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December 18, 2003


Below is Cardinal Justin Rigali's Christmas Letter to be communicated to the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the weekend of December 20 and 21. Please feel free to quote from the letter or to print it in its entirety.

Christmas 2003

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

As the Church renews her faith during this most holy season in the wondrous mystery of the Son of God become flesh for our salvation, I extend to you and your families my greetings and promise of prayers.

Our minds and hearts are filled with gratitude for the profound demonstration of love made by God the Father in this gift of His Son to us. The beautiful scene of the Virgin Mary tenderly cradling her Child recalls once again the depth of the love of God for each one of us and the offer of mercy and forgiveness that is made to the waiting world. It is a scene that fills us with hope as we see the promise of eternal life dawn upon mankind.

Pope Saint Leo the Great wrote so movingly of the true meaning of this moment in our history and the path that it sets before us: "Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God's own nature, do not return to your former way of life. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God's kingdom."

This joyous season of Christmas offers us the opportunity to renew our faith in the wonders the Father has worked for us and the responsibility that belongs to each one of us in the face of so great a gift. Such love calls forth love from us. It is my prayer and hope that we will accept the grace of this season and allow it to deepen our love for God and each other.

Sincerely in Christ,
Cardinal Justin Rigali
Archbishop of Philadelphia

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Marie Kelly
Associate Director

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