Ezekiel 37 Prayer Group

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This weekend we held the first prayer meeting of a new type. It is a spirit-filled group and is the beginning of what I am writing a little pamphlet on. We call it the Ezekiel 37 group for we seek to put the flesh of faith back on the bones of daily life.

The hallmark of the group is simplicity and a sense of “Go forth.” We want everyone who comes to be with hope and to then, go forth and spread that hope through living the ordinary. We do it different because we believe that it is important to fortify each other in a spirit-filled meeting, but also feel that much of the charismatic movement has succumbed to spiritual infections that sometimes rob people of hope, create a sort of contest over who can appear most holy, and act as arbiters of grace, as Pope Francis recently warned them against. So we agree with the principle of calling the Holy Spirit forth, as charismatics are wont to do, but want to avoid the barnacles of vanity that have attached themselves to the movement.

Later this week I hope to put up a video of a brief presentation from the meeting, which centered around Family Life as a Participation in Trinitarian Life. Over the next few months. we will work on refining the meetings. and I will keep you advised. Following are the basic principles we started with:

Ezekiel 37 Group

 

General Principles

 

Our Purpose

Ezekiel 37 is a spirit-filled prayer group. We seek to build each other up, not to tear each other down or show each other up. Enflamed with the joy and love that is in Christ, we seek to share that with others that they may fall in love with Our Lord and Our Lady anew, then go forth and and do the same for those they meet, living the evangelism of the ordinary with extraordinary joy.

Several of our practices are different than other spirit-filled prayer groups you may have encountered. Here are some highlights of how we live our faith in public prayer.

Mystical Experiences

“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” – Jesus to the Apostle, Thomas, John 20:29

God sends mystical experiences for a variety of reasons. It can be to foster a mystical union with Him, to give direction, to give consolation, or even to give hope to a sincere soul who is too spiritually immature to believe without it.

In some groups, mystical experiences are treated as a sure sign of God’s favor. An unhealthy competition arises to see who can claim and describe the most such experiences in their lives. The vanity of such a competition leads some away from God and crushes hope in others who do not get such experiences.

There are saints whose whole lives were marked by mystical experiences, but there are others who are almost bereft of them. St. Therese of Lisieux had next to none; Blessed Mother Teresa had next to none; St. Thomas Aquinas had none until near the end of his life – and it ended his capacity for useful public work.

God defines His saints not only by what He gives them, but by what He withholds from them. What He withholds often causes them to reach out all the more strongly. God has an intimate call for each of us. Union with Him is defined not by the details of how He manifests that call, but how well we live His call to us.

There are times when describing a mystical experience can be a sign of hope to those around us. We encourage offering signs of hope. But to avoid vain competitions that quench the spirit of hope, we encourage people to treat public display of the intimacy of mystical experiences with the same refinement and discretion with which they treat intimacies with their spouse – as Pope Benedict XVI recommended in his book, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

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Healing

“For the Son of Man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” – Mark 10:45

God always heals those who ask Him with sincerity. But His healing is always for eternity, for the health of our immortal souls. Sometimes our souls are healed through the instrument of a physical infirmity.

In order to prepare ourselves to receive God’s healing, we must first have faith. Like the man with the withered hand, we must “stretch out our hand to Christ.” Then we must trust that whatever God allows after we have submitted ourselves to Him in faith for healing is for our good or the good of other souls. Finally, we must abandon ourselves to Him and whatever He sends us, becoming willing partners with Him in the spreading of His grace. If we can do that we become a walking miracle.

The centurion at the foot of the cross may not have known how Jesus lived. If he did, it did not convince him of the Lord’s divinity. It was watching how He died that led the centurion to proclaim, “Surely, this was the Son of God!” We should never seek suffering and always seek physical healing. But if we must suffer for a time, how blest we are if we live it in a way that draws more people to Christ and opens channels of grace for others!

Some say that the Lord never is involved in physical ailments or infirmities. Who, then, put the scales on the eyes of St. Paul? Surely the same God who removed them when they had accomplished what was needful. How blest the infirmity that helped give us the Apostle to the Gentiles!

We seek testimonies of how God has moved in peoples’ lives, particularly in motivating them to help others. If a physical healing is involved in that, thanks be to God, but we will not let that eclipse the more terrible – but often more fruitful – grace that is entwined with temporal suffering. Pray for healing, never waste suffering, and give God thanks for whatever He sends when you abandon yourself to Him. Follow that and conversions and hope will fall around you like ripe fruit.

Prayer

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” – John 13:34

There is such a rich wealth of formal community prayer available to us. We focus on Eucharistic and Marian prayers at our meetings, but encourage all forms of pious Christian prayer and devotion.

We recognize that ours is an evangelical faith and don’t limit the definition of prayer to formal prayer. The Lord commands us to go forth and love one another, going so far as to say that the world will recognize His disciples by our love for one another.

Living your daily work with extraordinary joy and love is a particularly refined form of prayer that engages the mind, soul and body. The mother who spends her day washing and folding clothes, changing diapers, taking the kids to the park is living prayer fully. The father who does his work well, who takes time to play games with his children is living prayer faithfully. The neighbor who helps a shut-in do the shopping or make small repairs or just visits and shares a few laughs and a few stories is living prayer well. Do all before God and do not impoverish yourself by limiting your prayer only to formal prayer. To do so is to make the sanctuary a sort of ghetto. Christ calls us to go forth and carry His word through how we love one another.

We cherish all forms of prayer, but have a special devotion to spreading the prayer that is so neglected, the apostolate of the ordinary.

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Speaking in Tongues

“He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the Church” – I Corinthians 14:4

Publicly speaking in tongues has become common in many assemblies of Protestant Fundamentalists and Catholic Charismatics. St Paul encouraged the gift of tongues in private prayer and did not forbid it in public, but he set specific rules for its use in public assemblies, rules that are routinely disobeyed by almost all Christians who engage in the practice. His rules are simple and direct.

First, let only two or – at most – three speak in tongues at any public gathering. Even then it is only allowed if there is a reliable interpreter. If no one is there to interpret, no one is to publicly speak in tongues at an assembly. Paul writes that this is a command of the Lord and any who do not recognize it are not recognized themselves as followers of the Lord. (For detailed information of Paul’s instructions on tongues and public assemblies, read I Corinthians, Chapters 13 and 14.

We follow St. Paul’s instructions. During moments of private group prayer that are not addressed to the whole assembly, Paul does not forbid the private use of tongues – and neither do we.

The use of tongues, though, has been a source of vanity, triggering some to compete with each other over who can do it the most. If the spirit moves you to speak in tongues during a private prayer at an assembly, by all means, do not quench it. But understand that pretending to speak in tongues for vanity’s sake is an invitation to dark spirits to enter the assembly.

Practice

“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country…and greeted Elizabeth” – Luke 1:39,40

It is in the ordinary that we most often encounter the Face of God. Though she was pregnant, herself, (and with the Messiah, no less) Mary went forth to help her cousin, Elizabeth, with what might be a difficult, late-in-life pregnancy. Her simple care for helping another drew forth the blessing of the Magnificat, one of the most beautiful prayers ever uttered.

We do not just receive the Word, but live the Word with our neighbors in a way as ordinary and homely as Mary going to help a cousin with a pregnancy. We ask that all do what they can to strengthen the bonds between neighbors, with an emphasis first on those little souls given into your care by God, your children and family. Is there an older person whose stoop is in need of repair in your neighborhood? Help her – or find someone who can. Then stick around to visit a while. Do you know of people in a retirement home nearby who may be lonely? Get to know a few. It will brighten yours and their day. Do you have a neighbor overwhelmed by the demands of raising the kids? Why not offer a little something…mow the yard, make a picnic meal and get to know them better. To be a friend is a greater, richer thing than just to be friendly.

We do not propose to lay burdens on anyone or add requirements. Rather, we ask simply that you help others lift their burden when you can. Such is the evangelization of the ordinary – living solidarity and friendship with each other. There will be no checklist, no reporting of what you have done, who you have met and inspired joy in while receiving joy back. We ask that all just actively “Go forth…” according to their circumstances and when they can and give of the joy you have received. Do this simply and a flame of love and new hope will engulf the world.

Understanding that many are parents or have work and other obligations, our meetings will last an hour and a half – and under no circumstances will run longer than two hours. After the prayer service, the organizing committee will stay for an hour so that any who want to talk or share further fellowship may enjoy each other’s company and testimony.

Whenever possible, meetings will begin with the procession and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Keeping Christ truly present throughout the meeting will help keep people focused on Him – and keep dark forces that seek to assault the assembly at bay. It will always be opened with a Marian meditation, such as the Rosary. Organizers will take turns at different meetings leading the assembly and introducing those who will speak or lead prayer, so that there is little danger of meetings degenerating into a cult of personality. It is Christ and Mary who lead our meetings – speakers just facilitate the encounter.

We claim Christ. Knowing that satan is utterly powerless before Him, we do not recite long lists of things to renounce, lest we deceive ourselves that it is by our power that satan is rebuked. We reject all things which could seduce us to let go of Christ and so be vulnerable to satan. Among those are any sort of mysticism that includes any sort of “emptying” or “centering” meditation or prayer, whether or not it pretends at compatibility with Christianity. All our meditations and prayers are centered on Christ and His saints. As Christ Himself said, it is not enough to clean and empty the house of our spirit, for if we do that, the unclean spirit we swept out “…finds it empty, swept and put in order. Then he goes and finds seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” – Matthew 13:44,45. We claim Christ and fill the house of our spirit with Him – that satan remain powerless.

In all cases at all times, our aim is to ignite the reality of the hope and joy that is in Christ for all – and encouraging those who attend to go forth and do the same, spreading the living flame of Christ’s love to their neighbors and, hence, the world.

 

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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81 Responses to Ezekiel 37 Prayer Group

  1. Observer says:

    I would say that this most important homily from our brilliant and holy Pope is quite “mystical” and what the world needs to either remember or, mostly today, to be taught anew…..if only such an awakening to this most current reality was preached from the heart in all of our parishes…the great battle of powers and principalities….for us:

    9/29/14

    http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Pope:-Satan-is-cunning,-presenting-things-as-if-they-were-good,-but-they-go-against-man,-against-humanity-and-against-God-32281.html

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  2. Mary says:

    Great spiritual writer Romano Guardini on mature prayer: http://catholicexchange.com/art-contemplative-mystical-prayer

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  3. Janet says:

    Thank you for this Charlie! Beautiful!
    Happy feast day to Sts Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael! Please pass on our warmest love to St. Gabriel, Charlie, and thank him for all he is doing to prepare us for the times that are upon us. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      Hee hee, Janet….after a very serious week Gabriel showed his playful side at Mass this morning. The priest had just said firmly about the archangels that, “these are real, intelligent beings…” Someone poked me in the ribs on my right and I glanced over. Gabriel had a sly smile and said, “See, he says I’m intelligent. Pay attention.”

      I commit all you wonderful people to his attention. He is so enthusiastic to help all who will serve.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Funny! The mental picture you painted in your comment about St. Gabriel poking you in the ribs and his words to you cracked me up!

        It’s good to know that God shared his gift of humor across the board. I love reading the comments on your site 🙂

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      • SteveBC says:

        I think a sense of humor is so important that you might consider adding a fourth step to your main three. “Trust in God, take the next right step, be a sign of hope to others, and create laughter with the occasional well-timed joke.” Does that sound about right? :-0

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        • Fran says:

          Yes, Steve! I was just thinking about how important it is to have a hearty sense of humor. There seems to be a lot of it in my family, and I am thankful. That is one thing that is an absolute extension of joy I think, and it can definitely lift your spirits through a difficult situation too! We usually read everything so seriously in Scripture, but I often imagine Jesus laughing in different situations, or shaking his head in exasperation, and chuckling at the dumb things the Apostles said. I am sure he does the same with me. That makes me happy to know that angels have a sense of humor too. I mean that really just makes my day! Happy Feast Day all of you angels!!
          😀

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          • SteveBC says:

            Yes, Fran. And thank you for figuring out the keyboard code for the laugh icon. 😀

            Trust, Do, Love, and Laugh. Oh, Charlie’s going to be upset with me for changing his formula. Maybe you and I will keep it just between us and not give Charlie fits about it.

            Oh, wait! Charlie’s gonna see this, because he moderates our conversation. Oops! 😀

            Last week my sister brought 10 cousins into town for a surprise birthday party for my mother, who turned 90 last week. Our politics and religious/spiritual views and expectations for the future are all over the map. Nonetheless, we all had a wonderful time, my mother was simply stunned at such an expression of love for her, and we had a lot of laughs. Despite profound differences, we parted even more strongly bonded than before. Laughing together was a big reason for that outcome. Now for a smile icon: 🙂

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          • Janet says:

            Fran one of the stories about Jesus that to me speaks of his sense of humor is this one:

            Mark 6: 47 – 51
            “When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were [completely] astounded.”

            He made as if to pass them by! He KNEW they would see him. I hope I’m not being irreverent, but I think that’s hilarious! Charlie, do you think St. Gabriel was chuckling on the sidelines? “Fell off the mizzen mast, I was laughing so hard!”

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          • charliej373 says:

            Oh yes, I do, Janet. And I’ll bet you before He set out, Jesus quietly called out to the angels, “Hey guys, come watch this.”

            I know people have trouble wrapping their minds around it, but our heavenly guardians enjoy occasionally playing practical jokes on us just as a parent affectionately plays jokes on the kids every now and again. They love us more tenderly and intimately than we realize.

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          • Fran says:

            Oh,I don’t think Charlie will be too upset, Steve; I think he has a lively sense of humor! And I think “laugh” is just naturally going to follow Trust, Do, and Love sometimes anyway.

            Janet, I have thought that scene with Jesus walking on the sea was hilarious too! And he acts like he is going to walk right by them! It makes me laugh just thinking about it now! And they thought he was a ghost for heaven’s sake. That’s what I meant by sometimes I think he must have just been shaking his head and laughing to himself about them all the time.

            Charlie I never thought of that scene with him possibly saying that to the Angels, and them laughing too, but that makes it even funnier! I’m so glad that you all shared these things. It endears me even more to Jesus and the Angels, and I know I am not the only one who is laughing sometimes when I read Scripture! 😀

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          • SteveBC says:

            Huh. It never occurred to me that he might be playing a trick on his apostles, but now that you point it out, Janet, I think you may be right. After all, going out for a stroll on the Sea on a dark and stormy night, just happening to pass by a boat full of people you know, well, that does stretch credulity, doesn’t it?

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      • donna269 says:

        that’s just adorable…..makes my heart melt.

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        • MM Bev says:

          My guardian angel’s name is Kyle. He has a real sense of humor. Last week, the contractor Stan, asked me for my metal meter stick. Now we really didn’t need it, as a tape measure would do quite adequately. So, since my vision leaves so much to be desired, I always count on Kyle to find me things….which he does so admirably. Well, nope. Not this time. I search, and search and search–not my usual, oh here it is. Stan finally resorted to the tape measure, even as I was grumbling and asking WHERE is the meter stick, for crying out loud! Fortunately, Stan has seen Kyle assist me immediately, so while I was humiliated and embarrassed, I swallowed it up, and just continued. Of course, after, I let Kyle know what I thought.
          A few days passed. And I REALLY needed the metal meter stick. Yup. Two seconds! I think he was laughing his head off, only I don’t see him, just a glow peripherally, so I can’t be sure. And I’ll bet he had called his buddies, saying, “Come here guys, and watch this!”

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  4. Anne Archer says:

    I wonder if there might be a way to ;connect with people in our own areas that are also readers of your column???

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  5. Ann Suhrie says:

    So beautiful Charlie. I feel this is what I have been waiting for all my life! I have been in many prayer groups and most all of them have had the deficits you speak of. I feel like heaven is touching earth. I feel so much joy! Thank you for listening to your heavenly visitors and sharing with us.

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    • charliej373 says:

      Ann, I just got a note from a woman who brought her children (I was particularly happy we had a bunch of children there – we are family! To me, children have always been a “joyful noise to the Lord…”). Anyway, she said her son, in particular, was not particularly enthused about coming to a prayer meeting (who would have thought it? I was not so enthused about such things when I was a boy, either…especially when the baseball fields were calling my name. But she said the simplicity of this has wrought real enthusiasm in both her children…they liked it – and are trying to come up with nice little things they can do for their friends. Lordy, if this sort of thing catches on…can you imagine? Random acts of senseless kindness?

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  6. Ann Suhrie says:

    The mystery of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth has become so important and special to me recently.

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    • Andy says:

      Ann. If you have never seen Maria de Nazaret try to find it in English. I think it is very well done. This is the scene between Mary and Elizabeth but no in English and yet still very powerful. I think they have it on Netflix. That is how I first saw it a few years ago.

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    • KW says:

      The Visitation is more amazing to me now than it was when I was growing up. I have been hit with pure exhaustion for at least the first trimester of each pregnancy (often it extends into the second). Thinking of Mary with that particular symptom adds a whole new dimension to The Visitation for me. Then my mind wanders and I wonder if Mary had morning sickness :-).

      Thank you for this site Charlie!

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      • Andy H says:

        The church would say that Mary did not experience the normal pangs of child birth especially in labor but I have never understood this and wonder if anyone can shed light on it. The reason I have never understood this is because of Revelation 12 where it states:

        [1] And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: [2] And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.

        Now I fully believe that scripture has many meanings to it and the woman clothed with the sun for me represents not only Mary but Israel but even in this case, vs 2 would thus have two meanings. So again I don’t understand the church stating that Mary did not experience labor pains or pains in birth? Help clear this up for me anyone? Thanks!

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        • charliej373 says:

          Hey Andy, I have seen some saints and commentators say that (actually a lot) but I know of no where where the Church teaches it doctrinally. It’s a sort of hagiography that some good souls get enthused about that I seriously think misses the mark. I have heard and read many well-meaning people say that – and some others who have also said that Jesus didn’t feel any real pain in His passion. Occasionally I have snapped irritably that Jesus was not just God in a Halloween mask: He is truly God and truly man. While such commentators are trying to be refined in their respect for what is holy, they miss the point. Jesus and the Holy Family lived solidarity with mankind. That was a big part of the point of the whole thing It would be a cheap and fraudulent parody of solidarity if all they had to do was go through the motions of what people have to suffer without actually suffering, themselves. There is nothing cheap or fraudulent about Christ or the Holy Family. The effort at “refinement” on the part of some commentators – including some saints – has led them to miss this central point.

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          • Elizabeth K. says:

            I too find it hard to believe that Mary did not experience labor pains. When I was in labor with my third (10 + pound!) child, I was at the end of my rope, being prepped for a C-Section, and then I remembered to pray to my Mother Mary. It wasn’t a great, holy prayer–I believe I said, “I need help and I need it now.” All of a sudden, I kid you not, it felt like that room was packed with light and people, and the midwives said they’d give it one more try, and wham! that little girl was born. I think a few angels joined in. So I’ve always felt that Mary understands what women experience and assists us.

            On the other hand, when I think of Mary as the new Eve, I wonder if perhaps her labor was not painful, since pain in labor is part of the consequence of the Fall. I wonder if she labored as we all were meant to, originally–much the way I think Jesus walked on water because He is the epitome of who we were meant to be but are not, including in His relationship to nature (ability to calm the storm, etc..).

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          • Matthew says:

            Our Lady was free of Original Sin and thus free of its consequences one of which is pain in childbirth. I have heard commentators say that she was spared pain in Bethlehem but experienced tbe birth pangs on Calvary as she gave birth to the Church the body of her Son – which is of course what is happening in Rev. 12.
            Matthew

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          • Matthew says:

            PS: on my respones to Elizabeth K: We must remember that the Church does dogmatically teach that Mary was virgin IN PARTU – that is in the act of giving birth. St. Augustine writes that Our Lord passed from Our Lady’s womb as a ray of light passes through a pane of glass – causing no pain, doing no harm.
            Matthew

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          • Janet says:

            Thanks Matthew. This fits in with the visions of Ven. Ann Catherine Emmerich, who was given visions of Biblical figures all her life.
            You can read about her here: http://www.ecatholic2000.com/anne/lom.shtml or here: http://www.olrl.org/prophecy/emmerich.shtml
            Also her life of the BVM is posted here in its entirety: http://www.ecatholic2000.com/anne/lom.shtml

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          • marie says:

            http://www.catholic.com/tracts/mary-ever-virgin
            Our Lady’s Perpetual Virginity. As she did not give birth in the ‘normal’ way, it follows that she would not have suffered labour pains. James’ Proto-Evangelium. Not to say, however, that she did not otherwise suffer tremendously as Co-Redemptrix.

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        • MM Bev says:

          Well, labor or no labor, it wasn’t fun to ride on a donkey at nine months pregnant, no matter what anyone says.

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  7. BB says:

    Many, many years ago I joined a Catholic Charismatic prayer group in high hopes of finding a kind of lay community of believers and pray-ers like you envision. But the group had many of the problems you recount here, and although I stuck with it for several years, eventually it was not able to withstand the tensions that arose, and disbanded. That was okay. But it was attending a couple of Charismatic Conferences that really showed me the movement seemed to be geared to evoke emotions, and to express emotions. It became empty for me. I did seem people who, in my estimation, were pretending to have experiences of a mystical nature, or who may have not really been discerning the spirits they were listening to. Anyway, because of those things, I stopped attending Charismatic events or prayer meetings.
    I pray the sort of meeting you envision will produce magnificent fruits of the Holy Spirit, and that you will be able to dispel the unclean spirits that will be attracted to it, who will attempt to destroy it. I recall in the prayer group I attended any introduction of conventional prayers like the Rosary or Litanies was strongly resisted. That was worrisome to me when it happened, and I wonder if the prayer group would have survived had those things been allowed.
    My only suggestion is that you pray a priest may be involved in a significant way, for guidance and to keep the group connected to the Church.
    God bless your efforts.

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    • charliej373 says:

      Thank you BB…that is what we are gently working to do. Some treat Jesus as if He is a dry, intellectual puzzle – and leave no room for the spirit. Meanwhile, many charismatic groups have all the delicacy of a Las Vegas show club – eager for any spirit to come in as long as they are the center of attention. The whole point of a prayer group is to give people hope – and to encourage them to spread that hope. That is why I am being so cautious and have been so quiet about this. We are going through a few steps, to discern how to do it so the Lord is always at the center of things – so it is never an excuse to show off our scholarship or our many gifts, but to show people that Christ is close at hand to them – and that they can spread the joy at the heart of it in simple, unaffected ways.

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      • Barbara Dore says:

        sigh, nothing new! always spiritual competition!

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      • Sheri G. says:

        Hi Charlie, God is so…… awesome and Our Blessed Mother is truly amazing!! I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know but sometimes they just blow my mind away! First of all, thank you for your reply to my email! As I told you, I was raised a Charismatic Protestant and it took me years and years to truly embrace the Catholic Church. After I consecrated myself to Jesus through the IHM using “33 Days to Morning Glory” (actually it was a renewal – I went through all of the motions of consecration using St Louis de Montfort’s book years ago) my spiritual life totally changed!!! I now know that I really do have a Mother in heaven who loves me!! All of heaven became much more real to me! Ever since then I have been telling my husband, good friends and my spiritual director that I felt I was being called to form a prayer group. I said “I don’t know all the details but I do know that it has to be charismatic, Marian and centered on Jesus and hopefully in a church, where Jesus is present! When I read your post last night I was absolutely amazed!!! It sounds exactly what I envisioned! A friend told me several months ago that this prayer group is already formed in the Lord’s eyes and that I just have to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I think your post was a huge piece! Now I will just wait for all of the rest to fall into place also! (Like who will help me, where will it be etc.) Thank you so much for being faithful to Our Lord and Our Mother and sharing so much with us!!

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      • MM Bev says:

        Charlie, I was filled with a great hope when you said you were involved in the formation of this Prayer Group and that it would be a “format” for others.
        Your blog is “both/and” and I expect that the ultimate format provided will be the same. When the word “charismatic” is involved people often have a preconceived idea in their minds–often validly so. The trouble is, the gifts are needed, but so is quiet prayer, all ages of people including children, the rosary if that is a choice decided. The primary thing to me is that there should not be one and only one aspect of being a Christian group praying, set in stone to the exclusion of all other forms. God makes up a group of individuals, and gives many ways to reach out to Him in group prayer. Both/and allows the Holy Spirit to truly release His power. I’m not completely sure that group”s need to identify themselves as one form or another. As Saint Therese said, “I chose everything.”

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  8. Bob says:

    As for as lists of things to renounce I think it is good to not be rigid about renunciation but as often we have certain area(s) in which we have left the door open to evil it is often good to have people, self included at several points, renounce the major ways we have chosen to allow evil to enter and trusting God for the grace of freedom. At least that is how we have done in our healing and deliverance ministry which is under the authority of our local bishop, who is a good one. It seems to me that while repentance is very good there is sometimes a further step in renouncing our past friendship we allowed ourselves to have with specific evils.
    As for as emptying forms of so called prayer and meditation, we must focus on Christ and Him crucified and Our lady in our prayers and if God simplifies our prayer it is His work but if we try to create a false quiet we are at best engaging in self hypnosis and at worse opening the doors to evil. As Teresa of Avila said our prayer should begin and continue as a loving dialog with our God.

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    • Mary says:

      True, and well said. Thanks.

      Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Yes Bob, and as you see, we do not entirely renounce renunciations. Shoot, the renunciations in the renewal of baptismal vows are beautiful – and a beautiful reminder of who we are called to be. But I have sat through three single-spaced pages of renunciations before at some meetings, which is clearly an abuse – and renunciations of the most mundane things. The one that sticks in my mind was the renunciation of the “Power Rangers” as a work of satan at one meeting – for those who don’t know, that is a kid’s cartoon from a few decades back.

      There are three big problems with this type of promiscuous renunciation:

      1) it is easy to start throwing in things that different organizers don’t like that have nothing to do with the devil. Then it becomes a matter of both bearing false witness AND imposing on the authentic freedom the faithful are to have.
      2) It makes us come off as terrified little lambs. I listen sometimes and think, yeesh, have you forgotten that this is the faith that confidently swept the world, that as it converted pagans and others it confidently kept what was good in their customs while rejecting what was contrary to nthe faith? Christianity is not a faith the goes about cowering before demons and seeing them behind every bush. We claim Christ and the demons do the cowering.
      3) When you start reciting long lists, people can begin to think it is by their power that demons are rebuked rather than by the power of Christ. A man against a demon is as lopsided a battle as a gnat against an alligator – no contest – and we’re the gnats. But demon is LESS than a gnat confronted by Christ. Hold to Christ, for His is the only power that prevails. Then follow Padre Pio’s advice: pray, hope and don’t worry.

      Like

      • Mary Ann says:

        “Like”

        Like

      • Bob says:

        I would say if we had serious occult involvement or long term habitual sins we were good friends with those should be good areas to renounce specifically and you are right that people can get too caught up in long renunciations of every little thing, when for many of them a good confession and penance would suffice. It is good to find your site Charlie. I found it through Mark Mallott and Mike Brown.
        As for Mark when he was in St Louis once I got off work early and sat in the Chapel, where he was going to speak later, and I noted him laying prostrate before the Eucharist for over an hour. Good man he is. God Bless.

        Like

        • June1 says:

          Bob, that is amazing. I don’t know what I would have done if I had seen that! I probably would have wanted to hurry up and leave since that is such a beautiful, intimate act. I think I would have been like, let’s just give Mark and Jesus some privacy… 😛

          Like

  9. Sue says:

    I went through the RCIA program many years ago, and being in that group was the best thing ever. We had a wonderful priest to lead us, and I took to it like a hungry dog on a meat wagon. The day I was finally received into the church was the happiest day in my life. I was so proud to be a Catholic! But then, after that, I was just on my own. I didn’t know anyone really, and there were no prayer groups to speak of. Eventually I drifted back into my old way of life, and away from the church. I have always dreamed of belonging to a prayer group such as yours. I too wish there was such a thing where I am, I would be on it like a tiger! It is such a lonely thing to be without a Christian friend…

    Like

    • Andy H says:

      Sue, have you ever thought about starting what you want? Be a leader and approach your church and ask. I am sure there are many out there just like you who want the same thing but don’t have the courage to step up and run with it. Take the lead and have that courage. Pray about it and the Lord will lead you to it if it is His will!

      Like

    • Audie says:

      Sue, I keep thinking of you and how you feel lonely without a Christian friend. I understand that, as I have come back to the Church after many years and experienced a bit of loneliness at first. Andy has good advice. Maybe get involved in an activity where there is a need to serve and you will find other avenues for friendship in the Church. You have all of us here, which has been a lifeline for me. And, the most important, we are never alone, for we have Jesus with us always. While I was still “on my own,” I did a consecration to Mary. Then, I did another. I was so happy to see that they offered these consecrations at my new little church, and so continue to consecrate my heart to Jesus through Mary with the people I’ve met there. Maybe you could do that or even get others to join you in one at your church. God bless you.

      Like

  10. Jim M. says:

    Those to whom glimpses of Heaven are given are blessed, for their eyes behold the Kingdom of God. Those who believe without seeing or hearing are blessings to God; for by pure faith alone, they embrace God with their hearts despite never seeing nor hearing.

    We all are blessed with the grace to serve God in different ways, if we so choose. Some find their way to the Lord at birth, others much later. Some are graced with visions and locutions. Others serve Him through blind faith alone. Is one more blessed than the other in God’s eyes? The parable of the Prodigal son provides insight, as does the parable of the laborers in the field, where the last was first, and the first last. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2020:1-16

    Infinite love and mercy, and perfect justice.

    Isaiah 55:8-9

    8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
    9 For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.

    Jesus, I trust in you!

    I wish I could join your prayer group, Charlie, but I am 3000 miles away, right where God wants me at this time. I don’t know why, but that matters not. Here I am, Lord!

    Like

  11. Beth says:

    Charlie, Im getting scared.

    Like

  12. Beth says:

    Youre right. Actually i dont know, Im just one person in the world, praying my rosary etc. The world is in chaos, does anyone see? my group of friends think im nuts. Im sad.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Yeah, I get that Beth. We all get those days – and now times are serious. Honestly, I have been completely out of sorts all day today – for no good reason. (Not even for a bad reason I can think of). I just always pray that when I have one of those funk days where all seems gloomy that it not last beyond the day. Sometimes it does, but rarely does it go more than three days. When that happens, I generally go through the motions as best I can – and then one day I wake up and, go figure, I am roaring to go and full of joyful energy again.

      When my son was a teenager we had a deal. We each were entitled to a no-reason gloom day every once in a while. If we were grumpy for no reason, each of us could play the “grump” card and we would leave each other alone for the day. There was no set allocation – but the deal was it was to be relatively rare. It really made things work better – for you know, often when someone tries to cheer you up on a grump day, it just makes you grouchier. So play the grump card today…but know, that people all over the world DO know, ARE praying, and ARE girding their loins to be a sign of hope as things get tougher. God bless.

      Like

    • SteveBC says:

      Beth, I see a lot of people here commenting to help you, each in their own way. However, I suspect that an electronic handholding, generous and loving as it is, just may not be enough when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

      Some of us see the troubles ahead and are afraid. Some of us see wonderful things coming later and are hopeful. Some of us are handling the stress with laughter, others by taking naps, still others by reaching out as people are doing here for support, love, and prayer.

      And some of us, like me, are doing *all* of the above at one time or another! 🙂

      Charlie’s right. Even when you feel alone and overwhelmed, you can always trust God, and you can always take that next right step that’s right there in front of you. If you can do those two, you can also at least sometimes become a sign of hope to others.

      If you conscientiously do all three, you won’t be alone any more. Next month or next year, people in need (as you are now) will start to come to you because you will have gathered what they will then need. They will just start showing up!

      Further, because you have already been where they then will be, you will be able to have real compassion for them. You will both want to and be able to care for them and provide them with what they will need. All by taking just one step at a time.

      Charge your battery first. Trust, Do, Love. Then what you have built up inside will overflow onto others as naturally as breathing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Janet says:

      Beth remember the Lord has given your loved ones the gift of YOUR faith. You are the Lord’s secret weapon in their lives. Yes, pray, hope, and don’t worry!

      Liked by 1 person

      • charliej373 says:

        Now THAT is fabulous, Janet. People do not realize how much of a gift that is. If people would offer up their fears and worries about the people they love for the very people they love, they would be astounded at how startlingly God can move. I say this as one who has a few dear loved ones who are far away and alienated from me right now, but I have absolute confidence that everyone I love will be in heaven for me – and I offer all my pain and sorrows first, for those I love and then, if any is left over, for Our Lord and His mother to dispose of however they see fit. And I am GLAD that I have had constant, sometimes debilitating pain for 11 years now without interruption, for it gives me more to offer – and in the process gives me more confidence for the people I love. For though I know my pain is little enough, I know that when we offer even a little, united with Christ, He is a God of staggering abundance. So I pray, hope and don’t worry, as Padre Pio suggests – and I also take to heart Zio Pio’s advice (Padre Pio’s brother) – don’t worry, be happy! (Okay, I made that last one up. But zio really is the Italian word for uncle).

        Liked by 1 person

      • ann says:

        This wisdom has sustained me many a day, Janet. I will always be grateful for you telling me this some years ago. 🙂

        Like

        • Audie says:

          Dear Beth, I have also been very afraid, but Charlie, Janet, and this community of believers, like SteveBC and so many others, have given me peace of mind for most days. Charlie’s formula does work and, I believe, will help us to help others now and when things get worse. My family thinks I’m nuts too, but it doesn’t matter anymore. I just continue to pray for them and try to be kind.

          Like

      • Andy H says:

        You are so right Janet and that is what keeps me going. My family is still lost as I was so lost only a year and a half ago and yet the Lord called me to come back. Janet has posted several times the Marino Restrepo conversion story video and he speaks of beacons of light that God chooses in each family. Watch this whole video when you have the time for it is treasure better than any material on Earth if you ask me.

        The part about family begins at the 33 minute mark if you have the time only to watch some of this. Also remember 1 Corinthians 7: [14] For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband:

        Like

    • Elizabeth K. says:

      Hi Beth. It’s ok. I’m scared too. I just read the breaking news of the first ebola case in Texas, and thought, “already? really?” I don’t feel ready for all of this. I’m sure you’re don’t either–how could you? I think people know the world is in chaos, but I think also the best thing is to do like Charlie says–just the next right step. A few years ago, I was always amped up, trying to get people to see why, for example, Obama was not quite the right man to handle our foreign policy. That time has now passed. Pray for your friends. If I told anyone how bad I think things really are, they’d think I’m nuts, too. Now I just try to enjoy this time with them while it’s here–appreciating the blessing of this time.

      Like

    • BB says:

      Yes, Beth, we see. Many of us have seen for a while now. In fact, I thought some predicted collapse was going to happen in 2013, and it did not. At that time I learned once again, far above my thoughts are God’s. I realized even before that, regardless of what appears to be going on in the world, in spite of how it appears to be sinking into chaos, (and it has) there is nothing I or anyone I know (because I am not a person with worldly power or who has powerful friends) can do about it; except PRAY. And there it was. I can pray. No one can stop me from doing so. And in that it occurred to me that what I CAN do (pray) is very powerful, more powerful than what the President, or U.N. or ISIS can do, because I can invoke GOD! Since His will is always for our ultimate good, I pray His will be done. So I become like Our Lady, praying His will, knowing He will act, even if I don’t see how, or know the effect of my own prayer. It doesn’t matter.
      I also know, if I am faithful, I will be as protected as Our Lady was her whole life. Joseph wasn’t there for no reason at all. God knew Mary needed a man’s protection in what she would face. He provided. If you don’t have something now, God knows you may not really need it, or He will give it to you. So don’t worry about your friends not seeing, or your family, or your own future. He will provide. He may already be speaking to their hearts, without you knowing it.
      What you need is an increase in Faith to cope with the future and the unknown. Ask for that.
      And don’t take in so much of the media, because there’s a lot of hyperbole going on there now, making people afraid. Be aware, be informed, but discount some of the hype.

      Like

      • charliej373 says:

        I know it is a subtle point, BB, but I maintain the collapse of our systems DID come in 2013. We just have not fully crashed yet because of that collapse. All the safety systems which preserve our freedom and defend our religious liberty collapsed last year.

        It is kind of like driving a car on the freeway when your brake system suffers catastrophic collapse. You can drive along for many miles without realizing it, but eventually you are going to crash. The crash is not the moment of collapse, but the result of the collapse that occurred earlier. The rule of law, the guarantees of liberty have already collapsed. So crash is in our near future.

        Like

        • BB says:

          Wow, Charlie. That shocks me. I never, ever thought of that. I really thought I was wrong in my discernment (of just an inner feeling or sense of truth, not a “word” per se) but I will rethink that based on what you are saying.
          I understand what you mean, like an airline that doesn’t drop straight down when it loses power, but “coasts” a while, slowly going downward, because of the momentum of it’s forward motion.
          I only just started following your blog, with a link from SpiritDaily. I realize now I have read Michael Brown’s reports on you in the past, so maybe I picked up my idea about 2013 from something I read there? Anyway, thank you for pointing that out to me, because it helps me to clarify my discernment. God bless.

          Like

  13. Fran says:

    You are NOT just one person in the world, Beth, and there are people who see. I dare say most of us here have a number of family/friends who either dismiss us, or think we are crazy too! But that is ok, because I just think that if we have been given grace to see it is only because we are called to pray and fast for those who do not. Because they will see soon enough too, and need every grace possible. Don’t be afraid! Just grab Our Mother’s hand, and she will care for you and your loved ones! You know how safe a child feels just being close to his mother. She wants you to feel like that with her.

    Like

  14. aj says:

    Beth, the Saints and even modern day mystics tell us that if we could only see the reverberations a single prayer or a kind word has on eternity we would be surprised and do many more little things in Love. My advice…offer the weariness and sad feeling to our Lady because She will do wonders with it! Oh…and tell your Guardian Angel start cracking some jokes or tickle you or summin…:-)

    Bless you Beth heaven is a prayer away… 😉

    Like

  15. Marti says:

    Charlie,
    has anyone put 2 + 2 together in Oklahoma regarding the Black Mass = the beheading? That was the first thing I thought about when I heard it happened in Oklahoma. Reaping what you sow….
    God have mercy!

    Like

    • ann says:

      Me too Marti–first thing I thought of–the Bishop warning that things would be unleashed if that desecration went forward and now it begins. Poor Oklahoma.

      Beth I can tell you I have those days too–I’m blessed to have a few friends who are on the same page with me spiritually but mostly I walk with the unbelievers in my home, family, neighborhood, even parish. I’m with Charlie on offering up the anguish. That’s what I do. Sometimes it’s almost more than I can bear but then I keep remembering that Our Lord assures us throughout scripture that no one who hopes in Him is disappointed. He gave me another passage–from Sirach– to that effect yesterday during my Holy Hour. A loving reminder. I cling to it, believe me!

      Like

    • Elizabeth K. says:

      Hi Marti–yes, that’s the first thing I thought of. I know from past experience a door left open to the demons can really wreak havoc in one’s life and home (but nothing that St. Michael can’t take care of 😉 ). I shudder to imagine what a Black Mass can do to the unsuspecting. I know few attended–but those few can spread a lot of harm to those around them. Lots of prayers for Oklahoma.

      Like

    • donna269 says:

      my thoughts as well, Marti….no coincidences…..

      Like

  16. Janet says:

    Spirit Daily linked to a lovely article on St. Gabriel, whom I’m sure we all have a much greater awareness of now!
    http://fredbroom.blogspot.ca/2014/09/archangel-gabriel-strength-of-god.html

    Like

  17. Ann Suhrie says:

    Hi Andy and Charlie and all,
    Just checked in…Thank you for the beautiful video of the Visitation. I got chills. Wonder! Awe!
    My soul glorifies the Lord! I don’t know Italian, but I think it added to the mystery. So beautiful!!

    Like

  18. Bob says:

    As for as Charismatics and tongues I have several comments from my experience in St Louis.
    I do believe we are blessed as charismatic Catholics in St Louis. We have avoided many of the problems Charlie spoke of. I believe that is because our work has been placed directly under Archdiocesan authority and our Bishops and some good healing and pastoral ministers are active Charismatics. I am sorry that some have experienced some of the problems Charlie spoke of. That said we aren’t perfect and many of us have had times we were slow to respond to God’s grace. Several groups of people have fallen away as several leaders of people got off the rails. One leader went off in a new age direction and another followed clearly sinful directions and our pastors tried to bring them back and after they refused they were asked to leave. I still pray for them as I knew and worshipped with these persons but am grateful that God gave me the grace to not follow them.

    As for tongues I have several comments. I believe there are 2 major types of tongues, the prophetic and the devotional. The prophetic is to be interpreted as Paul said. The devotional is to build up the individual or the group. In our meetings we have often had times when in praise and worship many of us would pray or sing in tongues, which are always harmonious and filled with praise and joy. After a time of this active worship God would often lead the group to a time of group contemplative quiet and if He wished to speak a word to the group the word’s gift group would discern and share with use, and people could bring their prophetic words to the word group for discernment, especially in the larger gatherings. . In the Acts of the Apostles there are several times as in chapter 10 when Cornelius and his household were filled with the Spirit when they could be heard praising God and speaking in tongues, this shows both the worship and prophetic aspects of the tongues. . That said I don’t’ pray in tongues in my private prayer often but I do so more often when praying in the prayer groups as it is used in worship and praise. Worship of God is one gift hat I believe God has given to Charismatics.
    This is a link to our Renewal Center and as you can see it is under our diocesan website.
    http://archstl.org/renewal
    God Bless Bob.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Hi Bob,

      I am aware that the St. Louis organization of charismatics is in full communion with its Archdiocese and is one of the better organization in the country.

      St. Paul did implicitly make a similar distinction to what you do. He does not forbid tongues in private prayer, even in group settings. It is people speaking to the group that he is adamant about – and I personally have never been to a charismatic group that did not violate this injunction. I know of the St. Louis group, though, only through its good reputation. I have never been to one of its events. That said, Paul’s injunctions were issued well after the incident in Acts 10, after there had been reports of significant abuse of the charism in Corinth. Also, there is a third type of “tongue,” that described at Pentecost – where the speaker speaks in his own language and everyone understands it regardless of what language they speak. I have never heard tell of this particular type occurring. I hope it is because it is rare, and not because frauds would be so easily detected.

      It is an authentic charism, but it may very well be the most abused charism of all. And to pretend to speak in tongues is to invite dark spirits into an assembly. The problem cannot be entirely laid at the foot of charismatic assemblies, though. Some dioceses treat charismatic ministries as a nuisance and do not send the priestly guidance and oversight such a powerful ministry needs. Where there is no priestly direction, that is an invitation to abuse.

      Do not think I oppose charismatic assemblies. To the contrary, I am informed that they are going to be critically important in these times. But almost all are infected to some extent – and many are badly or completely infected. God wants spirit-filled assemblies to grow, but to be under guidance from the Church and with safeguards to protect against the substantial temptations to vanity that abound in them. They are both one of the most powerful ministries possible and one of the most fragile, ever prone to debilitating infections.

      Like

      • Bob says:

        I have heard of several stories of people being present at a gathering and a person heard a tongue and could understand it. In one case it was an Eastern European language and the person understood it and it was words in praise of God. I have also been present when praise and worship disturbed persons with demonic oppression. In one case the person left after, in a guttural voice, calling the enemy his master and in several other cases the persons remained to be taken aside and prayed with. Dr. Ralph Martin of Renewal Ministries has some good balanced teaching on charismatic gifts and he is a member of the Vatican evangelical commission. Incidentally read his 1995 Rome prophecy at the Renewal Website. It also discusses times of change and testing.

        Like

  19. Bob says:

    The Rome prophecy mentioned was 1975. Sorry for the typo

    Like

  20. Pingback: Musings – The Manly Virtues, Reading Material, and Direction Update | The Next Right Step

  21. Spikenard says:

    What of being Baptized in the Spirit?

    Like

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