Bishop’s Christmas Message 2018

    As I look back on 2018 the high point of the year for
    me was the visit of Pope Francis to the World
    Meeting of Families. During his visit Pope Francis
    said “the World Meeting of Families has given us
    great hope and encouragement that families are
    growing more and more conscious of their own
    irreplaceable role in passing on the faith”. For him
    family is a key aspect of life.
    Christmas is a family time, a time for all generations,
    just as the first Christmas was such a family moment,
    not just the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
    but for the entire family of God, all people of all
    generations. At Croke Park Pope Francis reminded us
    that a society that does not value grandparents will
    end up lacking that quality that really matters – love.
    This is a love and dream that so many, including our
    parents and grandparents, lived out in the dream and
    reality of marriage. Pope Francis encouraged each
    married person to keep repeating in their heart: “I will
    never fail you or forsake you!” They are the same
    sentiments God has for his people (Heb 13: 5).
    The Christmas story is so familiar and yet it always
    seems fresh. There is the good news of a baby, the
    good news of a birth and good news of a bright future
    for all humanity. The Christmas story has expectation,
    joy and great hope for the future. But side by side
    with these positive elements are darker ones,
    uncertainty, vulnerability and danger. The
    circumstances of the birth of the Saviour were not at
    all easy for baby or parents. That is the way life often
    is. Side by side with great joy there can be sorrow,
    alongside hopes there can be fears, accompanying
    successes is sometimes failure. So the darker side, the
    vulnerable side of Christmas, is nothing new. It is
    very human and realistic that these contrasting
    emotions and circumstances coexist. Mary decided to
    invite the ‘source of peace’ to enter our world. Let us
    do the same.
    I wish you and your family members a happy
    Christmas, a peaceful and hopeful experience, as we
    remember the birth of our Saviour.
    Francis Duffy
    Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois