Read the full text of the Christmas message from our Diocesan Administrator, Msgr Brendan Byrne (Parish Priest of Tullow).
Christmas Message 2010
As we approach Christmas, I think of the Advent Wreath as an oasis of life and light during these dreary dull days of Winter.
There is no need to elaborate on the economy or even the climate that made this winter more depressing than most. But that evergreen Advent Wreath, with its rising beacons of light inspires thoughts of hope and confidence to lead us through the darkest maze.
The inter-locking branches remind us of the support and networking within communities which brought so much help to each other during the recent prolonged spell of bad weather. Many people couldn’t go far, couldn’t do much work, so they had time to stop and talk, to get to know each other. Neighbours who rarely met discovered shared interests. And above all, they discovered a shared concern for the lonely, the isolated, the elderly, the vulnerable, and all were prepared to make huge efforts and sacrifices as they responded magnificently to come to the rescue of those in need. Neighbourliness, co-operation, friendship were the real winners. In this we were following the advice of St. Paul: “Encourage one another and build one another up…For this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11,13).
As the star led the Wise Men to Bethlehem, so the lighted candles in the Advent Wreath bring us to the real source of all this goodness, Christ, the Light of the World. We have learned the hard way that there are no secure havens for our earthly treasures. The barns can burn down in a flash. In God alone we put our trust. During this Christmas season, we slow down to get to know Christ better – not just the Infant Jesus of Bethlehem, but the Christ who preached and practised justice, love and peace.
I want to pay tribute to the whole army of volunteers, workers and service providers throughout the diocese who showed such solidarity and generosity in recent weeks and gave of their time, their possessions and themselves in working for the good of the community. The St. Vincent de Paul Society, The Lions Club, the Day Care Centres, Meals on Wheels and many many other outreach groups saved the lives and raised the spirits of countless people.
May this solidarity with God and with each other bring new hope this Christmas. With Christ in our hearts and shoulder to shoulder with each other we can look forward with confidence and joy to a brighter New Year.
I would like to conclude by wishing families throughout the diocese a joyful and peaceful Christmas and pray that these blessings will continue throughout 2011.