Christmas is a magical time in good times and in bad
There is no getting away from the fact that 2009 will not be a good year for many families and I am very conscious that this Christmas, and the weeks and months after the celebration will be difficult one for so many people.
This Christmas and next year we must all remember the most vulnerable in our society – older people who enjoyed services to allow them to live in their own homes; people who are rapidly falling into debt, children whose parents will struggle to provide not only the extra luxuries, but even some basic necessities.
We are seeing some of this already through our Crosscare services; groups who never had to use our food banks are seeking help for the first time this year; people who never though they would lose their home are coming to our shelters. So far, thank God, the numbers are small – but they are growing and we must all work to ensure that next year, or the year after, or whenever our current economic difficulties pass, that the vulnerable will not be further marginalized and will be in a position to contribute again rather than dropping to a level of dependency they cannot find a way out of.
Christmas, in good times or in bad, in war or in peace is a magical time. Some of my fondest memories of Christmas are of Christmases when my family had very little – simple toys I received as a child are still very clear in my memory.
Despite our difficult times, there comes a moment on Christmas Eve when the holiness and magic of Christmas finally kicks in; when the shops and pubs are quiet and people greet each other in a whole new light on the darkened streets. The true sense of Christmas can at times be best recognised by what our children teach us. In their values we can discover something of what God was telling us on that first Christmas when he appeared as the child Jesus.
I pray the readers of your paper and their families will find that spirit and hope this Christmas and in 2009.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin