Over recent years, there has been a surprising and unexpected - but entirely gratifying - increase in the number of people attending church services at Christmas, including Midnight Mass. They are usually joyful, often prayerful.
This is a far cry from the dismal sentiments expressed by an Australian priest just four years ago. In a letter to fellow priests, he lamented: "You know what the Christmas Masses are like ... Midnight Mass has few kids, but they and some adults are bleary-eyed and yawning. There's also the odd drunk."
This attitude today shows some signs of changing, with many present at Christmas Masses not merely for cultural reasons, or because they want to be present with their families. Among young people, in particular, many are there by themselves. There appears to be a not insignificant shift underway, reflected particularly in the number of young people present, giving thanks for the birth of Jesus Christ, our redeemer.
Yet the secular media and other influential bodies in our community fail to reflect this promising trend.
In the public domain generally, and especially in the worlds of commerce and advertising, the spiritual content of Christmas has all but disappeared. Public apathy or ignorance, it seems, have allowed too many of our decision-makers, organisers or experts to secularise Christmas as they please.
Yet all this occurs in a nation with close to 70 per cent of its population describing themselves as Christian in the Census.
The decision-making elites seek to justify the exclusion of Christian references from public places on the grounds of multiculturalism, and the consequent need to be sensitive to the feelings of the non-Christian minority.
In truth, most non-Christians would expect at least some community acknowledgement of the spiritual significance of Christmas.
Religious believers need to make their views more plain in the media and use their weight of numbers where possible - otherwise the long march of secularisation will continue virtually unopposed.
Michael Gilchrist: Editor (email - email@example.com)