The Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, used his Christmas Midnight Mass message at Westminster Cathedral to criticise the idea that 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," he declared in his homily – broadcast on BBC1 television at 11.45pm on 24 December 2009.
The archbishop said that a recent visit to Feltham Young Offenders Institute in West London reminded him that so many young people lack this sense of community and end up resorting to gang violence to bolster a weakened sense of identity.
The duplicity, deceit and bitterness that manifests itself in personal and social life can be overcome by accepting the gift of God's love and forgiveness that comes among us in the Christmas celebration of the incarnation, the Catholic leader declared.
Prayers were also offered at the service for the people of Bethlehem, living under harsh security conditions in Jesus' birthplace, and for those caught up in armed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.