A Convert's Christmas

News blogging will be light during the 12 days of Christmas, but we’re reviewing recent Christmas classics. Dr. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis once taught a class called “20th Century Catholic Literary Revival” that covered everyone from Chesterton to Flannery O’Connor. He included German writer Gertrude von Le Fort (1876-1971).

Her haunting Hymns to the Church records the mix of terror and joy she felt as she converted to Catholicism in 1926, with paradoxical lines addressed to Mother Church. “Mother, I lay my head in your lap,” she writes. “Protect me from yourself.”

Her poem “CHRISTMAS,” available at EWTN, has the Church taking the same attitude toward Mary that she took toward the Church.


By Gertrude von Le Fort

Your voice speaks:

Little child out of Eternity, now will I sing to thy mother! The
song shall be fair as dawn-tinted snow.
Rejoice Mary Virgin, daughter of my earth, sister of my soul,
rejoice, O joy of my joy!
I am as one who wanders through the night, but you are a house
under stars.
I am a thirsty cup, but you are God’s open sea.
Rejoice Mary Virgin, blessed are those who call you blessed, never
more shall child of man lose hope.
I am one love for all, I shall never cease from saying: one of you
has been exalted by the Lord.
Rejoice Mary Virgin, wings of my earth, crown of my soul, rejoice
joy of my joy!
Blessed are those who call you blessed.

— Tom Hoopes