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December 17, 1998


Attached is Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua's Christmas Letter to be communicated to the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the weekend of December 19th and 20th. Please feel free to quote from the letter or to print it in its entirety.

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Christmas 1998

Dear Brothers an Sisters in Christ:

In the Preface of the Christmas Liturgy, the church praises God the Father in these words: "In the wonder of the Incarnation your eternal Word has brought to the eyes of faith a new and radiant vision of your glory. In Him we see our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see." These words rekindle within us the profound meaning of the Christmas season. We celebrate the depth of the Father's mercy as He reveals His love for us in and through His Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. At Christmas, we meditate of the Holy Child of Bethlehem who entered our world to redeem humanity and to share God's mercy with us.

The Birth of Christ brought to the world the fulfillment of ancient prophecies and brings hope to humble and faithful people. Like the lowly shepherds of old, we hear the glad tidings that God continues to bestow His peace on all as He invites us to be reconciled with Him. In this final year of preparation for the Jubilee Year 2000, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II invites the entire Church to look to God the Father and to meditate on His infinite mercy. Our Archdiocesan theme this year, "Live the Father's Love," summons us who are sinners to a new life of holiness in Jesus Christ.

As Catholics, we encounter the mercy of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In this coming year, our archdiocesan family will have a unique opportunity to celebrate God's forgiveness during Reconciliation Weekend in March 1999. Aware of our sins, we seek God's forgiveness in Confession and, through the priest's words of absolution, we have joyful assurance that the Father has completely forgiven us through His Son. The new life we receive enables us to live the Father's love through our charity, our compassion, our willing service to our neighbor, and our own readiness to forgive as we have been forgiven.

This Christmas, it is my prayer that we may learn to live the Father's love in thought, word and deed so that, like the poor shepherds, we may announce to others the Good News of God's love and mercy revealed in Christ Jesus, Our Lord. Like Mary and Joseph, may your hearts be filled with love and peace during this holy season and always.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua
Archbishop of Philadelphia

Marie Kelly
Associate Director

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