Saturday 22 October 2016

The search for the meaning of Christmas - and of life itself

Published 23/12/2015 | 02:30

We create the true significance of Christmas, be it religious or secular
We create the true significance of Christmas, be it religious or secular

One of the delights of Christmas is the variety of ways in which we celebrate the expectation of the coming of light into our lives. This has religious and secular significance in equal measure.

  • Go To

For some, the search for the meaning of Christmas raises questions about the meaning of life itself.

However, seeking the meaning of life at Christmas - or at any time generally - yields little more than a frustrating dead end.

One writer complained that whenever he had found the meaning of life somebody came along and changed it.

Christmas and life are what we make of them. It is we who give them meaning. We are beings in the making, with the capacity for good or evil, laughter or tears.

It is we who create the human world. It is for this reason we have an obligation to exercise our imagination and critical intelligence in relation to the direction we wish to see our country taking. In religious terms, God created creators.

In a representative democracy like ours, though we may trust our politicians, we must avoid the temptation to entrust to them responsibility for our lives.

In Ireland, many seem trapped in the so-called 'struggle for Irish freedom', invoking an obsolete form of nationalism that, yet again, is beginning to creep into political discourse, offering no more than a theatre for some to play out their political fantasies.

The homeless person on the street, the family that has barely enough to eat or the unemployed breadwinner see the obstacle to their freedom not in some connection to Britain but in the glaring inequalities in the distribution of the wealth that surrounds us.

Christmas is a time when we have an opportunity to go beyond the grand political gestures to those little unassuming acts of kindness and of love that originate from more refined sentiments.

For many, the deep significance of Christmas is to be found in reflection on the stories, songs and carols that have embodied the longings and hopes of generations.

Philip O'Neill

33 Edith Road, Oxford, OX1 4QB


Mother Teresa's miracles

The announcement that Mother Teresa is to be canonised by the Vatican seems to have annoyed all the usual suspects.

While that fact alone means that the Vatican is doing the right thing, it is important to note that the canonisation is not to honour the woman's immense life's work in Calcutta, which many people bizarrely like to dispute.

Neither is it for bringing global attention to the plight of India's crushing poverty, as she did.

Instead, it's for the miracles that the Vatican has concluded the 'Saint of the Gutters' has worked since her death, as is the case with all saints.

Killian Foley-Walsh

Kilkenny City


Do good republicans pay tax?

Surely, the definition of "a good republican" must include love of country. Indeed, is that not what a good republican's raison d'être has been through many terrible years? Just a question: Does that not include paying your taxes - or are some good republicans exempt? Please advise.

Gerry Ashe (relative of a good republican, Thomas Ashe)

Rathfarnham, Dublin


Funding nursing home care

I refer to Eilish O'Regan's report (Irish Independent, 21 December) on private nursing home funding and the level of Fair Deal fees as a disincentive to investment in new nursing homes.

With the current resource cap on the nursing home Fair Deal funding scheme, this problem can only deteriorate as our over-65 population is growing by 20,000 per annum - of which 1,000 will require nursing home care and associated funding.

If the resource cap on the Fair Deal scheme is not increased, we face a situation whereby sick people under the age of 65 will not have access to acute hospitals due to the delayed discharge of older people.

I fear that the current situation will graduate from an older person crisis to a younger person crisis in the near future.

Dr Jonathon Roth

Castlecourt, Clancy's Strand, Limerick


UFC is a thug's game

Having followed and watched sport over the past 60 years, I cannot understand the hype surrounding Conor Mc Gregor.

His latest fight was brutal and ugly - particularly the sight of McGregor, after he had knocked his opponent unconscious, jumping on him and punching his head twice before being pulled off him by the referee.

Would you allow your children or grandchildren to participate in this so-called sport?

I certainly have no time for a sport that allows kicking, punching and battering of opponents even when they are lying prostrate on their backs.

To me there is an element of thuggery in UFC that is sickening to watch, and to think that Dublin City is thinking of giving McGregor a civic reception makes my mind boggle.

Paddy Gallagher

Glenties, Donegal


Bishops are not the innocents

The idea that members of the Catholic hierarchy were made scapegoats by the Murphy Report contradicts common sense.

To "scapegoat" is to blame the innocent in order to allow the guilty to go unpunished.

The innocent in this case were the children who were attacked by Catholic priests.

Among the guilty were the members of the hierarchy who facilitated the abuse.

Angela Polsen-Emy

Rathmines Road, Dublin


Many young men of twenty

As I read Ivan Yates' column today (Irish Independent, December 19) and his comments about Conor McGregor I am struck with a new admiration for Mr Yates as he informs us his "twenty-something sons stayed up until 6am". If I had over 20 sons, I would lose count too - but he looks remarkably well having raised such a large family.

Phillip O'Brien

MacSwiney Quay, Bandon, Cork

Irish Independent

Read More

Promoted articles

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice