‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the parish
Not a heresy was stirring, neither subtle nor garish;
The media were pushing secular worldviews with care,
In hopes for the young people’s minds to ensnare:
The children to space out on unneeded meds;
With visions of life without God in their heads;
But our parish priest rises to lead us in prayer:
“Most Beloved in Christ, be it this Christmas Eve our care
And delight to prepare us to hear once again
The message of the angels unto Bethlehem…”
And the carols and lessons all too quickly pass,
And we kneel as our celebrant says midnight Mass.
The collection is lighter than ’twas years before,
When yet we were all on the Tiber’s far shore.
And then to my wandering mind doth appear
Our church as it might be had we not come here…
And gone is our rail – no more need for kneeling –
Our high altar glorious up to the ceiling
Switched out for an Ikea table (Lame!),
As our priestess shouts out from the pulpit our shame:
Her false Sermon drones, independent of the lections (!)
“…Traditionalists with disordered affections…”
I dash away! Dash away! from my dark waking dream.
Is it only a matter of time ’til the same
Awful thing happens here in our new Catholic home?
– For the news is not so good these days out of Rome.
And then in a twinkling, it felt like my head
Had been punched, so that a rich booming voice said,
“I, Saint Nicholas fought with the Arian foe.
Him I struck with this fist long-past ages ago.
Fie! Shame! I never doubted as you are now doubting –
Even now at a Mass that recalls our Lord’s coming
To the Earth – that the Lord would protect us from error.
So be present in worship, and give up this terror.
His eyes were like lightning, His muscles were wiry.
His episcopal robes gleamed all golden and fiery.
On his head a great globular miter I saw
And a white beard grew down from his large squarish jaw.
His bright golden staff had two snakes wrapped around
A cross, and he said, as he thumped it to ground,
“In the East all our bishops hold staves like this one
That of old Moses used to heal Israelites undone
By the snake’s bite for they looked ahead to the Cross
That the Saviour would die on to make up our loss.
In the same way, my Son, you have nothing to dread,
For already our Lord crushed the evil one’s head.”
And so I returned to the Mass’s contemplation,
No longer distracted by fears for church and nation.
Though our pockets are poorer (most have not even buildings),
Our hearts are made purer for that we lack these things.
And although for our leaders our former pewmates mock
The Kingdom is ours: we have built on the rock.
So I can say safely, (with my End clear in sight):
“Happy Christmas to all: Things have and shall turn out all Right!”
Written by Dr. Foster Lerner of Incarnation Catholic Church in Orlando, Florida; a parish of The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter © 2018.
Foster holds a Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, and is currently pursuing post-graduate studies in medicine.