Worth Revisiting: Poetic Examen-ations

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

Having just finished an incredible book by Fr. Casey Beaumier, SJ entitled, A Purposeful Path, I found myself reflecting on my own time of discernment in my time at Loyola Chicago. Trusting God in the journey, despite setbacks and struggles, in the everyday joys and consolations, Lord I give it all to You.


This is a day that was long awaited,
A time dreamt of and indeed anticipated,
With months albeit years of preparation,
And a myriad of readings and connotations.
Today, I awoke knowing that there was nowhere I had to be.
There was truly no post to edit,
Or theologian I needed to credit,
An argument carelessly ignored,
Nor deeper meaning to explore.
I now wondered in this stillness what was to be of me.
On the surface I had considered,
Neglected tasks that could be bettered,
Domestic duties that once were small,
Sat waiting to be again forestalled.
Feeling there was a greater more fruitful use of my time.
Where was that book that had been given,
read when my free time too would beckon?
What was it now that I would write,
if granted this instant of respite?
Ah, yes  these too cannot be my compass prime.
For always when I come in prayer,
The answer seems to find me there,
No longer doubt or thoughts amiss,
At the day’s events that carry bliss.
Since You know where it is that I need to be and what I am to do.
But rather surrender to Thy will and grace,
To lead me to my rightful place,
Perchance beside the lost, or dying,
Or counseling a friend whose day is trying-
Where ever my feet are needed to go Lord I give them to You. 
*Find your Inner Iggy and celebrate #31DayswithIgnatius this month at Loyola Press!

 Peace,

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This is Community

This week, as my friends and colleagues can attest, I have been battling a rather persistent cold which has chosen to seize my vocal cords and keep me up at night. Lack of a solid night’s sleep and my stubborn refusal to call it a day or throw in the towel has not been helpful either. Yet, in waking this morning I had to smile. For in my stubborn courage, or selfless foolishness as some might see it, I realized that I had become the epitome of my own mother.  

My mom, I know, had to have been sick at times, but as the sole provider I cannot ever really remember her taking off work. As a farm girl, she was conditioned to rise before dawn and work until sunset, giving her all to each and every day. Though later an adult, her modis operendi had not changed and if I slept past six, I could look forward to a discussion of  how I had chosen to sleep the better part of the day away. There was, in her mind, much to do, to be done, and discover in the day that could not be done whilst lying in bed.

One time, however, when I was about eleven I can clearly recall my mom getting very sick and my own confusion as to how to proceed next. Since it was just the two of us and our family lived at least an hour away, I knew that my mom was now suddenly depending on me. This particular stomach virus that had beset our community had resulted in the hospitalization of the elderly and the young alike. The first two days, I had cared for my mom and myself cooking and cleaning up, while making sure my mom had enough liquids and cool washcloths.

By the third day, though, I was tired and looking into the fridge and cabinets, I knew I was going to have to ask for help soon. Not to mention, I was getting concerned that my mom might need to see a doctor, as she didn’t seem to be looking or feeling any better. Given that it was summer, and I was not seeing my friends at school, essentially no one else knew of the predicament. My mom, a true introvert by nature, had several close friends but was not one whose sudden disappearance from society would readily be questioned. I knew that the time had come when I would have to break the silence, and my mother’s privacy.

In a well placed phone call to my friend Cathy, who belonged to my church, I found solace.

“Cathy, I’m a bit worried about my mom..

Elizabeth, are you taking care of her by yourself?”, suddenly came her aunt’s voice on the other line.

Yes, ma’am. I’m just not sure what more I can do..

Don’t worry.. have you had dinner yet?

No, I was going to see what I could make”, I replied knowing that it would be a Spartan meal at best.

We were just about to sit down ourselves..I will be by in a few minutes with dinner.”

And, just like that I breathed a sigh of relief,  and knew that God had it all covered.

The very next morning, my pastor would bring my mom to the doctor for tests and anti nausea medications. Over the days to follow, the women from the church had prepared each meal that we would need, even bringing fresh well water to eliminate the chance that our water might be a contributing factor. It would be a week before my mom was up on her feet fully, and another two weeks before she could eat normally. As I look back on this moment I cannot help but wonder what I would have done for this length of time without my community, my brothers and sisters in Christ?

This is what it means to truly be a community, to be the body of Christ. We were not ever meant to be alone in our faith, or in the care of others. The reading this Sunday spoke of giving generously, like Christ himself, who gave up his very life so that we could have life eternal.  We are asked to give of our excess, to be content with enough, and to share with those in need. There is, of course, a flip side to this. We have to be able to take help too when we are in need. Maybe you are the one that everyone goes to for assistance, the first on the scene. Allowing others to be of help is an invitation for them to give generously of themselves. It is also an exercise of humility on our part, a suppression of pride, and an opportunity in this moment to experience grace and mercy. How can we give what we do not fully recognize a need for in our own lives?

This week’s challenge..How have I experienced mercy in my own life? Where can I give more fully of myself to my community? Where can I show mercy as a member of the body of Christ?

Peace,

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An Engaging Faith: June 29- July 3rd

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Real Life Radio daily at 4pm EST.

Fr. Norman Fischer talks about Real Life Radio and Evangelization Through Technology
It’s Catholic Blogger and New Media Week at An Engaging Faith!

Tune in as we look at being an authentic witness of our faith in the world through social media.. 

 
 
 

11348975_10153401530853571_924413151_nMonday: Rita Buettner,   is currently the full-time Director of Marketing & Communications for Loyola University Maryland,  and author of “Open Window” a blog for  The Catholic Review for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. As  a wife and mother of two sons she and her husband adopted from China, Rita’s writing focuses on the topics of  adoption, infertility, and their life as a Catholic family.

Tuesday: Sara Babbs, of Fumbling Toward Grace is a married mother of three, writing from Indiana where she moved for love after growing up on the east coast. Sarah and her husband lead marriage prep classes for their parish in addition to daydreaming about becoming lunatic farmers. During stolen moments when the kids sleep and the laundry multiplies itself, Sarah writes about motherhood, Catholic social thought, and ponders the meaning of being a woman “made in the image of God”.

Wednesday: Tony Angesi, who is Finding God’s Grace in Everyday Life is the Senior Vice President of Rubber City Radio Group, WQMX, WONE, and WAKR in Akron and WNWV in Cleveland and member of Radio and Television Hall of Fame. A relentless storyteller, his Sunday blog and Wednesday podcast have an International audience in over 70 counties and has been translated in over 40 languages. Tony and his wife Diane have two adult sons and are members of the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Wadsworth, Ohio.

Thursday: Catholic New Media speaker, consultant and blogger,  Angela Sealana wrote a groundbreaking thesis on evangelization & new media. This stirring work led to her selection and feature in The Church and the New Media by Brandon Vogt.  Angela is currently also working full time in media & ministry for a Catholic evangelization apostolate in San Antonio, Texas. Today, she continues to lift up inspiring examples of Catholics using media at Inspired Angela .

Friday:   Cajuntexasmom lends her candid voice to Ora et Labora et Maternitas (Pray and Work and Motherhood) at Cajuntexasmom.com.  Wife to a former soldier and momma to four small kiddos ages 3-8, she is also the sole breadwinner, working full time outside the home.  Peppering her blog with a smattering of the unique perspectives and everyday challenges of a working Catholic mom, Cajuntexasmom seeks to help build up other moms like her, who wonder if it’s possible to work outside the home and still be a wife and mom striving for sainthood.

Worth Revisiting:Unpacking the Treasures of Our Faith

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

Today we have joining us on An Engaging Faith at 4pm EST, a good friend and classmate of mine ‎Carlos Castañeda from this class on Theology in Context held at Boston College with Timothy Matovina from Notre Dame. What a treasure each of these men and women are, who in sharing so fully of their faith, enables us to glimpse the beauty found in the diversity of the body of Christ.


Unpacking The Treasures of Our Faith

As one of my BC classmates had so beautifully spoken, now is the time that we realize the joy in “unpacking the treasures of our faith”. In devoting long hours of reading, writing, and contemplating the lived experience of the US Latino/a, we discovered more of our own journeys as well. With each incredibly diverse faith experience we are given insight into our God who desires to be meaningfully encountered in our daily lives.

It is, in a very real sense, a rediscovery of who we are, and who God is calling us to be in the world around us. Yet, it is not a discarding of the past but rather embracing these gifts of faith experienced sacramentally and through prayer, song, and devotion, while reaffirming their significance today.

Theology in ContextAs I gaze at this picture,  I glimpse the divinely created men and women who are an embodiment of a lived theology, whose presence give voice to joy, struggle, and hope. They are, as well, part of the community of faith of the past, present and future hearing the call to respond to challenges, walk in accompaniment, and live out their faith expressively in the world. Muchas gracias y abrazos a todos!

How do you experience God most meaningfully in your life? Is  there a treasure of your faith that draws you nearer? Is there perhaps one yet to be unpacked, its richness yet undiscovered? 

Book Review: Drop by Drop


Loyola Press in Partnership with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Department of Justice, Peace and Development

In this beautifully illustrated book, we follow a young girl named Sylvie from the small country of Burkina Faso in Western Africa and the experience of Mike, a Catholic Relief Services worker working in the region.  Having been invited to speak to the classroom of Sr. Mary Jerome, Mike shares with the students the day-to-day challenges of living in an area of immense poverty. Without ready access to clean accessible water, Sylvie has the job to travel nearly 3 miles to and from the water source to provide water for the family. Because of this, she cannot attend school to learn to read or write, something she so desperately wants to do. While the addition of a water cart is helpful, it isn’t until a well is dug that Sylvie’s dream becomes a reality.

drop-by-drop (41x52)Children will not only connect with Sylvie’s story, but also with the students who listened to her story and were compelled to put their feet in action to work towards lasting solutions to situations of poverty. Included in this book are facts on the importance and accessibility of clean water and the work of the Catholic Church in these areas most in need. Yet, the journey in love through prayer, sacrifice and service does not end there. Additional reflection guides, worksheets and pray with me books are available for parents, catechists and teachers to go deeper in faith.  A must read for adults and children alike, this book is a compelling invitation to connect our faith life with the immense needs of children and families throughout the world.

As a follower of Christ, how do you “put two feet in action” through charitable works and social justice?

Peace,

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An Engaging Faith: June 22-26th

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Real Life Radio daily at 4pm EST.

  Enter To Win One of 10 Copies!  (Courtesy Of Loyola Press Publishing)  
→Then tune in on Thursday to listen and talk to the author Kerry Weber

This week’s lineup highlights using the diversity of our gifts to bloom and help others to bloom through service and committed action!

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Monday: Let’s talk -Corporal Works of Mercy

 
 
 
 
Tuesday: Paul Nicholls, Jr., Head Lacrosse Coach, Member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and National Christian Athletic Association , talks about Faith and Sports

 

Wednesday: Carlos Castañeda, Hispanic Ministry Program Director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, graduate of Marist College and current graduate theology student of Boston College

Thursday: Kerry Weber, author of Mercy in the City : How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job
 

*My own review on this inspiring book! 

Friday: Jesuit Volunteer Corps Join in with Cassie Clemente, current Program Director at JVC and former Jesuit Volunteer (Milwaukee 06) and Patrick Cassidy, current Program Coordinator at JVC and former Jesuit Volunteer (Belize 08) as we discuss the work of “passionate young people in vital service within poor communities, and  fostering the growth of leaders committed to faith in action. “

 

 

 

Worth Revisiting Wednesday: Can you Spare any Change?

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

If change is a natural reoccurring part of life..why do we avoid and resist it so?  And, I wonder when we are continually in contradiction to change, are we not also missing out on the gifts of the Holy Spirit? How can we accept the gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord if unwilling to let go and be open to the Holy Spirit at work in our lives?


Can You Spare Any Change?

With the start of each season, new calendars and schedules, and soon-to be clocks, it is no wonder that my mind quite naturally gravitates to the notion of change. Yet, so often we view change as something to be resisted, avoided, and fought. What if, however we flipped our understanding of change as something to embrace, to advocate
and necessary for growth and peace?

  1. “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

    Today, as the feast day of Mother Teresa, we remember a woman who not only lived this upturned notion of change but inspired countless others to do the same. In her desire to follow Christ, she was a light of love for the unloved and unwanted, a living witness to the embodiment of change in every life she touched.

  2. Change is to be anticipated. My own awareness to the inevitability of change began early on, as the daughter of a single mom who seeking to acquire a better teaching position hoped also to provide a better life. With each move, came a new school, new church, surroundings and thankfully new friends too. My mom had a knack, which she passed on to me, of discovering the treasure that each relocation offered. On the weekends, we would venture out exploring museums, historical sites, little shops and the new “little pond” we found ourselves in. One of my 

    favorite memories was to wake up and simply pack a picnic tote, throw on a swimsuit and head on down to the Mississippi River with a fishing pole in hand. Did you catch anything, you might ask? Rarely, was it ever fish. Instead our eyes caught a glimpse of the horizon, an embrace of a beautiful day, the gift of time well spent, and an acceptance of the chance of rain tomorrow.

  3. Resistance.

    My own children who have not had the same exposure to change, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAare quick at times to resist even the slightest alteration of their expectation. This resistance was none more evident than in my then 5 year old son’s response to the removal of the shrub that was growing up, around, and through our back deck. Though it was pushing up the boards and causing significant structural damage, it had been there as long as he had known. Compelling his outcry, “But you can’t. I loved that tree!…I can’t imagine me without it!

  4. file3511268163576 Some resistance is necessary.

    This brings me to the recognition that resistance is preemptive to change. In order to move ahead, we have to give up the comfortable, customary, and conditioned environment that we have become accustomed to. If we seek to remain where we are, despite the ground moving and shifting under our feet we can no longer grow as Our Father intended. There is a fruitlessness then of pouring new wine into old wineskins, for our minds and hearts cannot accept the new good that God has planned if we are content with the old wine. (Lk 5:33-39) Transformation is necessary and this isn’t a onetime deal but a continual openness to the Holy Spirit.

  5. Change with Community

    For those unaware, there are incredible and much needed changes taking place through a collaboration of parishes within the Archdiocese of Boston. In an effort to streamline councils, fully utilize staff and resources, account for a growing shortage of parish priest, pastoral planning is in place to better “meet the needs of the people of God”. (http://www.disciplesinmission.com ) This path is not without challenges and the greatest of these is in accepting that change is necessary and that a new more vibrant community is possible. In letting go of our fears, we are able to foster new relationships, focus our resources on the mission of evangelization before us, and to realize the unity of our Catholic faith as the body of Christ in the world.

  6. file000871375277Embracing change is moving forward from a mindset of consenting to it as a plan B, to conceiving it as your plan A. What was it that Robert Burns so poetically phrased? “The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry, and leave us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy!” Where our plans fail, there is such joy in trusting God, the author of change to create our day, to fill it with surprise and yes, change. If asked if you thought you would be where you are today, how many of us could have envisaged the present?
  7. Oh my soul- how I bless you Lord! We ask ourselves “How file0001303010317can we spare change, and you answer how can we not? You have such amazing promises in store for each of us! Though we may experience “growing pains” through challenges , you know that this is the path for true transformation and peace. Holy Spirit, come and help open our hearts to be receptive to change, Father, please take our lives and let us to be the change you wish to see in the world!

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My Grandmother’s Garden: Roots of Faith

Summer is that time that so often brings me back to my childhood. With bare feet in the grass, the sun on my face, and the small quiet hum of the bees I am instantly transported to those quiet reflective moments with God. Many of my earliest memories are replete with these instances where I am drawn into conversation and contemplation, simply by being open to listen and ready to praise. Though I would beg to visit my grandma whenever I could, our time in the summer was especially unhurried and particularly memorable. Perhaps this was in part because my mother was usually either teaching summer school or taking professional development herself and it was just the two of us. Yet, more so because there were no real demands upon either of us but the invitation to simply enjoy one another’s time together.

Effortlessly, my grandma witnessed her own love and commitment to making space for prayer and devotion to God in everything she did.  This began early in the morning while the dew was still on the roses, and the birds could be heard softly chiming, “Get up, and greet this new day that God has given!” There were no other alarm clocks in her house, and I remember thinking that this must be what heaven was like. While she began breakfast, I was given a long sleeved shirt, gloves and a few small baskets to carry outside to hold the treasure of blackberries for the day. As my sometimes sandaled feet brushed against the dewy blades of grass, and the sparrows called out to one another, I realized that I could go no further. With eyes closed, and a content peaceful smile on my face, I felt privileged to be among these first harbingers of the day.

“God thank you for inviting me today to share in this unbelievably beautiful beginning, and to know that your newness is always available. What you have provided for creation, you have allotted for me too!”

Berry after berry, small, large, dark and plump, my basket soon filled and I would joyfully find myself in gratitude for this great harvest. Alone these were delicious enough, but if I was truly lucky my grandma would take a few to bake in a pie. Here I glimpsed the joy of work, singing hymns and chatting as we rolled the cold buttery dough out upon the marble.  Prayer for my Grandma was not regulated to any particular time or activity, but permeated every motion and second of each day.

 
Then, while waiting for the pie to cool, my eyes would soon spy the rope swing under the giant Mimosa tree in garden. This rugged notched plank of wood was my cherished seat under an umbrella of pink airy flowers and sprawling fern like branches. The higher I swung the more exhilarating I felt till I thought my toes would indeed touch the clouds.  Then just like that, I would stop to feel the air rushing past me and the stillness of my heart, breathing in the peace that suddenly seemed to envelope me.

“God you are there in the busy excitement of life, and as we are called to slow down to feel your undeniable presence”.

 

Nighttime, beckoned and I gleefully climbed under the covers in the bedroom adjoining the garden, surrounded on three sides by windows. Atop this goose down mattress, with moonlight streaming in all around, I would fall asleep to the sound of the crickets and my evening prayers.

“Father, how thankful I am that you created this incredibly infinite universe for us to enjoy. Start to finish you have reminded me throughout my day that you are with me. From the first morning rays to the stars that look down on me, I am part of your divine creation. Help me to shine your light and love in all that I do. Help me to be a good steward of your gifts that you have so graciously entrusted to me. Thank you, dear heavenly father for my Grandma who has shown me all of this in her love of you.”

Peace,

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An Engaging Faith- June 15-19th

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Real Life Radio daily at 4pm EST.

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This week’s lineup is part of our Mission and Evangelization Week. A week where we discuss what it is to be a Church of mission, and evangelization engaged in the work of spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth. 

Monday: Maureen Crowley Heil, Director of  Programs and Development for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, in the Archdiocese of Boston speaks on World Mission. 

 

 

 

Tuesday: Maureen Crowley Heil, Director of  Programs and Development for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, in the Archdiocese of Boston speaks on the work here in the US with the Missionary Childhood Association. 

 

Wednesday: Mary Margaret Kerry,FSP Daughter of St. Paul and current author of “Live Christ, Give Christ”, a collection of prayers for the New Evangelization

 
Thursday: Mission and Evangelization, Connections: ‎Looking at this idea of Mission and Evangelization within our local communities. Laura Chun, Loyola Chicago alum shares with us the beauty of living and serving within the Franciscan Mission of San Luis Rey Parish in Oceanside, California .

 

Friday: Weekly Recap Join me as discuss the past week’s news, events, tweets and posts! What does our Catholic Faith have to do the compassionate care and service to others, including those who are living around the world? 

Worth Revisiting Wednesday: Consecration to Mary

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

As I will be on air Friday chatting about “Saints and Sinners” as part of An Engaging Faith for Real Life Radio, I thought that this would be an apt post to revisit since two of these saints have also been consecrated to Mary. If you haven’t considered this retreat before, there are so many amazing graces to be found in becoming less dependent on ourselves, and to lean more on Mary to lovingly guide us to Christ through humility and submission to God’s will.


Mid Retreat Reflections: Consecration to Mary.

Familiar with Louis de Montfort’s treatise on Mary, I have thoroughly enjoyed Gaitley’s use of modern saint stories that bear vivid witness to lives devoted to Marian consecration. Here we follow St. Maximillian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa and St. JP II. who also had devoted themselves to Mary to glimpse how that was manifested in the course of their everyday.

As a convert to Catholicism, I began this path of understanding and growing in Mary a little more than 20 years ago. Still, it is this later discovery that has prompted a desire to fully seek who Mary is in the life of Christ, the life of the Church and quite personally for me. Oh, how very much I still have to learn!

This retreat is said to be undertaken with ‘fire in one’s heart’ with generosity and desire. Where we lack these things, the Holy Spirit, Mary and the saints are there to lovingly guide and support us.

1. “Doing the Lord’s work does not always turn out according to our plans.”//This is none more evidenced than in the lives of the saints who were often redirected in their efforts to serve. For me, it speaks to the need to let go of the outcome and instead to seek God’s will and guidance in every instance of my desire to serve. Many times, I may never know the results of the work begun.

2. Because of sin, there is a great need to continually renew our baptismal promises and recommit our lives to Christ.// Mary’s life is a beautiful witness to a life fully committed to God’s will, and devoted to the heart of Christ- she is there to help us daily to honor our own promises.

3. Give Mary our prayers, sacrifices and gifts to distribute to those who need it most.// Initially, this was difficult for me to grasp. If I have been asked to pray specifically for someone, how can I let go of who my prayer’s intention is for? Because our efforts are not lost but she “augments, increases and purifies the spiritual gifts we give her”. Moreover, it isn’t that we cannot pray for those we love we just let go of the “final say”.

4. Why did Mary call herself the Immaculate Conception at Lourdes and not rather I am Immaculately Conceived?// I had never given this much thought before and yet much like St. Kolbe I was now enthralled with the distinction. As the spouse of the Holy Spirit she had in fact taken the name of the One who creates, sustains, and renews the face of the earth- the uncreated Immaculate Conception. Born without original sin, Mary also knows within her the Holy Spirit as “uncreated Love” which bears divine fruit within her womb in Jesus.

5. W+ w =S. In short, when we seek to unite God’s will with our own it is then we are led to sanctity or holiness.// Following God’s will is difficult but when look to Mary’s beautiful example we see she is there to lead the way.

6. Every day “people give themselves over to Satan to be possessed by him…why can’t people give themselves over to God to become an instrument of love?// Mary implores us to not be content in our own salvation, but to lead others, indeed the entire world, to conversion and to the love of Christ.

7. Christ longs, undeniably “thirsts” to be close to each one of us. “Hear your name. Not just once. Every day. If you listen with your heart you will understand”.// Moreover, this intimacy calls us to see the suffering of his children who are left lonely, hungry and uncared for. This too is a “thirst” of Christ which goes unfulfilled when we walk away from those most in need.

Father, thank you for this gift of time spent with you to seek how to better serve you in all that I do. Holy Spirit help me to conform and unite my will, as did Mary, with you. “Help me to listen (and respond) to the thirst of Jesus” 

Peace and Love,

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