Bishop Ray Browne’s Christmas Message

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment

in which the Son of God was born

of the Most Pure Virgin Mary,

at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.

In that hour vouchsafe, O my God,

to hear my prayer and grant my desires,

through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ,

and of his Blessed Mother.    Amen.

To experience the heart of Christmas simply let your eyes dwell on and ponder the crib scene. Circumstances were very difficult for Mary and Joseph. There was not a room available as she gave birth. Through the kindness of a stranger they were offered a stable. Shepherds came with a word of rejoicing and encouragement. Even the warm breath of the animals brought some comfort to the new born. Many peoples’ Christmas is difficult. The kindness, thoughtfulness and assistance of friend or stranger can bring great comfort. Have a heart to feel and eyes to see the needs of those around you. Continue to give generously to St Vincent de Paul, sadly the demands on their services are greater than ever.

Baby Jesus brought joy to Mary and Joseph and all who visited the stable. Jesus is ever present to us all. He is as present in our world today as he was in that stable that first Christmas day. He brings the same joy to each of us this Christmas. Our faith is summed up in the words of the angel to the shepherds“Today a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord”.      

 In the hymn, ‘Hail Redeemer, King Divine’ we sing of Jesus as:

“Lord of life, earth, sky and sea,

King of love on Calvary,

 Prince of everlasting Peace”.

Preparing for and celebrating Christmas asks us to have time for reflection, time for prayer, time for Christmas carols, for the Gospel story in the Bible. What spiritual preparation will you make?  Resolve to join in the celebration of Sunday Mass. Is it your privilege to bring the birth of Jesus alive for young children? Will your family visit the church crib? Does the crib in your home nourish the faith of your family?

It is wonderful that Christmas continues to be a family season. Look back as a family with gratitude on another year well lived, remember loved ones who now enjoy Christmas in heaven. Jesus was born into the Holy Family to open the door into heaven for us all.

A sincere thank you to everyone in the diocese (laity, religious, deacons and priests) for all you have contributed to the life of your parish and diocese over the past year. Our communities are alive with prayer, faith, hope and love.

God bless each and every home and family this Christmas – bless the old and the young, the strong and the weak, the married and the single, the successful and the struggling. Show special care Lord for anyone who comes to this Christmas heart-broken, dispirited, hurting or struggling.  Where there is darkness let the star of Bethlehem and the Christmas candle be a warm light.

Lord, give all families and communities in Ireland a sense of unity – and the desire to be good neighbours and to work together to promote the good of all.  Let no one in our communities be alone, neglected or lonely this Christmas. A happy and a holy Christmas to every home throughout the diocese.  Beannachtaí na Nollag díobh go léir.

Bishop Ray Browne.

Diocese of Kerry