Weekly Reflections

Reflection for June 10, 2018

Thursday, June 7, 2018

I am because we are

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Sunday's readings remind us of our connection to and reliance on God and others

by Sister Francis Bangert

In today’s first reading we learn of the unintended disconnect between Creator and creature. The Creator seeks out our first parents who are hiding because they listened to a deceptive outer voice who convinced them they could be as wise as God if they “ate the fruit of the tree.”

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus says, ”whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” So how does one know the will of God? St. Catherine of Siena invites us to always live in the cell of our soul, where we learn both our own poverty ... that of ourselves we can do nothing ... and the awesome goodness of God. In humility, we recognize the need for heartfelt connection ... to self, to God and to others.

Desmond Tutu, a South African Anglican cleric and theologian, says the Bantu word "ubuntu" is difficult to translate in our language but that it means the very essence of being human. If you are ubuntu you are generous, hospitable, friendly, caring and compassionate. It means that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours (paceebene.org). Family isn’t about whose blood you have -- it’s about who you care about.

This is the connection, the relationship that God desires for humanity. How might my vision of God’s dream need some adjustment?


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Comments:

CommentBubbleOne has to wonder ... if the deception of Satan was in the implication that we (Adam & Eve, and all humanity) are NOT like-God, when in fact, God has said that we are, for God said we are made in God's own image and likeness. And notice, too, God uses PLURAL (as in Trinity: Creator ... In-Flesh-Redeemer ... Spirit) to convey this to us: "Then God said, 'Let us make humans in OUR image, in OUR likeness.'" (Gen.1:26)

In many ways, we have been deceived and misled into thinking we are never good enough, and therefore, never really loved. This is the great lie that JESUS came to un-do, once for ALL. JESUS LOVES. Period. And in doing so, JESUS affirms, "We are good." Period. If we know such LOVE, we, too, will LOVE others as JESUS loves. That is the Great Gift of Spirit-at-Work.

The Book of Wisdom tells us most assuredly: God made ALL and God loves ALL ... And we, knowing this, most especially in knowing this through JESUS, are created to LOVE this way, too.

THANK YOU to Sr. Joanne Goessl, who helped us 'hit a home run' with this message last night @ 'Silence and Sunset.' And THANK YOU Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, for opening your hearts and your doors to us, to all.

I very much appreciate the opportunity to 'know' your grounds ... the holy and handiwork-of-God. Beauty. Peace. Wonder. Joy. And Gratitude ... so much gratitude as I came upon a mother killdeer, whose immediate shrill cries and instinctive feign of a broken wing, to lead me away from her precious young, spoke tenderly and powerfully to me ... especially as I had just prayed before the beautiful statue of Mary and Child JESUS, for our precious, precious Children of These Times ... Maybe that's somewhat of how Adele Brice felt, too. -- Linda

CommentBubbleLove the all-inclusive “Ubuntu” reference. Thanks for another wonderful reflection Sr. Fran! -- Michelle

 

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Reflection for June 3, 2018

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Corpus Christi Sunday focuses on the enfleshment of God's promise

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You and I are transformed into signs of God's fidelity present in Jesus

by Sister Elise Cholewinski

“Behold God’s love for you.”

Three times a year, on the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, Jews would make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.  On each occasion priests would bring forth a golden table from inside the Temple.  On the table were twelve loaves of bread that had been consecrated to God.  This bread was a reminder of the sacred meal that Moses and the elders ate in the Presence of God on Mt. Sinai.  Called the Bread of the Presence, or the Bread of the Face of God, it was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel.  The priests would exhibit the Bread of the Presence to the pilgrims while proclaiming, “Behold God’s love for you.”

This Sunday we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  We listen to the story of how Jesus, at the Last Supper, gave us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink, the gift of His very self.  It is a time to renew our faith in His Real Presence in the Eucharist and to recall the everlasting covenant that was established through His life, death, and Resurrection.

Catholic parishes celebrate this great feast in various ways.  Whether through processions, Eucharistic adoration, Benediction, or recitation of the Litany of the Blessed Sacrament, these forms of prayer draw our attention to the Sacred Bread in the monstrance.  They invite us to “Behold God’s love for you.”

What if, every time the Host and the Chalice are elevated after the consecration during Mass, we were to recite those same words to ourselves?


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Comments:

CommentBubbleThich Nhat Hanh does a wonderful mindfulness meditation, using an orange. Before consuming the orange, we are asked to hold it, feel it in our hands, rub our fingers on it, feel the stem part, the skin, smell it ... We are asked to 'see' the grove and the orange tree from which it came; to 'see' the workers, the harvesters; to feel the warmth of the sun that helped it grow and ripen, to feel the rain that watered it, the clouds that shaded it; to 'hear' the birds that rested on its branches; to 'see' and 'smell' the soil from which this particular tree-of-life grew; to 'see' those who packaged and transported the crates of beautifully-grown and tree-ripened oranges ... Then he leads us into slowly beginning to peel it ... Peel away a layer ... Smell and feel the orange again ... How is it different now? How is it the same? On and on goes the meditation, until we are consuming "all" that this orange 'is' for us. Not only the physical nourishment and juice that satisfies thirst, but the much larger dimension of inter-being, of truly being connected to all that is: our inter-connectedness with all of creation, with all of humanity as we live and work, side-by-side on one planet, in one community -- each one, in some way, being nourishment and wholeness for another, for all others, if we but let ourselves be. This mindful meditation has so much deepened my interior understanding and appreciation of "ALL" that we are saying "AMEN" to when we affirm "Body of Christ" and "Blood of Christ" as it is declared to us in sharing communion with other members of 'the Body and Blood of Christ.' "AMEN!" -- Linda

CommentBubbleAn excellent suggestion and practice. Thanks. -- Fran

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Reflection for May 27, 2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Mysterious Trinity

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Growing in our understanding of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to experience our Creator, Lover, and Keeper

by Sister Charlene Hockers

“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …”

Today we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Trinity.  This most basic doctrine of our faith is not easily understood but is more a mystery to be experienced.

In our years of grade school, our teachers attempted to explain what “three Persons in One God” means. Three-leaf shamrocks and three lit candles making one flame were ways of symbolizing the unity of our Triune God.

Another example comes from Julian of Norwich. In a vision about the Trinity, she had an object the size of a hazelnut in her hand. With eyes of understanding, she wondered what it could be. The answer: Everything that has been made. It will last forever with God’s love. God made it, God loves it, and God keeps it. So the Triune God can be experienced as Maker, Lover, and Keeper.

These new names for God do not replace our common name for God but help us probe the mystery. God is, of course, Father, Son and Spirit but as we name God as Maker, Lover, and Keeper, we can be people of wonder and hope, loving in response to the love we have received.

Can we go and make disciples by witnessing to God as Maker, Lover, and Keeper? Can we be more conscious of who God is as we pray the Sign of the Cross or state, "Glory be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen."

(Notes: "Living in Christ," May 2018, pp. 16-17)


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Comments:

CommentBubbleCharlene, your reflection is beautiful. I love the words describing the 3 persons of the Trinity. -- Laura

CommentBubbleLovely reflection, thanks for the inspiration! -- Michelle B.

CommentBubbleDear Sr. Charlene, I love the suggestion of – Maker, Lover and Keeper – those words will guide my prayer on this special Holy Trinity Sunday. Thank you! -- Sr. Mary Kabat

CommentBubble"It will last forever with God’s love. God made it, God loves it, and God keeps it." Yes, I love the 'new' imagery for Trinity. And I wonder if the word "it" in these two sentences was changed to "soul," that most interior dimension of mind-heart-spirit within each one of us - that "image-of-God-within - " what kinds of new meaning, new understanding, new awareness, and new insight we could glean. As God is, indeed, and in deed, the origin, the healer, and the keeper of our souls. When we live creatively (Creator), compassionately (Redeemer), and courageously (Holy Spirit), with a conscious contemplative spirit, our minds-hearts-spirits-wills are becoming one-with-Our-Ever-Living-Loving-Enlightening God. -- Linda

CommentBubbleThree succinct words to reveal a very deep mystery. Thanks, Charlene. -- Fran

 

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Reflection for May 20, 2018

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fire of love

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Pentecost Sunday celebrates the enduring presence of the Spirit of Truth

by Sister Agnes Fischer

If I had a friend who was at the same time a wise lawyer, doctor, psychologist, marriage counselor, computer expert and economist I would be extremely fortunate. Well, today each of us is that fortunate.

On Pentecost, we not only remember the coming of the Holy Spirit but also celebrate the Holy Spirit's enduring presence. The Greek word for Holy Spirit is "Paraclete," which means "one who is at your side":

  • to console us in our sadness
  • to counsel us in our doubts
  • to animate us when we are discouraged
  • to strengthen us in our struggles
  • to teach us to love

It is this same friend whom we ask in Sunday's alleluia to "fill the hearts of the faithful with the fires of your love."


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Comments:

CommentBubbleI love what you have done here, Sr. Agnes, as you have made the Spirit-of-God-within-us VERY REAL for us. That is so needed today: to see the Holy Spirit at work in very real, genuinely caring and truth-filled ways. There are no lies in God; there is no deceit in Christ; there are no un-truths in the Holy Spirit. (Jn.14:17; Jn.15:26) The Holy Spirit is the leader and guide into ALL truth.

I am so happy to hear all of this because as we get to know the Holy Spirit more and more, as is so necessary for our Times, we come to more and more discern what is truly right and good and just, and what is deceptive and scheming. When we speak up for what is right and good and just and healing for others, we, too, are being "Advocates-of-God's-Truth-and-Peace-and-Justice." Just as the Holy Spirit is named, "Advocate," (Jn.14:26; Jn.15:26; Jn.16:7) so, too, do we, with the Spirit-living-in-us, become advocates for the rights and fullness-of-life-well-being-potential-promise-peace for others.

The Holy Spirit is, indeed, and in deed, our Advocate and Truth-teller in each and all of these: !! :+)

to console us in our sadness
to counsel us in our doubts
to animate us when we are discouraged
to strengthen us in our struggles
to teach us to love

"A Very Rich, Enflamed, Enflaming Feast of Pentecost for each and all!"

+ Bless +
Linda

CommentBubbleAg, love your reflection! Thanks for adding to my perspective that the Holy Spirit is that all encompassing friend who stands by our side though it all. Laura

CommentBubbleThank you, Sister Aggie, for the reminder what our friend the Holy Spirit does for us. -- Bert

CommentBubbleThanks, Aggie, for reminding us that the Holy Spirit is always there for us in so many ways. You have also provided us with a beautiful refresher on what it means to be a friend. I am blessed to have called you my friend for the last 70 years, which makes me a very lucky lady indeed!! -- Bette

 

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Reflection for May 13, 2018

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

In the world but not of this world

Jesus prays for our protection which is found in knowing Him

In Sunday’s Gospel we will hear Jesus ask God to protect believers from evil. The believers – like Jesus - do not belong to this world. In the daily reflection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Father Greg Friedman, OFM, says the supreme protection against evil is truth, specifically the Word of God.

Reflection questions:
  1. Jesus says we do not belong to this world.  Do I find comfort or discomfort in this message?
  2. In the order of my life where does the truth of salvation fall? First? Second?
  3. How do I celebrate the truth?

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Comments:

CommentBubble"Here I am, LORD. Infuse me. Use me -- to your honor and glory. Amen." -- Linda

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Reflection for May 6, 2018

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Two kinds of hunger

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The Bread of Life: A love given generously, to be shared generously

by Sister Rose Jochmann

This Sunday’s readings from St. John have a lot of references to love.

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; Everyone who loves is begotten of God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
“Jesus said to his disciples: 'As the Father loves me, so I also love you.  Remain in my love. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.' ” (John 15:9,12-13)

St. Teresa of Calcutta gives us another insight into today’s readings. She once said, “Everywhere today, hunger is not only for a piece of bread, but hunger for God, hunger for love.”  We have opportunities daily to satisfy the hunger for God and for love:

  • Take time to listen and to provide an understanding word
  • Treat each person with respect
  • Offer prayer and support for those suffering loss

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Comments:

CommentBubbleA beautifully woven tapestry of loving thoughts, indeed, to which I add: "And in all your 'welcome's,' let your spirit and body speak: 'Well, Come!'" :+) Linda

CommentBubbleThank you Sister for the reminders of daily opportunities to spread God's love! Michael in Texas

 

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Reflection for April 29, 2018

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A place in God's heart

How will you honor and strengthen your connection to our Creator today?

We share a connection and it’s greater than a telephone, a television or a computer. It is Jesus Christ.

The focus of Sunday’s readings reminds us of our dependence on God. First we hear from Acts how the Holy Spirit (through us, not because of us) builds the Church, followed by John’s letter which states that God is greater than our hearts and God knows everything. Finally, we hear the vine and branches metaphor in the Gospel. When we are with Jesus we bear fruit.

Reflection questions:
  1. How is my connection to Jesus?
  2. What kind of fruit am I bearing? How am I sharing the harvest of my faith?
  3. If I have injured my relationship with God, how can it be mended?

Vine and branches


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Comments:

CommentBubbleBefore I went to the reflection link, my very first thought upon seeing the bunch of grapes was how that bunch of grapes, the beautifully ripened fruit of the vine, must be 1) picked from the vine (separated, removed - as in 'death -' as was JESUS dying, then dead, on the cross); 2) crushed and squeezed, with everything of its 'life' being drained from itself, from its original property; 3) made into, turned into, transformed into a "new" property - wine. -- Linda

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Reflection for April 22, 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Whether shepherd or sheep

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For Good Shepherd Sunday, Jesus expresses his concern for us; in turn, we model his love to others

by Sister Laura Zelten

In today’s Gospel from John, Jesus tells us: “I am the good shepherd: a good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep ... I know my own and my own know me ... they listen to my voice ...” Through this reading we learn about the qualities of a good shepherd and of a good flock.

The good shepherd takes care of his flock. He is patient with them; he loves them and never harms them; he is available to them at all times; and is ready to make sacrifices for them. A good flock listens to its shepherd; obeys his instructions; and follows him with confidence. In other words, there must be trust between a shepherd and the flock. 

As we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, we are reminded that each of us is a shepherd in one way or another. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, models for us the qualities needed to lead:

  • Sacrifice -- He sacrificed everything to save us, his flock;
  • Patience -- He always bears with our weaknesses;
  • Love -- There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (Jn 15:13);
  • Availability -- He is always close to us: “Whoever shall call upon the name of Jesus shall be saved" (Rom 10:13). He is the way, the truth and the life.

Along with Good Shepherd Sunday our Universal Church marks World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We pray that men and women hear and respond generously to the Lord's call to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, societies of apostolic life or secular institutes. May they be open to leading as Jesus the Good Shepherd leads.


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Comments:

CommentBubble"I know my own.." I am known and loved by God ...
"... my own know me ..." I know and love God in return ...
"... listen to my voice ...” JESUS'  Voice is the voice-of-my-heart; it is the voice that speaks truth, loves tenderly yet 'tough-ly' as in strong, empowering, inspiring, courageously bold, insight-fully wise. JESUS is both whisper and roar; sometimes he roars with laughter. JESUS is both the sorrow - and the Joy - of my heart. -- Linda

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Reflection for April 15, 2018

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pope Benedict XVI: 'Mercy is the very name of God'

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Through Jesus, you and I are forgiven as we reflect on and amend our ways

by Sister Ann Rehrauer 

On this third Sunday of Easter, the message of Scriptures could not be clearer:  Our God is rich in mercy, and Jesus Christ crucified and risen, is our Advocate with the Father. 

The Gospel account describes one of the Risen Lord’s appearances to the disciples as he helped them understand the Scriptures: “... it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead ... that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

Following his command, the early Church preached a Gospel of repentance and forgiveness through Jesus.  Repentance includes both an admission of our need for forgiveness and a commitment to a conversion of life so that, as the apostle John says, we keep God’s commandments.

The Church has continued to preach this Gospel of mercy, even to our day through Pope Francis, and his predecessors Pope Benedict XVI and Saint John Paul II.

In his second encyclical, Rich in Mercy, Saint John Paul II calls God’s mercy, "the greatest of the attributes and perfections of God" (Dives in Misericordia, 13).

Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “Mercy is the very name of God, the Face with which he revealed himself in the Old Covenant and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redemptive Love.”  Benedict ends by praying that all the Church says and does will manifest the mercy God feels for all of us.

Today, as we live the reality of Jesus’ Resurrection, we pray that we and our world, so broken and in such pain, might experience the mercy of God and live in a way that witnesses to this great gift.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleDear Sr Ann, Thank you for the beautiful thoughts on God’s mercy. We would be lost without it. -- Irene Whatley

CommentBubbleSt. Anne's Episcopal Church, De Pere, holds a "Healing Mass" every Wednesday @ 9 a.m. I discovered this beautiful treasure just last year. I share with you a portion of the prayers I find so rich and meaningful:
"L: Restore to wholeness whatever is broken by human sin - in our lives, in our nation, and in our world.
R: HEAR US, O LORD OF LIFE.
L:  You are the Lord who does wonders.
R:  YOU HAVE DECLARED YOUR POWER AMONG THE PEOPLES.
L:  With you, O Lord, is the well of life.
R: AND IN YOUR LIGHT, WE SEE LIGHT.
L: Hear us, O Lord of Life.
R: HEAL US, AND MAKE US WHOLE."

Before the anointing takes place, we all pray: "God of all mercy, we confess that we have sinned against you, opposing your will in our lives. We have denied your goodness in each other, in ourselves, and in the world you have created. We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf. Forgive, restore, and strengthen us through our Savior Jesus Christ, that we may abide in your love and serve only your will. Amen."  -- Linda

CommentBubbleAt a time when the world needs God’s mercy more than ever, your reflection on the Resurrection gives hope. Thank you! -- Michelle B

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Reflection for April 8, 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Touch His side and believe

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Because of Thomas, we hear Jesus proclaim to him and us, 'blessed are those who believe'

by Sister Margaret Mary Halbach

Today is an important day for our Community.  We are commemorating Founders' Day during our 150th celebration year.  The Scriptures for this weekend are appropriate in my reflection on Community.  

The first reading on this Second Sunday of Easter is from the Acts of the Apostles. It speaks of the Apostles and their beginning of the Church and how they lived what Christ taught them: "The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.  With great power the Apostles bore witness to the Resurrection of the Lord, and great favor was accorded to them all." (4:32-33)

As I reflect on that statement I realize that, as each Sister lives in the spirit of Community, we can be and do more in Community than we can be or do alone. This thought has become a great part of our Sisters’ spiritualty.  We give witness to the love of Jesus Christ, lived in Community. We possess all things in common and then share all in a joyful attitude.

In the Gospel (John 20:19-31) Thomas the Apostle comes to the fore after not being present with the others when Jesus came to the Upper Room to reveal Himself. In a way Thomas is representative of all of us. We were not present in the Upper Room yet we are to have faith and believe.  Jesus challenged Thomas to put a hand into His side "and to not be unbelieving but believe. ... Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

We are challenged, too. We are called to touch not only Jesus' wounds but all those we meet in our wounded world.  Try to spend time today praying over the following thought: Who needs our gentle touch in their wounds? How can we help reveal Jesus?

Be not afraid. He is with us.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleHappy Founders' Day and blessings for many more years!!! - Claire

CommentBubbleThank you, Sisters, for your gentle healing touch over these 150 years of service.  Celebrate Jesus' endless goodness witnessed through you in endless ways!  Thank you for building a loving community.-Ellen

CommentBubbleThe experience of living in community is rich, indeed, but notice how the Gospel (John 20: 19-31) goes on to tell of the very first 'fearful' community of believers. Two weeks in a row, Jesus comes to his followers, who have locked themselves in, barred the door, out of fear.  Both times Jesus enters, appears with a message, a pronouncement of "Peace," dispelling their fears to move outward. Jesus appears, and 'breathes new life upon them and within them.'  Not just once, but twice. Not only does Jesus gift the believers with "Shalom," but he extends his very own wounded-ness to them, that they, too, will come to recognize their own wounds, and the ways they have wounded others, including Jesus.  This is metanoia - conversion - repentance and healing at work - just what disciples need to be authentic preachers of 'new life' and to become wounded healers, themselves, in the Example of "the Wounded Healer," Jesus. Your celebration is on Mercy Sunday. How fitting for these times! The psalm, too, so rich .... as each and every believing household and disciple-ed community can sing out, "The Mercy of God endures forever!" -- Linda

CommentBubbleI pray for the blessing of God to be with each of the Sisters as they commemorate & celebrate the 150th Founders Day! - Michael V

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