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Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast processes out of Mass at Notre Dame Basilica in Ottawa on the morning of the National March for Life on May 8, 2014.John-Henry Westen/LifeSiteNews

Christians today need the same “great courage” as the early Christians in pagan Rome to overcome modern society’s rejection of sexual morality, Ottawa’s archbishop told the faithful of his archdiocese in his annual Christmas message.

“The first Christians showed great courage in overcoming and transforming a vast, pagan world that had beliefs about marriage and sexual morality similar to those of our culture,” Archbishop Terrence Prendergast wrote in the December 9 message.

“Today, we again need God's grace and supernatural courage to publicly live out the Church's teaching on marriage, the family, and human sexuality.”

Prendergast said that while the biblical images conveyed to us during the Christmas season “can show us how we can become happy, healthy and holy families,” we must not lose sight of the purpose of the recent Synod on the Family, which addressed “the challenge of our time: the crisis of the family.”

“Pope Francis recently said that the Christian family and marriage are under attack,” Prendergast said.

Although “God wrote his plan of marriage into human nature and Christ raised it to be a sacrament,” the attack on the family stems from a society which “is replacing this view with the notion that people can bend intimate life to their own ideas and desires,” he said.

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Archbishop Prendergast noted that the feast of the Holy Family, which is celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas, is an occasion that “places young and old in close proximity,” in that, “it invites us to reflect on the sacredness of life from conception to death.”

“This Christmas season, may you and your family come to know the Holy Family better and learn how to make your homes places of conversation, laughter and joy!” the archbishop said.

In closing, Archbishop Prendergast invites those who have fallen away from the practice of their faith to be assured of a warm welcome when they return.

“Christmas is a time for family sharing,” he said. “If you've become disconnected from the Church, I invite you to come back home. We miss you. Bring your contribution to the Church family's conversation, and help us be a better Church. We need your insights, enthusiasm and prayers.”

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