Christians in Seychelles join the rest of the world on Wednesday for the Christmas celebration, an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25.
In the island nation in the western Indian Ocean, believers start the day with Mass celebrated in their respective parishes.
As Catholics and Anglicans celebrate this important day, the leaders of Seychelles’ two Dioceses — Bishop Denis Wiehe and the Right Reverend James Wong — sent messages of Christmas.
The Roman Catholic bishop, Wiehe, said that Christmas is a time to receive love and to give love.
“Christmas is a time to receive God’s love because it reminds us of this special moment in the history of humankind when the eternal Creator God took upon himself a human nature through Mary. In doing so, he manifested his tenderness and his closeness to each and every member of the human family, past and present.”
The Roman Catholic bishop said, “To announce this extraordinary event, God manifested his love in a humble and a simple way, accessible to all, especially the poor, the sick, the homeless and the most vulnerable.”
He said that in reply believers are asked to return this love and “we do this by recognising God’s presence in our neighbour. Jesus told us that the second commandment “To love your neighbour as yourself” is equal to the first commandment: “To love God with all your spirit, with all your mind, with all your heart and with all your strength.”
While it is a great joy for believers who receive many presents at Christmas, Bishop Wiehe said: “The sincerity of our hearts it is an even greater joy to share what we have and to give to others; to bring a smile on the face of those who do not receive any gifts at Christmas.”
He ended his Christmas message in wishing everyone God’s love and “to experience the great joy of sharing this love with others and especially with those who are more vulnerable.”
On his side, the Anglican bishop, Right Reverend James Wong, said that although “as a nation, we have been hearing about the dark side of our history pertaining to the coup in 1977… in the midst of such darkness and gloom, the angel is saying to all the Seychellois: there is Good News of Great Joy.”
“Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, there is a message of hope as the celebration of Christmas marks the birth of the saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of the living God and the hope for the world,” said Wong.
The Anglican Bishop added that “as we celebrate Christmas 2019, we bring to everyone this good news of great joy and hope. Our world today is desperately in need of the Saviour.”
This year has been a year during which Seychellois people who have been living in the darkness linked with the coup d’état are starting to see some light, said Bishop Wong.
“The good news of great joy this Christmas is that Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, declares; I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” he said in his message.
He said that “regardless of whom you are or what condition your life is in, you cannot function successfully without hope in God. If circumstances are bad, you surely need hope and if they are good, you need hope that they will stay that way.”
Wong ended his message in wishing believers a merry Christmas and a prosperous and blessed New Year 2020.