by Most Rev Philip Boyce, OCD
Bishop of Raphoe
A prayer to Him on whom our hopes depend
“Come let us adore Him.” The very songs we sing at Christmas time invite us to prayer and adoration. Our children look in wonderment at the crib. We are all urged to kneel and say a prayer. And indeed at this year’s Christmas, we feel more than ever the need to say a prayer and ask for help.
Our country and our people are passing through a most challenging time. A financial crisis has brought much hardship. Many fear the prospect of losing their job. Many cannot get employment. Families struggle to make ends meet, pay debts, put food on the table and get their children educated. Emigration is once again a reality for many younger people. It is easy to be demoralised and anxious.
“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. On this truth all our hopes for the future depend” (cf. Blessed John Henry Newman).
Now is the time for hope and solidarity. Rather than simply criticise and lay blame, let us do something positive to help. Irish people have always shown a positive spirit of resilience and generosity in the face of repeated disasters and challenges. Now is the time to help a neighbour and to be generous with the little we have. The Society of St. Vincent De Paul needs our help more than ever.
In the God who made himself a Child for us, we all feel loved and welcomed. We discover that our life is precious in His eyes. Since God’s incarnate Son himself was carried in Mary’s womb and became a child, it follows that the life of every child is precious from the first moment of its conception in its mother’s womb. For each one is a masterpiece of God’s making.
Again the Nativity scene impresses on our minds the horror of any abuse against children, be it verbal, emotional or sexual. Let us always protect and safeguard our children, for “in heaven their angels always behold the face of the Father who is in heaven” (cf. Mt. 18:11).
The mystery we celebrate at Christmas invites us to prayer. It really means that God has come near us. He raises our dignity as human beings, and makes us all brothers and sisters. Before this mystery, we kneel and wonder. In order to pray we do not need much worldly comfort. There was not much of it in the cave at Bethlehem. But, in all circumstances, prayer gives us peace and serenity and hope, in the midst of difficulties.
The Bishops of Ireland have asked for certain days of prayer to be held so as to obtain grace and strength for everyone in these difficult times of national crisis. The first one of these days of prayer, is Sunday, 2nd January, 2011, on which you are asked to say a special prayer for our country and its people.
May you all experience some of the Lord’s peace of heart, serenity and joy and nearness to God in the days of Christmas.