Tag Archives: Saints

Parish audited! Good experience.

Such days of distraction we’ve had, however necessary such an essential service is as provided by the diocese. All the parishes are supposed to be audited every few years or when a pastor is transferred. I doubt that I’ll be transferred out of this, my most favorite of all parishes. But we’re way out of date for any audits, both because of some diocesan planning logistics and because we’re about as far away from the Chancery as one can possibly get in these back-sides-of-the-back-ridges of beautiful Western North Carolina. But now we’re up to date and good to go for another few years.

It was quite the eye-opener for our auditor, the actual Director of Internal Audits, you know, our smallest of all parishes as compared to the big city parishes. Most of the audit inquiries were entirely irrelevant in our tiny parish, such as what kind of compensation oversight did we have for oversight teams for hiring third-party oversight teams for whatever project teams we might have, for instance, in creating oversight teams for oversight teams. Sorry, just a bit of humor there. ;-) But you get the idea. Some things are relevant only to the mega-big-city-parishes. Having grown up with wolves and moose in the North Woods of Minnesota, I’m so happy to be waaay out in here in the State and National Forests.

Our patron saint to whom we pray at the opening of our Finance Council meetings in the parish is Saint Turibio, a Mexican priest, a Cristero martyr, who the day and night before he was murdered took his horse from parish to parish to parish to get all the books in order! I’m impressed.

I bother to make this a post on this blog for the sake of encouraging good vocations to the priesthood who are going to be squeaky clean regarding finances. You cannot serve both God and mammon. Don’t be scandalized by all the scandal. You just do what is right. And that’s already its own reward. You are free of the darkness, free to serve Jesus with one’s whole mind, soul, heart, strength. A joy.

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Saint Peter Martyr… Wait… What?

Saint Peter of Verona aka Saint Peter Martyr because he’s a paradigm of giving witness unto death. That’s him, depicted in the upper left niche of what I call the Angelicum’s basilica aka the Church of Saints Dominic and Sixtus. Yes, that’s a heavy butcher style machete in his head, and a dagger in his heart.

At the time, the Dominicans, particularly Saint Peter, were preaching ferociously against the blood-thirsty heretics called the Cathars, “the clean ones”, aka Albigensians, “the ones born pure”, gnostics, “the ones in the know” about their own great perfection with no need of redemption, no need of salvation, thus being those who could not possibly do anything wrong, ever, which is a license to kill. The more you kill faithful Catholics, the more manifestly you were certainly one of the pure ones. With extreme lack of self-awareness they were on killing sprees, truly committing genocide against Catholics. Saint Peter was one of their victims.

200 years later, a blink of an eye in history, the great Signorelli depicted Saint Peter in this way, just below the feet of the anti-Christ and Satan:

The one who looks like Jesus is actually the anti-Christ. It that the anti-Christ pointing below himself to the now-dead Saint Peter, or is that Satan who is pointing while congratulating the anti-Christ?

Well, it’s both together, of course. That pedestal depicts the false-prophet beating up his good donkey, who saw the angel forbidding them to go further into the darkness.

The more things change the more they stay the same. Today, the heretics who deny the Sacrifice of the Mass, who say that they have no sin, and that there is no need for redemption, for salvation, are also violent in their persecution of those who simply point to the goodness and kindness and truth of Christ Jesus. These heretics, today’s Cathars, Albigensians, those “clean ones”, claim that those who the members of Jesus’ Little Flock, who listen to Jesus, have grave psychological problems going on inside of themselves and are in the dark, unclean, ideological because of being in reverence before Jesus, humbly thanking Jesus for redemption, forgiveness, salvation, praising Jesus.

These little ones, as Saint Peter, in thanksgiving for their own forgiveness, want even these violent heretics to convert and be saved. Depending on circumstances in society and with those where we are in this dark world, any of the little ones of Jesus’ Little Flock can be next up for what happened to Saint Peter.

Better: the little ones of Jesus’ Little Flock are already there with him and are being cut down at any and every moment right around the world to the greater honor and glory of God. They are being condemned as rigid and entrenched, but they are most light-hearted and, in their greatest love for the brethren, not their love but Christ’s in them, it is they who have been purified, sanctified by Jesus, and have been introduced to purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of vision and profundity of understanding, not congratulating themselves like self-absorbed gnostic heretics of Cathar / Albigensian infamy, but just thankful for the forgiveness they themselves have received.

Meanwhile, just to be clear. We’re all of us a work in progress. We go to Confession one moment and may lay down our lives for the brethren in the next.

  • It’s not that we are perfect. No. Having just gone to Confession myself, because I’m a sinner, my penance was telling, that I pray two decades of the Divine Mercy chaplet, one so that my priesthood may be more dedicated to Jesus’ Little Flock in my parish, the other for the parishioners, that they may benefit from Jesus’ priesthood with me having gotten myself out of Jesus’ way.
  • It’s that Jesus is very good and very kind to us, very patient with us, wanting that we pray always, be always in humble reverence and thanksgiving before Him, praising Him. They only way I know how to even begin to start to do this is to go to Confession regularly. I love Confession. Go to Confession.

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Saint George the Dragon Slayer

saint george stained glass window

This was posted five years ago. A good day to bring this to light once again. Outside of Saint Philomena – the veracity of whose existence as a virgin and martyr of the early Church has recently been sustained by exhaustive scientific evaluations of the evidence – outside of her… there is perhaps no saint more scorned as being no more than a figment of pious imagination than Saint George, who, however, boasts of more archaeological and historical evidence than most any other saint in the history not only of the early Church, but for some lesser known saints, right into our own day. Churches dedicated to Saint George sprang up in their dozens throughout the ancient world immediately after news of his martyrdom on 23 April 303.

Liberal warning: The most obnoxious denial of the existence of Saint George that I’ve come across comes from a super liberal professor of “ecumenism” (which I put in quotes because he had no idea what true ecumenism is). Many of my fellow priests today have had Father XXX as a professor in the various countries, seminaries and universities where he’s mislead people. He had the idea that Saint George couldn’t possibly have existed because of the iconography of him slaying a dragon. His arrogant idea was that we’re very smart today, and people of the past were so very gullible and stupid. He laughed his nervous, cowardly, mocking laugh when I tried to explain a few things about the iconography:

  • Those in the first centuries, who were suffering under the severe persecutions of the dragon of the Apocalypse, namely, the possessed-by-Satan pre-Constantinian Roman Empire, understood the dragon to be the Roman Empire. Even so, such depictions only came later, but for this very reason.
  • The white horse, similarly, is the white horse of the Apocalypse 6:2, whose rider goes out conquering and to further his conquering.
  • In the early fourth century, after George was martyred, it is interesting to note that all martyrs in the Montefiascone/Bolsano region of Tuscany, whether male or female, with no regard to how they met their deaths, were all depicted as riding on the white horse of the Apocalypse.
  • The woman who is to be saved in the background of some Renaissance paintings is, similarly, Holy Mother Church, who is represented by her saints.
  • The point of all this wonderful triumphalism in the iconography is not that Saint George or the other martyrs successfully fought their way out of being martyred, that they slew the dragon by, for instance, assassinating the Emperor of the time, but rather that they conquered the demonically controlled world by witnessing to Christ Jesus’ goodness and kindness and truth right unto their deaths, so hated is goodness and kindness and truth by the demonically controlled world. Saint George and the other martyrs slew the dragon by being slain themselves.
  • By the way, the dragon, the ancient serpent, the devil and Satan, of Genesis 2,4-3:24, is, in the ancient usage of the word, an Oracle from God on behalf of man, a spirit, an angel, now a fallen angel. There are no talking snakes in Genesis.

None of this – or the archaeological proofs – made any impression on this super-liberal priest, for the last thing he wanted to hear was faithfulness to the Church unto death. That’s not what his own life was about. Since he couldn’t answer in any reasonable way, he merely laughed his nervous, cowardly, mocking laugh once again. I had to live with that kind of nonsense for… well… pretty much my whole priesthood. Yikes! This kind of thing can occasion an increase in friendship, in view of such a cross, with Christ Jesus and the Saints.

saint george iconThis icon was given to me by Cardinal […]. It’s from the Mount Zion crowd just outside the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. There is great devotion to Saint George in Palestine until today, with about every third boy being named after Saint George.

George’s father, Gerontius, was well known to the Emperor Diocletian as one of his very best soldiers. When Gerontius’ son George applied to Diocletian to be in the military service of the Emperor, Diocletian quickly made him part of the Imperial Guard and gave him the rank of Tribune. These positions taken together made young George, perhaps in his early twenties, almost as powerful as the Emperor himself. Very few people would have ever had such power, both military and political, and at such a young age. George was an instant phenomenon. Everyone would have known exactly who he was in the entire ancient world.

saint george martyrdomDiocletian was persuaded by the might-makes-right Galerius to have all his soldiers offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. George, with the zeal of the saints, loudly and with great reason proclaimed his worship of Christ Jesus, so that he couldn’t possibly offer sacrifice to any Roman gods. Diocletian, distraught – for he had never intended this – offered George all sorts of bribes, all of which were scorned by our Saint. Diocletian then set out to make an example of him, first attaching him to a wheel of swords and then having him decapitated.

Saint George and Saint Michael the Archangel sometimes meld into one presentation with wings being granted to Saint George on his white horse. That’s O.K. I’m sure they were great friends!

By the way, George is the Name of God the Father: ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ γεωργός ἐστιν (John 15:1). “My Father is George.” O.K., so, a pedantic translation would be “My Father is the Farmer” or “My Father is the Tiller of the Ground.” Some translations have “Vinedresser.” Truth be told, it’s γεωργός, that is, George!

Just to be insistent about this: “Adam” means “Tiller of the Ground.” “Adam” = “George.” Jesus is the New Adam. Jesus is the New George. Yours truly is merely the old George, the old Adam. But Christ has conquered and goes out to conquer still. Thanks be to God our Father that Jesus sets about slaying me so that, dead to myself, I live for Him alone. Yikes!

keep calm and slay dragons

By the way, my parish, which takes in the most outrageously beautiful mountains of the Great Smoky Mountains, boasts, of course, of “The Dragon’s Tail”, which is an extremely dangerous curvy road that every motorcycle enthusiast in North America loves to ride. They all come here! There are hotels just for two-wheelers throughout the area. There are all sort of motorcycle fix-it shops. I invite all cyclers to to make a weekend of this, slaying the dragon by the tail, and stopping in for Mass at 8:30 Sunday morning at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Robbinsville, NC, or 11:00 Mass Sunday morning at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Andrews, N.C. If you’re not afraid of heights or gravel roads, come to Andrews from Robbinsville over Tatham Gap Road. If you’ve never once said “Yikes!” in your life, you will when you ride this one. I say that in solidarity, as most all my broken bones in life (really very many) have come from riding on two wheels with a motor.

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My Penance for my Confession

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Christ, hear us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father in heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious son of David, pray for us.
Light of Patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Guardian of the Redeemer, pray for us.
Pure Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Provider for the Son of God, pray for us.
Zealous defender of Christ, pray for us.
Servant of Christ, pray for us.
Minister of salvation, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph, most just, pray for us.
Joseph, most chaste, pray for us.
Joseph, most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph, most brave, pray for us.
Joseph, most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph, most loyal, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model for workers, pray for us.
Glory of family life, pray for us.
Guardian of virgins, pray for us.
Cornerstone of families, pray for us.
Support in difficulties, pray for us.
Comfort of the sorrowing, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of exiles, pray for us.
Patron of the afflicted, pray for us.
Patron of the poor, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

He made him master of his house, and ruler of all his possessions.

Let us pray. O God, who in your inexpressible providence
were pleased to choose Saint Joseph as spouse of your most holy Mother,
grant, we pray that we who revere him as our protector on earth,
may be worthy of his heavenly intercession.
Who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

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For St John Vianney it’s all about Jesus: did you notice that today it’s not about Jesus?

cure dars chapel john baptist

Saint John Marie Vianney is the patron saint of priests. As far as I know – and I’ve been putting this challenge out for my entire life – he is the only priest to be canonized as a simple parish priest, not a martyr, not a founder of a religious order that he then joined, not a bishop, not a missionary, just a simple parish priest.

Being a parish priest puts one right in the middle of the ever present tiny group of entitled parishioners who are at the ready to be sycophants to insecure bishops who are looking for accolades from them. It’s the parish priest who is smacked down from both sides. And somehow that’s fitting, you know, to be like Jesus who had the crowds shrieking “Crucify Him!” and the chief priests playing their puppets. This is enough to make any faithful priest into a saint. We have Saint John Vianney as our shining star, and he’s enough for us in the General Roman Calendar, because we now have one day a year when we can humbly thank the Lord for making us His priests.

But this needs humility. The first job of a priest is get his hell out of the way of the One High Priest, Christ Jesus, King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of the Most Profound Peace. He does this by going to Confession. Priests have been passing through my parish in these two days. I’ve taken advantage and have gone to Confession two days in a row! Father John Harden said that, all things being equal, there is an infallible increase in sanctifying grace with a well-received absolution. Thanks be to God. When a priest gets his own hell out of the way, it is the priesthood of Christ Jesus who shines through such a weak human being. Glory be to God. It is truly stunning to witness.

But I know of about no bishops, especially the bishop of Rome, for whom being a Catholic priest is to be all about Jesus. There are some, but… it’s politically incorrect, embarrassing for them to insist that Jesus is the One, the only One, you know, to quote Traditionis custodes, “l’Unico.”

Instead, it is the sacrament of Confession – for which Saint John Vianney was rightly dedicated – which is mocked by the encouragement of fake, unrepentant Confessions such as find with “accompaniment” of Amoris laetitia, by the encouragement of homosexualist impurity, the denigration of our bodies which are to instead be temples of the Holy Spirit. This means no humility, no reverence before Christ Jesus, seeing no purpose in the priesthood.

It means that it’s not about Jesus, but rather ourselves, only, as if each one is the only one, you know, to cite Traditionis custodes, “l’unico.”

This self-entitlement of so many bishops and priests is sickening. Enough is Enough, as is now being proclaimed.

Hey! I have an idea for our bishops and priests that will turn all of this around, you know, all things being equal, infallibly:

  • Go to Confession! Frequently, regularly, with honesty, with new found integrity, so humbly thankful, then, for Jesus having gotten our own hell out of the way, that His priesthood can shine through us.

Oh, and that picture up top? That’s the chapel in honor of Saint John the Baptist that Saint John Vianney constructed on the one side of his parish church. Saint John the Baptist is one of my confirmation names. Thanks for that as well, dearest Curé.

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Prayer for priests [Yikes!]

Here’s Saint Anthony on the front steps of the rectory, with the Child Jesus.

There’s a reader of this blog who prays this prayer for priests and for me in particular, for which I am very grateful. Insert the name or names of priests you know who need extra help in these chaotic times:

O holy Angels, watch over Father George David Byers at all times during his perilous life;
O holy Archangels, be his guides on his way to heaven;
O heavenly choir of the Principalities, govern him in soul and body;
O mighty Powers, preserve him against the wiles of the demons;
O celestial Virtues, give him strength and courage in the battle of life;
O powerful Dominations, obtain for him dominion over the rebellion of his flesh;
O sacred Thrones, grant him peace with God and man;
O brilliant Cherubim, illumine his mind with heavenly knowledge;
O burning Seraphim, enkindle in his heart the fire of charity. Amen

Saint Anthony, you led many from darkness to light by your preaching and works of kindness.
May Father George David Byers also become a light to others and a radiant instrument of peace.

O gentle and loving Saint Anthony…… whisper my petition into the ears of the Sweet Infant Jesus…

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Mary Magdalene and the severely possessed infant daughter of the “Dog-Woman”

Other incisive analogies could’ve been made, but why get myself laicized?

Happy Feast Day!

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St Charles Lwanga, companions, martyrs for protecting kids from sex abuse

The companions of Saint Charles refused to suffer the sexual abuse that the king wanted to foist upon them because they were following the good example and direction of Saint Charles. He was their protector.

Saint Charles is the patron saint of those who stand up against the abuse of office used to foist sexual abuse on others. The abusers get upset with the likes of a Saint Charles.

Here’s the deal: what the king was doing with abuse of office used to foist sexual abuse on others is not a once-off in humanity. It happens all the time. And we can’t say that it’s just some secular king who was a bit freaky. No, no. But it this way: can we deny that there are plenty of “kings” of their own imaginings, certain ecclesiastics, priests and bishops have not done the same as the king with minors?

Let’s take this a step further. Are there others who are like Saint Charles, who are going to protect minors against the sexual aggression of the freakoids? Yes, there are. And what if some of these emulators of Saint Charles are priests, and their bishops are playing the role of the sex-demented-king? Are those bishops going to slit the throats of the priests who call out sexual abuse, you know, at least by way of marginalizing them, dismissing them from the clerical state? Sure. And then we have more martyrs or at least saints with heroic virtue. Pray for good priests. Hail Mary…

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It was “Sts George & Philomena are fake!” Now it’s “Jesus and Mary are fake!”

There is no other saint I know of who is more archeologically established than Saint George. We have found the ruins of early centuries church buildings built in his honor at the very time of his death throughout the still anti-Catholic Roman Empire, from throughout Europe to throughout the Near and Middle East and everything in between.

Saint George is trashed because of Renaissance paintings of Saint George on a white horse slaying a dragon so as to save a maiden. “All fiction!” it is shrieked. “Don’t be a martyr, be a man-of-consensus with the world!” is the brow-beating, bullying insistence which advice the soft and self-absorbed readily accept.

But the white horse is that of Jesus in the Apocalypse. In that Apocalypse the dragon is the great Serpent and Satan who is possessing the Caesars of the day. In that Apocalypse the maiden is the Church and the Mother of God. In the Apocalypse those who are killed in witness to Christ Jesus are the victors by their faithfulness right through death. The renaissance paintings are not original to those painters: They were merely representing frescoes in catacombs which depicted all martyrs like Saint George and at the time of Saint George in this fashion. Men who were martyred, women who were martyred, all depicted riding on white horses slaying the dragon, victorious over Satan by being faithful right through death.

Likewise, the virgin martyrs are dismissed as those to whom modern teenagers cannot relate. The first to be cancelled is Saint Philomena. In recent scientific studies, it is established absolutely that her catacomb stone reads: “Pax tecum Philomena” with no other possibility, and that the small glass vase found in that place contains the blood of a girl carbon-dated to the time of Philomena. Yep.

A priest working in the Holy See at the time I attended the presentations of these scientific studies actually hunted me down in Rome and insisted that it cannot be that I, a student at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, could promote the viability of placing Saint Philomena in the liturgical calendar once again. He was frantic, as if possessed. Yep.

The problem is both virginity and martyrdom, and martyrdom because of the virginity because of giving oneself over to Christ Jesus, to be “hidden with Christ in God” as Saint Paul says. We can’t have that today, shriek the inverted.

But that’s all years ago. Now what we have presented to us is that Jesus and His dear mother are irrelevant in every way. We must ignore them; we must obey the fallen world, we must worship Satan, Pachamama. Yep.

I will worship our Heavenly Father through, with, and in Jesus by the Holy Ghost and I will thank our dearest Immaculate Virgin Mary for interceding even for me as advocate, mediatrix, co-redemptrix. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Mary.

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St John the Baptist singing? Yes, of course he *sang* of Christ our God. I love it.

That’s from an Advent Preface at Holy Mass. That Saint John the Baptist sang about Jesus, Christ our God, King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, the Creator of all, makes me dance for joy.

Dance? I’m baiting some ultra-tradition-al-ism-ists in putting up that picture once again. This causes some of them to say I’m a heretic about mercy, because, it is thought, mercy is not that in which we are to rejoice. We have to be glum and dark and always despairing. That misery reminds me of the first decades of my life:

What I always heard growing up and in the seminary and Catholic universities is that John the Baptist was a shrieking madman foaming at the mouth, a wild-man in the desert: GOD’S JUSTICE IS SENDING YOU ALL TO HELL YOU DAMNED SINNERS! REPENT! REPENT!!!! “He represents justice without mercy,” they said, “you know, the Old Testament,” they said, “no love, sterile, hateful, bad and evil, you know, THE JEWS,” they said.

Wait… What?

That’s just wrong, thought I, thus, rebel that I am, taking John the Baptist as my Confirmation name. John was pointing out Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world.” I was thankful to John for this mercy of pointing us to Jesus by having us correctly recognize ourselves as sinners so that we might be open to forgiveness from the Lamb of God and thus be brought to eternal life. That’s really very good and kind of John. Thanks John!

But that part in the Preface about John singing of Jesus… That is just so very right. Of course John sang about Jesus. Yes. John is so very amazing. Yes. I mean, it would have been in solemn liturgical language, the Hebrew of the Scriptures, not street Aramaic. And John is like the first Desert Father, as it were. So, I bet these were the words of his singing of Jesus:

And maybe, just maybe, this is what it sounded like… just the first petition now…

I bet those who have so viciously condemned me for rejoicing the mercy of God that is founded on God’s justice, who are suspicious of rejoicing even with the angels singing with the shepherds of Bethlehem, might like to punch me in the nose for what they consider cultural appropriation and, at the same time, archeologism, because as tender snowflakes they can only hate as tender snowflakes do.

The Hebrew you see is the Agnus Dei sung at Holy Mass, but in Hebrew. The audio file is yours truly singing just the first petition. I’m not a great singer, but I can still rejoice and leap for joy and sing with John. :-)

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Reminiscences of Padre Pio: Ermelindo Di Capua OFMCap

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The measure you give…

The above was sent in by a reader. I agree entirely. Hahahha.

Meanwhile, speaking of cats, let’s remember that all the saints are trying to live as one with the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the only One standing after the battle, albeit with scars:

The measure He gave was everything, which is what He demands of us:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

It’s His love and His truth that He draws un into.

P.S. I just noticed that I have a Dog administration-tag for dog posts on the blog, but no administration-tag for cat posts. Hmmm. I’ll still a dog-person. Pope Benedict was a cat-person. I guess we all have to be Lion of the Tribe of Judah persons. :-)

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When Padre Pio met Saint Michael. When Father Byers knew nothing at all.

elijah judas tree

Elijah with the flaming fiery sword on Mount Carmel, Israel.

[It’s 2020. This was written now eleven years ago. It was Padre Pio’s feast day the other day, on September 23. /// BTW, today marks 26 years in prison of Fr Gordon MacRae. Hail Mary… St Michael the Archangel… ]

You can read things dozens of times over the years and just not “get it” at all. That’s me. But this year when I read the following letter of Padre Pio, I was mesmerized. I now know a bit more just how much I absolutely don’t know anything about the spiritual life. I have written academically about that of which he speaks, the flaming sword wielded by the angels at the end of Genesis 3. The suffering I went through to accomplish the academic feat on a level of historical philology, involving many, many years of library rat-ness, not REsearch but rather original hard work, agony, really, is nothing at all compared to what Padre Pio understood in an instant by experiencing personally this fiery sword which I have only come to know academically. I am, to date, the only one to have accomplished this academic feat through the centuries, through the millennia. I’m pretty proud of it – and that’s a sin – and I am trying to get over it. It helps to have come to know someone who was alive in my lifetime who experienced precisely, personally, exactly what I described on a merely academic level.

I am vindicated by Padre Pio’s experience. At the same time, on a spiritual level, well, I am thrust to the ground in deep humiliation, for I obviously know nothing of the spiritual life. But at least I know that I know nothing. These days, that’s something. And it’s way more than enough to ask for this great saint’s help. Apologies are given in advance for the inadequacy of [my comments] below. You can see from my Coat of Arms (thanks to Elizdelphi! No words on the banner yet) that I am grateful to have written about the sword of which Padre Pio speaks…

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

From the Letters of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest (Epist. I, 1065; 1093-1095)

I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him

“Out of obedience I am obliged to manifest to you [obviously, his religious superior] what happened to me on the evening of the 5th of this month of August 1918 [Vigil of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus] and all day on the 6th [Feast of the Transfiguration].

cherub-sword-eden

“I am quite unable to convey to you what occurred during this period of utter torment. While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [making them saints!], I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person [an angel] who presented himself to my mind’s eye [So, not an apparition, but entirely spiritual. People think angels are all fluffy chiffon pastels and cute. Pio speaks of torment and terror, and this angel is from heaven!]. He had in his hand a sort of weapon [“weapon”] like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. [This is the sword mentioned in Genesis 3:24. My academic, pedantic translation of this three-fold double-reverse verb is this in context: it is the sword which “turns-into-its-contrary-by-way-of-the-fiery-grace-of-enmity-against-Satan-and-by-way-of-friendship-with-God-whatever-is-presented-to-it.” Thus, if we were to try to grasp at the fruit of the Tree of the Living Ones, the work of this sword, of this grace, wielded by the angels, would turn that, with our assent, into humbly receiving the Fruit of the Tree of the Living Ones, that is, the Eucharist. This is also the sword with which the Carmelites depict Elijah. See their fiery coat of arms below. This is also the sword mentioned by Teresa of Avila. This is pre-eminently the sword of Saint Michael…] At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. [Seeing that such an angel could crush the entire universe if given permission from the Most High, this is saying really a lot…] I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boys to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. [What an understatement of all time. They must have been scared for him.] This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, [“weapon”] and nothing was spared. [“nothing” – and here I try to hang on to this and that. And in doing that I am totally lacking in generosity. I’ve done nothing in my life. I’ve not laid down my life as so many have done. Pio is going through his purgatory all at once, 40 some hours for him, and much more than any purgatory: he is bringing souls to heaven by his life becoming an intercession for all of us. What would I do, I who surely have a purgatory lasting until the end of time?]

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Elijah’s fiery sword on the Discalced Carmelite Coat of Arms

“From that day on I have been mortally wounded. [“mortally wounded…” And this is no longer his wound, but that of humanity, with Pio now being in solidarity with Jesus on the Cross even as Jesus is in solidarity with us, loving us while we are yet sinners, drawing all to Himself as He is lifted up on the Cross. And we watch with Him…] I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony. What can I tell you in answer to your questions regarding my crucifixion? My God! What embarrassment and humiliation I suffer by being obliged to explain what you have done to this wretched creature! [For we do nothing to save ourselves. Jesus is our Savior. We come to realize this. We are nothing. He is all. He shows us what He has saved us from, and not just us, me, but we see how He has saved all of us as we gain some heightened perspective on the cross.]

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“On the morning of the 20th of last month [two weeks later], in the choir [making the traditional thanksgiving prayers after Mass], after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash. While this was taking place I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of August 5th. [We entertain angels and even the Son of Man and do not know it. How much the angels reflect the Son of Man! And the fiery love of God, issuing from the throne of the Most High, from the Heart of Him who loves us so much, is just that fierce on that sword which transforms us utterly in God’s love.] The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. [We are utterly weak. It is all Jesus.] The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. [He speaks also and especially of his embarrassment, for he, as all of us from Adam until the last man is conceived, caused those wounds in our Lord. How is it that he, Pio, or any of us could share such wounds of love for all those Jesus has redeemed and wills to save?] The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday.

PADRE PIO SEAL OF CONFESSION

Padre Pio reprimanding the Bishop about the Seal of Confession.

“Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? [The embarrassment, mind you, is more than enough to end his life on this earth.] I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. The person of whom I spoke in a previous letter is none other than the one I mentioned having seen on August 5th. He continues his work incessantly, causing me extreme spiritual agony. There is a continual rumbling within me like the gushing of blood. [This Hebrew description of this sword in Genesis 3:24 (which I think I am the very first to translate pedantically, as it really is just that difficult), the sword which the angel is mashing around inside Pio is variously and wrongly translated as the twirling sword, the sword which moves about this way and that, etc., is, instead, again, “the sword which causes that which is presented to it to be transformed into its contrary.” Again, we are not to grasp arrogantly for the Fruit from the Tree of the Living Ones, though we can humbly receive its Fruit (the Eucharist from the Cross).] My God! Your punishment is just and your judgment right, but grant me your mercy. Lord, with your Prophet I shall continue to repeat: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not punish me in your rage! Dear Father, now that my whole interior state is known to you, do not refuse to send me a word of comfort in the midst of such severe and harsh suffering.” [If it were I who had to respond to such a religious superior, knowing I know nothing, but despite that, I would say that in our very reception of mercy we must show mercy to the rest of the members of the Body of Christ, those whom Jesus has redeemed and wills to save. Our suffering is occasioned by the lack of others, lack of faith, etc., but it is not their cross we carry, but instead we come to know what we would be like if we ourselves were to be without the grace of our Lord and therefore our own lack of faith, etc…. and our remaining in friendship by the grace of God in such horrific circumstances acts as an intercession for those who are truly without faith, etc. This is drawing all to Christ on the cross in solidarity with Jesus, who does this by His grace. He, the Head of the Body does this, but we are members of that Body and we are with Him. Jesus said that He would draw all to Himself when He is lifted up (on the Cross). If we only knew! If we only knew! Now Pio had his eyes opened, his soul torn open, his hands and feet and heart torn open. But it’s all Jesus. Jesus’ love taking on our lack. Embarrassing to us? Yes. And we run away. Pio couldn’t run any more. The angel presented himself, and, fiercely raising his weapon of God’s love… I know nothing. Saint Pio: help this donkey-priest to come to know Jesus! Help all of us priests! Help all whom Jesus wants to transform in His love!]

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Coronavirus and people at Mass: Instruction from Kateri Tekakwitha

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From Wikipedia: “Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, given the name Tekakwitha, baptized as Catherine and informally known as Lily of the Mohawks (1656 – April 17, 1680), is a Catholic saint who was an Algonquin–Mohawk laywoman. Born in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, on the south side of the Mohawk River in present-day New York State, she contracted smallpox in an epidemic; her family died and her face was scarred. She converted to Catholicism at age nineteen, when she was renamed Kateri, and baptized in honor of Saint Catherine of Siena. Refusing to marry, she left her village and moved for the remaining five years of her life to the Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River in New France, now Canada. Tekakwitha took a vow of perpetual virginity. Upon her death at the age of 24, witnesses said that minutes later her scars vanished and her face appeared radiant and beautiful. Known for her virtue of chastity and mortification of the flesh, as well as being shunned by some of her tribe for her religious conversion to Catholicism, she is the fourth Native American to be venerated in the Catholic Church and the first to be canonized. Under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, she was beatified in 1980 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter’s Basilica on 21 October 2012. Various miracles and supernatural events are attributed to her intercession.”


Now, to the instruction on assisting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass without being physically present. I may well be mistaken on the source of what will be presented below but its entirely Catholic and orthodox. I’m going to blame Father Robert J Fox, who was pastor of a tiny church in the outback, if you will, of Alexandria, South Dakota. I had been with him on the very first of his Fatima Youth Cadets pilgrimages to Fatima way back in the 1970s. Lots of great stories with that trip. Just great. But that got me reading some things written by this country priest, including Saints and Heroes Speak. That turned into a series of books. One of the chapters was on Kateri Tekakwitha. Again, I’m not sure that I’m reporting exactly what he wrote. And what he wrote may well have been inspired by Kateri, but I don’t know if there are historical sources to back that up. But again, the instruction is entirely Catholic, profoundly entrenched in humble thanksgiving before the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Unable to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for lack of priests some 335 years ago in North Woods of upstate New York and Southern Canada, and for lack of sufficient health to be able to attend in person, Kateri had another way of assisting at Holy Mass. She would unite herself with Jesus wherever He might be being offered in the Holy Mass at the moment throughout the world.

This is a matter of love. Walking the in the presence of the Lord Jesus – as I like to mention all the time in homilies and in conversations – isn’t just some sort of weirdly faked spirituality congratulating oneself for walking with our Lord, making oneself special because of being sooooooooooooo spiritual! No. Not at all. The walking in the presence of our Lord thing is – how to say? – a matter of being in this world, being “in the body”. Here’s the deal:

  • Our dear Lord was “in the body”, as it were, when He was tortured to death in front of His dear Mother. He was “in the body” when He celebrated the Last Supper, when He united His offering of Himself there for us, the Innocent for the guilty – This is my Body given for you in Sacrifice – This is the chalice of my Blood given for you in Sacrifice – having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
  • Our dear Lord is “in the body”, as it were, when He is offered in that self-same Last Supper at every moment throughout the world in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We offer Him as He is now, risen from the dead, but, as Saint John writes in the Apocalypse, as the Lamb of Sacrifice, standing and therefore alive and risen from the dead, but still bearing the marks of slaughter upon Him. The Sacrament of the this great Sacrifice is – in transubstantiation – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception.
  • We are not to forget the wounds of our Lord. We are not to forget His being “in the body” not only on the Cross, on Calvary, but also at the Last Supper, and therefore in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is precisely one and the same, today as yesterday, Jesus, ever ancient, ever new, present to us, in the body, with the wounds today as yesterday. This is a matter of love. Our hearts and souls and minds are with Him in the Holy Sacrifice, in solidarity with Him as He is in solidarity with us. While we are “in the body” in this world, we are with Christ Jesus, the Son of the Living God, who is also still, to this day, to this hour, to this minute, “in the body” in the world in the Most Blessed Sacrament, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Did Kateri catch on to something in all friendship with Jesus, in all humble thanksgiving for His great love for us at every moment, following the Lamb whithersoever He goes among us in this dark world while we, His little flock, is still here before He calls us to be on our way to heaven? Yes. Yes she did.

I have many stories about being assigned over the years to mission churches dedicated to the North American Martyrs and to Kateri herself. We also had a statue dedicated to her way back when I was a kid in Minnesota. But that’s a post for another day.

Here’s the deal, again: Saints and Heroes continue to speak to this day. We are one family. Don’t be merely alone. Be alone together. Be in the communion of saints, also on this earth.


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mass clock prayer

I had a big part in keeping this all alive some 35 years ago. But that’s another story. I’d like to revive this.


Back to the Last Supper of Da Vinci with no Apostles up top of this post: It’s just not true. Be in the body wherever you are. Be with Jesus in the body wherever He is. Just don’t go out into the dark, so to speak, as it were. Be with Jesus.

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Coronavirus: Criticize priests without need? People won’t go to Confession…

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I heard some very cynical people the other week presenting their views to the world on the internet, you know, when lock-downs were being announced. They were saying that there are priests – OF COURSE! PRIESTS! – who will think of this time as a vacation and go off and enjoy themselves, carefree, happy to forget about their flocks.

Really? A generalization, that? Calumny of a entire class of people, that? It used to be that people would notice ever so many canonized saints severely warning people not to criticize priests unnecessarily. It seems that they are purposely selectively ignoring canonized saints so as to promote a generalized anti-clerical agenda.

The reason canonized saints insisted on not criticizing priests unnecessarily is not any double standard. It seems like it is a double standard, for we are not to criticize anyone unnecessarily. Why make not criticizing priests unnecessarily a thing? Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote at length of fraternal correction, and said that sometimes we have to criticize priests and bishops publicly if they are egregiously publicly leading people astray, etc. Great! But still, why the emphasis by canonized saints on not criticizing priests unnecessarilyThat would be a sin, as it would be for anyone, but more so. Why?

Sin… That brings us to the reason for insisting in a special manner that we are not to criticize priests unnecessarily. If people do that, what do you think the result is going to be? The result will be that people who desperately need to go to Confession will use this unnecessary criticism as their excuse that they cannot go to Confession to such a terrible, horrible priest.

Let me give you an example. Someone came up to me in church a while back (whom I’ve never seen before) and with very dark face and with grave concern told me that I was losing really a lot of weight, and that this was alarming, and that I needed to somehow stay alive.

I mentioned this to someone else who immediately said that, yes, of course, that other person surely thought that I had AIDS, because, you know, I’m a priest and all that. Actually, that was also my thought about what the first person was thinking. I mean, it could be that I have cancer, right? Or, might it just be that I’m ever so happy on my Keto diet?

To the point, with that kind of nuanced gossip going around, how many people who are desirous of integrity and honesty are going to want to go to Confession to me? Probably zero.

For the record, yes, I’ve lost a lot of weight. Today it’s just over 60 pounds I’ve lost since November 21, 2019. For the record, I don’t have cancer. I don’t have AIDS. And as far as I know, I don’t at all have any Coronavirus. It’s the Keto Diet. I recommend the Keto diet for those who are not diabetic and who have good kidneys and who can and will drink plenty of fluids every day, and who are willing to face the gossipers and all their unnecessary calumny and grave concern. I don’t know if that’s what the first concerned person meant to do, but… whatever the intention, that kind of thing doesn’t help. Not at all. And certainly the seemingly malicious group prejudice of an entire class of people is not good for the Sacrament of Confession.

Having said all that, know that there are plenty of great priests out there and that you can and must go to Confession. Look, even a terrible, bad and evil and even entirely faithless and atheist priest still gives a valid absolution. It’s Jesus who is at work in the working of the sacraments: ex opere operato and all that. That’s what you want, right?

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Those who unnecessarily criticize priests are risking judgment upon themselves for all the people who would have gone to Confession but didn’t based on that unnecessary criticism.

Now, will I be attacked as if I didn’t say “unnecessary,” as if I said never to criticize any priests at all no matter what? Sigh. But, that’s fine. I signed up exactly for this, you know, the beatitudes and all that. I’m good with it, as long as people go to Confession more than ever. And what’s more to say, in this diocese we have great seminarians, and this is exactly what they also signed up for. Bring it on. We’re happy to face the unnecessary criticism for others.

This is not about pleasing others the frantic criticizers.

This is about bringing souls face to face with Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

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Keto-ing Police Chaplain Pope Francis Saint Thomas More Prayer!

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One of the ladies in my parish gave me this prayer card yesterday. She knows that:

  • I’m a Missionary of Mercy of Pope Francis
  • I’m doing up the Keto diet
  • I’m always talking about simplicity of soul (purity of heart and agility of soul)
  • I’m a police chaplain and have my sights on evil more than I ever did
  • I’m obstructed by “I” if I look to myself for strength
  • I only have a sense of good humor and can take a joke and can discover a bit of joy and share it with others when I know that Jesus is the One, the only One.

Thanks, Thomas.

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Things Mother Teresa never said

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Some good ones in there. Some other ones, like the one on success, she would never have said. A friend told me that this poster (that hangs in the soup kitchen) was specifically negated by the Missionaries of Charity. But, again, there’s lots of good things in there.

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Old time trains, Mother Teresa, Jesus

Yesterday, while out and about doing priest stuff, I stopped along the river road of the Nantahala Gorge – part of which is in my parish – to take the above 14 second video of The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad passenger train that is complete with dining car.

I only wish I could have recorded the iconic chug-chug of the engine, the squeal of steel on steel around the endless curves, the ever-so-loud horn sounding for no apparent reason other than there might be a panther or bear or elk on the tracks, or perhaps a wild boar as big as a cow in these parts of the upper ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains. The horn is surely sounded for atmospherics what with all the tourists on board.

The train doesn’t have any set destination. It just travels along, stops, and then reverses course. But it’s all spectacularly beautiful, especially for the city slickers on board. I’ve never been on this particular train, but the locals also love to climb aboard.

If it’s shocking to see all that smoke belching out of the engine-works up front, try driving behind a pickup accelerating uphill, you know, one that’s been modified to belch out at least as much smoke as seen in the video above. Those modifications seem to be one of the local pass-times. I can’t imagine how expensive fuel and oil costs must be even for a short trip.

Meanwhile, I recall another similar train on the far side of the world whose passenger back in the day was the now canonized Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

From the Vatican website:

“On 10 September 1946 during the train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa received her “inspiration,” her “call within a call.” On that day, in a way she would never explain, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life. Over the course of the next weeks and months, by means of interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love on souls.” “Come be My light,” He begged her. “I cannot go alone.” He revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin. On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.”

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  • With something so very mundane as a ride on a train, one can be with Jesus.
  • With something so very mundane as anything whatsoever in our lives, one can be with Jesus.

 

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Teresa of Avila

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  • A rain cloud in the form of a foot [crushing the head of Satan] as seen from out front of the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel
  • Scapular of the Little Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
  • The Coat of Arms of the Discalced Carmelites
  • The Donkey in his room at the Chaplains House in Lourdes, France, high above the Grotto, looking through the trees to the Discalced Carmelite Monastery
  • Looking down to the Mediterrainian from the Monastery Church of the hermits which was destroyed by Islamicist fanatics; by the way, the hermits were retired crusaders

I am grateful for the practical spiritual wherewithal of Saint Teresa of Avila. Have you read some of her works? This most un-well-read priest in the world, even I have read some things of hers. She’s great.

For anyone who has studied in Rome, this is a most fateful day, as it is the first day of classes for the academic year, at least it was back in the day, for decades. A good start.

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Editing Jesus’ prayer He provided to Saint Gertrude as a Daily Offering

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Just before the “Amen” I couldn’t but add: “and for me, as sinner, the worst of all.”

I recall a story about a bishop introducing himself I’m not sure on what occasion, perhaps a retreat for priests at which he was invited to lead a Penance Service. His introductory remarks were about himself, and were meant to put people at ease. It went something like this: “I’m Bishop So-And-So, and I’ve been a sinner since I was made a bishop [number of] years ago. And before that, I was a sinner since I was ordained a priest [number of] years ago. And before that, I was a sinner since before my first Confession, [number of] years ago. Good for him.

There’s another practice that I would heartily recommend to all, that of saying three Hail Marys daily for the souls in purgatory. Helping them out, it is they who will welcome you into the everlasting habitations, into heaven, as Jesus says.

  • Hail Mary…
  • Hail Mary…
  • Hail Mary…

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