BLESSED CARDINAL SHUSTER'S
COMMENTARY ON THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING
Messianic Kingdom is essentially the universal and glorious reign established by
Christ for the glory of God and the salvation of the world. The Holy Scriptures
are clear on this point, and whilst they describe with great reserve the
character of the "Servant of Jahve wounded for our iniquities," they
are eloquent in telling us of the glories of the King whose brow is crowned with
many crowns, and who bears written on his royal mantle the title of Rex regum
et Dominus dominantium.
he holy Sacrifice and the divine Office form the solemn daily tribute paid by the Church to Christ, who is both High-priest and King. The very feasts of the Liturgy such as the Epiphany, Easter and the Ascension are intended to glorify those mysteries in which Christ appears to us more especially under the figure of a King.
It is as a King that on the Epiphany he is sought by the Magi from the distant Eastern lands, and that he receives the firstfruits of the adoration soon to be rendered to him by all the powers of the earth.
t Easter he bends beneath his feet all the forces which are arrayed against him : curvat imperia, and opens the Messianic reign by triumphing over death and Satan. It is as King and supreme arbiter of the earth's destiny that Christ, heeding no temporal authority, sends his apostles to preach freely in every place Evangelium Regni. Data est mihi omnis potestas in caelo et in terra. Ite ergo ; docete omnes gentes, baptizantes eos. Lastly, on Ascension Day we contemplate him seated on the throne of the Godhead at the right hand of the Father, and we say in the words of the Creed: cujus regni non erit finis.
evertheless, in spite of the solemn affirmations of the Kingship of Christ contained in Scripture and in Holy Liturgy, for more than fifty years [volume V of the English translation, from which this text is taken, was published in 1930], a pernicious heresy has spread throughout the civilized world which some call liberalism and others " laicisme." This error has many aspects, but consists chiefly in the denial of the supremacy of God and the Church over Society and the State. The latter officially declares itself to be independent of any other authority (a free Church in a free State), when it does not go further and claim divine prerogatives requiring like Moloch of old the sacrifice of every other right both of the individual and the family. The State is the supreme expression of the absolute.
s in the past many liturgical feasts originated from the ardour with which the Faith of the Church opposed certain errors then in vogue, so now, too, the Apostolic See has considered that the most efficacious way of making the condemnation of "laicisme" widely known was that of instituting a solemn feast of the Messianic Kingship of Christ. This forms at once a protest and an act of reparation to atone for that idolatry of the State which has joined in a great conspiracy: reges terrae et principes . . . in unum, adversus Dominum et adversus Christum eius.
t first many different dates were proposed by liturgists: the Sunday within the Octave of the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Octave of the feast of the Sacred Heart, but it seemed wiser not to join this feast to one already in existence but to give it a particular character of its own and a special place in the Missal. Finally the new festival was fixed on the Sunday preceding the feast of All Saints in order to connect it with the Office of November 1, and with the thoughts inspired by that collective feast of all the saints, the veneration of the Heavenly Jerusalem and the court of the King of Glory. It is fitting that the Liturgy, drawing near to the end of the cycle of Sundays after Pentecost, which represents the labours and struggles of earthly life, before turning her thoughts to the various choirs of the ecclesia primitivorum and the Heavenly City, should pay homage to him who is the cause and the end of that glory, and to whom the saints all offer their crowns and sing their joyful Alleluia.
his is the reason why in the Office of All Saints the first responsory of Matins describes the throne of the Omnipotent One, the hem of whose garment rests upon the holy temple in sign of sanctification. Vidi Dominum sedentem super solium excelsum et elevatum . . . et ea quae sub ipso erant replebant templum.