Thursday, 17 November 2011

300th post! And Christmas puddings...

God makes good all things, and all truth is truth in virtue of Christ the Lord. So, I have just been inspired to write this 300th post of our blog after being reminded on the radio to stir up my Christmas pudding mix this Sunday!

For the feast of Jesus Christ, Universal King, the seminary traditionally travels to Mass in our neighbouring parish bearing that dedication. It's also the first time that the new, bigger college has travelled en masse to Mass.

This feast was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to combat the dismissal of Christ, and the Christian religion, as the rightful centre of the life of all people. It was originally intended to be celebrated on the last Sunday in October, interrupting the ordinary (post-pentecost) liturgical cycle, so that the Lord's feast is celebrated, followed by a celebration of his royal court in heaven (All Saints' day) a few days later, anticipating the royal authority which he already holds over those in heaven is extended over all those inhabiting the earth. In the liturgical reforms, the feast was moved to the last Sunday before Advent, dedicating the whole year to the King of the Universe. I think it works either way; I like both symbols!

There was one unfortunate effect of moving Christ the King to the last Sunday of the year, however, because it means that a beautiful opening prayer (collect) for that Sunday gets left out of the liturgy.

We have been hearing in the Office of Readings lately many prophesies concerning the coming of the Messiah (in fact, we first heard from Isaiah in August, so central is the Incarnation of the Divine Word in our religion), and, those who attend Mass in the extraordinary form of our rite this weekend will hear a prayer which can translate into English as:

Stir up the wills of Thy faithful people,
we beseech Thee, O Lord;
that they more earnestly seeking the fruit of good works,
may receive more abundantly the gifts of Thy loving kindness.

When Christ the Lord comes to claim his royal crown over the earth on the day of judgment, we will cry this prayer, asking the Lord for his mercy and loving kindness, to deliver us from our earthly desires, and give us faith to live wholly for him.

As the Gospel for that Mass tells us, "then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty; ... Heaven and earth shall pass away, by My words shall not pass away."

In Advent, we not only prepare for Christmas, but also Christ's second coming, of which he speaks here in this Gospel passage. As Pope Pius intended, the feast of Christ the King reminds us that, as our response, we should daily allow Christ to come on clouds descending into our lives, where he reigns as King.

So that's while we call this Sunday, Stir Up Sunday. Even making our Christmas puddings should remind us of this reality, so it is to be a Christian. It reminds us of our Christmas day feast, but also, the reason why we celebrate that feast. Let's recover our culture!

Christ is not just for Christmas.

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