This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. This feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in response to the persecution of Catholics in Mexico during the 1920s. This persecution saw the martyrdom of numerous priests, religious and laypersons and has given birth to many saints – one of the most recent being St. Jose Sanchez del Rio. St. Jose was captured by government forces and submitted to terrible torture before finally being martyred. His tormentors would taunt him, “If you shout ‘death to Christ the King’ we will spare your life.” But St. Jose responded only with, “I will never give in. Viva Cristo Rey!” When they reached the place of execution, St. Jose, as he lay on the ground, made the cross in the dirt with his fingertip and kissed it shortly before being martyred on February 10, 1928. St. Jose Sanchez del Rio was fourteen years old.
The cry of “Viva Cristo Rey!” – “Long Live Christ the King!” gave the impetus for Pope Pius XI Encyclical Quas Primas proclaiming the Feast of Christ the King. As this liturgical year draws to a close this weekend we are reminded of the witness of so many martyrs who gave their lives for the King – may we, in our own time and place in history, acknowledge His Kingship and submit ourselves to it.
Later this week we will celebrate Thanksgiving as a nation. This is such a wonderful and joyful holiday and all of you are invited to begin your celebration of Thanksgiving with the celebration of the Mass on Thanksgiving morning at 9:00 AM. There is so much to be thankful for and know that I am deeply grateful and thankful for all of you here at St. Mary’s and for the grace of having been assigned to such a wonderful parish. Thank you for all you do for St. Mary’s, know that I pray for all of our parishioners regularly and will do so especially this Thanksgiving.
I also want to take a moment to publicly thank our parish staff. Again and again, in all times and seasons, they pour themselves into their work on behalf of this parish, this parish could not do what it does without them. If you see a member of our parish staff over the course of the next few weeks, be sure to thank them!
Finally, we could not enter into this week without turning our thoughts to Advent. I don’t know about you, but with the weather being so warm so late into the year it almost seemed to sneak up on us! Of course Advent is a time of preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord. There are numerous ways we can prepare for this great feast. One way is to mark the weeks by the prayerful use of an Advent Wreath. Our Christian Women are again selling rings and candles after all the Masses this weekend and next weekend. Another way to prepare for Christmas is by readying our hearts through the Sacrament of Penance. Confessions are heard on Friday afternoons from 2:00 – 5:00 and again on Saturday mornings after the 8:00 Mass (please note that on Saturday, December 10th the Quad Parish Penance Service with Individual Confessions will take place here at 10:00, replacing the normal Saturday confessions). During this Advent we will be adding another opportunity to go to confessions on Tuesdays during Advent at Noon. If it’s been a while since you’ve gone to confession please know that the priest will help you and there are numerous examinations of conscience and ‘how to’ guides on the internet that you can find to assist you. Finally, another way to prepare for Christmas is by setting aside more time for prayer – visit the Adoration Chapel, read the Nativity accounts in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke a little bit each day, pray the rosary, pick up a book on a life of a saint – the more time and energy put into Advent will lead to the experience of a deeper joy at Christmas.
Viva Cristo Rey! Long Live Christ the King!