Irish Catholics have been urged to give each other an extraordinary helping hand this Christmas as people fight hardship in Arctic conditions.
Cardinal Sean Brady said 2010 has been a very difficult year with the prospect of smaller incomes and enormous debt looming over the country.
The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland said two big freezes within a month have also not helped by challenging the health of the vulnerable and placing extra pressure on household heating bills.
But in his Christmas message, the Cardinal said while the difficulties ahead will be challenging, people had to bring encouragement to one another.
"Hardship, bereavements, natural disasters and failures can either overwhelm and paralyse us or they can awaken our hope and rally our strength to help one another," said Cardinal Brady.
"The challenge we now face is to bring encouragement to one another.
"Just as an individual may spiral down into a state of depression, so too a community can allow itself to be overwhelmed by negativity.
"Nobody wants to minimise the pain that many are suffering, but having a positive attitude and coming together to support each other really can help us to get through these difficult times."
The Cardinal also said his thoughts and prayers were with those who could not make it home in time to celebrate Christmas with family.
"Home and family, love and parents and birth are natural signs of peace and new life. They are natural gifts that take us to the heart of the meaning of Christmas."