What is urgent is the evangelization of a world that not only does not know the basic aspects of Christian dogma, but in great part has lost even the memory of the cultural elements of Christianity.

                          Pope John Paul II


Boston Catholic Journal

I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.

                          Pope Benedict XVI

 

 

Suggested Reading:


The Problem
of Evil

The Problem of Evil: Exonerating God

Exonerating God


CCD

CCD: Crisis in Catholic Doctrine

Crisis in
Catholic Doctrine:

the Grave State of Religious Education in America



Boston Catholic Journal

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Boston Catholic Journal

Todays Martyrology

 

 

Welcome Home to the One, True, Holy, Catholic Church


Welcome Home ... to the One, True, Holy, Catholic Church
 


 “Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding

Blessed Pope Pius IX, 1st Vatican Council, S.3, C.2 on Revelation, 1870
ex cathedra

 

 


 

“The Third Rail and the Kingdom of Heaven”

 

The Third Rail and the Kingdom of Heaven

 

HARD SAYINGS

 

There are many “hard sayings” in Holy Scripture.

In other words, there are many parables and other verses that are uncomfortable to listen to … they are likely to make us fidget in our seats because we know that they well may apply to us.

You will recognize them at once:
 

·        They do not assure us of our salvation

·        They do not canonize us before we are dead.

 

“Third Rail verses” in Holy Scripture are verses to be avoided at all costs: they are fatal to the one touching upon them much as the third rail in an American subway system exceeds 1000 volts and will electrocute you instantly.  Such verses, of course, precede Third-Rail Homilies — to be avoided for the same reasons..

Third-Rail Homilies

A “third-rail” homily would begin with, let us say, Saint Paul’s address to the Philippians: “With fear and trembling work out your salvation” 1 — to mention nothing of the numerous admonitions from our Blessed Lord that do not merely “suggest”, but clearly warn us in no uncertain terms of eschatological realities that we may find both appalling and unacceptable — while being undeniably true.

They, too, are in the category of the “third rail”: touch upon them and you are dead. Speak of them and you may receive a call from your bishop to “tone down the rhetoric” and subsequently restore the cash flow.

Three of the Four Last Things

Death, Judgment, and Hell ( … but not Heaven). Few wish to hear of the first three. Your pastor knows this. To preach about or to dwell upon such verses is likely to cause “discomfort” — perhaps even “outrage” — and consequently diminish the congregation. They will go elsewhere, and find another parish and another priest who will assure them of their salvation (despite what Christ says), their invincible goodness, and their being “The lights of the world” and “The salt of the earth”. Such parishes and priests abound.

“Not Open”

Any hint that Heaven may be closed to some, if not many, is mocked as “pre-

Vatican II nonsense” — in spite of Christ’s telling us so:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and
the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those
who enter by it are many
(Saint Matthew 7.13).

Likewise, the notion that

“the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads
to life, and those who find it are few
(Saint Matthew 7.14)

These are but two of many, many, third-rail verses found in all four Gospels and many of the Epistles (Letters).

“Surely”, we console ourselves, “a good, merciful, and forgiving God would not allow such things to happen!”

To which we reply: Why, then, did He say them?

We do not seek God, but a heaven with a god to our liking and made in our image. This is another way of saying “We ourselves will be our own gods — for we are more merciful, more loving, more forgiving, more just, than the God we find in Sacred Scripture. We will not bend our knee before that God, but our own god. Ourselves! We will find or make priests and churches that “affirm us”, comfort us, and tells us that our illusions are realities or that reality is just an illusion.

 This is further to say that we will continue to maintain the illusions and fabrications that comfort us, but cannot possibly save us — rather than defer to “hard sayings” which are enunciated to the end of saving us and bringing us to genuine happiness (Heaven).

Other factors enter into this obstinate refusal to accept the “hard sayings”, and we point to them with the deepest sorrow. These “hard sayings” do not simply involve us — they involve those we have loved who have died.

Some of them, perhaps most of them did not accept these “hard sayings” either. Some of them led extraordinarily sinful lives, heedless of God and man. Some were little more than evil. Many simply did not believe, or would not relinquish what they perceived to be their freedom to do as they wish, or simply scorned religion altogether. But we loved them — and love always invests us in the being of another. Hence our pain.

Nevertheless a choice was placed before them, as it is placed before us now: to accept the “hard sayings” as earnestly as we accept the more comforting ones. We cannot choose which teachings of Christ we will accept any more than we can choose what we wish to be real or true. We must accept all of them or none of them. God does not tamper with our freedom, nor interfere with our choices. We are free to accept or reject, but in either case our choice is total. We cannot accept or reject the part without accepting or rejecting the whole, for the parts are constituents of the whole.

Much more to the point, the terms are not of our own making — they have been divinely instituted. Salvation is not a referendum any more than Heaven is a democracy. The means of attaining it have been clearly defined by Christ — as well as the means of losing it. The choice is yours alone.

To return to the discussion of those we love and who have died, here we encounter

the most painful legacy imaginable: our realization that the road they chose was the one that was broad and easy … To imagine them in torment everlasting is beyond our ability to comprehend without verging on despair.

“How wicked of you”, you tell me, “to compound the grief of those in bereavement! Have they not suffered enough by the loss of one loved?”

No. It is not wicked. It is painful beyond words. It is sorrowful beyond description. None of us may presume salvation, for to do so is to presume upon God’s mercy, itself a mortal sin! Indeed, I identify more with the departed than the surviving. I have no assurance of salvation for I refuse to presume on God’s mercy and may yet myself be accounted among the lost — even as Saint Paul himself feared. (1 Corinthians 9.26) Should I fear less?

That indeed there are those who go to Hell — and likely many (or Christ is a liar) we must allow this realization to motivate us with all the more urgency to bring those still with us to Christ, lest they, too, choose “the road that is broad and easy” and add to our sorrow greater sorrow still.

This was the whole point of the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man: the rich man in Hell implores Abraham “send him [Lazarus] to my father’s house, for I have five brethren, that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torments.” (Saint Luke 16. 27-28)  Can we do less?
 

Pay attention to the third rail! Ignore it to your peril.
 

It applies equally to priest and pew alike.

And when you chose your “comfort zone”, you would do well to consider its duration.

 

Editor
Boston Catholic Journal

 

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Salus Animarum
 

the Salvation of Souls

 

Hell
 

Whatever became of this most Fundamental Imperative …
indeed, the very reason for the establishment and existence of the Church?

 

It is unlikely that the vast, indeed, the overwhelming majority of today’s Catholics have not so much as heard of this phrase as old as the Church itself; certainty, not in English — and with greater certainty still, not from the pulpit. The very concept of “the salvation of the soul” appears to be non grata in homiletics for quite nearly 50 years (corresponding, unsurprisingly, to the implementation of Vatican II) — despite the fact that the imperative itself is clearly and unambiguously codified as the supremus lex (the supreme law) in Canon Law (1752):
 

Salus animarum supemus lex esto — the salvation of souls … must be the supreme law in the Church.”
 

It is nothing less than the sole reason for the Incarnation … the Suffering, Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection … of Christ: the salvation of souls!

Christ as Savior; Christ as Redeemer, cannot be understood apart from this most fundamental and utterly simple concept: He came to save souls — not to heal bodies (although He did), not to rectify injustices, not to rehabilitate politics, not to instruct us on economics, and certainly not save the environment.

He came with only two purposes that are really one:

  • To do the will of the Father

  • And the will of the Father is this: to save souls for all eternity in Heaven (and in so doing, to deliver them from Hell).

It is really that simple; in fact, so simple that it eludes us in our pretensions to sophistication, and our preferences for sophistry.

For 2000 years the mission of the Church (and its raison d’etre , the very reason for its being) could be summed up in two words instantiating that same beautiful simplicity: Salus animarum — the Salvation of souls”.  Through Christ in the Sacraments this is its sole mission.
 

No other Mandate

The Church has no other mandate from Christ. Even healing the sick, raising the dead, delivering men from demonic possession, and all that He taught in the Sermon on the Mount were means only to the principle end: the salvation of the soul. Christ Himself emphatically asks:

“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (St. Matthew 16.26).

The purpose of all that He said and did was always eschatological, that is to say, pertaining to the Four Last Things:

  • Death

  • Judgment

  • Heaven

  • Hell
     

Everything else pales in significance. Two come once only, and two are at once everlasting.

To pretend that we really do not fully understand what Christ was talking about, and which He proclaimed in the clearest terms, is just that: pretension. We know very well what Christ said and did — but to our own devious and often deviant ends, we assume an air of erudite perplexity concerning them:

“Despite what He appears to say; indeed actually says — this is what He really means …” What follows seldom has anything to do with what He means. And we recognize it.

 Our own interpretation merely accords with what we wish He had said, for this would provide us with excuses for our sins or alternatives for His extremely unsettling pronouncements. We go from the reality of:  If only He had said …” to the fiction: “This is what He really means … because I am much more comfortable with this interpretation — which, rather coincidentally, allows me to continue in sin.”  In short, it is nothing more than wishful thinking, because they cannot both be true.

However contradictory to what Jesus and His Apostles really said and taught, we choose to believe another narrative, however factitious; a simulacrum that borrows the vocabulary of the real but with connotations utterly incongruous with it. It is disingenuous, a sham. There is a pathos of similitude but the depiction is counterfeit. We have not entered the mythical: we have fabricated it. Shamelessly. It pleases us … and this is the first clue that it is deceptive. We have both an aversion and an affinity for the truth. It is the patrimony of our broken heritage from the beginning. We ineluctably desire the true, but when it indicts us we demur from it; unable to accommodate both we resort to dissimilation, to a semblance of the real that is, despite our collusion with pretensions, a defection from it. Hence our penchant for comfortable and spurious “interpretations”.

For all our carefully fabricated allusions to what Christ really said and meant, we know the truth — because He is the Truth Who does not deceive nor can be deceived. We are not pleased with all He said, especially concerning things that frighten us because they describe us  … and convict us — and we know it! 

Despite this, we insist that so many vitally important things that Jesus clearly uttered are nevertheless not true —  because they are not “inclusive” and do not accord with our delicate post-modern sensitivities that any real deity would surely ascribe to. That some, perhaps many, are left in “outer darkness", excluded from Heaven because of  their depravity and perversion, their penchant for sin and their obstinate predilection for evil, is unacceptable to our presently enlightened humanity. The list of our objections would be too long to enumerate and ultimately too tedious. Let us be satisfied with a few:


The Short List:

  • Not everyone goes to Heaven (St. Matthew 7:14)

  • People — indeed, many people — go to Hell (St. Matthew 7:14)

  • Hell is a real place of punishment, torment, and eternal suffering beyond our comprehension. It is the abode of the devil and demons. It is eternal and eternally devoid of any hope. (St. Matthew 5.29-10; Luke 16:19-31, 13.42; 25.41; St. Mark 9:42-44 etc.)

  • No one “goes to the Father” — enters Heaven — except though Christ (St. John 14:6)

  • If you deny Him before men on earth, He will deny you before His Father in Heaven (Matthew 10:33)

  • Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (St. Matthew 7:21)

  • Not any and every religion will bring you to Heaven (St. John 6.26-70)

  • Being a “nice person” does not suffice to bring you to Heaven or exempt you from Hell (St. Matthew 5.20; St. Mark 16.15-16)

Such pernicious nonsense has no place in our mythologized concept of God. We will have Heaven … “dammit" ... but on our terms — despite what Jesus Christ says … much to our consternation, and quite likely to our damnation. We prefer other interpretations;  more comfortable and convenient exegeses ... and sadly they abound.

For my part, fool that I am, I will take Christ at His word. In fact, I stake my life on it.

 

Editor
Boston Catholic Journal

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Personal Sanctity — all that is left in a World without God

 

“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them whom Thou hast given Me” (St. John 17:9)

 

The corruption  — on every conceivable level — of the world and in the world — especially in the West (often, and accurately, referred to as the “Post-Christian world”) — is nothing less than staggering. In the last 50 years (since Vatican II) we have encountered unprecedented levels of what can only be called malignant decadence — spiritual, moral, and social. It takes ones breath away.

We have lost God, and as a consequence we have lost not only ourselves, but our very identity often painfully acquired over the last 2000 years. We no longer recognize who we are and what we are. “Progress” and “the perverse” have become synonymous. We have become — for all the wrong reasons — self-loathing: detesting ourselves and the patrimony of a Catholic culture through which our very identity both as individuals and nations had been articulated.

Many hate the Church and a significant element within the Church hates the Church, remaining within Her as a cancer in its host. Western Christian culture is repudiated, ridiculed, and contemned as anachronistic, imperialistic, homophobic, racist, and misogynistic.

 Repudiating the true God as inimical to our passions and perversions, we have made our own gods, and they are many — in fact, as many as we are ourselves. Women are taught  — indoctrinated really — to hate men and everything they deemed “patriarchal”.  Everything that pertains to our loins, or more accurately, the loins of others — especially of the same gender — has supplanted, displaced, and superseded the numinous, anything authentically divine, and most especially, the holy. The very terms have been relegated to the periphery of polite discourse, when not entirely expurgated from it.

The world has fled God into the illusion of a utopian garden that is a desiccated dessert. It is populated by fictions and the rim of the horizon of our desires is the pretension that there is an end called satisfaction instead of an endlessly recursive vanishing point.

We find few paradigms of holiness in this City of Man — sadly, not even among many of our priests, and, sad to say, even fewer among our bishops. To what, then, shall we strive to attain in this increasingly lonely place we call life without Christ? What vision are we presented, and to what end are we called?

Mother Teresa, in an interview some years ago, explained the obvious. Rational persuasion, logical coherence, even the most impassioned homily will not bring a person to conversion, to Christ, and therefore to the Church. One thing only is capable of this monumental task: example; the example of holiness that we encounter in others that becomes the impetus to emulation: we want to be like them. And they are like Christ.

We are sadly lacking in example as Catholics. How often do we feel compelled to say to ourselves, “I want to be like her, like him!” when we observe an act, some instance, of holiness that overwhelms us in its simplicity? What examples, what paradigms, do we confront in our lives in Christ that compel us to holiness?  We must not confuse the exemplary with the popular, nor must we confuse it with carefully orchestrated events intended to inspire us. The exemplary is unrehearsed and has no concomitant agendum that is concealed within it. It is utterly spontaneous! And therefore, we sense, utterly genuine.

What figures in our lives as Catholics attain to this extraordinary state of the exemplary that motivates men and women to imitation?  To what are we exposed that motivates us not to the common and ordinary, but to the uncommon and exemplary? What do we see before us that calls us beyond ourselves and beyond the gray and geometric sterility of the world to what lies beyond it? Where is the differentiation between the Church and the world, the common and the extraordinary, the profane and the sacred? Let us be truthful and acknowledge the obvious: the world has permeated the Church to such an extent that we can no longer coherently differentiate the two except upon the most tenuous of distinctions. Increasingly the agenda of the Church is the agenda of the world. This is not the leaven Christ spoke of. It is the leaven of the world.

 

Personal Sanctity

First, let us understand this with complete clarity: we cannot attain to sanctity apart from the Church and Her Sacraments. We cannot become holy schismatics, that is to say, apart from the Church which is the Body of Christ. However sterile we have found it since the spurious  and self-promoting euphoria of Vatican II … however trampled the Vineyard and however littered with discarded and never-to-be-revised Roman Missals, Religious habits, Chapel Veils, Priestly collars, Roman Cassocks, kneelers … even the centrality of the Eucharistic Presence of Christ, and an understanding of the Mass as a Sacrifice; however grotesquely crippled and contorted the buildings we call our  “Churches” have become — more redolent of civic auditoriums than Sanctuaries, there … there … abides the Living God, hidden in Tabernacles we often do not see and only find with much difficulty. He is there! However much we shunt Him aside as both an ecumenical and chronological embarrassment, all the litter of what has been discarded cannot conceal Him from us. He beckons us, and even under the most humiliating circumstances, we can look upon Him Who ever looks upon us.

Apart from the Church, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, and the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass … we can do nothing, become nothing, worthy of the Most Precious Blood poured out for us upon that Altar. To be holy we must be part of the Church for the Church, as we have said, is the Body of Christ, and He Who is the Head of the Body is God Himself. Christ Jesus. God Alone is Holy — and it is  He Who participates His holiness to us that we may be, in the most clear way possible, what we were created to be; what we essentially are, despite the filth of sin that covers it, obscures it, and defaces it: the imago Dei, the image of God Himself!

In this wasteland barren of spires and empty of cloisters, ugly, squat, geometric and concrete, Bauhaus pretensions emerged from the rubble of “clustered” demolished churches (Churches without anyone left to worship in them one of the many “successes” of Vatican II). They are no longer grand structures striving to equal the soaring Faith of men and women in heights contiguous to Heaven itself … but stooped, square, economical structures that could as well be mortuaries (or athletic facilities, commercial structures, municipal offices “functional” things that could, in an instant, reflexively duplicate any of the above in need. 

 

“Faith Communities”

Indeed, we no longer have “churches” as such but in some paroxysm of needless novelty we now have “Faith Communitiesonly parenthetically “Catholic” lest they offend broad ecumenical sensitivities, for are there not other “Faith Communities” distinct from, if often antithetical, even inimical, to the Catholic Faith? By a “Church” we  immediately understand something quite different from a “Mosque”, a “Synagogue" , a “Temple”, or a “Kingdom Hall”. Understood as a “Faith Community”, a Catholic Church is no different from any of these. In an age of unbridled ecumenism are they any less “Faith Communities” than our own, we implicitly, even necessarily ask, not just minimizing but marginalizing the unique mission and commission of the Church established by Christ upon Saint Peter? If they were established by Muhammed, or Lao Tzu, or Martin Luther, are not such “Faith Communities” equally acceptable to God in the sweeping logic of ecumenism?  If indeed they are, then the crucifixion of Christ on the Cross is emptied of all value and meaning. He died for no reason if every “Faith Community” is the way to salvation. His death was not necessary in the economy of salvation: hence He died needlessly ... even gratuitously. This, of course, is a scandal to the very Gospel He Himself proclaimed. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me.” 12 But in the malformed logic of ecumenism, even if other “Faith Communities” despise the Triune God of Catholics and hold to other gods, are they not equal expressions of man’s faith and legitimate venues of salvation? In the “correct” atmosphere of post-Vatican II theology, would we dare to assert that they are not? All roads lead to Rome … that lead away from Rome  —  and every paradigm of the holy, however contradictory, is deemed legitimate and authentic, and the end of each is the same: Heaven and salvation. Saint, heretic, infidel and atheist alike go to God. The Catholic Church has no corner on salvation. She is now simply one among many, and Christ erred in proclaiming Himself, “the way, and the truth, and the life”, and deceived us in  insisting that, “No man cometh to the Father, but by Me.”

We are so damnably democratic … We must “spread our tent pegs”, we are told, to be inclusive of all, even if God is not. The strange thing, however, about “spreading our tent pegs” is that the wider, the more inclusive, the more “horizontal”, they become, the lower the apex of the tent. We achieve the horizontal at the expense of the vertical. We sacrifice the magnificent height to accommodate the factious width. Ask any camper. Even happy ones. Eventually the fabric rips and the structure collapses. Most often in the rain. And in great ruin. The “stitching” did not, could not, hold this multiplicity of opposing forces however benevolent or brainless our intentions.

Accompanying this ecumenical impulse was, necessarily, theological ambiguity. How, otherwise, hope to bring hoped-for consensus out of conflicting doctrines? It is this ambiguity that afflicts pulpit and podium alike in nominally Catholic institutions. In matters of Faith, morals, and doctrine, it is rather like equivocating on geometric postulates or axioms; or in mathematics holding in abeyance quantitative relationships that are otherwise held to necessarily obtain between integers. Much like Dostoyevsky we reach a point where we declare,

“To me that 2+2=4 is sheer insolence. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too.” (Notes from Underground)

This is largely the state of Catholic theology, and, eo ipso, Catholic homiletics. We are no longer I repeat: no longer (for once, and for a very long time we were … prior to Vatican II) certain of just what Holy Mother the Church teaches, given this priest or that theologian and whether it was Wednesday or Thursday. “Officially” She teaches “this”, but depending on the audience She or better yet, and to be fair, Her spokesman in the person of a priest, nun, sister, bishop, pope, or theologian proposes, or at least appears to suggest the contrary or openly rebels against it! For the average Catholic layman or laywoman, they: the bishop, the priest, the Religious, are the consecrated symbols of utter fidelity to the Church, and for that reason it is a scandalous state of affairs.

How then do we live our lives as Catholics — not post-Catholics in a post-Christian world

How do we live our Catholic lives as they had been fervently lived for 2000 years prior to the insipid, diffident, confused and eclectic — and at times even implicitly pantheistic  —  impulses and subsequent teachings that emerged from Vatican II, an unnecessary Council which effectively and efficiently tore down the edifice of Catholicism as distinct, distinguishable, and unique? As a way of life? In other words, lacking visible paradigms of sanctity, how do we go about living lives of holiness amid the detritus of so much we once considered sacred and that now litters the ecclesiastical landscape of the Modern Church or the American Church or the European Church — all of which are conflatable into one ecclesiastical body that appears to articulate itself as distinct from the Roman Catholic Church? In practical terms it is an increasingly autonomous body. We see this most strikingly today in Germany.

Shall we go more frequently to Mass?

This is an obvious paradigm from another and past generation. It once was true, but if we are remorselessly candid, it is no longer so.  How often do we go to Mass and leave no more enlightened or fervid than when we had entered? Much of what was distinctively and historically Catholic is no longer there. “God loves you. The weather is great. You are all going to Heaven (and your dog, too). Be nice. Shalom. Go in peace.” If we are honest we cannot leave fast enough.

How about the Sacrament of PenanceConfession

... now called the Rite of Reconciliation practiced face to face in a room with well-appointed and comfortable chairs strangely reminiscent of a psychotherapist’s office? The bulletin indicates that it is only available 45 minutes per week or “by appointment” … as with a “therapist”. Frankly, this is not much of an option, especially since the evisceration of the concept of Mortal Sin (a term no longer in use because no longer applicable) and the paucity of “real” sinners like you and me.

What about a Spiritual Director?

Good luck finding one at all, let alone one who knows and will give you the mind of the Church — rather than currently prevailing spiritual trends. Once again, we effectively encounter,  “God loves you. The weather is great. You are going to Heaven (and your dog, too). Be nice. Shalom. Go in peace.”

Perhaps we Should Go to Medjugorje to listen to the “Seers” of the “Gospa”?

The “Seers”, beginning June 24, 1981 — youngsters then, adults now, some 34 years later — surely have an answer somewhere in the thousands of appearances of the “Gospa” (Mary). 1 Make expensive travel arrangements through them to visit Medjugore (including hotels, meals, and even meeting with one of the “Seers” themselves) and watch your rosary turn into gold! You will hear much of the pronouncements of Vatican II validated by the Mother of God Herself, such as:

Before God all the faiths are identical.  God governs them like a king in his kingdom.” All sufferings are equal in hell; and Mirjana quotes the Gospa as telling her that people begin feeling comfortable in hell. … When the Madonna is asked about the title, “Mediatrix of all graces,” she replies, “I do not dispose of all graces.” 2

Perhaps the “Gospa” will reveal the way of holiness to you, although her track record over the past three decades (and thousands of “appearances”)  has been uniformly dismal in the way of predictions and has led to open schism with the local bishop who insists (with the Church) that the “Gospa” and her six now-not-so-little-confederates are not authentic (yes, despite the organized parish visits, in direct disobedience to the Church, with your local priest you can make a “pilgrimage” to a site condemned as spurious by Rome.)

 

What then? What is Left?

Personal Sanctity. Apart from any organized approach to holiness though the Mass (and the incredibly bad music that is a perpetual distraction from it), or Confession (barely extant), or sound Spiritual Direction (almost universally absent) there is one venue, and one alone that is open to you in these sterile, confused, contradictory, and tepid times in which the Church appears as clear and distinct as a Microsoft hologram: the commitment to personal sanctity guided by the Lives of the Saints, rather than disaffected theologians. You are surrounded by a Cloud of Witnesses”, we are told 3 who have gone before you and have arrived at genuine sanctity, at complete and indissoluble union with God in Heaven. Let them — by their words and by their example — be our teachers who had taught and guided the Church for two millennia.

Personal Sanctity requires effort. You must come to know the mind of the Church and authentic Catholic doctrine and dogma. That is to say, you must be catechized. “But I went to CCD!” you protest. “And what did you learn?” I will ask. “Why did God create you?” And you will have no answer. In a word, you learned nothing despite the expensive, glossy textbooks your parents had to pay for, and which were far, far, more pictorial than substantial. They were … trendy. Empty. Worthless. And even back then, you knew it. Indeed, your CCD teacher knew as much about the Faith as you did. Catechesis has not been an important agendum to your local bishop; even while it should be the most preeminent as that upon which all things subsequent depend.

Immerse yourself in authentic Catholic doctrine  —  and assiduously avoid anything , even with (or without) an Imprimatur and/or Nihil Obstat that post-dates 1950.The Imprimatur and/or Nihil Obstat are no longer any guarantee that what you read is consistent with the mind and historical teachings of the Church. Once they were legitimate stamps of approval as consistent with the Magisterium of the Church, but they have long ceased to be so. Open the first few pages of any ostensibly Catholic book and look for the date of the first printing. This will tell you much in the way of their authenticity and reliability as instruments appropriate for the formation of a Catholic Conscience. If it precedes 1950, politely put it down despite the rave reviews of any nominally Catholic source, to say nothing of any secular source.

In a famous line from the movie “The Exorcist” (based on fact) by William Peter Blatty, the elderly Father Merrin warns the much younger Father Karras who is suffering a crisis of Faith that, He is a liar, the demon is a liar. He will lie to confuse us. But he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us. The attack is psychological, Damien. And powerful. So don't listen, remember that, do not listen.

By and large, Catholic literature dealing with matters of Faith, Morals, Doctrine, and Dogma — either as pamphlets or scholarly tomes had, prior to 1950, been carefully vetted by competent Catholic theologians, priests, or bishops. They are credible sources and remain so, although many have fallen out of print — not from desuetude but as inconsistent with present and “popular” Catholic thought, often percolated through Rogerian psychology.

The famous library at Alexandria 4 in classical antiquity was burned by the Muslims in 642 in an effort to destroy any book incompatible with the Quran. “Modern” Catholic theology and literature has engaged in a similar enterprise. Many of the greatest books in Catholic literature are now only available on-line or through small publishing houses committed to preserving genuine Catholic teaching.

Apart from this treasury of 2000 years of Catholic teaching we are left with incomplete, contradictory, and confusing doctrines, not of the Church, but of dissident and disaffected theologians, priests, and would-be “priestesses” who, in today's “inclusive” seminaries are the instructors of what few candidates to the priesthood we have left following their decimation by homosexual clerics and seminary rectors. Richard McBrien, Daniel Maguire, Hans Kung, and Teilhard de Chardin  — all voluble, dissident, and nominally Catholic writers  — two were collarless priests — are among the most eminent examples of this theological dissidence, confusion, fiction, and heresy. In their writings we are presented with a mixture of some truth (to entice us) and many lies (to confuse us) reminiscent of the stratagems of the demon in William Peter Blatty’s, The Exorcist. Where is a Catholic to go to re-acquire an authentic Catholic identity consistent with the Church and the Saints for 2000 years?

 

Grayscale Memories

Many of us have them. We cleave to them as to invaluable possessions, for they introduced us to an awareness of the holy and of places other than Earth; to a belief in things more profound than venal democratic institutions and more enduring than perverse social issues. They opened the vista to things eternal and resplendent in glory, to things holy that the world could not possibly sully and debase because of the ontological distance that separated them, a distance as great as sanctity from sin. They are in carefully kept albums from a time of innocence, and inscribed in the Family Bible placed beside a statue of Mary the Mother of God. They are indelibly impressed in our memories; our First Holy Communions, May Processions, the Baptisms of our children, and on the memorial cards of those we love and who now live, please God, in a place called Paradise, forever beyond this jaded Earth.

 

So How do We Get Back?

A soul at a time, beginning with our own.

Let us look at a few fundamental concepts with which we ought to familiarize ourselves if we are committed to persevere to Personal Sanctity. Once we have acquired these we have the tools through which to articulate our own lives, whatever our vocation in life, to accord with the mind of Christ and the mind of the Church in matters dealing with the Faith, the Faith that has been faithfully transmitted to us through the Deposit of Faith, for what we are striving toward is nothing less than Exemplary Holiness which itself is nothing more than Personal Sanctity.

      Devotion to Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar:

We recognize that HE is there, REALLY and TRULY, in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity — in other words, the total Christ Jesus. This is the character of exemplary Catholicism: the recognition of God Himself in the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity really and truly present to us in the Tabernacle. Without His Presence, without Him, the building we call a Church is nothing but a meaningless and empty edifice. He is there! And He awaits you —  anytime of the day or night. For the most part He is left alone, unacknowledged, or simply unrecognized. We do not kneel before Him, but have the hubris to stand before Him as before an equal! Is that how you will approach Him in the Last Judgment? We do not have the humility to genuflect when we pass before Him, acknowledging Him … and yet we would not dare pass a mere man we know without greeting him with some gesture of recognition …


Frequent, but Discerning Reception of Holy Communion:

You are familiar with the spectacle of  everyone going to Holy Communion as though there were no sinners in the pews.  This indiscriminate partaking of the Bread of Angels with no Examination of Conscience prior to approaching Christ in Holy Communion is itself a Mortal Sin if one is aware of an unconfessed Mortal sinned that has not been absolved in the Tribunal of Penance (Holy Confession). In the state of Mortal Sin and not sufficiently cognizant of the true and real Presence of Christ in the sacred species of Holy Communion, it is an act of blasphemy and therefore the death of the soul in conspectu Dei (in the sight of God), for Saint Paul is very clear: “For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.” 5 Most often, apart from ignorance, the source of this sin is the Capital Sin of Pride which refuses to constrain us to conspicuously remain in the pews in recognition of his unworthiness, through Mortal Sin, to receive Holy Communion — when everyone else is.


Recognition of the real Distinction between Venial Sins and Mortal Sins:

This is not the venue of a discussion of the distinction between Mortal and Venial Sin. Suffice it to say that a Mortal Sin must contain all three of the following: (1) the matter of the sin must be serious, (2) one wills to commit the sin, and (3) one commits the Mortal Sin. A Venial Sin is not serious in nature, is committed without a full understanding of the detrimental nature of the sin, and/or is not committed with the total consent of the will. Venial sins do not preclude participation in Holy Communion. Mortal Sins do.


Devotion to Mary:

One preeminent hallmark of Catholic piety is the love of Mary, Mother of God. Devotion to Mary is the sine qua non of the fully lived Catholic life. Her place in the economy of salvation is absolutely singular: she alone gave flesh (her flesh) to the Word Incarnate. Hence “every generation shall call me blessed” 6 She is our Mother. 7

Recognition of the Reality of Heaven and Hell

It is the Sin of Presumption to assume that, as a matter of course, we will go to Heaven and stand before the Beatific Vision of God eternally. Even Saint Paul worked out his salvation “with fear and trembling.” 8 Despite the total absence and silence at the pulpit of any mention of Hell, it is quite real and many go there. 9


Recalling The Four Final Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell

In many old graveyards you will find the following inscribed upon many humble markers: “Sum quod eris, fui quod sis” — essentially, “As you are I once was, as I am you will one day be.” Understand your mortality, recognize the inevitable, and act accordingly. Remember the distinction between “life” and “life everlasting” … however it will be lived in Heaven or Hell. Have always before you the Last Four Things that will surely come to pass instead of the present “popular” things in vogue with a Church that has become heavily feminized in every aspect of its “Liturgy” and social teachings.


Never Pass a Church without recognizing Christ within:

“Gloria tibi, Domine!”
(Glory to You, Lord!), or “Laus tibi, Domine” (Praise to You, Lord!). A devout Catholic always makes some sign of recognition of Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar when he passes a Church. This is accompanied by tracing the Sign of the Cross on our forehead or over our heart. When this becomes instinctual (as it had been prior to Vatican II) it will assist us in recognizing Who abides there and for what reason. It is the instinctive call to holiness.


Receive Holy Communion on your Knees

Remarkably, this is no longer the norm in modern Novus Ordo Masses. Saint Francis himself, it is said, refused Holy Orders (becoming a priest) because he did not think himself worthy to hold the Sacred Body of Christ in his hands. You may be reproached by the priest in your parish for not following the “approved posture” adopted by the USCCB. As Saint Peter responded to those who discouraged his preaching the Gospel, “Is it better to obey God, or men?” 10 For 2000 years Holy Communion was received this way, and nowhere in the documents of Vatican II does it suggest otherwise. Would you approach Christ in less an attitude of humility and adoration? Think of it: would you just saunter up to Him (as most do), shake His hand, and go your way  — if you saw Him with your living eyes? You would fall on your knees and you know it! Do not fear being scorned for what others may consider your “sanctimony”. It is Christ Himself you kneel before! What thought of anyone else should occupy your mind? What of their derision? What of their thoughts of you? Would it matter, does it matter, when you kneel before Jesus Christ your Lord, your God? The very Angels do! (Heb.1.6) Will you do less?


Honor the Saints and the Company of Martyrs

They, not your Parish Council, are your  faithful and eternal friends. If they are no longer honored in the present Martyrology, honor them still, and invoke their aid and protection. Remain in their company, the Company of Martyrs who behold the face of God in Heaven. It is the Company to which you are called! It is the Company of the few who paid the supreme price to enter it! And you are called there, too ... Read about them and learn what genuine Faith impelled them to, heedless of their sufferings and the mockery of those about them. Honor them by imitating them ... not the “entertainers” at Mass, either within the Sanctuary or standing in a “Music Ministry” beside it, demanding your applause. Applause ... at the foot of the Cross? Do you not know where you are — and would you applaud the crucifixion of Christ? You are not at a mere Meal or a Fellowship gathering ... but at a Sacrifice — and the Blood is on the Altar!

Christ Himself promised us that the very Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church. And yes, the Church, as we limply excuse ourselves, is “made up of sinners.” But it is also made up of saints. That is our universal vocation: to be nothing less than saints, whatever our earthly vocation. But we are not saints yet. As Saint Francis famously said, “Let us begin. For up to now we have done nothing.” Do not be afraid of sanctity. It is the very character of the image in which you have been created.

Whatever the Church now suffers on earth it has suffered before, if not on so vast a scale. And that is precisely why your call to sanctity is so vital. You must pursue the sanctity that the Church at present appears to have lost, or spurns as too onerous … too “other-worldly” in this Age of Man. You must be the sign of contradiction that is the Sign of the Cross, and Him Who was crucified upon it for you. You must be in the world but not of the world, for Saint John warns us,

“Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and
the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever.”
  11

Spurn the world — and the empty love and praise of the world! Keep all that is holy before you and this day begin to dwell already in the Mansion prepared for you by Christ before the foundation of the world.

 

Editor
Boston Catholic Journal

Comments? Write us:  editor@boston-catholic-journal.com

 

_______________________________

1 See http://www.boston-catholic-journal.com/medjugorje-private-revelation-and-the-seer-ing-truth.htm,
2  http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/the-devil-and-medjugorje
3  Hebrews 12.1
4  “In AD 642, Alexandria was captured by the Muslim army of Amr ibn al `Aas. Several later Arabic sources describe the librarys destruction by the order of Caliph Omar. Bar-Hebraeus, writing in the 13th century, quotes Omar as saying to Yaḥyā al-Naḥwī: “If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them.” Later scholars are skeptical of these stories, given the range of time that had passed before they were written down and the political motivations of the various writers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Alexandria 
5  I Cor. 11.29
6   St. Luke 1.48
7  St. John 19.26
 Philippians 2.12, 2 Cor. 13.15.
9  St. Mat. 7.13
10 Acts 5.29
11 1 John 2.15-17
12  St. John 14.6

   Printable PDF File

 

Note: An invaluable source for historically authentic Catholic teaching including the writings of the Church Fathers can be found at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/  and http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/

The indispensible Baltimore Catechism  — universally used by the Catholic Church until it was discontinued following Vatican II can be found (and downloaded as a PDF) at: http://www.boston-catholic-journal.com/baltimore_catechism.pdf . It presents a clear, concise, and readily understandable presentation of our Holy Catholic Faith. We encourage you to explore it.

Comments? Write us:  editor@boston-catholic-journal.com

 

 


 


THE SACRED RULE

for Properly Celebrating the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass


The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: A Primer for Clueless Catholics

DO NOT DO at Mass  what you would never have done were you standing at the foot of the Cross with Christ visibly before you.

DO at the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass what you would have done were you standing before Christ hanging on the Cross in front of you — for at Holy Mass you are at the crucifixion of Christ on the Cross — really and truly.

Had you closed your eyes for a moment while standing immediately before Christ upon the Cross, 
you would be where you are this day at the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

DO, then, what you would have done ... and DO NOT DO what you would never have done.


THIS is the proper disposition of the soul at every single Mass.

 



 “As the purpose of the Church is a purely religious one, she has in herself (per se) no political, economic, social and profane cultural tasks to perform.” (Ludwig Ott, 1952, The Purpose of the Church 3.2, p. 275  —  the de facto standard reference work on Dogmatics)


 

Complete Roman Martyrology in English

The Complete Martyrology in

 English

for Daily Reflection

Semen est sanguis Christianorum— The blood of Christians is the seed [of the Church], Tertullian, Apologeticum, 50

 

ROMAN MARTYROLOGY

Tuesday December 6th in the Year of Grace 2016

Season of Advent


This Day, the Sixth Day of December


At Myra, the metropolis of Lycia, the birthday of St. Nicholas, bishop and confessor, of whom it is related, among other miracles, that, while at a great distance from the emperor Constantine, he appeared to him in a vision and moved him to mercy so as to deter him from putting to death some persons who had implored his assistance.

In Africa, in the persecution of the Vandals, and under the Arian king Hunneric, the saintly women Dionysia, Dativa, Leontia, a religious man named Tertius, Aemilian, a physician, and Boniface, with three others, who were subjected to numberless most painful torments for the Catholic faith, and thus merited to rank among the confessors of Christ.

In the same country, St. Majoricus, son of St. Dionysia, who, being quite young and dreading the torments, was strengthened by the looks and words of his mother, and becoming stronger than the rest, expired in torments. His mother took him in her arms, and having buried him in her own house, was wont to pray assiduously at his sepulcher.

The same day St. Polychronius, priest, who, in the time of the emperor Constantius, was attacked by the Arians and put to death while at the altar saying Mass.

At Granada, in Spain, the passion of blessed Peter Paschasius, martyr, of the Order of Mercedarians, and bishop of Jaen, whose festival is celebrated on the 23d of October, by order of Pope Clement X.

At Rome, St. Asella, virgin, who, according to the words of St. Jerome, being blessed from her mother's womb, lived to old age in fasting and prayer.

And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.


O
mnes sancti Mártyres
, oráte pro nobis
. ("All ye Holy Martyrs, pray for us", from the Litaniae Sanctorum, the Litany of the Saints)

Response: Thanks be to God.

 



Roman Martyrology by Month

January February March April May June
July August September October November December

 

 

Why the Martyrs Matter


Each day
we bring you a calendar, a list really, of the holy Martyrs who had suffered and died for Christ, for His Bride the Church, and for our holy Catholic Faith; men and women for whom — and well they knew — their Profession of Faith would cost them their lives.

They could have repudiated all three (Christ, Church, and Catholic Faith) and kept their lives for a short time longer (even the lapsi only postponed their death — and at so great a cost!).1

What would motivate men, women, even children and entire families to willingly undergo the most evil and painfully devised tortures; to suffer death rather than denial?

Why did they not renounce their Catholic Faith when the first flame licked at their feet, after the first eye was plucked out, or after they were “baptized” in mockery by boiling water or molten lead poured over their heads? Why did they not flee to offer incense to the pagan gods since such a ritual concession would be merely perfunctory, having been done, after all, under duress, exacted by the compulsion of the state? What is a little burned incense and a few words uttered without conviction, compared to your own life and the lives of those you love? Surely God knows that you are merely placating the state with empty gestures …

Did they love their wives, husbands, children — their mothers, fathers and friends less than we do? Did they value their own lives less? Were they less sensitive to pain than we are? In a word, what did they possess that we do not?

Nothing. They possessed what we ourselves are given in the Sacrament of Confirmation — but cleaved to it in far greater measure than we do: Faith and faithfulness; fortitude and valor, uncompromising belief in the invincible reality of God, of life eternal in Him for the faithful, of damnation everlasting apart from Him for the unfaithful; of the ephemerality of this passing world and all within it, and lives lived in total accord with that adamant belief.

We are the Martyrs to come. What made them so will make us so. What they suffered we will suffer. What they died for, we will die for. If only we will! For most us, life will be a bloodless martyrdom, a suffering for Christ, for the sake of Christ, for the sake of the Church in a thousand ways outside the arena. The road to Heaven is lined on both sides with Crosses, and upon the Crosses people, people who suffered unknown to the world, but known to God. Catholics living in partibus infidelium, under the scourge of Islam. Loveless marriages. Injustices on all sides. Poverty. Illness. Old age. Dependency. They are the cruciform! Those whose lives became Crosses because they would not flee God, the Church, the call to, the demand for, holiness in the most ordinary things of life made extraordinary through the grace of God. The Martyrology we celebrate each day is just a vignette, a small, immeasurably small, sampling of the martyrdom that has been the lives of countless men and women whom Christ and the Angels know, but whom the world does not know.

“Exemplum enim dedi vobis”, Christ said to His Apostles 2  “I have given you an example.” And His Martyrs give one to us — and that is why the Martyrs matter.


Joseph Mary del Campos
Editor, Boston Catholic Journal


Note: We suggest that you explore our newly edited and revised
De SS. Martyrum Cruciatibus — The Torments and Tortures of the Christian Martyrs for an in-depth historical account of the sufferings of the Martyrs.


 


INTRODUCTION TO THE ROMAN MARTYROLOGY
 

by J. Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore


THE ROMAN MARTYROLOGY is an official and accredited record, on the pages of which are set forth in simple and brief, but impressive words, the glorious deeds of the Soldiers of Christ in all ages of the Church; of the illustrious Heroes and Heroines of the Cross, whom her solemn verdict has beatified or canonized. In making up this long roll of honor, the Church has been actuated by that instinctive wisdom with which the Spirit of God, who abides in her and teaches her all truth, has endowed her, and which permeates through and guides all her actions. She is the Spouse of Christ, without spot or wrinkle or blemish, wholly glorious and undefiled, whom He loved, for whom He died, and to whom He promised the Spirit of Truth, to comfort her in her dreary pilgrimage through this valley of tears, and to abide with her forever. She is one with Him in Spirit and in love, she is subject to Him in all things; she loves what He loves, she teaches and practices what He commands.

If the world has its "Legions of Honor," why should not also the Church of the Living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth? If men who have been stained with blood, and women who have been tainted with vice, have had their memory consecrated in prose and in verse, and monuments erected to their memory, because they exhibited extraordinary talents, achieved great success, or were, to a greater or less extent, benefactors of their race in the temporal order, which passeth away, why should not the true Heroes and Heroines of Jesus, who, imitating His example, have overcome themselves, risen superior to and trampled upon the world, have aspired, in all their thoughts, words, and actions, to a heavenly crown, and have moreover labored with disinterested zeal and self-forgetting love for the good of their fellow-men, have their memories likewise consecrated and embalmed in the minds and hearts of the people of God? If time have its heroes, why should not eternity; if man, why should not God? Thy friends, O Lord, are exceedingly honored; their principality is exceedingly exalted. Whom His Father so dearly loved, the world crucified; whom the world neglects, despises, and crucifies, God, through His Church, exceedingly honors and exalts. Their praises are sung forth, with jubilation of heart, in the Church of God for ages on ages.

The wisdom of the Church of God in honoring her Saints is equaled only by the great utility of the practice thus consecrated. The Saints are not merely heroes; they are models. Christ lived in them, and Christ yet speaks through them. They were the living temples of the Holy Ghost, in whose mortal bodies dwelt all the riches of His wisdom and grace. They were in life consecrated human exemplars of divine excellence and perfection. Their example still appeals to our minds and to our hearts, more eloquently even than did their words to the men of their own generation, while they were in the tabernacle of the flesh. Though dead, they still speak. Their relics are instinct with sanctity, and through them they continue to breathe forth the sweet odor of Christ. The immortality into which they have entered still lingers in their bones, and seems to breathe in their mortal remains. As many an ardent, spirit has been induced to rush to the cannons mouth by reading the exploits of earthly heroes, so many a generous Christian soul has been fired with heavenly ardor, and been impelled to rush to the crown of martyrdom, by reading the lives and heroic achievements of the Saints and Martyrs of Christ. Example, in its silent appeal, is more potent in its influence on the human heart and conduct than are words in their most eloquent utterances.

The Church knows and feels all this, in the Spirit of God with whom she is replenished ; and hence she sets forth, with holy joy and exultant hope, her bright and ever-increasing Calendar of Sanctity of just men and women made perfect and rendered glorious, under her unearthly and sublime teachings. In reading this roll of consecrated holiness, our instinctive conclusion is, precisely that which the great soul of St. Augustine reached at the very crisis of his life, the moment of his conversion If other men like me have attained to such sanctity, why not I? Shall the poor, the afflicted, the despised of the World, bear away the palm of victory, the crown of immortality, while I lie buried in my sloth and dead in my sins, and thus lose the brilliant and glorious mansion already prepared for me in heaven? Shall all the gifts, which God has lavished upon me, be ingloriously spent and foolishly wasted, in the petty contest for this worlds evanescent honors and riches, while the poor and contemned lay up treasures in heaven, and secure the prize of immortal glory? Shall others be the friends of God, whom He delights to honor, while I alone remain His enemy, and an alien from His blessed Kingdom?

It is a consoling evidence of progress in the spiritual life in this country to find the Martyrology here published, for the first time, in English, and thereby made accessible, in its rich treasures of Sanctity, to all classes of our population. It will prove highly edifying and useful, not only to the members of our numerous religious Communities of both sexes, but also to the laity generally. Every day has here its record of Sanctity; and there is scarcely a Christian, no matter how lowly or how much occupied, who may not be able to daily peruse, with faith and with great profit, the brief page of each day’s models of Holiness. These belong to all classes and callings of life; from the throne to the hovel, from the Pontiff to the lowest cleric, from the philosopher to the peasant, from the busy walks of life to the dreary wastes of the desert.

Let all, then, procure and read daily the appropriate portions of this Martyrology. Its daily and pious perusal will console us in affliction, will animate us in despondency, will make our souls glow with the love of God in coldness, and will lift up our minds and hearts from this dull and ever-changing earth to the bright and everlasting mansions prepared for us in Heaven!

Imprimatur,  J. Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop Baltimore, Maryland 1916

   Printable PDF Version

______________________________

1   The Lapsi were early Catholics who renounced the Faith and either sacrificed to the Roman gods by edict from the emperor, or offered incense to them to escape Imperial persecution and death, and who later returned to the Faith when persecution subsided. However, Christ warns us, “Every one therefore that shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in Heaven. But he that shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father Who is in Heaven.” (St. Matthew 10.3-33)

2 St. John 13.15

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