True happiness comes from family and community, says Archbishop Nichols at televised Christmas Midnight Mass


Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, offered thanks for the "unswerving love of God, who comes to be with us in the birth of Jesus", as he celebrated Christmas Midnight Mass in Westminster Cathedral. The Mass was televised live on BBC1.

Prayers were offered for the people of Bethlehem, living under harsh security conditions in Jesus’ birthplace, and for those serving in our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his homily, Archbishop Nichols questioned the wisdom of the world that tells us happiness comes from wealth, status, celebrity and how we are regarded by society.

“We know that our happiness lies much closer to home; in our steady relationships of friendship and love; in family and community.”

While we have this longing for a sense of community, he said, a recent visit to Feltham Young Offenders Institute reminded him that too many of our young people have resorted to gangs and gang violence to bolster their weakened sense of identity.

The duplicity, deceit and bitterness within us and our society, can be overcome by accepting the gift of God’s love and forgiveness that comes among us in this Christmas celebration of the incarnation. Then, individually, and as a society, we may grow again. And in that growth lies our true happiness; a happiness of forgiveness, serving others, shared joy and lasting love.


The full text of the homily is available on