The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols says people must find sustainable relationships with God, each other and the natural world if there is to be peace in the world.
In a pastoral letter for the Feast of the Holy Family on Sunday, he said the crib was a reminder that people were dependent on each other, the created world and God.
“Today we have to find a balanced and sustainable relationship between ourselves and the natural world, and between all people who share this planet,” he said.
“Unless we do so the chances of peace in our world are slim and the careless exploitation of our environment will continue.
“These right relationships have to begin in our homes ... respect between the generations, patience with each other, sensitivity to each others’ wishes and needs.”
The Archbishop said people must have felt the pressures of advertising and the expectation to spend more than they could afford this Christmas, but said the most important aspect of family celebrations during the season was the “sincerity rather than extravagance, sensitivity rather than excess”.
“When this is understood, then we can probably live far more simply without any loss of enjoyment,” he said.
“Then we can be more attentive to how much we consume, to what we throw away, to what we have to give to the poor.
“The crib, then, is a lesson in right living, in the regard we have for each other, in our support for the poor and in our care for the created world.”
The Archdiocese of Westminster was anticipating a bumper turn out this Christmas, with family and friends visiting people in the capital.
Fr Chris Vipers, parish priest at Feltham in west London, said the numbers of people coming to Mass over Christmas could increase by as much as 40 per cent.
“Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are certainly one of the busiest times of year for parishes. It’s a wonderful time when we come together as a community and celebrate that God has come near to us through the birth of Jesus Christ, our ‘Emmanuel’,” he said.
“One of the important things for a parish throughout the year is the ministry of welcome, making sure that our doors are wide open to share the Good News with others.”
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