This was made possible by the system of per annum Sundays, and in this way Christ the King would not eclipse the first Excita Sunday (which is not in use in the 1969 rite), so-called because of the first word of the Collect.

The notion of a Kingship of Christ is badly understood by some, thinking it confers political power on the hierarchy of the Church, and should therefore bind Church and State in a Throne and Altar alliance. Before Pilate, Christ had said that his kingdom was not of this world. It is an eschatological notion, symbolised by the Christ Pantakrator icon in the apses of medieval western and Byzantine churches.

In my opinion, this notion is adequately re-presented in the feast of Christ’s Epiphany and in the final Sundays after Trinity leading into Advent. As I follow the Sarum calendar, I do not celebrate the feast of Christ the King, or the Sacred Heart for that matter.

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