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BISHOPS' MESSAGES CALL FOR EXTENDING SPIRIT OF SEASON YEAR-ROUND

On the calendar, Christmas is a one-day celebration, but the area's Catholic and Episcopal leaders expressed the hope this week that the joy of Christmas will continue throughout the new year.

In his Christmas message to the people of Buffalo Catholic Diocese, Bishop Henry J. Mansell said his prayer is that Catholics "grow in our awareness of the beautiful Christmas fact that God is present in us and that God truly does live in us."

With that realization, Bishop Mansell said, his hope is that such awareness "will give joy to all the days of the New Year."

Bishop Mansell noted that the diocese has spent the last year celebrating its 150th anniversary in a variety of public and private ways.

"All of these events add to our understanding and celebration of Christmas this year," he said.

"This Christmas of our sesquicentennial year is, then, very special to us because in a certain sense, we have been celebrating the true meaning of Christmas all year long, celebrating God's life in us," Bishop Mansell declared.

In another message to the people of Western New York, Episcopal Bishop David C. Bowman reflected on the Christmas carol "Joy to the World."

The line -- "Joy to the world, the Lord has come" -- "tells us that God did not just create the world and then forget all about it," he said.

The carol should be a source of hope, Bishop Bowman said, because it reminds us that God chose to identify completely "with what it is to be human."

"This means that God knows what it is to suffer loss, to be hungry, to be homeless, to be numbered among those on the edge of society and to be among the outcasts," he said.

In spite of human problems, Bishop Bowman said, God has made life joyful "because we know that we are not in this life alone, but that we are here with the power and presence of God in our midst."

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