These next days ahead—from Christ the King Sunday through the First Sunday in Advent—are very momentous and symbolic days for us in our prayer and liturgy. We just celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King, a day that was established in l925 by Pope Pius XI as a clear reminder that no matter what other sovereign power might be trying to oppress the human spirit, the ultimate Word, the ultimate power in our lives is that of Christ the King. Keep in mind that when this day was established the Communist Revolution had already happened with Lenin and Trotsky. There was great bloodshed in all of this. The Church was being persecuted by the Masonic governments of Calles and Obregon and this was the time of the Mexican Martyrs and the Cristeros. And Pope Pius XI could also see the coming rise of Fascism and Nazism and the toll that would exact on the human spirit. This feast day was established to be a beacon of hope and light in times of darkness. It was originally the last Sunday in October, and with the reform of the liturgical calendar the solemnity also becomes a focus for the scene of the Last Judgment and how we have responded to the Lord’s call to discipleship and love.
We next have Thanksgiving. This is a great civil holiday but certainly points to our own understanding how the Eucharist is the greatest prayer of thanksgiving that we have. It is a very good practice to begin Thanksgiving day in our parish churches so that our own times of thanksgiving with family and friends find their beginning in our prayer and our gathering as God’s holy people.
Finally, a new Church year will be upon us shortly. Next weekend is the first Sunday in Advent. More on Advent later, but Advent certainly is a time and season of anticipation and waiting. In a beautiful book of meditations for the Advent and Christmas season, Pope Benedict XVI (then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) says regarding this time that “when time itself is meaningful and each moment contains something valuable of its own, the joyful anticipation of something greater, something still to come, makes even more precious that which we already experience. And it gives us a kind of invisible force that bears us across the individual moments. The Christian Advent wants to help us attain this kind of waiting, for is the truly Christian form of waiting and hoping.”
I hope and pray that all of you have a very joyful and blessed celebration of Thanksgiving with your loved ones, and safe travels as well. On a personal note, thank you all for the many notes, calls and expressions of concern at the time of my father’s final illness and death. My brothers and sister and I truly appreciate all of them. God bless and safe and joyful days ahead. Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!
The Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange