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December 20, 2004


Below is Cardinal Justin Rigali's Christmas Letter to be communicated to the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on December 24th and 25th. Please feel free to quote from the letter or to print it in its entirety.

Christmas 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wish to extend to you and your families my prayerful best wishes as we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus.

These days of rejoicing in the birth of the Lord Jesus, who is truly God, the Son of the eternal Father, and who is truly human, the Son of the Virgin Mary, draw us ever more intimately into the mystery of God's love. In the birth of His Son, we experience the fidelity of God, who sees our need and responds with merciful love.

With Our Lady we meet the Lord full of joy and humbled by the manner in which He shows Himself to us as an infant cradled in the arms of His Mother. With Saint Joseph we marvel at God's plan and accept it in faith and with serenity, confident that God will guide and protect what He has begun. With the shepherds we approach to adore the Infant in humility, knowing that we are in the presence of the Son of God.

The Year of the Eucharist reminds us that the wonder of Christmas in which the Word became flesh is renewed each day as the Word becomes flesh on the altars of our parish churches under the humble form of bread and wine. Christ, truly, really, and substantially present, draws us in love to Himself and sends us forth in love to our brothers and sisters. As we approach the Lord in the Eucharist, we learn from those who surrounded Him at His birth how to deepen both our love for and devotion to the Lord in this most blessed Sacrament. May this celebration of Christmas during the Eucharistic Year increase in us a longing for the Bread of Heaven and a love for all our brothers and sisters.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Cardinal Justin Rigali
Archbishop of Philadelphia

Marie Kelly
Associate Director

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