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ST PAULINUS OF NOLA, BISHOP AND CONFESSOR

ST PAULINUS OF NOLA, BISHOP AND CONFESSOR

ST PAULINUS OF NOLA, BISHOP AND CONFESSOR – MEMORIAL: JUNE 22

Paulinus was born in the year of salvation 353, of a most illustrious family of Roman citizens at Bordeaux and he later attained senatorial dignity. He was made consul of Nola but, struck by a ray of the divine light, he resigned the consulship and returning to Bordeaux, he was baptised by St Delphinus.

HE DISTRIBUTED HIS MONEY TO THE POOR

Then he sold his abundant property, distributed the money to the poor and retired to Spain, where he was ordained a priest. When he returned to Nola, he built a monastery near the tomb of St Felix and entered upon a most strict monastic life with some companions.

HE BECAME A PRIEST AND FOUNDED A MONASTERY 

As the fame of his sanctity spread, he was elevated to the See of Nola. In the fulfilment of his office, he left wonderful examples of piety, patience, and above all, charity. He wrote many things pertaining to sacred doctrine and was highly praised for his eloquence and poetry. When Campania was laid waste by the Goths, he devoted all his resources to feeding the poor and ransoming captives.

HE SOLD HIMSELF INTO SLAVERY IN PLACE OF SOMEONE ELSE AND WAS TAKEN TO AFRICA

And after that, when the Vandals invaded the same region, since he had nothing more to give, he sold himself into slavery in place of the son of a certain widow, and was taken to Africa. At length, being given his liberty by the help of God, he fell peacefully asleep in the Lord at Nola.

PRAYER:

O God, who promised to those who forsake all things in this world for you a hundred-fold reward in the world to come and life everlasting, mercifully grant that, following closely in the footsteps of the holy Bishop Paulinus, we may look upon earthly things as naught, and long only for those of heaven. Who live…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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ST LOUIS IX, KING AND CONFESSOR

ST LOUIS IX, KING AND CONFESSOR

ST LOUIS IX, KING AND CONFESSOR – MEMORIAL: AUGUST 25

Louis IX, King of France, was reared by his mother Blanche in the high ideals of sanctity. For the sake of recovering Jerusalem, he crossed the sea with a very large army and put the Saracens to flight in his first battle. But, since a great number of his soldiers perished from the plague, he was himself conquered and captured. A treaty was made and he was set at liberty.

HE RANSOMED NUMEROUS CHRISTIAN SLAVES

In the East, he ransomed many Christians who were slaves of the barbarians and also converted many of the infidels to the faith of Christ. After returning to France, he built many monasteries, and hospitals for the poor. He relieved the needy by his beneficence and frequently visited the sick, even waiting on them.

HE WAITED ON THE SICK

He wore plain garb and constantly afflicted his body with a hairshirt and much fasting. When he once more crossed over to wage war against the Saracens and had already pitched his camp in sight of them, he died of pestilence [in 1270] saying this prayer: “I will go into your house, I will worship at your holy temple and I will give glory to your name.

PRAYER:

O God, who transported your blessed Confessor, Louis, from an earthly throne to the glory of the heavenly kingdom, by his merits and intercession we beseech you to make us of the company of the King of kings, Jesus Christ your Son. Who with you…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, 1964

 

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“I WANT, I WANT…” – THE WARS AND COMBATS WITHIN SELF

Attachment to our own will

“Ah! if all men would only renounce their own will! Certainly, no one would fall into hell.

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

‘Put an end of self-will,’ says St Bernard, ‘and there will be an end of hell.’ But, in the meantime, such is the malice that it perverts even our good works. ‘Self-will is a great evil,’ he says again, ‘since through it good works are no longer good works.’

Whence come all the wars and combats within you?

How pitiable is the lot of him who is a slave to his own will! How many things he desires without being able to obtain them! And, on the other hand, how many difficult and disagreeable things he is obliged to bear with, which he would gladly avoid!

Saint James the Apostle says: ‘Whence come all the wars and combats within you?’ Does not the whole evil spring from the unruly appetites which govern you? You have a thousand desires and cannot satisfy one of them. [One of them satified briefly straight away gives rise to ten others in turn, and so forth, unless you are master of them through God’s help.]

– Laverty & Sons (eds), 1905

 

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TODAY’S CONSUMERISM: ENTRAPMENT IN TOO MANY ‘CHOICES’ IS ACTUALLY A FORM OF SLAVERY

“We are more than just consumers

In an inspired remark at the Mass for All Souls Day, our parish priest Fr Paul Redmond at Christ the King, Bramley, invited us to reflect on the fact that when we die and meet God ‘face to face, the full purpose and meaning of our own mysterious lives will be revealed to us’.

When we die and meet God face-to-face, the full purpose and meaning of our lives will be revealed to us

Meanwhile, we struggle on, trying to relate to others and manage our human desires for basic material goods, for other human beings and for God.

The difficulty seems to be that we are now living in times of such ferocious reductionism that our abilities to manage our desires are constantly being diminished. No need to worry about God in our secular world, only our abuse of others is a serious problem (especially in war and sexual abuse), though we can scarcely agree on what are the basic human needs of shelter, food and clothing for each and every person.

And yet, as St Augustine spelled out, our insatiable desires have the power to burn us up if not managed properly.

Our insatiable desires have the power to burn us up if not managed properly

An editorial in the recent Concilium theology magazine asked: ‘How can we humans order our desires rightly when we are bombarded with advertising that constantly tells us that we need more of everything all the time?’

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded

We are all increasingly reduced to being regarded as consumers today. All values are reduced to monetary measures as the ‘economy now rules all’. Parents are even being urged by government to ask first and foremost ‘can they afford to have another child’? Students, patients and passengers are all called ‘consumers’. Personal contribitions, even of charitable volunteers, are now measured in quantitative cash values. As Pope Francis spells out in Evangelii Gaudium : ‘human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a throwaway culture which is now spreading’.

Everything human is being given a price tag

Not only are humans being regarded as literally ‘disposable’, increased consumerism is being driven by economic globalism, which is leading to a widening divide between those getting richer and those becoming poorer. Trade and commerce are driven by a continuing commodification of human life where nearly everything that human beings can be or do is increasingly a marketable product. Everything human is being given a price tag. This is far from the mysterious meaning and purpose of the human vocation, that personal ‘calling by God’ of each and every person whose human dignity is sacred from the outset.

Resisting the tyranny of market domination

Resisting this ‘tyranny’ of market domination, as Pope Francis labels it, is a huge challenge. Notably, the new supermarkets of Aldi and Lidl are overtaking the ‘big four’. In Leeds, Morrisons in Kirkstall offers 28,000 choices of goods on the shelves; the new Aldi store in Bramley only 8,000. St Augustine warned that entrapment in too many ‘choices’ is actually a form of slavery which diminishes our capacity to make really important choices.

I find myself hard to grasp (St Augustine)

When he wrote ‘I find myself hard to grasp’ he was challenging that  reduction of our lives to the economy of ever-expanding choices and inviting us to open up to God’s mysterious purposes.

– This article by John Battle was published in the Catholic Universe newspaper, issue 7th November, 2014. (Bold and headings added afterwards.) For subscriptions to the Catholic Universe newspaper please contact http://www.thecatholicuniverse.com (external link)

 

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21st MARCH, RESPONSORIAL PSALM (PSALM 104)

R. Remember the wonders the Lord has done.

1. God called down a famine on the land;
he broke the staff that supported them.
He had sent a man before them,
Joseph, sold as a slave. (R.)

2. His feet were put in chains,
his neck was bound with iron,
until what he said came to pass
and the Lord’s word proved him true. (R.)

3. Then the king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free,
making him master of his house
and ruler of all he possessed. (R.)

ACCLAMATION

God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son;
everyone who believes in him has eternal life.

 

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21st MARCH, BIBLE READING (GENESIS 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28)

HERE COMES THE MAN OF DREAMS. COME ON, LET US KILL HIM.

Israel loved Joseph more than all his other sons, for he was the son of his old age, and he had a coat with long sleeves made for him. But his brothers, seeing how his father loved him more than all his other sons, came to hate him so much that they could not say a civil word to him.

His brothers went to pasture their father’s flock at Shechem. Then Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers with the flock at Shechem? Come, I am going to send you to them.” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

They saw him in the distance, and before he reached them they made a plot among themselves to put him to death. “Here comes the man of dreams,” they said to one another. “Come on, let us kill him and throw him into some well; we can say that a wild beast devoured him. Then we shall see what becomes of his dreams.”

But Reuben heard, and he saved him from their violence. “We must not take his life,” he said. “Shed no blood,” said Reuben to them, “throw him into this well in the wilderness, but do not lay violent hands on him” – intending to save him from them and to restore him to his father. So, when Joseph reached his brothers, they pulled off his coat, the coat with the long sleeves that he was wearing, and catching hold of him they threw him into the well, an empty well with no water in it. They then sat down to eat.

Looking up they saw a group of Ishmaelites who were coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, tragacanth, balsam and resin, which they were taking down into Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain by killing our brother and covering up his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let us not do any harm to him. After all, he is our brother, and our own flesh.” His brothers agreed.

Now some Midianite merchants were passing, and they drew Joseph out of the well. They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty silver pieces, and these men took Joseph to Egypt.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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“BE GOOD, LOVE THE LORD, PRAY FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW HIM”

WHAT A GREAT GRACE IT IS TO KNOW GOD!

“St Josephine Bakhita (Memorial: February 8) was born in Sudan in 1869 and was sold in the markets of El Obeid and Khartoum as a slave after traders kidnapped her when she was a young girl.

KIDNAPPED AND SOLD AS A SLAVE

The terror that slavery provoked in her was so strong that she actually forgot the name her parents gave her and so she adopted the name that her kidnappers gave her: ‘Bakhita’, meaning ‘fortunate’.

ENDING UP IN ITALY, WHERE SLAVERY WAS FORBIDDEN

Bakhita was eventually bought by an Italian consul, Augusto Michieli, who treated her well. Eventually they moved to Italy and settled with his family in Zianigo, a hamlet in the province of Venice.

SHE BECAME A CHRISTIAN AGED 21

When Micheli had to move away with his wife he entrusted Bakhita and his daughter Mimmina to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of Catechumens in Venice. Bakhita was baptised Josephine in January 1890. On the same day she was also confirmed and received Communion from Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto, the Patriarch of Venice and future Pope Pius X. She became a nun on December 8 1896 and lived with the Schio community for the next 50 years.

LOVE THE LORD!

During her life Josephine was renowned for her love of children who attended the Canossian schools daily. She was known to say to others around her: ‘Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know him. What a great grace it is to know God!’

‘AS THE MASTER DESIRES’

St Josephine’s later years were marked by sickness and disability. She was confined to a wheelchair, but remained cheerful. When asked how she was, she would reply, ‘As the Master desires.’ In her final moments she had flashbacks to her days as a slave and exclaimed: ‘The chains are too tight, loosen them a little, please!’

SAINTHOOD

St Josephine died at 8.10pm on February 8 1947. For three days her body lay on display while thousands of people arrived to pay their respects. The petitions for her canonisation began immediately.

In December 1978 John Paul II declared Josephine Venerable and in May 1992 beatified her. On October 1 2000 she was eventually canonised, becoming St Josephine Bakhita. Her feast day is celebrated on February 8.”
– This article was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue February 7 2014. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 
 

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THE SALVATION HISTORY OF ALL MANKIND AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE: ISRAEL’S LIBERATION FROM SLAVERY IN EGYPT

THE CHOSEN PEOPLE – THE LIBERATION (FROM THE BOOK OF EXODUS)

“God Himself had foretold the sojourn of the Chosen People in the land of Egypt. On one occasion when He was testing the faith of Abraham, God said to him: ‘Know thou beforehand that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land not their own, and they shall bring them under bondage, and afflict them, four hundred years. But I will judge the nation they shall serve, and after this they shall come out with great substance’ (Genesis 15: 13-14).

THEIR LONG STAY IN EGYPT WAS BENEFICIAL

The stay in Egypt began well. Jacob, his sons and their families entered Egypt under favourable circumstances. Joseph, the son of Jacob, was ruling the empire for Pharaoh. Through his kindness the land of Gessen was given to them. There they prospered. Through the years they increased in numbers until they ‘filled the land’ (Exodus 1:7). No doubt… their long dwelling in Egypt was of great benefit to them. They learned the art of farming as practised by the Egyptians. They became aware of the value of a strong systematic government. They became acquainted with the arts and the artistic techniques of the Egyptians.

MEANWHILE, ABRAHAM’S DESCENDANTS HAD GROWN INTO A TRUE NATION

In the providence of God they were able to preserve their religious beliefs. This was made possible by the fact that they dwelled in a land of their own and were thus preserved from the contagion of the idolatrous and polytheistic beliefs and practices of the Egyptians. Some of them seem to have gone into the cities of the empire. Moses, their great leader, was probably born in or near the capital of Egypt. But the descendants of Abraham who dwelt in the cities would have been assisted in maintaining their religious beliefs by the example of their relatives who dwelt in Gessen.

For several hundred years, then, the Chosen People dwelt in Egypt, increasing in numbers until they formed a true nation, benefiting from the civilising factors of the Egyptian culture, and yet keeping alive and strong their faith in the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

THE SHEER SIZE OF A ‘NATION WITHIN A NATION’ POSED A SECURITY RISK

They became so numerous that a Pharaoh ‘who knew not Joseph’ began to fear them. As is usual in such cases his fear led him to oppress them. ‘Behold,’ he said, ‘the people of the children of Israel are numerous and stronger than we. Come, let us wisely oppress them, lest they multiply; and if any war shall rise against us, join with our enemies, and having overcome us, depart out of the land’ (Exodus 1:9-10).

The Israelites were impressed into forced labour. With their forced labour the Pharaoh built the storehouse cities of Pithom and Amesses. When even this severe oppression did not reduce their numbers the Pharaoh decreed that all male children of the Israelites should be killed at birth by the midwives. When the midwives failed to carry out this order, he ruled that all male infants should be cast into the river.

THE BIRTH OF MOSES

It was while this decree was in force that he was born whom God was to send to liberate the people from bondage in Egypt. The wife of a man of the tribe of Levi gave birth to a son. Desiring to save his life she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer she placed him in a basket of bulrushes and laid the basket by the edge of the river. She placed his sister near by to watch what would happen.

The daughter of the Pharaoh came to the river to bathe. When she saw the basket she sent one of her maids to fetch it to her. When she saw the infant she took compassion on it and decided to save it. The child’s sister came up and offered the services of a Hebrew woman to nurse the child. When Pharaoh’s daughter assented, the girl brought the child’s own mother to nurse it. When the child was grown Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and called him Moses.

MOSES IS ADOPTED INTO THE EGYPTIAN ROYAL HOUSEHOLD

Because he was nursed and brought up by his own mother Moses retained his allegiance to his own people. But, as the adopted child of an Egyptian princess, he learned the ways of the Pharaoh’s court. This surely fitted him for the role of leader to his people to which God later called him.

MOSES KILLS AN EGYPTIAN OVERSEER

One day Moses saw one of the Egyptian overseers striking one of the Hebrew workmen. In his anger at this harsh treatment of one of his fellow-countrymen he slew the Egyptian. Some of his own brethren spread the story abroad, and when it came to the ears of the Pharaoh he determined to kill Moses, but Moses fled to the land of Midian. Here he married one of the daughters of Jethro, the priest of the Midianites.

THE ROLE OF MAN’S FREE WILL IN THE SALVATION HISTORY:

MOSES IS CHOSEN AS A LEADER

Meanwhile the oppression of the Israelites became so burdensome to them that they cried out to God to save them. God took pity upon them and set about their deliverance. He appeared to Moses near the Mountain Horeb. He appeared as a burning flame in the burning bush.

GOD APPEARS TO MOSES IN THE BURNING BUSH

He said to Moses: ‘I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob… I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt and I have heard their cry: because of the rigour of them that are over the works. And knowing their sorrow I am come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians; and to bring them out of the land into a good and spacious land, into a land that floweth with milk and honey, to the places of the Chanaanite, and Hethite, and Amorrhite, and Pherezite, and Hevite and Jebusite. For the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have seen their affliction, wherewith they are oppressed by the Egyptians. But come, and I will send thee to Pharaoh, that thou mayst bring forth my people, the children of Israel out of Egypt’ (Exodus 3:6-10).

The encounter of God with Moses at the mountain Horeb reveals very clearly the role that free will plays in the history of man. In response to the pleas of His Chosen People God freely choses Moses to be the deliverer of the Jews. Nor does God destroy the free will of Moses by this choice.

Moses is very reluctant to accept the role to which God calls him. ‘Who am I,’ he protests, ‘that I should go to Pharaoh, and should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ (Exodus 3:11). When God insists that he will be the deliverer of the Israelites, Moses objects that ‘they will not believe me, nor hear my voice. But they will say: The Lord hath not appeared to thee’ (Exodus 4:1). God promises him that miracles will confirm his appointment. Moses still seeks to be relieved of the onerous task.

He pleads that he is not eloquent, and besides he has an impediment of speech. Then the Lord said to him: ‘Who made man’s mouth? Or who made the dumb and the deaf, the seeing and the blind? Did not I? Go therefore, and I will be in thy mouth; and I will teach thee what thou shalt speak. But he said: I beseech thee, Lord, send whom thou wilt send’ (Exodus 4:11-13).

Even though God is not pleased with this final protest of Moses, He still insists that He wants Moses to lead the people and He appoints Aaron, the brother of Moses, to act as the mouthpiece of Moses. Even at this critical point in the history of mankind God will not run roughshod over the free will of man. He accedes to all the requests of Moses. His plan for the salvation of mankind will be fulfilled, but only with man’s full cooperation. His almighty power will rescue man from the consequences of sin, but His power will be exercised with patience and even with the divine condescension of miracles.

‘I AM WHO I AM; I AM HE WHO CAUSES THINGS TO EXIST’

It is on this same occasion that God reveals to Moses the Name of God. ‘Moses said to God: Lo, I shall go to the children of Israel, and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you. If they should say to me: What is his name? What shall I say to them? God said to Moses: I AM WHO I AM. He said: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS hath sent me to you’ (Exodus 3:13-14).

By this name – I AM WHO I AM – God revealed that His nature is existence; He is Himself the reason and the explanation of His own existence. Or it may be, in another meaning of the name, that He wished to call attention to the fact that He is the creator of the world, for the name can also mean ‘He Who causes existence,’ that is, He Who causes things to exist.

• [“PASSPORT REFUSED BY THE EGYPTIAN AUTHORITIES, NO VISA FOR THE ISRAELITES TO EMIGRATE”] •

WHEN THE EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT IMPOSED EVEN MORE RESTRICTIONS ON THEM: MIRACLES OF THE TEN PLAGUES: FROGS, HAILSTONES, LOCUSTS ETC.

In response to God’s command Moses returns to Egypt to bring about the liberation of his people. But Pharaoh was not of a mind to let the Israelites go. In fact, his answer to Moses’ first request was to inflict even greater hardship upon the people. Moses appealed again to God and God promised to make Pharaoh let the Israelites depart.

To achieve this, God performed the miracle of the ten plagues. He turned the waters of the Nile to blood; He filled the land with frogs which eveninvaded houses; then He sent a plague of cinifs, followed by one of flies; after this the cattle were afflicted with disease; then boils afflicted both men nd beasts; then came a great hail, with stones sobig that they killed whatever men and beasts were out in the fields and destroyed the trees; the eighth plague was of locusts and the ninth, three days of darkness. But Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the Israelites go. Then the Lord said to Moses: ‘Yet one plague more will I bring upon Pharaoh and Egypt; and after that he shall let you go, and thrust you out…

THE FIRST CELEBRATION OF THE PASSOVER

‘At midnight I will enter into Egypt. And every first-born in the land of the Egyptians shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh, who sitteth on his throne, even to the first-born of the handmaid, that is at the mill, and all the first-born of beasts’ (Exodus 11:4-5).

THE SAVING BLOOD OF THE LAMB [CHRIST WILL BE THE LAMB FOR ALL MANKIND]

That the children of the Israelites might be spared from this plague, Moses, under the command of God, instituted the first celebration of the feast of the Pasch or Passover. The Israelites were to take lambs, sacrifice them, and spread the blood of the lambs on the two doorposts and the lintel of their houses. The lambs were then to be eaten with unleavened bread.

At midnight the hand of God struck the land of Egypt and the first-born of every Egyptian home died and the first-born of their cattle. This great punishment inflicted by God on the people of Egypt moved Pharaoh to relent and let the Israelites depart from his land. He sent for Moses and Aaron in the night and said, ‘Arise and go forth from among my people, you and the children of Israel’ (Exodus 12:31).

THE ISRAELITES CROSS THE RED SEA WITH MOSES

THE PARTING OF THE RED SEA

Under divine guidance Moses led his people out of Egypt into the desert and to the Red Sea. Pharaoh repented of his decision to let them go and sent his troops to bring them back to Egypt. When the Israelites perceived the Egyptians pursuing them they lost heart and reproached Moses for leading them to destruction in the wilderness.

But Moses assured them that God would save them.

During the night God sent a strong and burning wind which drove the waters of the Red Sea off a fording place. In the morning the Israelites crossed over the clear portion of the lake. When the Egyptians followed, the wind ceased and the waters returned to their usual place. The Egyptians perished in the returning flood. ‘And the people feared the Lord and Moses, his servant’ (Exodus 14:31).”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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15th JULY, BIBLE READING (EXODUS 1:8-14, 22)

WE MUST TAKE STEPS AGAINST ISRAEL INCREASING ANY FURTHER.

There came to power in Egypt a new king who knew nothing of Joseph. “Look,” he said to his subjects, “these people, the sons of Israel, have become so numerous and strong that they are a threat to us. We must be prudent and take steps against their increasing any further, or if war should break out, they might add to the number of our enemies. They might take arms against us and so escape out of the country.”

Accordingly they put slave-drivers over the Israelites to wear them down under heavy loads. In this way they built the stone-cities of Pithom and Rameses for Pharaoh. But the more they were crushed, the more they increased and spread, and men came to dread the sons of Israel. The Egyptians forced the sons of Israel into slavery, and made their lives unbearable with hard labour, work with clay and with brick, all kinds of work in the fields; they forced on them every kind of labour.

Pharaoh then gave his subjects this command: “Throw all the boys born to the Hebrews into the river, but let all the girls live.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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