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March 23, 2005

Cardinal Rigali's Easter Greeting

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you and your families in the joy of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, conqueror of sin and death.

Each year the Church invites us to prepare, through prayer and penance during the forty days of Lent, for the renewal of the promises of our Baptism at Easter. We are given the opportunity to recommit ourselves to our Catholic Faith which teaches us that Christ has overcome our sins and death itself. We are filled with hope as we recall the great gift of eternal life given to us and the power of Godís sanctifying grace which enables us to live the Gospel faithfully. So great a gift calls forth a response on our part.

In his Apostolic Letter on the Year of the Eucharist, Mane Nobiscum Domine, Pope John Paul II begins with a verse from the Gospel of Saint Luke that we will hear on the Third Sunday of Easter this year: "Stay with us, Lord, for it is almost evening" [Luke 24:29]. This familiar scene of the two disciples traveling to Emmaus, away from the place of our Lordís death, saddened and discouraged, is a moving testimony of the Lordís care and love for His disciples. He walks with them, explaining the purpose of the events of Good Friday. However, it is only in the Eucharist, in the breaking of the bread, that they recognize who He is. Their hearts overflow with joy and renewed hope.

This same Lord walks along with us each and every day of our lives. At times, our discouragement prevents us from realizing that He is with us. This season of Easter is an excellent time for us to deepen our awareness of the Lordís Eucharistic presence through some concrete action. I encourage you to renew your commitment to the celebration of the Eucharist on Sundays and holydays of obligation. The practice of making a visit to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is highly encouraged. Many parishes are blessed with the practice of Eucharistic adoration which is a time honored practice in the Church of expressing our love for the Lord Jesus. In some manner, use these important days of the Easter season to deepen your appreciation for the Lordís presence in the Eucharist and to draw near to Him who has drawn so close to you.

I greet you all in the love of the Christ Jesus.

Sincerely yours,

Cardinal Justin Rigali
Archbishop of Philadelphia


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