Quas Primas

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Venerable Brethren, Greeting and the Apostolic

In the first Encyclical Letter which We addressed at
the beginning of Our Pontificate to the Bishops of the universal Church, We
referred to the chief causes of the difficulties under which mankind was
laboring. And We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due
to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law
out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in
politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to
submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a
lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the
Kingdom of Christ; and that We promised to do as far as lay in Our power.
In the Kingdom of Christ, that is, it seemed to Us that peace could not
be more effectually restored nor fixed upon a firmer basis than through the
restoration of the Empire of Our Lord. We were led in the meantime to indulge
the hope of a brighter future at the sight of a more widespread and keener
interest evinced in Christ and his Church, the one Source of Salvation, a sign
that men who had formerly spurned the rule of our Redeemer and had exiled
themselves from his kingdom were preparing, and even hastening, to return to the
duty of obedience.

2. The many notable and memorable events which have
occurred during this Holy Year have given great honor and glory to Our Lord and
King, the Founder of the Church.

3. At the Missionary Exhibition men have been deeply
impressed in seeing the increasing zeal of the Church for the spread of the
kingdom of her Spouse to the most far distant regions of the earth. They have
seen how many countries have been won to the Catholic name through the
unremitting labor and self-sacrifice of missionaries, and the vastness of the
regions which have yet to be subjected to the sweet and saving yoke of our King.
All those who in the course of the Holy Year have thronged to this city under
the leadership of their Bishops or priests had but one aim – namely, to expiate
their sins – and at the tombs of the Apostles and in Our Presence to promise
loyalty to the rule of Christ.

4. A still further light of glory was shed upon his
kingdom, when after due proof of their heroic virtue, We raised to the honors of
the altar six confessors and virgins. It was a great joy, a great consolation,
that filled Our heart when in the majestic basilica of St. Peter Our decree was
acclaimed by an immense multitude with the hymn of thanksgiving, Tu Rex
gloriae Christe. We saw men and nations cut off from God, stirring up strife
and discord and hurrying along the road to ruin and death, while the Church of
God carries on her work of providing food for the spiritual life of men,
nurturing and fostering generation after generation of men and women dedicated
to Christ, faithful and subject to him in his earthly kingdom, called by him to
eternal bliss in the kingdom of heaven.

5. Moreover, since this jubilee Year marks the
sixteenth centenary of the Council of Nicaea, We commanded that event to be
celebrated, and We have done so in the Vatican basilica. There is a special
reason for this in that the Nicene Synod defined and proposed for Catholic
belief the dogma of the Consubstantiality of the Onlybegotten with the Father,
and added to the Creed the words “of whose kingdom there shall be no end,”
thereby affirming the kingly dignity of Christ.

6. Since this Holy Year therefore has provided more
than one opportunity to enhance the glory of the kingdom of Christ, we deem it
in keeping with our Apostolic office to accede to the desire of many of the
Cardinals, Bishops, and faithful, made known to Us both individually and
collectively, by closing this Holy Year with the insertion into the Sacred
Liturgy of a special feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This
matter is so dear to Our heart, Venerable Brethren, that I would wish to address
to you a few words concerning it. It will be for you later to explain in a
manner suited to the understanding of the faithful what We are about to say
concerning the Kingship of Christ, so that the annual feast which We shall
decree may be attended with much fruit and produce beneficial results in the

7. It has long been a common custom to give to Christ
the metaphorical title of “King,” because of the high degree of perfection
whereby he excels all creatures. So he is said to reign “in the hearts of men,”
both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge,
and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be
obediently received by all mankind. He reigns, too, in the wills of men,
for in him the human will was perfectly and entirely obedient to the Holy Will
of God, and further by his grace and inspiration he so subjects our free-will as
to incite us to the most noble endeavors. He is King of hearts, too, by
reason of his “charity which exceedeth all knowledge.” And his mercy and
kindness[1] which draw all men to him, for never has it been known, nor will it
ever be, that man be loved so much and so universally as Jesus Christ. But if we
ponder this matter more deeply, we cannot but see that the title and the power
of King belongs to Christ as man in the strict and proper sense too. For it is
only as man that he may be said to have received from the Father “power and
glory and a kingdom,”[2] since the Word of God, as consubstantial with the
Father, has all things in common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme
and absolute dominion over all things created.

8. Do we not read throughout the Scriptures that
Christ is the King? He it is that shall come out of Jacob to rule,[3] who has
been set by the Father as king over Sion, his holy mount, and shall have the
Gentiles for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his
possession.[4] In the nuptial hymn, where the future King of Israel is hailed as
a most rich and powerful monarch, we read: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and
ever; the scepter of thy kingdom is a scepter of righteousness.”[5] There are
many similar passages, but there is one in which Christ is even more clearly
indicated. Here it is foretold that his kingdom will have no limits, and will be
enriched with justice and peace: “in his days shall justice spring up, and
abundance of peace…And he shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto
the ends of the earth.”[6]

9. The testimony of the Prophets is even more
abundant. That of Isaias is well known: “For a child is born to us and a son is
given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder, and his name shall be
called Wonderful, Counselor, God the mighty, the Father of the world to come,
the Prince of Peace. His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end
of peace. He shall sit upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom; to
establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth
and for ever.”[7] With Isaias the other Prophets are in agreement. So Jeremias
foretells the “just seed” that shall rest from the house of David – the Son of
David that shall reign as king, “and shall be wise, and shall execute judgment
and justice in the earth.”[8] So, too, Daniel, who announces the kingdom that
the God of heaven shall found, “that shall never be destroyed, and shall stand
for ever.”[9] And again he says: “I beheld, therefore, in the vision of the
night, and, lo! one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven. And he
came even to the Ancient of days: and they presented him before him. And he gave
him power and glory and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall
serve him. His power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away, and
his kingdom shall not be destroyed.”[10] The prophecy of Zachary concerning the
merciful King “riding upon an ass and upon a colt the foal of an ass” entering
Jerusalem as “the just and savior,” amid the acclamations of the multitude,[11]
was recognized as fulfilled by the holy evangelists themselves.

10. This same doctrine of the Kingship of Christ
which we have found in the Old Testament is even more clearly taught and
confirmed in the New. The Archangel, announcing to the Virgin that she should
bear a Son, says that “the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his
father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom
there shall be no end.”[12]

11. Moreover, Christ himself speaks of his own kingly
authority: in his last discourse, speaking of the rewards and punishments that
will be the eternal lot of the just and the damned; in his reply to the Roman
magistrate, who asked him publicly whether he were a king or not; after his
resurrection, when giving to his Apostles the mission of teaching and baptizing
all nations, he took the opportunity to call himself king,[13] confirming the
title publicly,[14] and solemnly proclaimed that all power was given him in
heaven and on earth.[15] These words can only be taken to indicate the greatness
of his power, the infinite extent of his kingdom. What wonder, then, that he
whom St. John calls the “prince of the kings of the earth”[16] appears in the
Apostle’s vision of the future as he who “hath on his garment and on his thigh
written ‘King of kings and Lord of lords!’.”[17] It is Christ whom the Father
“hath appointed heir of all things”;[18] “for he must reign until at the end of
the world he hath put all his enemies under the feet of God and the Father.”[19]

12. It was surely right, then, in view of the common
teaching of the sacred books, that the Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of
Christ on earth, destined to be spread among all men and all nations, should
with every token of veneration salute her Author and Founder in her annual
liturgy as King and Lord, and as King of Kings. And, in fact, she used these
titles, giving expression with wonderful variety of language to one and the same
concept, both in ancient psalmody and in the Sacramentaries. She uses them daily
now in the prayers publicly offered to God, and in offering the Immaculate
Victim. The perfect harmony of the Eastern liturgies with our own in this
continual praise of Christ the King shows once more the truth of the axiom:
Legem credendi lex statuit supplicandi. The rule of faith is indicated by
the law of our worship.

13. The foundation of this power and dignity of Our
Lord is rightly indicated by Cyril of Alexandria. “Christ,” he says, “has
dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but
his by essence and by nature.”[20] His kingship is founded upon the ineffable
hypostatic union. From this it follows not only that Christ is to be adored by
angels and men, but that to him as man angels and men are subject, and must
recognize his empire; by reason of the hypostatic union Christ has power over
all creatures. But a thought that must give us even greater joy and consolation
is this that Christ is our King by acquired, as well as by natural right, for he
is our Redeemer. Would that they who forget what they have cost their Savior
might recall the words: “You were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with
the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled.”[21] We are
no longer our own property, for Christ has purchased us “with a great
price”;[22] our very bodies are the “members of Christ.”[23]

14. Let Us explain briefly the nature and meaning of
this lordship of Christ. It consists, We need scarcely say, in a threefold power
which is essential to lordship. This is sufficiently clear from the scriptural
testimony already adduced concerning the universal dominion of our Redeemer, and
moreover it is a dogma of faith that Jesus Christ was given to man, not only as
our Redeemer, but also as a law-giver, to whom obedience is due.[24] Not only do
the gospels tell us that he made laws, but they present him to us in the act of
making them. Those who keep them show their love for their Divine Master, and he
promises that they shall remain in his love.[25] He claimed judicial power as
received from his Father, when the Jews accused him of breaking the Sabbath by
the miraculous cure of a sick man. “For neither doth the Father judge any man;
but hath given all judgment to the Son.”[26] In this power is included the right
of rewarding and punishing all men living, for this right is inseparable from
that of judging. Executive power, too, belongs to Christ, for all must obey his
commands; none may escape them, nor the sanctions he has imposed.

15. This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with
spiritual things. That this is so the above quotations from Scripture amply
prove, and Christ by his own action confirms it. On many occasions, when the
Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the
liberties and the kingdom of Israel, he repelled and denied such a suggestion.
When the populace thronged around him in admiration and would have acclaimed him
King, he shrank from the honor and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman
magistrate he declared that his kingdom was not of this world. The
gospels present this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and
cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which, though an external
rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration. This kingdom is opposed
to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of
its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit
of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this,
they must deny themselves and carry the cross.

16. Christ as our Redeemer purchased the Church at
the price of his own blood; as priest he offered himself, and continues to offer
himself as a victim for our sins. Is it not evident, then, that his kingly
dignity partakes in a manner of both these offices?

17. It would be a grave error, on the other hand, to
say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of
the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all
things are in his power. Nevertheless, during his life on earth he refrained
from the exercise of such authority, and although he himself disdained to
possess or to care for earthly goods, he did not, nor does he today, interfere
with those who possess them. Non eripit mortalia qui regna dat

18. Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men.
To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: “His empire
includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of
right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut
off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith;
so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ.”[28]
Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family
or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the
dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the
salvation of society. “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no
other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.”[29] He is the
author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. “For
a nation is happy when its citizens are happy. What else is a nation but a
number of men living in concord?”[30] If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish
to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their
countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to
the rule of Christ. What We said at the beginning of Our Pontificate concerning
the decline of public authority, and the lack of respect for the same, is
equally true at the present day. “With God and Jesus Christ,” we said, “excluded
from political life, with authority derived not from God but from man, the very
basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the
distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that
human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and
solid foundation.”[31]

19. When once men recognize, both in private and in
public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great
blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our
Lord’s regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a
religious significance; it ennobles the citizen’s duty of obedience. It is for
this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands,
and slaves respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them
not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men
redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men. “You are bought with a price;
be not made the bond-slaves of men.”[32] If princes and magistrates duly elected
are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by
the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their
authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them,
having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The
result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any
cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like
themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that
account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ
God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the
universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more
conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be
either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.

20. If the kingdom of Christ, then, receives, as it
should, all nations under its way, there seems no reason why we should despair
of seeing that peace which the King of Peace came to bring on earth – he who
came to reconcile all things, who came not to be ministered unto but to
minister, who, though Lord of all, gave himself to us as a model of
humility, and with his principal law united the precept of charity; who said
also: “My yoke is sweet and my burden light.” Oh, what happiness would be Ours
if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be
governed by Christ! “Then at length,” to use the words addressed by our
predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, twenty-five years ago to the bishops of the

Universal Church, “then at length will many evils be cured; then will the law
regain its former authority; peace with all its blessings be restored. Men will
sheathe their swords and lay down their arms when all freely acknowledge and
obey the authority of Christ, and every tongue confesses that the Lord Jesus
Christ is in the glory of God the Father.”[33]

21. That these blessings may be abundant and lasting
in Christian society, it is necessary that the kingship of our Savior should be
as widely as possible recognized and understood, and to the end nothing would
serve better than the institution of a special feast in honor of the Kingship of
Christ. For people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to
appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual
celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the
teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the
more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but
once, the latter speak every year – in fact, forever. The church’s teaching
affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart, and have a
salutary effect upon the whole of man’s nature. Man is composed of body and
soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all
their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain
of God’s teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit
for his spiritual life.

22. History, in fact, tells us that in the course of
ages these festivals have been instituted one after another according as the
needs or the advantage of the people of Christ seemed to demand: as when they
needed strength to face a common danger, when they were attacked by insidious
heresies, when they needed to be urged to the pious consideration of some
mystery of faith or of some divine blessing. Thus in the earliest days of the
Christian era, when the people of Christ were suffering cruel persecution, the
cult of the martyrs was begun in order, says St. Augustine, “that the feasts of
the martyrs might incite men to martyrdom.”[34] The liturgical honors paid to
confessors, virgins and widows produced wonderful results in an increased zest
for virtue, necessary even in times of peace. But more fruitful still were the
feasts instituted in honor of the Blessed Virgin. As a result of these men grew
not only in their devotion to the Mother of God as an ever-present advocate, but
also in their love of her as a mother bequeathed to them by their Redeemer. Not
least among the blessings which have resulted from the public and legitimate
honor paid to the Blessed Virgin and the saints is the perfect and perpetual
immunity of the Church from error and heresy. We may well admire in this the
admirable wisdom of the Providence of God, who, ever bringing good out of evil,
has from time to time suffered the faith and piety of men to grow weak, and
allowed Catholic truth to be attacked by false doctrines, but always with the
result that truth has afterwards shone out with greater splendor, and that men’s
faith, aroused from its lethargy, has shown itself more vigorous than before.

23. The festivals that have been introduced into the
liturgy in more recent years have had a similar origin, and have been attended
with similar results. When reverence and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament had
grown cold, the feast of Corpus Christi was instituted, so that by means of
solemn processions and prayer of eight days’ duration, men might be brought once
more to render public homage to Christ. So, too, the feast of the Sacred Heart
of Jesus was instituted at a time when men were oppressed by the sad and gloomy
severity of Jansenism, which had made their hearts grow cold, and shut them out
from the love of God and the hope of salvation.

24. If We ordain that the whole Catholic world shall
revere Christ as King, We shall minister to the need of the present day, and at
the same time provide an excellent remedy for the plague which now infects
society. We refer to the plague of anti-clericalism, its errors and impious
activities. This evil spirit, as you are well aware, Venerable Brethren, has not
come into being in one day; it has long lurked beneath the surface. The empire
of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from
Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that
pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the
religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed
ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of
the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men
went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God’s religion a natural
religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even
some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion
should consist in impiety and the neglect of God. The rebellion of individuals
and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences.
We lamented these in the Encyclical Ubi arcano; we lament them today: the
seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between
nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed
which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and
gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness,
making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure
everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect
their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word,
shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin. We firmly hope, however, that
the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed,
may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior. It would be the duty of
Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result. Many of these,
however, have neither the station in society nor the authority which should
belong to those who bear the torch of truth. This state of things may perhaps be
attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant
to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the
Church become bolder in their attacks. But if the faithful were generally to
understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of
Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win
over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from him, and
would valiantly defend his rights.

25. Moreover, the annual and universal celebration of
the feast of the Kingship of Christ will draw attention to the evils which
anticlericalism has brought upon society in drawing men away from Christ, and
will also do much to remedy them. While nations insult the beloved name of our
Redeemer by suppressing all mention of it in their conferences and parliaments,
we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity and power, all the more
universally affirm his rights.

26. The way has been happily and providentially
prepared for the celebration of this feast ever since the end of the last
century. It is well known that this cult has been the subject of learned
disquisitions in many books published in every part of the world, written in
many different languages. The kingship and empire of Christ have been recognized
in the pious custom, practiced by many families, of dedicating themselves to the
Sacred Heart of Jesus; not only families have performed this act of dedication,
but nations, too, and kingdoms. In fact, the whole of the human race was at the
instance of Pope Leo XIII, in the Holy Year 1900, consecrated to the Divine
Heart. It should be remarked also that much has been done for the recognition of
Christ’s authority over society by the frequent Eucharistic Congresses which are
held in our age. These give an opportunity to the people of each diocese,
district or nation, and to the whole world of coming together to venerate and
adore Christ the King hidden under the Sacramental species. Thus by sermons
preached at meetings and in churches, by public adoration of the Blessed
Sacrament exposed and by solemn processions, men unite in paying homage to
Christ, whom God has given them for their King. It is by a divine inspiration
that the people of Christ bring forth Jesus from his silent hiding-place in the
church, and carry him in triumph through the streets of the city, so that he
whom men refused to receive when he came unto his own, may now receive in full
his kingly rights.

27. For the fulfillment of the plan of which We have
spoken, the Holy Year, which is now speeding to its close, offers the best
possible opportunity. For during this year the God of mercy has raised the minds
and hearts of the faithful to the consideration of heavenly blessings which
are above all understanding, has either restored them once more to his
grace, or inciting them anew to strive for higher gifts, has set their feet more
firmly in the path of righteousness. Whether, therefore, We consider the many
prayers that have been addressed to Us, or look to the events of the Jubilee
Year, just past, We have every reason to think that the desired moment has at
length arrived for enjoining that Christ be venerated by a special feast as King
of all mankind. In this year, as We said at the beginning of this Letter, the
Divine King, truly wonderful in all his works, has been gloriously
magnified, for another company of his soldiers has been added to the list of
saints. In this year men have looked upon strange things and strange labors,
from which they have understood and admired the victories won by missionaries in
the work of spreading his kingdom. In this year, by solemnly celebrating the
centenary of the Council of Nicaea. We have commemorated the definition of the
divinity of the word Incarnate, the foundation of Christ’s empire over all men.

28. Therefore by Our Apostolic Authority We institute
the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ to be observed yearly
throughout the whole world on the last Sunday of the month of October – the
Sunday, that is, which immediately precedes the Feast of All Saints. We further
ordain that the dedication of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Our
predecessor of saintly memory, Pope Pius X, commanded to be renewed yearly, be
made annually on that day. This year, however, We desire that it be observed on
the thirty-first day of the month on which day We Ourselves shall celebrate
pontifically in honor of the kingship of Christ, and shall command that the same
dedication be performed in Our presence. It seems to Us that We cannot in a more
fitting manner close this Holy Year, nor better signify Our gratitude and that
of the whole of the Catholic world to Christ the immortal King of ages, for the
blessings showered upon Us, upon the Church, and upon the Catholic world during
this holy period.

29. It is not necessary, Venerable Brethren, that We
should explain to you at any length why We have decreed that this feast of the
Kingship of Christ should be observed in addition to those other feasts in which
his kingly dignity is already signified and celebrated. It will suffice to
remark that although in all the feasts of our Lord the material object of
worship is Christ, nevertheless their formal object is something quite distinct
from his royal title and dignity. We have commanded its observance on a Sunday
in order that not only the clergy may perform their duty by saying Mass and
reciting the Office, but that the laity too, free from their daily tasks, may in
a spirit of holy joy give ample testimony of their obedience and subjection to
Christ. The last Sunday of October seemed the most convenient of all for this
purpose, because it is at the end of the liturgical year, and thus the feast of
the Kingship of Christ sets the crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of
Christ already commemorated during the year, and, before celebrating the triumph
of all the Saints, we proclaim and extol the glory of him who triumphs in all
the Saints and in all the Elect. Make it your duty and your task, Venerable
Brethren, to see that sermons are preached to the people in every parish to
teach them the meaning and the importance of this feast, that they may so order
their lives as to be worthy of faithful and obedient subjects of the Divine

30. We would now, Venerable Brethren, in closing this
letter, briefly enumerate the blessings which We hope and pray may accrue to the
Church, to society, and to each one of the faithful, as a result of the public
veneration of the Kingship of Christ.

31. When we pay honor to the princely dignity of
Christ, men will doubtless be reminded that the Church, founded by Christ as a
perfect society, has a natural and inalienable right to perfect freedom and
immunity from the power of the state; and that in fulfilling the task committed
to her by God of teaching, ruling, and guiding to eternal bliss those who belong
to the kingdom of Christ, she cannot be subject to any external power. The State
is bound to extend similar freedom to the orders and communities of religious of
either sex, who give most valuable help to the Bishops of the Church by laboring
for the extension and the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. By their
sacred vows they fight against the threefold concupiscence of the world; by
making profession of a more perfect life they render the holiness which her
divine Founder willed should be a mark and characteristic of his Church more
striking and more conspicuous in the eyes of all.

32. Nations will be reminded by the annual
celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and
princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ. It will call to
their minds the thought of the last judgment, wherein Christ, who has been cast
out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will most severely avenge
these insults; for his kingly dignity demands that the State should take account
of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and
in administering justice, and also in providing for the young a sound moral

33. The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these
truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives
after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in
heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new
right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be
clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in
our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to
revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills,
which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts,
which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to
him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as
instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of
the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.[35] If all these
truths are presented to the faithful for their consideration, they will prove a
powerful incentive to perfection. It is Our fervent desire, Venerable Brethren,
that those who are without the fold may seek after and accept the sweet yoke of
Christ, and that we, who by the mercy of God are of the household of the faith,
may bear that yoke, not as a burden but with joy, with love, with devotion; that
having lived our lives in accordance with the laws of God’s kingdom, we may
receive full measure of good fruit, and counted by Christ good and faithful
servants, we may be rendered partakers of eternal bliss and glory with him in
his heavenly kingdom.

34. Let this letter, Venerable Brethren, be a token
to you of Our fatherly love as the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus
Christ draws near; and receive the Apostolic Benediction as a pledge of divine
blessings, which with loving heart, We impart to you, Venerable Brethren, to
your clergy, and to your people.

Given at St. Peter’s Rome, on the eleventh day of the
month of December, in the Holy Year 1925, the fourth of Our Pontificate.





1. Eph. iii, 9.

2. Dan. vii, 13-14.

3. Num. xxiv, 19.

4. Ps. ii.

5. Ps. xliv.

6. Ps. Ixxi.

7. Isa. ix, 6-7.

8. Jer. xxiii, 5.

9. Dan. ii, 44.

10. Dan. vii, 13-14.

11. Zach. ix, 9.

12. Luc. i, 32-33.

13. Matt. xxv, 31-40.

14. Joan. xviii, 37.

15. Matt. xxviii, 18.

16. Apoc. 1, 5.

17. Apoc. xix, 16.

18. Heb. 1, 2.

19. Cf. 1 Cor. xv, 25.

20. In huc. x.

21. I Pet. i, 18-19.

22. 1 Cor. vi, 20.

23. I Cor. vi, 15.

24. Conc. Trid. Sess. Vl, can. 21.

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