Saturday, July 26, 2008

Just for Today, July 27

If thou thinkest rightly and considerest things in truth, thou oughtest never to be so much dejected and troubled for any adversity: but rather to rejoice and give thanks: yea, to account this as a special subject of joy, that afflicting thee with sorrows, I do not spare thee.
-Bk. III, ch. xxx.
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Do not think that you will have nothing but happiness when I am in Heaven; that is not what I have had, nor what I have wanted. You may, on the contrary, have great trials, but I will obtain light for you to appreciate and love them. You will be compelled to say as I do: Thou hast given me, O Lord, a delight in thy doings (Ps. xci).
-Novissima Verba.
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For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

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Thoughts and Counsels - July 27

Wouldst thou know what thou art? Thou art that to which thy heart turns the most frequently.

-Ven. Bartholomew of Martyrs.
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From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

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Meditation for July 27, Humble Offices

"Courage," said St. Theresa to her daughters. "Courage! When obedience fills your time with exterior things, do not be afflicted; if you are sent to the kitchen, then understand well, that Our Lord is there in the midst of the kettles."

What a beautiful subject for contemplation and meditation! Jesus in the midst of the kettles! Well, yes, whether in the midst of dusters and brooms, or wash tubs and irons, whatever may be my assigned office, Jesus is there; and the harder and less conspicu­ous this office is considered, the more certain and efficacious is His Presence. He is pleased to be among the most hidden and the most humble.

Therefore, I must never desire, in foolish pride, to leave my of­fice, to aim at a more conspicuous position in the community. The lowest place is what benefits me; that is where I will most often find Jesus.

Father Charles de Foucauld in his retreat of 1902, the year fol­lowing his ordination, took as his resolution this one word Abjec­tion. And he developed it thus: "To serve others, I will determine upon a certain number of truly abject acts daily and do them as Jesus of Nazareth who came to serve...to minister unto and not to be ministered to." He therefore decided to send back to his garrison, the soldier that had been appointed to take care of his hermitage in the desert.

If I have a showy office I will fulfill it humbly. If I have a hum­ble office, I will rejoice. If I have an office without special color and which draws little notice, I will profit by this obscurity to live in simplicity and to force myself to give Christ some consolation by a special love.
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Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

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Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Curing of the Deaf and Dumb

By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
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"He hath done all things well: He hath made both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak." (Mark vii, 37)

The perfection of our Lord's knowledge implied that everything was open to His gaze. He saw not only the crowds around Him, He knew not only the wants of individuals who told them to Him with their own lips, but He also knew every want of every individual in the history of the world; He saw the whole of time spread out before Him as if it were one present moment, and He saw the relationship between every little timely circumstance a lid the timeless life of eternity.

Possessed of this vast knowledge, Jesus the Lord of all things, was able to perform His wondrous acts according to the highest wisdom. If He wrought miracles it was not merely to show His power over nature. It was all that, but that was not all. He wrought miracles to show His Divine power in order that men might believe His revelation of the good news of a life beyond the grave, and in order that they might live according to that revelation and so save their souls in life eternal.

Our Lord's miracles, moreover, were each apt to symbolize some aspect of His revelation. They were full of meaning with regard to the supernatural life which He came to bring into the world. So is it with the miracle of today's Gospel. First, it is an act of Divine pity helping a poor man. Secondly, it is a manifestation of Divine power. But, thirdly, it is a symbol of the nature of supernatural faith and of the life which the Christian has to lead in accord with supernatural faith. Hence those people uttered a far deeper truth than they imagined when they said: "He hath done all things well; He hath made both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak."

Consider, first, the entirely supernatural character of the act. As Jesus comes to the shore of the Sea of Galilee He is met by a multitude. They have already heard of His power, and, drawn rather by the wonder-worker than by the revealer of a new life, they take to Him one deaf and dumb, and ask Him to lay His hand upon him. Jesus could have cured him by merely willing it. But no! He goes through a certain external ritual. He is revealing an unseen world, but the revelation is to be through the medium of the visible world. Jesus takes the afflicted man apart from the crowd, puts His fingers into his ears, and spitting, touches his tongue. To these external bodily actions He adds a prayer to the heavenly Father. Then, turning to the deaf and dumb man, He says to him: "Ephpheta." Immediately the ears and the tongue of the afflicted one answer to the command of God: "Be thou opened."

This miracle, designed to lead us to believe in the truthfulness of God's word, is also a most fitting symbol of the whole process of the assent of faith. The revealed word of God is something infinitely above merely natural knowledge. The truth, for instance, of three Persons in one God, or the truth of two Natures in one Person, is something quite beyond man's natural understanding. Yet belief in these and similar truths is part of the process of salvation. Our dim knowledge of the Blessed Trinity keeps before our minds the God who made us and for whom we were made. Our insight into the mystery of the Incarnation tells us how God became Man to die for us and save us from our sins.

Since then these truths are so much above the natural understanding, the act of faith by which we assent to them must be supernatural. It must be due to a special influence of God on the faculties of the soul. It is supernatural in the sense that it is the very beginning, and foundation of man's salvation. It is also supernatural in the sense that it has the power to overcome the natural difficulty of accepting God's word and of abiding by the consequences. First one grace comes and raises our nature to a supernatural order. Then another grace comes and, acting like a balm, makes up for nature's weaknesses.

Hence it is that we must always speak of faith as a supernatural virtue whereby we believe with the help of God's grace. The great mistake which so many inquirers after truth make is to suppose that they can arrive at the truth merely by reading and discussion. They do not recognize that faith is a moral venture which can only be accomplished with special Divine help. Consequently they do not pray for this Divine help. Without this Divine help man is as deaf to the word of God as the man was by the Sea of Galilee. The Second Council of Orange has formulated this important truth most aptly in the following canon: "No man can assent to the Gospel teaching, in the manner requisite for salvation, without the light and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Who giveth to every man sweetness in assenting to and believing in the truth."

We all realize what a terrible affliction deafness is. It cuts a man off from untold activities of life. It renders the activities in which he does participate very difficult. People who wish to speak to him have to shout at him, repeat what they have said again and again, and even then perhaps the deaf man goes away with a mistaken notion of what has been said.

So, too, is it with him who is deaf to the word of God. He may go to hear a distinguished preacher and even derive much interest and pleasure from the sermon. He may read his Bible and be fascinated with the problems which he finds there. But all the time he may be spiritually deaf to the Word of God and spiritually dumb in responding to the Word.

But how different is the effect when the Divine Ephpheta has been spoken! What a transformation of the whole of a man's life takes place when Jesus has opened his ears and touched his tongue'

The act of faith, accompanied by Divine grace, makes him see the revealed truths in an entirely different light. Now he perceives them as God's word spoken to himself, the kindly word spoken by the heavenly Father to the son of His adoption. It is now a case of the most intimate relationship, whereas previously it was more or less a case of external interest. Hitherto there was something of a sense of faith, a pious inclination to believe, even a will to believe. But now the accession of supernatural strength opens the ears and loosens the tongue. Life is transformed. The man, perceiving so much more of the excellence of his supernatural destiny, strives with supernatural effort to attain it. He really feels that he is a son of God and is anxious to live accordingly.

Holy Scripture teaches us that this opening of the ears, like all else in the Christian dispensation, has both an external factor and an internal factor. It is adapted to the nature of man, constituted as he is of body and soul. Thus St. Paul writes to the Romans:
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How, then, shall they call on Him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe Him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?...Faith, then, cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ."
External hearing is necessary, but it is not enough. There must also be an internal hearing and an internal teacher. When Simon Peter had heard from our Lord Himself and had professed his faith, saying: "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus answered and said to him: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father who is in heaven." And St. John writes: "No man can come to me, except the Father who had sent me, draw him. . . . It is written in the Prophets: And they shall all be taught of God."

Here, then, are two great dangers which have to be guarded against in these modem times. First, there is the rationalistic tendency which pays no regard to the inward movement of the Holy Spirit, no regard to the subjective inclinations of the soul. It is a tendency which thinks that all truth can be attained merely by argument upon external evidence. Secondly, there is the modernist tendency which undervalues external evidence and external revelation, and which exaggerates the value of inward moods and subjective modifications. Both tendencies are species of spiritual deafness.

These tendencies are also present not only in the matter of believing the word of God, but even in the matter of applying it to conduct. This is the question of conscience. Many people are led away from right conduct under the delusion of following the dictates of conscience.

Now it is quite true that the voice of conscience is supreme. But then every man has a conscientious duty of seeing that his conscience is properly formed. Conscience is a practical judgment of the reason by which we decide what is to be done here and now. But before the reason can form this judgment it must weigh the available evidence. Its ears must be opened to the commands of God and of the Church before its tongue can be loosened to say what line of conduct is to be taken. Conscience is not a vague impulse inclining one to do this thing or that. It is a judging faculty which forms its judgments on the evidence which it has heard.

Before we can talk about the supremacy of conscience we must first ask ourselves whether we are not laboring under an uninformed or misinformed conscience. Thus shall we be led to see the value of that most useful spiritual exercise, the daily examination of conscience. This is a comparison of our conduct during the day with the rule of God's Commandments. The external word to which we have to listen is important. When we have listened to that, then we may also listen to the internal word which is never at variance with the external, but always fulfils and amplifies it.

Yet here again there is need of that medicinal grace which enables us to regard the commands of God and the commands of the Church as meant for each one of us individually. This grace is given in answer to prayer. Consequently the daily examination of conscience, and more particularly the examination of conscience in preparation for Confession, should not consist wholly or even chiefly in a minute scrutiny of the actions of the day or week. Prayer for light, prayer for true contrition, sincere acts of contrition, these are the important elements in the general exercise of examination of conscience. These, just as much as, if not more than the minute scrutiny of our daily actions, help towards till opening of the ears to the voice of God and the loosening of the tongue in response to the voice of God. For those who go to Confession once a week or even once a month, a quarter of an hour should be set aside for preparation. Of this time five minutes are sufficient for the actual scrutiny of sins. The five minutes preceding should be devoted to prayer for Divine assistance to make a good confession, whilst the five minutes succeeding should be devoted to prayer for contrition and acts of contrition.

The fruit of careful listening both to the outward and to the inward voice of God will be seen in an aptitude to speak on his behalf when occasion shall require it. Oftentimes in these days we are called upon to give an account of our faith. We are asked, for instance, what is an indulgence, what is the Mass, how can a priest forgive sins, and so on. But only he who has his ears opened to the teaching of the Church will be able to speak. He who has been negligent of instruction and study will be tongue-tied. Let us take every opportunity, therefore, of becoming more and more proficient in the knowledge of Catholic doctrine.

Lastly, let us remember that we speak by our actions as well as by our words. And it is the well-informed and delicate conscience which gives the value to this kind of speech.

If the conscience has been rightly trained according to the standard of God's word, then it acts spontaneously. And it is the spontaneous conduct, the outcome of a well-trained conscience, which makes such a profound impression on all who witness it.

Everybody must admire the man who instantly and without wavering does the right thing in preference to the wrong. But only he can do this who habitually listens to the voice of God. To him who does not positively put obstacles in the way, Christ gives the power of hearing. He supernaturalizes that which is natural. He heals nature when it is wounded. He does all things well, making both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.
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Adapted from Plain Sermons by Practical Preachers, Vol. II(©1916)
Nihil Obstat: Remegius Lafort, S.T.D
Imprimatur: John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

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Gospel for July 26, Memorial: St Joachim and St Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Old Calendar: St. Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Saturday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time


From: Matthew 13:10-17

Parable of the Sower (Continuation)

[10] Then the disciples came and said to Him (Jesus), "Why do You speak to them in parables?" [11] And He answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been given. [12] For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. [13] This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. [14] With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: `You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. [15] For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.'

[16] But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. [17] Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."
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Commentary:

10-13. The kind of Kingdom Jesus was going to establish did not suit the Judaism of His time, largely because of the Jew's nationalistic, earthbound idea of the Messiah to come. In His preaching Jesus takes account of the different outlooks of His listeners, as can be seen in the attitudes described in the parable of the sower. If people were well disposed to Him, the enigmatic nature of the parable would stimulate their interest; and Jesus later did give His many disciples a fuller explanation of its meaning; but there was no point in doing this if people were not ready to listen.

Besides, parables--as indeed any type of comparison or analogy--are used to reveal or explain something which is not easy to understand, as was the case with the supernatural things Jesus was explaining. One has to shade one's eyes to see things if the sun is too bright; otherwise, one is blinded and sees nothing. Similarly, parables help to shade supernatural brightness to allow the listener to grasp meaning without being blinded by it.

These verses also raise a very interesting question: how can divine revelation and grace produce such widely differing responses in people? What is at work here is the mystery of divine grace--which is an unmerited gift--and of man's response to this grace. What Jesus says here underlines man's responsibility to be ready to accept God's grace and to respond to it. Jesus' reference to Isaiah (Matthew 13:14-15) is a prophecy of that hardness of heart which is a punishment meted out to those who resist grace.

These verses need to be interpreted in the light of three points: 1) Jesus Christ loved everyone, including people of His own home town: He gave His life in order to save all men; 2) the parable is a literary form designed to get ideas across clearly: its ultimate aim is to teach, not to mislead or obscure; 3) lack of appreciation for divine grace is something blameworthy, which does merit punishment; however, Jesus did not come directly to punish anyone, but rather to save everyone.

12. Jesus is addressing His disciples and explaining to them that, precisely because they have faith in Him and want to have a good grasp of His teaching, they will be given a deeper understanding of divine truths. But those who do not "follow Him" (cf. note on Matthew 4:18-22) will later lose interest in the things of God and will grow ever blinder: it is as if the little they have is being taken away from them.

This verse also helps us understand the meaning of the parable of the sower, a parable which gives a wonderful explanation of the supernatural economy of divine grace: God gives grace, and man freely responds to that grace. The result is that those who respond to grace generously receive additional grace and so grow steadily in grace and holiness; whereas those who reject God's gifts become closed up within themselves; through their selfishness and attachment to sin they eventually lose God's grace entirely. In this verse, then, our Lord gives a clear warning: with the full weight of His divine authority He exhorts us--without taking away our freedom--to act responsibly: the gifts God keeps sending us should yield fruit; we should make good use of the opportunities for Christian sanctification which are offered us in the course of our lives.

14-15. Only well-disposed people grasp the meaning of God's words. It is not enough just to hear them physically. In the course of Jesus' preaching the prophetic words of Isaiah come true once again.

However, we should not think that not wanting to hear or to understand was something exclusive to certain contemporaries of Jesus; each one of us is at times hard of hearing, hard-hearted and dull-minded in the presence of God's grace and saving word. Moreover, it is not enough to be familiar with the teaching of the Church: it is absolutely necessary to put the faith into practice, with all that that implies, morally and ascetically. Jesus was fixed to the wood of the Cross not only by nails and by the sins of certain Jews but also by our sins--sins committed centuries later but which afflicted the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, who bore the burden of our sins. See the note on Mark 4:11-12.

16-17. In contrast with the closed attitude of many Jews who witnessed Jesus' life but did not believe in Him, the disciples are praised by our Lord for their docility to grace, their openness to recognizing Him as the Messiah and to accepting His teaching.

He calls His disciples blessed, happy. As He says, the prophets and just men and women of the Old Testament had for centuries lived in hope of enjoying one day the peace the future Messiah would bring, but they had died without experiencing this good fortune. Simeon, towards the end of his long life, was filled with joy on seeing the infant Jesus when He was presented in the temple: "He took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, `Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation'" (Luke 2:28-30). During our Lord's public life, His disciples were fortunate enough to see and be on close terms with Him; later they would recall that incomparable gift, and one of them would begin his first letter in these words: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life; [...] that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our [or: your] joy may be complete (1 John 1:1-4).

This exceptional good fortune was, obviously, not theirs but of special merit: God planned it; it was He who decided that the time had come for the Old Testament prophecies to be fulfilled. In any event, God gives every soul opportunities to meet Him: each of us has to be sensitive enough to grasp them and not let them pass. There were many men and women in Palestine who saw and heard the incarnate Son of God but did not have the spiritual sensitivity to see in Him what the Apostles and disciples saw.
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Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Just for Today, July 26

O my God, my eternal Love, my whole Good, and never-ending Happiness, I desire to reserve nothing to myself, but freely and most willingly to sacrifice myself and all that is mine to Thee. O Lord, my God, my Creator and Redeemer, I also wish to be inflamed with great and holy desires, and to present myself to Thee with my whole heart.

Receive my wishes, O Lord my God, and my desires of giving Thee infinite praise. These I render, and desire to render Thee every day and every moment.
-Bk. IV, ch. xvii.
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"I think that Love's victims will not be judged, but that God will bestow eternal happiness on them im­mediately, because of the fire of His love which He sees burning in their hearts."

"To obtain this privilege, do you think it is enough to make the Act of Oblation that you drew up?"

"Oh, no! words are not enough...To be a victim of love, you must surrender yourself entirely. One is consumed by love only in the measure that one gives oneself up to Love."
-Conseils et Souvenirs.
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For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

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Thoughts and Counsels - July 26

How little is required to be a saint! It suffices to do in all things the will of God.

-St. Vincent de Paul.
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From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

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Meditation for July 26, Numerous Posterity

For women religious, the great sacrifice which the vow of chastity entails is the sacri­fice of maternity, not to have one's own children born of one's own blood, not to be a mother. Of the three vows, it is this one which generally costs a woman dearest.

Without doubt, this vow includes the great joy of not belonging by flesh and blood to any human creature; of being able to remain a virgin forever, which is sometimes as much a sacrifice as a joy, but a sacrifice one makes willingly in order to follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth.

The great joy of those who have for love of God voluntarily renounced corporal fecundity, is that they can consequently lay claim to marvelous possibilities of spiritual fruitfulness. To give birth to the body is indeed a beautiful privilege; but to form souls in countless numbers, is this not still more beautiful?

Look at the heavens and count, if you can, the stars, said the Lord to Abraham, so numerous will be your posterity. (Gen. xv, 5.)

To every consecrated soul God can address similar words: "Look at the heavens, your posterity will be as numerous as the stars in the firmament. Because you have renounced human love for Me, multitudes will be born to grace through you. Many will owe their salvation to you."

"Lord give me the grace to cause many souls to be born to Your divine love, to belief in You."
_________________
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

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Protesters Demonstrate at Archbishop's Residence

Protesters from St Cronan's and beyond took to the streets this afternoon marching from, as we are told, from the St Cronan parish to the Archbishop's residence near the Cathedral Basilica to express their angst about the treatment Sister Louise Lears received from the Church - treatment that they refuse to admit was self-inflicted by Lears herself. One woman carried a sign stating that "She (herself) was there,too" at the sacrilegious "ordination" ceremony of Elsie McGrath and Rose Hudson last November...Something which any normal, thinking Catholic would be ashamed to admit, but then, these protesters are not "normal, thinking Catholics" - they're rebellious dissenters as evidenced by their actions.

It's been stated that this is to be a 24 hour protest - maybe I'll head down there about midnight and see if anyone is left to "carry the torch," so to speak. One thing I noticed in the video was that it seemed that many of the people didn't want to be taped - they turned their heads or looked down or away. Some, however, were vocal as the video shows.

One can only wonder how much better off the Church and the world would be if people like this, with evidently too much time on their hands, would expend that energy in support of the Church rather than in opposition to her.

Pictures coming tomorrow. In the meantime, KTVI News has video of these people and their "protest" here.

*** Updated ***
Two women were on the scene when I drove by at 8:30. One was Megan Heeney, a younger woman who has assisted at the "liturgies" of Hudson and McGrath as well as with other dissident groups. Apparently she provokes discord and dissent by coordinating the rebellious and heretical activities of Catholic Action Network - a group which usurps the name "Catholic" while rebelling against the Church.

The other woman I did not know...Heeney left shortly and was replaced by some middle-aged man. The sky was somewhat overcast and for some reason my pictures all had some strange bluish tint to them...The same signs used in the "protest march" were on hand as you might tell from the pictures. I apologise that I don't have more but it looked to be a worthless trip - and I had better things to do than to watch a bunch of malcontents.

One can only surmise that the pastor of St Cronan's had to be aware of this farce and one wonders what, if anything, he did to stop it? The ties between St Cronan parish and Catholic Action Network are too strong to admit otherwise it seems, since an email from Heeney states the following:
The theme of the vigil will be that of bread and stones, based on the gospel (Lk 11:11; Mt 7:9) accounts where Jesus asks, "Who among you would give your children stones when they ask for bread?"

Join us for the march, the service, or come and pray in silence (and by candlelight during the night) for an hour at any time between 6 PM on Friday to 4 PM on Saturday.

The Vigil will come to an end with a PROCESSION on SATURDAY THE 26th from the Archbishop's residence to St. Cronan's for the celebration of Mass at 5:00 PM.
And not only is this rebellion occurring, CAN has initiated a campaign to place an ad in the St Louis Review, called the "We Are One Petition"...

These lost souls need our prayers.

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Fr John Corapi: On the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

The Catholic Church is in the process of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the prophetic and landmark encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, on human life. At the time the Holy Father promulgated the encyclical there was a general spirit of dissent in the air. This inspired document put the dissenters into yet a new orbit, even further from the center of Church teaching. Their lack of humility resulted in disobedience, ultimately resulting in moral death for them and countless others.

What has resulted from the rejection of the principles contained in this great document is a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. “Life begins at conception. Abortion begins at artificial contraception.” Pope Paul VI prophetically predicted that if artificial contraception were to become generally acceptable in society, then abortion would inevitably become just another means of artificial contraception. Today, not only have what is approaching one billion children been murdered in the name of “choice” worldwide, but a host of incredible evils have followed in the wake of the rejection of the Holy Father’s teaching on life....
Continued here.

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"The Vindication of Humanae Vitae"...

As posted by Carl Olson at Ignatius Insight Scoop:
"The Vindication of Humanae Vitae"...by Mary Eberstadt, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, is a great article in the August/September issue of First Things and is available online. I'll get you started:

That Humanae Vitae and related Catholic teachings about sexual morality are laughingstocks in all the best places is not exactly news. Even in the benighted precincts of believers, where information from the outside world is known to travel exceedingly slowly, everybody grasps that this is one doctrine the world loves to hate. During Benedict XVI’s April visit to the United States, hardly a story in the secular press failed to mention the teachings of Humanae Vitae, usually alongside adjectives like “divisive” and “controversial” and “outdated.” In fact, if there’s anything on earth that unites the Church’s adversaries—all of them except for the Muslims, anyway—the teaching against contraception is probably it....

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News Updates, 7/25

Muslims threaten harm if bishop doesn't convert
'Warriors' want Filipino cleric to go Muslim

Sex-selective abortions on wide scale in U.S.
Practice has claimed lives of 100 million girls worldwide

NZ court lets Catholic brother walk free
Accused of eight counts of abusing disabled boys

Cash crisis ends counseling for priests
Center 'treated' 1100 clergy for psychosexual issues

Judges in Ohio decide if teens may abort
Law allows court system to bypass parental consent

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Gospel for July 25, Feast: St. James, Apostle

From: Matthew 20:20-28

The Mother of the Sons of Zebedee Makes Her Request

[20] Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to Him, with her sons, and kneeling before Him she asked Him for something. [21] And He said to her, "What do you want?" She said to Him, "Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your Kingdom." [22] But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able." [23] He said to them, "You will drink My cup, but to sit at My right hand and at My left is not Mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father." [24] And when the ten heard it they were indignant at the two brothers. [25] But Jesus called them to Him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. [26] It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [27] and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; [28] even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."
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Commentary:

20. The sons of Zebedee are James the Greater and John. Their mother, Salome, thinking that the earthly reign of the Messiah is about to be established, asks that her sons be given the two foremost positions in it. Christ reproaches them for not grasping the true--spiritual-- nature of the Kingdom of Heaven and not realizing that government of the Church He is going to found implies service and martyrdom. "If you are working for Christ and imagine that a position of responsibility is anything but a burden, what disillusionment awaits you!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 950).

22. "Drinking the cup" means suffering persecution and martyrdom for following Christ. "We are able": the sons of Zebedee boldly reply that they can drink the cup; their generous _expression evokes what St. Paul will write years later: "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13).

23. "You will drink My cup": James the Greater will die a martyr's death in Jerusalem around the year 44 (cf. Acts 12:2); and John, after suffering imprisonment and the lash in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 4:3; 5:40-41), will spend a long period of exile on the island of Patmos (cf. Revelation 1:9).

From what our Lord says here we can take it that positions of authority in the Church should not be the goal of ambition or the subject of human intrigue, but the outcome of a divine calling. Intent on doing the will of His Heavenly Father, Christ was not going to allocate positions of authority on the basis of human considerations but, rather, in line with God's plans.

26. Vatican II puts a marked emphasis on this "service" which the Church offers to the world and which Christians should show as proof of their Christian identity: "In proclaiming the noble destiny of man and affirming an element of the divine in him, this sacred Synod offers to cooperate unreservedly with mankind in fostering a sense of brotherhood to correspond to this destiny of theirs. The Church is not motivated by an earthly ambition but is interested in one thing only--to carry on the work of Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for He came into the world to bear witness to the truth, to save and not to judge, to serve and not to be served" ("Gaudium Et Spes", 3 cf. "Lumen Gentium", 32: "Ad Gentes", 12; "Unitatis Redintegratio", 7).

27-28. Jesus sets Himself as an example to be imitated by those who hold authority in the Church. He who is God and Judge of all men (cf. Philippians 2:5-11; John 5:22-27; Acts 10:42; Matthew 28:18) does not impose Himself on us: He renders us loving service to the point of giving His life for us (cf. John 15:13); that is His way of being the first. St. Peter understood Him right; he later exhorted priests to tend the flock of God entrusted to them, not domineering over them but being exemplary in their behavior (cf. 1 Peter 5:1-3); and St. Paul also was clear on this "service": though He was "free from all men", He became the servant of all in order to win all (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19 ff; 2 Corinthians 4:5).

Christ's "service" of mankind aims at salvation. The phrase "to give His life as a ransom for many" is in line with the terminology of liturgical sacrificial language. These words were used prophetically in Chapter 53 of Isaiah.

Verse 28 also underlines the fact that Christ is a priest, who offers Himself as priest and victim on the altar of the cross. The _expression "as a ransom for many" should not be interpreted as implying that God does not will the salvation of all men. "Many", here, is used to contrast with "one" rather than "all": there is only one Savior, and salvation is offered to all.
___________________________
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just for Today, July 25

Thou oughtest indeed to be so far dead to such affections of persons beloved, as to wish, as far as appertains to thee, to be without any company of man.
Learn, for the Creator's sake, to overcome thyself in all things; and then thou shalt be able to attain to the knowledge of God.

-Bk. III, ch. xlii.
________________

"Supposing one of us (her three sisters) had been ill in your place, would you have come to the infirmary during recreation ?"

"I should have gone straight to recreation without asking how you were, taking good care, however, not to draw attention to my sacrifice. If I had been sent to the infirmary, I should have gone with a pure intention, to give you pleasure and not to please myself. In that way you would have been given graces that would have been withheld if I had been merely selfish, and for my part I would have drawn strength from my self-denial. If, out of human frailty, I sometimes acted otherwise, without feeling discouraged I would try to make up for my failings by greater self-denial unsuspected by others."

-Novissima Verba.
__________________
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

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Thoughts and Counsels - July 25

It is in vain that we cut off the branches of evil, if we leave intact the root, which continually pro­duces new ones.

-St. Gregory the Great.
________________________
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

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Meditation for July 25, Deeds Count

I do not fail to tell God that I love Him. That is easy; that is sweet. It is more important by far that I show God I love Him. Words of love are good, but acts which prove love are still better.

It is by my deeds that I prove the sincerity of my faith, of my zeal. If instead of profound convictions, I have only a sentimental love, I will slacken my pace when consolations do not uphold me; God will have good reason to ask me if my generosity is not vain and very insincere.

Through my actions I render God the greatest honor. I am judged for what I am by what I do. My conduct attests before those who see me, the greatness of the Master I serve. If my homage is entire and vital, those who observe it will form a high idea of Him towards whom it is directed. If on the contrary it is niggardly, it belittles God in their eyes, --that is a responsibility I ought not incur.

It is finally by my actions that I reveal the power of my love. One does not need a very strong love to say words; but bne does need a strong love to act, that is for instance, to put to the guillo­tine my pet laziness or particular caprice.

"My God, teach me that I may know how to tell You my love. Here I am at Your feet, inert, without flame, without voice, one might almost say without heart, but You know well that it is not so; that if I am awkward, I am not indifferent. Oh no!

"But above all teach me more than how to tell You my love; teach me how to give evidence of it. Words, yes, for lack of greater things, but better still deeds!"
_________________
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

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News Updates, 7/24

Mexican State Legislators Seek to Define Personhood as Being from Conception
Amendment to constitution would eliminate exceptions in state's abortion ban

Vatican cardinal delivers warning to Lambeth
Cautions Anglican bishops against spiritual Alzheimer's

Archbishop of Liverpool scraps plans for Latin Mass parish
'I have decided not to go ahead with the change'

Obama Worse than Clintons on Abortion Says National Right to Life Leader: Interview
"I fear for our nation, should he become President"

Preach the Gospel, go to jail
City of Modesto sued for banning Christian preacher from public plaza

Iraqi PM to discuss Christian situation with Pope
Steps being taken to spread the value of tolerance

Venezuela Church-state clash grows
Chavez launches political ploy to push socialist agenda

World's first IVF baby marks 30th birthday
Test tube experiment opened the door for IVF industry

Sister Barbara Markey now wants to pull theft plea
73-year-old sentenced to three to five years for theft

Anti-Catholicism not dead yet in United States
Tolerance has co-existed uneasily with prejudice

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Professor Carries Out His Threat To Desecrate Eucharist?

Yes, the sad little cracker has met its undignified end, so stop pestering me. The cracker, the koran, and another surprise entry have been violated and are gone. You'll have to wait until tomorrow for the details, what little of them there are. I must quickly apologize to all you good Catholics who were hoping to attend Mass, since you can't anymore — I have been told many hundreds of times now that cracker abuse violates your right to practice your religion. I guess you'll have to adapt. Secular humanism is a good alternative, if you aren't already flocking to join the Mormons....
It's amazing to me that secular liberals practice and preach more hate and intolerance than any other group, it seems. Why does any university allow such hateful people to influence the minds of the young? And why would parents permit it?

This man needs our prayers. I wonder if he'll probably need protection from "devout Mohammendans" for desecrating the Koran?


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Gospel for Thursday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial of St. Sharbel (Charbel) Makhloof, priest
Old Calendar: St. Christina, virgin and martyr


From: Matthew 13:10-17

Parable of the Sower (Continuation)

[10] Then the disciples came and said to Him (Jesus), "Why do You speak to them in parables?" [11] And He answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been given. [12] For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. [13] This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. [14] With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: `You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. [15] For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.'

[16] But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. [17] Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."
_______________________________

Commentary:

10-13. The kind of Kingdom Jesus was going to establish did not suit the Judaism of His time, largely because of the Jew's nationalistic, earthbound idea of the Messiah to come. In His preaching Jesus takes account of the different outlooks of His listeners, as can be seen in the attitudes described in the parable of the sower. If people were well disposed to Him, the enigmatic nature of the parable would stimulate their interest; and Jesus later did give His many disciples a fuller explanation of its meaning; but there was no point in doing this if people were not ready to listen.

Besides, parables--as indeed any type of comparison or analogy--are used to reveal or explain something which is not easy to understand, as was the case with the supernatural things Jesus was explaining. One has to shade one's eyes to see things if the sun is too bright; otherwise, one is blinded and sees nothing. Similarly, parables help to shade supernatural brightness to allow the listener to grasp meaning without being blinded by it.

These verses also raise a very interesting question: how can divine revelation and grace produce such widely differing responses in people? What is at work here is the mystery of divine grace--which is an unmerited gift--and of man's response to this grace. What Jesus says here underlines man's responsibility to be ready to accept God's grace and to respond to it. Jesus' reference to Isaiah (Matthew 13:14-15) is a prophecy of that hardness of heart which is a punishment meted out to those who resist grace.

These verses need to be interpreted in the light of three points: 1) Jesus Christ loved everyone, including people of His own home town: He gave His life in order to save all men; 2) the parable is a literary form designed to get ideas across clearly: its ultimate aim is to teach, not to mislead or obscure; 3) lack of appreciation for divine grace is something blameworthy, which does merit punishment; however, Jesus did not come directly to punish anyone, but rather to save everyone.

12. Jesus is addressing His disciples and explaining to them that, precisely because they have faith in Him and want to have a good grasp of His teaching, they will be given a deeper understanding of divine truths. But those who do not "follow Him" (cf. note on Matthew 4:18-22) will later lose interest in the things of God and will grow ever blinder: it is as if the little they have is being taken away from them.

This verse also helps us understand the meaning of the parable of the sower, a parable which gives a wonderful explanation of the supernatural economy of divine grace: God gives grace, and man freely responds to that grace. The result is that those who respond to grace generously receive additional grace and so grow steadily in grace and holiness; whereas those who reject God's gifts become closed up within themselves; through their selfishness and attachment to sin they eventually lose God's grace entirely. In this verse, then, our Lord gives a clear warning: with the full weight of His divine authority He exhorts us--without taking away our freedom--to act responsibly: the gifts God keeps sending us should yield fruit; we should make good use of the opportunities for Christian sanctification which are offered us in the course of our lives.

14-15. Only well-disposed people grasp the meaning of God's words. It is not enough just to hear them physically. In the course of Jesus' preaching the prophetic words of Isaiah come true once again.

However, we should not think that not wanting to hear or to understand was something exclusive to certain contemporaries of Jesus; each one of us is at times hard of hearing, hard-hearted and dull-minded in the presence of God's grace and saving word. Moreover, it is not enough to be familiar with the teaching of the Church: it is absolutely necessary to put the faith into practice, with all that that implies, morally and ascetically. Jesus was fixed to the wood of the Cross not only by nails and by the sins of certain Jews but also by our sins--sins committed centuries later but which afflicted the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, who bore the burden of our sins. See the note on Mark 4:11-12.

16-17. In contrast with the closed attitude of many Jews who witnessed Jesus' life but did not believe in Him, the disciples are praised by our Lord for their docility to grace, their openness to recognizing Him as the Messiah and to accepting His teaching.

He calls His disciples blessed, happy. As He says, the prophets and just men and women of the Old Testament had for centuries lived in hope of enjoying one day the peace the future Messiah would bring, but they had died without experiencing this good fortune. Simeon, towards the end of his long life, was filled with joy on seeing the infant Jesus when He was presented in the temple: "He took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, `Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation'" (Luke 2:28-30). During our Lord's public life, His disciples were fortunate enough to see and be on close terms with Him; later they would recall that incomparable gift, and one of them would begin his first letter in these words: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life; [...] that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our [or: your] joy may be complete (1 John 1:1-4).

This exceptional good fortune was, obviously, not theirs but of special merit: God planned it; it was He who decided that the time had come for the Old Testament prophecies to be fulfilled. In any event, God gives every soul opportunities to meet Him: each of us has to be sensitive enough to grasp them and not let them pass. There were many men and women in Palestine who saw and heard the incarnate Son of God but did not have the spiritual sensitivity to see in Him what the Apostles and disciples saw.
___________________________
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just for Today, July 24

Then the flesh that has been mortified shall triumph more than if it had always been pampered in delights. Then shall the mean habit shine, and fine clothing appear contemptible.
-Bk. I, ch. xxiv.
_______________

Someone had pitied the Carmelites for having to wear thick habits in hot weather: "In Heaven," said the Saint, "God will reward us for having worn thick and heavy habits for love of Him."
-Novissima Verba.
__________________
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

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Thoughts and Counsels - July 24

The sufferings endured for God are the great­est proof of our love for Him.

-St. Alphonsus.
________________________
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

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Meditation for July 24, My Task

One of the most instructive accounts of the Gospel is the parable of the Sower. Jesus had often noticed the Palestinian countrymen going to their work with the plow on their back, or on the back of a donkey, driving before them, their oxen; or if it was the season when the fields had been plowed, He saw them sowing their seeds.

At sowing time, when the fruitful seed was confided to the earth, more than one farmer realizing that he could little afford to lose a harvest, because of voracious birds, or thistles sometimes more than three feet high, or torrential rains which might sweep over the planted fields, prayed to the Most High. And his prayer contained among other thoughts this queer petition: "Lord, our busi­ness is the red; Yours is the green," meaning, the toil which over­ turns clods of bright red earth is all our concern, but it is for You to make the wheat grow transforming this plot of ocher and brown­ish violet colored soil into green fields.

Here is a perfect description of my part in the tasks assigned to me, as well as God's part. It is up to me to exercise effort in pushing the plowshare, to cut the ground into furrows, narrow and straight and sometimes bloody; it is for God to make the grain grow, to crown my efforts with success, thirty, sixty, or even a hundred fold.

Therefore, I must not grow proud when I have succeeded. When the grain does not grow, I must not pity myself nor grow discour­aged. I have done what I could, accomplished my task; fulfilled my role. Let God fulfill His as He understands it. He knows best what is good for me.
_________________
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

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Deo Gratias! Some St Stanislaus Board Members Reconciliations Announced

The Archdiocese of St. Louis issued the following statement on July 23, 2008:
Mrs. Bernice Krauze, Mr. Stanley Rozanski, and Mr. Robert Zabielski, members of the Board of Directors of Saint Stanislaus Parish Corporation, met last month (June 10) with Archbishop Raymond L. Burke to be reconciled fully with the Catholic Church. They are once again in full communion with the Catholic Church and are no longer under any censure.

Since then, the three have joined other parishioners of the former Saint Stanislaus Kostka parish in filing a lawsuit against the Saint Stanislaus Parish Corporation. The lawsuit is asking for the corporation to adhere to the 1891 Bylaws, to which the parish and the Archdiocese of St. Louis had agreed. If the lawsuit is successful, the Archdiocese of St. Louis is prepared to appoint a Catholic priest, Rev. Michael Marchlewski, S.J., to Saint Stanislaus as administrator.
We thank God for such wonderful news and commend the courage of these additional board members for their acts of reconciliation.

We continue to pray for Marek Bozek and his followers, that they accept God's grace to repent and reconcile with Holy Mother Church.

More information at the Archdiocesan website:
* Q & A Regarding Reconciliation of Saint Stanislaus Board Members and Lawsuit

* Text of the Petition Filed in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, July 23, 2008 (168.42 Kb PDF file)

* Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish Charter (319.12 Kb PDF file)

* Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish Articles of Agreement (771.87 Kb PDF file)

* Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish Bylaws (1891) (604.58 Kb PDF file)

And our blog posts concerning St Stanislaus are here

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News Updates, 7/23

Three Saint Stanislaus Board Members Reconciled With Church—Lawsuit Filed To Reconcile Former Parish
The Archdiocese of St. Louis issued the following statement on July 23, 2008:
Mrs. Bernice Krauze, Mr. Stanley Rozanski, and Mr. Robert Zabielski, members of the Board of Directors of Saint Stanislaus Parish Corporation, met last month (June 10) with Archbishop Raymond L. Burke to be reconciled fully with the Catholic Church. They are once again in full communion with the Catholic Church and are no longer under any censure.

Since then, the three have joined other parishioners of the former Saint Stanislaus Kostka parish in filing a lawsuit against the Saint Stanislaus Parish Corporation. The lawsuit is asking for the corporation to adhere to the 1891 Bylaws, to which the parish and the Archdiocese of St. Louis had agreed. If the lawsuit is successful, the Archdiocese of St. Louis is prepared to appoint a Catholic priest, Rev. Michael Marchlewski, S.J., to Saint Stanislaus as administrator.
More here:
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Victims defend Pope's 'stage-managed' meeting
'We were moved by the Pope's compassionate response'

“Several distinctions”
Survey finds Catholics have different life goals than Protestants

Beijing hires priests for more games Masses
China Christian Council will print 100,000 Bibles

Eucharist snatcher impeached from college Council
Non-Catholic pocketed Host, prompting altercation

Priest pleads guilty to raping boys in Mass.
Victim: 'I haven't been in a church since it happened'

Group says church closures not needed
'We were asked to prepare for a worst-case scenario'

Hold the applause: Confessions of a Mass clapper
Psalm 47:1 tells us: 'All you peoples, clap your hands'

Lesbos locals lose lesbian appeal
Island residents claim using the term to refer to gay women insults their identity

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Gospel for Wednesday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial of St. Bridget, religious
Old Calendar: St. Apollinaris, bishop and martyr; St. Liborius, bishop and confessor


From: Matthew 13:1-9

Parable of the Sower

[1] That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. [2] And great crowds gathered about Him, so that He got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. [3] And He told them many things in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. [4] And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. [5] Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, [6] but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. [7] Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. [8] Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. [9] He who has ears, let him hear."
_____________________

Commentary:

3. Chapter 13 of St. Matthew includes as many as seven of Jesus' parables, which is the reason why it is usually called "the parable discourse" or the "parabolic discourse". Because of their similarity of content and setting these parables are often called the "Kingdom parables", and also the "parables of the Lake", because Jesus taught them on the shore of Lake Gennesaret. Jesus uses these elaborate comparisons (parables) to explain certain features of the Kingdom of God which He has come to establish (cf. Matthew 3:2)--its tiny, humble origins; its steady growth; its worldwide scope; its salvific force. God calls everyone to salvation but only those attain it who receive God's call with good dispositions and who do not change their attitude; the value of the spiritual benefits the Kingdom brings--so valuable that one should give up everything to obtain them; the fact that good and bad are all mixed together until the harvest time, or the time of God's judgment; the intimate connection between earthly and heavenly aspects of the Kingdom, until it reaches its point of full development at the end of time.

On Jesus' lips, parables are exceptionally effective. By using parables He keeps His listeners' attention, whether they are uneducated or not, and by means of the most ordinary things of daily life He sheds light on the deepest supernatural mysteries. He used the parable device in a masterly way; His parables are quite unique; they carry the seal of His personality; through them He has graphically shown us the riches of grace, the life of the Church, the demands of the faith and even the mystery of God's own inner life.

Jesus' teaching continues to provide every generation with light and guidance on moral conduct. By reading and reflecting on His parables one can savor the adorable humanity of the Savior, who showed such kindness to the people who crowded around to hear Him--and who shows the same readiness to listen to our prayers, despite our dullness, and to reply to our healthy curiosity when we try to make out His meaning.

3-8. Anyone who has visited the fertile plain to the west of the Lake of Gennesaret will appreciate Jesus' touching description in the parable of the sower. The plain is crisscrossed by paths; it is streaked with rocky ground, often with the rocks lying just beneath the surface, and with the courses of rivulets, dry for most of the year but still retaining some moisture. Here and there are clumps of large thorn bushes. When the agricultural worker sows seed in this mixed kind of land, he knows that some seed will fare better than others.

9. Jesus did not explain this parable there and then. It was quite usual for parables to be presented in the first instance as a kind of puzzle to gain the listener's attention, excite his curiosity and fix the parable in his memory. It may well be that Jesus wanted to allow his more interested listeners to identify themselves by coming back to hear Him again--as happened with His disciples. The rest--who listened out of idle curiosity or for too human reasons (to see Him work miracles)--would not benefit from hearing a more detailed and deeper explanation of the parable.
__________________
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just for Today, July 23

When thou thinkest I am far from thee, I am often nearest to thee. When thou judgest that almost all is lost, then oftentimes it is that thou art in the way of the greatest gain of merit. All is not lost when anything falls out otherwise than thou wouldst have it.

Thou must not judge according to thy present feeling; nor give thyself up in such manner to any trouble, from whencesoever it comes; nor take it so, as if all hope were gone of being delivered out of it.
-Bk. III, ch. xxx.
_________________
"All is not lost, my dear child," the Bishop said to me, "but I am glad that you are going to Rome with your father; the journey will make your vocation all the stronger."

So we had to return to Lisieux without having obtained a favourable answer. My future seemed hope­less; as I advanced towards my goal, the difficulties in the way seemed to increase. In spite of them, my soul was in great peace, for I only sought the Will of God.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme).
__________________
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

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Thoughts and Counsels - July 23

We should learn of Jesus Christ to be meek and humble of heart, and ask Him unceasingly for these two virtues. We ought, particularly, to avoid the two contrary vices which would cause us to destroy with one hand what we seek to raise with the other.
-St. Vincent de Paul.
________________________
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

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Meditation for July 23, Procrastination

Is procrastination one of my faults? Laziness, lack of organiza­tion in my work, and wasted time are all bound up in it.

I will try to discover fully the causes of it and remedy these faults to the best of my ability.

For my encouragement, I ought to consider how much to my disadvantage procrastination is; it makes me vacillating in fulfilling God's wishes and desires, and brings with it no advantage what­soever for:

What I omit today will be just as difficult tomorrow, if not more so.

The reasons that restrain me today, will doubtless restrain me tomorrow.

In neglecting to act at the present moment, I run the risk of pass­ing up every moment for acting.

Thus, I am in danger of cowardice and delusion; this is what it means to put off till later what duty demands or suggests for im­mediate fulfillment.

What would have happened to Joseph, if he had delayed taking the Child Jesus and His Mother Mary to flee into Egypt? What would have become of the Magi if they had put off following the star? What would have become of the Apostles if they had loitered, waited, argued? They left immediately. Recall Joan of Arc's response to the question: "When do you wish to set out." "Rather today than tomorrow, and tomorrow rather than the day after."

"O all you who have obeyed the calls of God with such promptitude, teach me to follow grace as soon as it speaks, that I may never keep Our Lord waiting.

"Speak Lord for Your servant heareth."
_________________
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

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News Updates, 7/22

Animal rights group protests over Pope's fur
Protestors don't like Benedict's cape with ermine border

Chicago cathedral protesters plead guilty
Anti-war demonstrators threw fake blood on worshipers

“Hard to take seriously” Dissident group’s plan to publish open letter critical of Humane Vitae draws scorn of pro-life leader

Australians rate Benedict XVI a top bloke
PM says his countryman touched by Pope's 'humanity'

Anglican unrest threatens to harm links with Vatican
Bertone: Problems pose grave challenge for Christian unity

Anglican leader admits Church of England in crisis
Archbishop of Canterbury hopes for solution at Lambeth

Birth-control ruling still echoes for Church
Paul VI's controversial Humanae Vitae turns 40 this year

Counter-protest
Supporters of traditional marriage rally for San Diego hotel owner targeted by backers of same-sex unions for donating to Prop 8

1,600-year-old version of Bible goes online
Technology makes ancient cultural artifacts accessible to all

Gospel for July 22, Memorial: St. Mary Magdalene, Disciple of the Lord

Old Calendar: St. Mary Magdalen, penitent

From: John 20:1-2, 11-18

The Empty Tomb

[1] Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. [2] So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."

The Appearance To Mary Magdalene

[11] But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; [12] and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. [13] They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." [14] Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. [15] Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing Him to be gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." [16] Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). [17] Jesus said to her, "Do not hold Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God." [18] Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that He had said these things to her.
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Commentary:

1-2. All four Gospels report the first testimonies of the holy women and the disciples regarding Christ's glorious resurrection, beginning with the fact of the empty tomb (cf. Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1ff; Luke 24:1-12) and then telling of the various appearances of the risen Jesus.

Mary Magdalene was one of the women who provided for our Lord during His journeys (Luke 8:1-3); along with the Virgin Mary she bravely stayed with Him right up to His final moments (John 19:25), and she saw where His body was laid (Luke 23:55). Now, after the obligatory Sabbath rest, she goes to visit the tomb. The Gospel points out that she went "early, when it was still dark": her love and veneration led her to go without delay, to be with our Lord's body.

11-18. Mary's affection and sensitivity lead her to be concerned about what has become of the dead body of Jesus. This woman out of whom seven demons were cast (cf. Luke 8:2) stayed faithful during His passion and even now her love is still ardent: our Lord had freed her from the Evil One and she responded to that grace humbly and generously.

After consoling Mary Magdalene, Jesus gives her a message for the Apostles, whom He tenderly calls His "brethren". This message implies that He and they have the same Father, though each in an essentially different way: "I am ascending to My Father"--My own Father by nature--"and to your Father"--for He is your Father through the adoption I have won for you and by My death. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, shows His great mercy and understanding by gathering together all His disciples who had abandoned Him during His passion and were now in hiding for fear of the Jews (John 20:19).

Mary Magdalene's perseverance teaches us that anyone who sincerely keeps searching for Jesus Christ will eventually find Him. Jesus' gesture in calling His disciples His "brethren" despite their having run away should fill us with love in the midst of our own infidelities.

15. From Jesus' dialogue with Mary Magdalene, we can see the frame of mind all His disciples must have been in: they were not expecting the resurrection.

17. "Do not hold Me": the use of the negative imperative in the Greek, reflected in the New Vulgate ("noli me tenere") indicates that our Lord is telling Mary to release her hold of Him, to let Him go, since she will have another chance to see Him before His ascension into Heaven.
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Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Just for Today, July 22

Thou showest me to myself, what I am, what I have been, and what I am come to: for I am nothing, and I knew it not. If I am left to myself, behold I am nothing, and all weakness; but it is very wonderful that I am so quickly raised up, and so graciously embraced by Thee.

It is Thy love that effects this, freely preventing me and assisting me in so many necessities; preserving me also from grievous dangers, and, as I may truly say, delivering me from innumerable evils.
-Bk. III, ch. viii.
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Our Lord knew that I was too weak to be exposed to temptation; I would have burnt my wings in the flame of this world, so I was not shown its deceptive light. Where strong souls finds happiness, yet deny themselves out of fidelity, I find only suffering. What merit, then, can I claim for not having fallen a victim to such attachments, when it was the mercy of God that pre­vented me? Without Him I could have fallen as low as St Mary Magdalen, and His grave words to Simon the Pharisee stir me to the depths of my soul. I know that to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less (Luke vii, 47), and yet I have been forgiven more than was St Mary Magdalen.

It is difficult to explain what I mean, but the following example will help: supposing the son of a clever doctor stumbles over a stone on the road and breaks a limb. His father hastens to him, lifts him up lovingly and attends to his injury, making use of his medical skill. When cured, his son will show his gratitude, having every reason to love so kind a father. Here is another example: the father, knowing there is a dangerous obstacle in his son's path, goes on ahead and, unseen by anyone, removes it. The son, not knowing what he owes to his father's foresight, naturally does not ex­press his gratitude, and loves him less than he would if cured of a serious injury. If, however, he comes to hear of it, he will love his father more than before.

I am the privileged child of God's loving Providence, of the Father who sent His Word not to call the just, but sinners (Luke v, 32). He expects me to love Him, not because He has forgiven me much, but because He has forgiven me all. Before receiving any proof of my love such as St Mary Magdalen gave, He let me know how much He had shielded and loved me, that I might love Him with my whole heart in return. I have often heard it said at retreats and at other times that no innocent soul loves more than a repentant one, but I long to prove this untrue.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme).
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For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

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Meditation for July 22, Mary Magalen

If there is any day when points of meditation are useless, is it not today? How many scenes of the Gospel present themselves to me--and all with marked emphasis on one outstanding lesson: eagerness to remain at the feet of Our Lord!

Each time that I see Mary Magdalen in the Gospel, after her conversion, I find her at the feet of the Savior.

She is at the feet of the Savior at the home of Simon, the Pharisee.

She is at the feet of the Savior at Bethany while Martha at­tends to the household duties.

She is at the feet of the Savior beneath the Cross.

She is at the feet of the Savior at the sepulchre after the Resur­rection.

Thus she gives me four models of contemplation:
Repentant contemplation
Adoring contemplation
Compassionating contemplation
Blissful contemplation
I can choose the model which best suits me according to my state of soul or the attraction of grace.

Do I, like Mary Magdalen, seek out this sacred place at the feet of Jesus? In other words do I thirst for prayer, for divine contact with the adorable Master, hoping for nothing more than to rest my head, through life, against His knees?

O Mary Magdalen, great Saint who manifests so well to me the wealth of your heart and the riches of the Heart of Jesus, teach me to repent as you did; to adore as you did; to compassionate as you did; and to unite myself, as you did, to my Risen Lord. Make of me, even though my vocation requires the union of activity with prayer, a soul of prayer; make of me in the strongest sense of the word a contemplative.
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Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

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Answers-What's Your Moral IQ on Violence, Fear and Habit in Moral Matters?

Questions can be viewed here.
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1. It is force by a free external agent that is exerted on one to compel him to perform an act against his will.

2. No.

3. No.

4. Yes, because of the scandal she causes.

5. No. She can still sin in her heart.

6. It is mental anxiety brought on by the apprehension cif an impending danger.

7. When his fear is so great that it deprives him of his use of reason.

8. No.

9. Yes. Although an evil habit may lessen Jack's guilt, he still must try to correct it.

10. No.
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Adapted from The Queen's Work Magazine, December 1946

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News Updates, 7/21

Pope Benedict apologizes for Church sex abuse
Believes those responsible should be brought to justice

Pope meets with clergy abuse victims in Australia
Ends WYD pilgrimage with gesture of contrition, concern

Muslims kill Christian teen for courting Muslim
Girl's father and uncle claim it was an 'honor killing'

Wrong answer
San Jose City College sued for firing biology teacher over her response to student’s question about homosexuality and genetics

Policeman harassed for being a Christian
Persecuted since objecting to wearing gay event ribbons

"No longer considering the appointment”
University of San Diego withdraws offer of honorary professorship to feminist theologian

Group claims to ordain Catholic women priests
Boston archdiocese: participants are excommunicated

Excommunicated
California woman “ordains” three “womenpriests”

Pope warns Catholic youth of 'spiritual desert'
400,000 worshippers attend the climax of WYD week

San Francisco to decriminalize prostitution?
Erotic Service Providers Union gathered 12,000 signatures

IRS recognizes Church of Satan as a religion
Devil worshippers not so underground any more

Cardinal Rigali Urges Congress To Respect Conscience Rights
Wrote to all members of Congress defending “efforts to reaffirm and implement laws on conscience protection.”

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gospel for Monday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, priest and doctor
Old Calendar: St. Praxedes, virgin


From: Matthew 12:38-42

The Sign of Jonah

[38] Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him (Jesus), "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." [39] But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. [40] For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. [41] The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. [42] The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here."
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Commentary:

39-40. This sign the Jews were asking for would have been a miracle or some other prodigy; they wanted Jesus, incongruously, to confirm his preaching--given with such simplicity--by dramatic signs. Our Lord replies by announcing the mystery of his death and resurrection, using the parallel of the case of Jonah: "No sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." Jesus' glorious resurrection is the "sign" "par excellence", the decisive proof of the divine character of his person, of his mission and of his teaching.

When St. Paul (1 Cor 14:3-4) confesses that Jesus Christ "was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures" (words which later found their way into the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the Creed used in the Mass), he must have had this passage particularly in mind. We can see another allusion to Jonah in the words our Lord spoke shortly before his ascension: "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead" (Lk 24:45-46).

41-42. Nineveh was a city in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) to which the prophet Jonah was sent. The Ninevites did penance (Jn 3:6-9) because they recognized the prophet and accepted his message; whereas Jerusalem does not wish to recognize Jesus, of whom Jonah was merely a figure. The queen of the South was the queen of Sheba in southwestern Arabia, who visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-10) and was in awe of the wisdom with which God had endowed the King of Israel. Jesus is also prefigured in Solomon, whom Jewish tradition saw as the epitome of the wise man. Jesus' reproach is accentuated by the example of pagan converts, and gives us a glimpse of the universal scope of Christianity, which will take root among the Gentiles.

There is a certain irony in what Jesus says about "something greater" than Jonah or Solomon having coming: really, he is infinitely greater, but Jesus prefers to tone down the difference between himself and any figure, no matter how important, in the Old Testament.
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Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Just for Today, July 21

Let not therefore thy heart be troubled, and let it not fear. Believe in Me and trust in My mercy.
-Bk. III, ch. xxx.
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Having received so many graces, I can cry out with the Psalmist: Give praise to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever (Ps. cxvii). I cannot help thinking that if everyone were given such graces, no one would fear God, but all would love Him with a boundless love. No longer out of fear, but out of love no soul would deliberately commit the least fault.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme).
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For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

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Thoughts and Counsels - July 21

We should reflect on all our actions, exterior and interior, and before we commence, examine well if we are able to finish them.
-Ven. John Tauler.
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From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

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