Every liturgical year, on the last Sunday of the Ordinary Time, the Holy Mother Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King. Pope Pius XI in 1925 instituted this feast as a counter force to the continued secularization of the world. The celebration highlights the Lordship of Christ over the universe, creation, human history, and in the human heart.
In addition to this celebration, the Church in Nigeria also marks Corpus et Sanguis Christi procession which is usually omitted in June (when the feast is universally celebrated) on account of unfavorable whether condition.
Here, in Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, the Eucharistic celebration started at 7:39am. Traditionally, in a day like this, the entire seminary community – the Team of Formators, Seminarians, lay staff, and visitors – usually celebrate together in the Seminary Chapel.
In his homily, the President of the Eucharistic Assembly, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa, pointed out that the kingship of Christ should be celebrated with eyes on His second coming. Christ’s sovereignty, he explained, will only manifest in its fullness at His second coming when there will be new heavens and a new earth, and all creatures, free from the slavery of sin, will serve and never cease to praise Him. For this, Christ warns that His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:33b – 37). Going further, he explains that in-between this first and the second coming, are other “comings” of Christ into the hearts of His people. The world, the homilist regrets, is full of conflicts and wars because people of the world have refused to let Christ into their hearts as their king. The wars and strife in the world, he explains, is only a reflection of the millions of wars and conflicts that take place in the hearts of men.
Because this feast of Christ the King and the Corpus Christi procession took place in a single Eucharistic celebration, the Corpus Christi procession proceeded after the Post Communion Prayer. Before the take-off, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, incensed, and adoration hymn chanted in adoration.
The cross bearer and acolytes led the procession, behind them were seminarians and other faithful in their groups, the concelebrating ministers followed, and at the rear were the flower girls, then the chief celebrant who bore the Monstrance with the Sacred Species and the canopy bearers.
The procession was most entertaining. Musical instruments sounded at different points each sending into the air a symphony that harmonized with another. Traditional Canon shots possessed the air. Each of the jubilating groups sang and danced in synchrony with their own unique piece of music. Intermittently, at a jingle of a bell, all the matching groups turned and bowed to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in adoration.
The procession was concluded in the Seminary Chapel with Benediction. But before then, the Seminary Music Director, Rev. Fr. Cletus Umezinwa, rendered a song titled “Onye Bu Eze (Who is the King?)”, in honor of Christ the King. Climbing from the lowest musical pitch, and rising through the highest pitch, he made a presentation that moved the worshipping community into spontaneous and joyful chorus and clapping in praise of Christ, their King.