At this special time of year we celebrate the coming of our Saviour, who came into our world in the humblest of circumstances and was welcomed in the first place by poor shepherds who were the first to be told the good news that faithful Jews had longed for, for centuries – “Today in the town of Bethlehem a Saviour is born to you, who is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:11
In the first preface of the Christmas Mass, we pray: “In the wonder of the Incarnation your eternal word has brought to the eyes of faith a new and radiant vision of your glory. In him we see our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see: God became man so that man could become one with God again.” Such is the profound mystery we celebrate annually in Christian Churches of all denominations. Reflecting on this great feast Chiara Lubich, founder of Focolare Movement wrote: “Christmas means for the Christians and for man not only the dawn of redemption but also the day in which man finds himself again grateful to God.”
While the Extra Ordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy ended on the Feast of Christ the King this year, I pray that our faith and trust in the Mercy of God will never be in doubt. “Mercy retrieves and redeems” writes Pope Francis in his Apostolic Letter “Misercordia et Misera” at the conclusion of the Year of Mercy – “it is the meeting of two hearts: the heart of God who comes to meet the human heart. The latter is warmed and healed by the former. Our hearts of stone became hearts of flesh capable of love despite our sinfulness. I come to realise that I am truly a “new creation” (Gal. 6:15). I am loved therefore I exist; I am forgiven, therefore I am reborn; I have been shown mercy, therefore I have become a vessel of mercy”. (Par.16).
I believe no Christmas message would be complete without a plea for peace and justice in so many parts of the world. Our thoughts and prayers must surely be with our fellow Christians who are enduring unbelievable suffering because of their steadfast faith in Jesus Christ. Christians in Syria, Mosul and Egypt are among the oldest Christian communities in the world and daily we read of their suffering. This Christmas I invite you the reader to stand beside them with your fervent prayers.
The past twelve months has seen significant changes in the Diocese of Ossory. Bishop Séamus Freeman, SAC, retired due to ill-health. I would like once again in your name and in my own name to thank Bishop Séamus for the spiritual leadership that he gave us during his nine years as Bishop of Ossory. We also remember in our prayers Bishop Laurence Forristal and wish him every blessing and good health.
I would like to end this Message of good wishes by inviting you to pray this Prayer during the Christmas Season and into the New Year.
A Prayer for Ossory
Our Diocese is alive with those who care for others in the service of the
Gospel; so many offer themselves, their talents and their time in Ossory.
Our Parishes are places of welcome for all; our schools, communities,
groups and homes, work to bring the Christian message of hope alive so
that it is felt by those who need it most.
As we await a new Bishop we pray that you will help find for us a man to
lead with vision for our future, understanding for our present and
compassion for our past.
Until then, may we work actively together to continue to realise not only
your desire for us but also for your kingdom.
We ask this through the intercession of St Kieran and through Christ our
Monsignor Michael Ryan,
Diocesan Administrator of Ossory
· Monsignor Michael Ryan is the Diocesan Administrator of Ossory.
· See www.catholicbishops.ie for more messages and reflections for Christmas 2016.
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm on 00353 (0) 87 310 4444.