Joint Christmas Message of the Bishops of Clogher 2006

18 Dec 2006





The widespread tradition that Jesus was born in winter is a very ancient one and
carries with it a profound message. Winter is a cold dark time, a time when we
depend on artificial heat and light and, more significantly, on all our reserves
of faith and hope that better times are on the way.  Christmas is our annual
reminder of the source of our faith and hope. It calls us to open ourselves to
the light that shines in the darkness.

Christmas invites us to connect again with God. By connecting with God through
the Christ-child, we connect with the source of life. For one thing, we give
ourselves the only way to deal with bad news.  Bereaved families, especially
of victims of sudden deaths, recent murders, road accidents and suicides, have
a particular and understandable difficulty in reconciling what happened with
the presence of a loving caring God. But without God they are more deprived
than ever and utterly lost.  On the other hand, when they learn again to see
God in the kindness and generosity of their friends and neighbours, in the
often extraordinary amount of time and trouble taken to accompany them on
their lonely road, the painful wounds begin to heal. The coping power of faith
restores life.

Nowadays, we have to acknowledge that there are more and more people of influence
in our society who would banish God out of public life, and who thereby diminish
themselves and all of us. Some are people who see God as irrelevant in the
more self-satisfying pursuit of earning and enjoying wealth and prosperity. They have
come to see religious practice as out of date, and admit freely to having lost
interest, to having other things to do. Sadly, they cannot see the effect of
their attitude on society in general, where the figures for violent crime,
marriage and family failure, and the level of abuse of alcohol and illegal
drugs keep rising all the time. They sorely need to address the question : Why
should anyone care about anyone else ? 
  This is a basic and urgent question,
not only for home and family but for motorway and shopping centre.  It is a
question for the public as well as the private arena, for schools, hospitals,
sports and leisure facilities, pubs, the media. The answer is surely to be
found in a community of values, certainly not in a value-free society, as
some commentators claim. The Advent liturgy bids us “to judge wisely the
things of earth and to love the things of heaven.”  

Christmas then is about faith, about sharpening our sense of direction or
recovering it if we have lost our way. But His feast is much  more personal
than that, and this is why it continues to fill millions of people  with peace
and joy. This child is altogether unique. Moreover, He has a unique relationship
with each and every one of us, with every member of the human race.  He alone
is the measure and scale by which we can adequately evaluate our own life. In
Christ we will discover the true greatness of our own humanity. Born in humility
He will make us understand our own dignity as human beings ‘created in the
image and likeness of God’.    


+Joseph Duffy                                 
Catholic Bishop of Clogher

+Michael Jackson
Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher

Further information:

Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)