Christmas Night in Felix
Ten o'clock strikes out over the frost-rimed roofs of the town. In the
dark, tired world, illumined only by the misty winter moon and the faint
but beckoning starlight, the old town lives again and the hopes of faded
days gleam anew.
Along the Roman road a wagon of local Britons trundles by from their Walton
home. They are followed by marching Roman sentinels, coming up from the
fort by the sea. Behind them walk Angles, fishermen-settlers from across
the waters, coming from their wooden hamlet behind the fort. Here hastens
Bishop Felix, on his urgent mission, hurrying to convert the land to Christ.
Now come pilgrims, fresh from Dunwich, to where they had made their way
along the old pilgrim road from the shrine of the Martyr-King at St Edmundsbury.
Up from the cliffs, emptying out of a boat, come Danes, their faces guilt-ridden
- or are they Normans? The Domesday Book is opened. The miller leaves
his mill, the weaver her loom, the merchant his trade, the ploughman also
his task. Knights and friars appear. Now come Lollards and Reformers,
hounded by the powers that be, now in their turn flee persecuted Catholics,
old gentry, recusants with their retainers, and then Anglicans, Puritan
and all manner of dissenters.
Where are they all bound this night? What is their hurried quest in the
frost cold dark?
Their destination is the warming light of the Church, the presence of
God and His Saints on Earth. They come to worship the Only One. The Christmas
Vigil is beginning. Bishop Felix and King Edmund are here: Abbot Botolph
and Mother Audrey also: and many other witnesses of God, come from far
lands, look on and sing in prayer. The priest is at the altar. The service
books lie open. Songs of adoration rise through the night.
The travellers from the past have gathered all to hear another Book, greater
by far than that of Domesday. It tells of another land and another judgement
and another way, far more ancient than the Roman road, a road passing
beyond the bounds of time and space, beyond the green earth, the blue-grey
ocean and all the starry heavens. In a tongue which only the true pilgrim
may grasp, the Great Book tells of that Fair Highway, glimpsed by seer
and saint, the way that leads through the moonlit mists of this world
to Everlasting Life and Light. On this night, all who have sought Christ
down all the ages and only dimly spied Him through the murk of human sin
and lore, are gathered here to see Him in the full light of His Truth.
Every age has seen the forces of evil arrayed against the Church. In every
age, the untutored in heart, however instructed in head, of all races
and all persuasions, have turned their backs on Christ. They have striven
devilishly to put back the clock of His Unique Revelation, denying even
In the dark night of recent times, cruel men strove to lay low His Church
from outside by brute force. They failed. The natural consequence of their
failures was yet another attempt to destroy the Church from inside, by
the force of thoughts that feed off lack of faith. They have proclaimed
that man can live without God. They have distracted his energies from
his real spiritual needs to seemingly unending, futile, material wants.
Theirs are the illusions that exclude the teachings of Christ, by force
of their self-appointed correctness.
We see in their attempts no cause for fear, no cause for despair, but
rather cause for hope. For, whatever the Enemy hurls at us, the Church
of Christ will always be the rallying point for all those who seek, by
Power of God enacted, to transfigure the world for Good. For we know that
Mercy and Truth and Justice and Righteousness will always overcome. As
it is written, the gates of hell will not prevail. And for two thousand
years on every Christmas Night on God's Earth a host of witnesses has
proclaimed this. And in this town once more they gather from all the ages
to proclaim this and they will not cease to do so, until the end of time.