The Cup of Sugar

A Rosary Meditation: The Second Joyful Mystery, The Visitation.

“And she cried out, ‘Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’ ” Luke 1:42.

Elizabeth sees Mary coming up the walk, runs out to greet her, and bubbles over joyfully with the above statement. Inspired by the Holy Spirit of course.

I remember being told about a monk, a Benedictine, and this is a factual story, who had been given the task of offering hospitality to any guests that might arrive at the monastery. But he had other things to do as well. As he was knee deep in alligators given all these other duties he wasn’t all that geared up for guests. Of course someone showed up. He heard the door and knew he had to stop what he was doing and go take care of this person. In exasperation he said: “!#@%! Now I’ve got to go do hospitality!” ūüôā Monks are human too.

With hospitality, Elizabeth’s greeting of Mary, and being human in mind …

Have you ever seen someone, maybe a next door neighbor, walking towards your door and muttered, “Oh great. What do they want now?” Hey, you’re knee deep in alligators and don’t have the time, or inclination, to dole out a cup of sugar. You’ve got enough to do all ready and now you have to stop and take care of someones needs. Just peachy, ain’t it?

When Elizabeth saw Mary coming down the path she had no way of knowing Mary was there to help her in her time of need. It could’ve been a logical assumption on Elizabeth’s part that Mary was there because she needed something from Elizabeth. But rather than say something like “Ratz! Now what?” Elizabeth went to meet Mary and was, lets just say, hospitable.

OK, whats the difference between Elizabeth and our monk? (We’ll leave ourselves alone and out of this for now. If we see ourselves in one example or the other, well, it’ll be food for thought on the individual level.) And the answer is really simple. When Elizabeth spoke she did so under the influence of the Holy Spirit. God had control because Elizabeth faithfully gave herself over to God. Now when the monk spoke what influence was he under?

Back to that neighbor walking up our walk. We see them and have an immediate reaction within ourselves. And …

“And hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.” Hebrews 13:2, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Abraham saw three strangers coming towards his tent and ran out to implore them to eat and rest at his camp. When the meal was ready he even served them himself. The above verse references his actions. You know, honestly, I’ve never seen anybody walk by my place and gone running up to them saying, “Here, let me give you a cup of sugar!” But, metaphorically speaking, that’s just what Elizabet did, isn’t it? Most of us can probably identify, if we’re honest about it, with the monk. The question is now: “What need’s to change so that I give hospitality to neighbors and strangers alike? What cuts me off from that right attitude?” Because whatever gets in our way in serving others also gets in the way of our relationship with God.



A Mother’s Touch

A Rosary Meditation: The Second Joyful Mystery, The Visitation.

“When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary … ” Luke 1:41a.

Mary going to Elizabeth, knowing she needs help during and after her pregnancy. Elizabeth, probably having seen Mary coming down the path, goes out to meet her. Its a very touching scene. Two mothers, both in need. Elizabeth in need of help because of her advanced age and the bearing of her first born. Mary in need of acceptance and understanding, of faith and trust, because she’ll soon be showing and everyone will know she’s pregnant during her engagement and prior to her marriage.

Both of these women were putting someone else first. At first glance you might think that Mary was putting Elizabeth first, helping her when she herself was going to need so much help. And that Elizabeth, having been enlightened by the Holy Spirit as to Mary’s position as mother of the Messiah, was putting Mary first because of Mary’s importance. And I think that all of this is true to an extent. Of course there’s a lot more to it all but these things are a part of the whole. But when it comes to putting someone else first there was much more to it.

They were putting one another first but more importantly they were both putting God first. And not just in certain areas of their lives, holding back others. There were no “compartments” in their living. No “This parts mine and this parts God’s”. They each gave God their all, which is one of the reasons they were both given such important positions. The mother of the forerunner of the Messiah and the mother of Messiah. I can’t think of two more important women in the history of the world. And they both put themselves after God and after others. Humility, service, love, self-sacrificing living. All for God.

These two righteous mothers set us a joyous example. Its touching. And it should be. It should be touching our hearts, yours and mine, that these two women, arguably the two most important women of all time, put God first, others (us) second, and themselves third. A mother’s touch can be a marvelous thing.

4 Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not puffed up, 5 Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil: 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth: 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Douay-Rheims.¬†

Just a thought … The above scripture passage sounds like a good description of Mary and Elizabeth, doesn’t it? It reminds me of them. How much does it remind me of me, or you of you?

Knock, knock. “Who’s there?” … Thursday, September 5

Christ Knocking

Christ Knocking. Do unexpected guests need to be inconvenient, or do blessings and needs, ours and theirs, need careful, prayerful, evaluation?

A Rosary Meditation … The Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation. Have you ever heard an unexpected knock at the door? It can be inconvenient, can’t it? Just when you’re ready to take a nap or get in the tub or start lunch or take the dog out because it REALLY needs to go out NOW, and you hear the knock.¬†Maybe its the neighbor who’s always borrowing tools and never bringing them back, or its your aunt who never shuts up or its some couple trying to give you a pamphlet about the end of the world and being ready. Meanwhile the dog went, just not¬†“out”, the phone starts ringing, and lunch is boiling over on the stove. Unexpected guests. But every once in a while you get lucky. The toilet is¬†stopped up and you can’t unplug it. And just as you realize, “Oh, yea, this is how Rover felt,” the knock on the door is Bob from work who knows more about plumbing than most plumbers. Or you’re cooking lunch while trying to keep the squirrels out of the backyard¬†bird feeder and Frances, who has a way with animals and just happens to be a really great cook, knocks because she’s worried about you. She lives three doors down and heard someone screaming¬†something about birdseed and death. Sounded like it was coming from your backyard. Unexpected visitors. Like Elizabeth had when Mary knocked. What sort of day do you think Elizabeth was having when Mary showed up? Remember, she¬†was well on in age and pregnant with her first child. She was in charge of a household and that didn’t end when her pregnancy started. Was lunch boiling over on the stove? Maybe. Remember the neighbor who borrows tools and forgets to bring them back? You know, the one in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. But he doesn’t talk about it because he doesn’t want to burden others. Or Aunt Sally, remember her?¬†Her husband died 16 years ago and all her children¬†have jobs out of the country¬†and live¬†overseas now. She talks a lot, but she never mentions ¬†they never call or write. Your uninvited guests, the ones that are seeming nuisances and the ones who get there just in the nick of time, could very well be there, regardless how it may look, for the same reason Mary knocked on Elizabeth’s door.

Today … St. Bertin was born about the beginning of the 7th century near Constance, France, and received his religious formation at the abbey of Luxeuil, at that time, the model abbey for the rather strict Rule of St. Columban. About 639, together with two other monks, he joined St. Omer, Bishop¬†of Therouanne, who had for two years been evangelizing the pagan¬†Morini in the low-lying marshy country of the Pas-de-Calais. I wonder how “convenient” it was, preaching in marshland territory?¬†In this almost totally idolatrous region, these holy missionary monks founded a monastery which came to be called St. Mommolin after its first Abbot. After eight arduous years of preaching the Faith¬†for Christ, they founded a second monastery at Sithiu, dedicated to St. Peter. St. Bertin ruled it for nearly sixty years and made it famous; accordingly, after his death it was called St. Bertin and gave birth to the town of St. Omer. St. Bertin practiced the greatest austerities and was in constant communion with God. He also traveled much and trained disciples who went forth to preach the Faith to others. No doubt turning up at doors unexpectedly.¬†Among others, he selected St. Winnoc¬†to found a monastery at Wormhoudt, near Dunkirk, and this saint figures in many medieval calendars. At an advanced age (past 100), this zealous preacher of Christ died, surrounded by his sorrowing monks.

Remember … “And hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.” Hebrews 13:2.

Expecting company? We should be … Thursday, August 1

Philippe de Champaigne, La Visitation. Museo d...

Expecting company? We should be.

A Rosary Meditation … The Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation. “When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary … ” Luke 1:39a. What would you do if you heard a knock at the door and when you answered it you found Mary there? Knowing her as the Mother of Christ your Lord and as Queen of Heaven and Earth what would you do? Would you let her in? Would you be embarrassed for her to see that “Murray” was playing on your TV? Would the magazines on the coffee table need to be shuffled away out of sight? Would there be a Rosary anywhere evident? If she asked to look at your Bible for a moment would you know where it was? Would she see a crucifix on any of the walls, or would there be any holy water? Would you be comfortable with her being there? Hopefully these questions bring forth all the right answers. Because if they don’t, and if we aren’t OK with Mary being with us, how are we going to feel with Jesus knocking when He gets back?

Today … St. Hope. According to an Eastern allegory explaining the cult of Divine Wisdom, Faith, Hope, and Charity were the daughters of Wisdom, a widow in Rome. The daughters suffered martyrdom during Hadrian‘s persecution of Christians: Faith, twelve, was scourged and went unharmed when boiling pitch was poured on her, but was then beheaded; Hope, ten, and Charity, nine, were also beheaded after emerging unscathed from a furnace; and Wisdom died three days later while praying at their graves. When Jesus returns we can have hope if we exercise wisdom now in having faith and practicing charity. Doing these things we’ll be ready for anybody who might show up.

Think … Its to late to clean house when company arrives.

Who do we remind people of? … Monday, July 15

A Rosary Meditation … The Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation. “A life not lived for others is not a life.” Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa made a good commentary, a fine description, of Mary’s life didn’t she? Mary serving Elizabeth, serving others. Its how we serve Christ now. Mary, when she visited Elizabeth, was serving Jesus by taking Him to others, by sharing Him. Jesus isn’t here but others are. Well, He IS here, but you know, I hope, what I mean. We can’t, for example, literally wash His feet but we can wash each others. We can serve Him by serving others. What better way to serve others than by sharing the love of Christ, and Christ Himself? By seeing Jesus in others we let others see Jesus in us. The best way to serve Jesus, the best way to serve others, is to be Jesus. For some we will be the only Jesus they ever see, the only Jesus they may ever experience.

Mother Teresa altar

Mother Teresa altar.

It’s important for us to make the most of the opportunity. We can do this by being the best Jesus we can be. Mary shared Jesus with Elizabeth, but it wasn’t Jesus that Elizabeth saw. It was Mary. The world around us, our family, friends, and neighbors see us. That’s why we need to reflect Him. We reflect Him by being the best US we can be. By being all that God intends for us to be we become more and more like Him in our own way. And the folks around us see more of Him in us when this happens. God doesn’t want you to be another Mother Teresa. He already has one of those. He doesn’t want you to be another John Paul II or Saint Benedict either. He wants you to be a Christlike you. Others will see and experience the real and true Jesus when we grow in this way, when we grow in Him. And just as Mary visited Elizabeth and took Jesus to her, just so we will deliver Jesus to those around us, we’ll visit them with Him, serve God in the process, and be the saints He wants US to be, the saint He wants YOU to be.

Today …

St. Swithun

Swithun, also spelled Swithin, was born in Wessex, England and was educated at the old monastery, Winchester, where he was ordained. He became chaplain to King Egbert of the West Saxons, who appointed him tutor of his son, Ethelwulf, and was one of the King’s counselors. Swithun was named bishop of Winchester in 852 when Ethelwulf succeeded his father as king. Swithun built several churches and was known for his humility and his aid to the poor and needy. He died on July 2. And we would never have heard of him if it wasn’t for the fact that he reflected Christ. He was Jesus to those around him. This is what sainthood is all about. This is what we need to be all about.

Remember … Just in case all of this sounds way to hard: “God doesn’t require us to succeed; He only requires that you try.” Mother Teresa.

“His mercy is from generation to generation” … Thursday, May 23

English: Visitation, from Altarpiece of the Vi...

Mary and Elizabeth sharing God, one with the other.

A Rosary Meditation … The Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation. “And holy is His name; and His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him.” Luke 1:49-50. Here we find Mary and Elizabeth sharing the Glory of God, one with the other. The truths here in this verse are simple yet profound. Holy is HIS Name. We can appreciate others, give them their due, but we must remember that any goodness in ourselves or others originates with Him and is a result of His holiness and His mercy towards us. And that mercy? It lasts. “From generation to generation on those who fear Him.” Just as there are different ways of expressing love there are different types of fear and ways of expressing them. There is the fear of punishment, which is not a bad fear unless it results in something like scrupulosity. And there is the fear of offending another, not because we dread punishment, but because we love the other person and honestly don’t want to give offense for reason of that love. This sort of fear is basically profound respect. By the way, this is also a good way to look at, to understand, imperfect and perfect contrition. Imperfect contrition, when it is honest contrition, results from fear of punishment. It has its place and its usefulness. Its good. But perfect contrition, based on love, is better. Fearing God can be any number of things. Fear of a Father who punishes justly and for good reason. Fear of offending a Father that we love. Can you ever remember a time when the Blessed Virgin “quaked in her boots”? No. She is, remember, our human example in this life. Mary had what sort of fear of God? Not the dreadful fear of punishment, but the respectful “fear” given out of love to a loving Father. And again, we should copy who?

Today …

St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk

St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk
St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk was a princess and foundress, the daughter of Prince Svyatoslav. At the age of twelve she became a nun and then a recluse. Gifted, she copied manuscripts to raise money for the poor. Euphrosyne also founded a convent at Settse. She went to the Holy Land and died in Jerusalem, Israel. Now who does she remind you of? Maybe she’d make a good prayer partner in your own journey towards perfection. 

In searching for perfection remember … “Striving to better, oft we mar what‚Äôs well.” – William Shakespeare

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Ever felt low? Then you’ve been blessed, haven’t you? … Monday, May 6

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997)...

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997); at a pro-life meeting in 1986 in Bonn, Germany. Was she a servant or ruler, high or low?

A Rosary Meditation … The Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation. “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly.” Luke 1:52. See what I meant by the title? Mary humbled herself, made herself low, accepted the role of a servant towards Elizabeth just as Jesus did for us all. Later she was exalted to a heavenly post that only God exceeds. Jesus and Mary are always our best examples. What they did is what we should do. Accepting the role of a servant, especially a suffering one, lowering ourselves, isn’t easy. That’s OK, difficult tasks teach us and make us stronger. If everything was easy life would actually get pretty boring pretty fast. How interesting would a baseball game be if every ball pitched resulted in a home run? And you knew that it would before hand? Not much reason to watch or take part in a game like that. And visiting others as a lowly servant wouldn’t mean much either if the one we visited waited on us hand and foot. Of course there’s the other side of the coin. “He has put down the mighty from their thrones …” If we’re to proud too serve God can fix that. I guess its up to us whether we visit others willingly or put God in a position where He needs to visit us.

Today … St. Benedicta. Mystic and nun. Benedicta lived in a convent founded by St. Galla in Rome. Pope St. Gregory the Great states that St. Peter appeared in a vision to warn her of her approaching death. This was in the sixth century. Now here is St. Peter, several centuries after his martyrdom, making a house call. If Heaven is filled with willing and obedient servants, and it is, then service never ends because Heaven is eternal. The point? Like Peter did in his lifetime and Benedicta did in hers we may as well get started now.

Quote … Mother Teresa said: “A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.”

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Pick your seat … Monday, March 4

Mary crowned with stars. A reflection of the b...

Mary crowned with stars. A reflection of the biblical image in Revelation 12. Biblical proof of the seat reserved for her by God. Begin reserving your seat now. Statue by Attard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Rosary Meditation … The Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation. “And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; for he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid.'” Luke 1:46-48. Mary praises God, her Savior. Some might pose the question, “If Mary was sinless why did she need a savior?” And that’s a good question. Mary was born without original sin in order to prepare a fit vessel to contain the Son of God. But it was God that made this immaculate conception happen. It was God who saved Mary from the stain of original sin. So she had been saved by God. And after her birth, coming into the world sinless, by her own free will she maintained, with God’s help and by His grace, this relationship with Him. So He was always her Savior. And Mary, for her part, did what Eve should have done but didn’t. She obeyed. Mary seems to have counted her obedience as nothing.¬† ” … the lowliness of His handmaid.” Mary took to heart the truth about obedience and our own worth as a result. “So you also, when you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do.” Luke 17:10. Mary took this truth to heart. So should we. If Mary, being perfect before God, was humble and understood her need of Him as her Savior, how much more should we? And if we take this truth to heart, if we follow Mother’s example, the result will be what exactly? What results did God allow for her? She rules now, seated at His right hand, as Queen of Heaven and Earth. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 14:10. ” … sit down in the lowest place; that when he who invited thee, cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee.” It worked for Mother, didn’t it? As her children it will work for us. Lets try, and pray, trust God for this, to live the example she left us. Who knows? We may get a better seat if we do.

Today … St. Owen was a Benedictine monk. Once a steward in the household of St. Etheldreda, he entered a Benedictine monastery at Lastingham, England, under St. Chad. He later migrated to Lichfield, following St. Chad. A steward. He was a servant. A monk. He was a follower. An example. He is a saint. I’d say God gave him a good seat, wouldn’t you?

Saints … For a person to be saintly doesn’t mean that God waved a magic wand and, !POOF!, instant holiness. It means that the saintly person set their will aside in preference for God’s. And that’s not magic. That’s work.

Faithful body building … Thursday, February 14

English: Arnold Schwarzenegger in July 2003

“No pain? No gain.” Arnold Schwarzenegger knows how to build up his muscle. Do we? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Rosary Meditation … The Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation. “And blessed is she who has believed, because the things promised her by the Lord shall be accomplished.” Luke 1:45. How much can God do in our lives if we don’t believe He can or will do a thing? We shorten God’s hand, we limit Him, by our lack of faith and willingness. Mary believed and Elizabeth knew it. 2,000 years down the road we still experience the results. How can God pay us a visit if we don’t believe He’ll show up? Please read Matthew 13:58 and Hebrews 11:6. It’s not that He can’t, because He can. It’s just that we won’t let Him because we don’t or won’t believe. And then, often as not, we bemoan the fact that He didn’t fill-in-the-blank when we needed Him to. So what is it that fixes this, that cures this situation? Obviously if it’s a lack of faith that cause the problem then the answer is more and deeper faith. Which makes the real question or problem not the lack of faith so much as how to strengthen and increase our faith. But how do we do that? How do we become more faith-filled? And the answer is simple. By listening. “Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17. How does this work? Well, in various ways, but one of the easiest ways to understand this and put it into practice is to listen to the Word and then act on it. Acting on it takes a certain kind of faith itself and it also exercises what little faith we may have thus strengthening it. Doing this, acting on the Word we listen to, the one read to us each Sunday at Mass and even daily if we can make weekday Mass, also provides us with positive experience which in turn strengthens our faith. And so it goes. You use a muscle, your faith, and it gets bigger. When its bigger and stronger you can use it even more which makes it even bigger and stronger. And, again, so it goes. After awhile you won’t recognize yourself in the mirror. You look in the mirror and a spiritual Arnold Schwarzenegger gazes back at you. At which point you remember that the muscles aren’t your own doing. They wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for the Word you listened to. It’s the Word first and our working with it second, that’s the proper sequence. We’re the bodybuilder but with out a faithful Trainer all our efforts would be for nothing. So today lets hit the gym. In this world there’s always plenty of chances to exercise our faith. We just need to always remember to listen to our Trainer.

Today … St. Valentine. A martyr and more. This saint went through a lot and his life story, to long to go into here, is worth reading. Why do you think he went through so much? Because he enjoyed pain and persecution? Because he didn’t care? No, no one enjoys pain and persecution and I doubt that there was ever a saint that didn’t care. No, Valentine went through what he went through because he believed. He believed because he had heard and when he heard he listened. He had faith. He had something else as a result of hearing, believing, and faith. Because all of these are worthless without the prime ingredient. As we exercise spiritually we need to do it for one reason, the same reason St. Valentine and every other saint did. No exercise program is complete without this one element. No amount of faith is of any use without this one key ingredient.

Key ingredient/most important element … “And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Corinthians 13:13. God is love. Without love (“charity” as its translated here) there is nothing else.

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Workers unite! You have nothing to lose but your self, in love! … Thursday, January 10

Madonna of the Rosary

Madonna of the Rosary (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Praying the Rosary takes work. What sort of work is it for us? Is it laborious? Or a labor of love?

A Rosary Meditation … The Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation. “And she cried out, ‘Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!'” Luke 1:42. Every Mystery of the Rosary, everything that happened to the people in the various Mysteries, can, and SHOULD, be applied to us personally in one way or another. The Rosary is filled, not just with pretty happenings from some foreign long-ago, but with pertinent life-lessons that will always apply if we have ears to hear and eyes to see. “Blessed art thou!” What a wonderful thing to hear. To be a blessing to someone else and to have them appreciate us. Whats just as important is to be a blessing and never hear about it, at least not from another human being. It’s nice to be complimented or to get a pat on the back. It’s the polite thing for the other person to do, to say “Thank you.” But if that’s our reason for doing whatever we do, well, we’re far from the right place in heart that we should be striving for. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” only really counts when it comes from one source and One Source only. If we never hear it from anyone else that ought not bother us. I doubt that Mary carried the Messiah in her womb just to hear a world say thanks. She probably didn’t do it to hear God say thanks either. She did it, I think, I’m sure, out of love for God. Doing good flows best from this motive. It should be us saying thank you for the love He shows us, that He would think enough of us to trust us with any good work. And the love behind the work flows best from Him.

Today … St. Agatho. A Sicilian cleric, Pope St. Agatho was born about 577 and was elected to the Roman see in 678. He had been a monk before his being elected pope and was well-versed in Latin and Greek. Although the exarch of Ravenna, Theodore, desired independence from Rome, he eventually submitted to Agatho’s rule. In 678, the Bishop Wilfrid of York, claiming he had been unjustly deposed, appealed to Agatho, who ruled that Wilfrid should be returned immediately to his see. Concerned about the state of the church in England, Agatho sent an envoy to teach the faithful there about chant and to report to him on the situation with the English church. The Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-681) accepted Agatho’s definitions of the two wills of Christ, although the pope did not attend the council. Agatho died during a plague in 681. This saint got a lot done. And managed, at the same time, to allow God to make him saintly. How many times do you think Agatho heard thank you? Or wanted to? How much of his work was done for applause? How much did he do out of simple, wholesome obedience? How much for love of God?

Working … A sinful lady once washed the feet of Jesus with her tears of repentance and love. She dried them with her hair. This was work, this was love in action. Love in action is what honest, godly work ought always to be. Such work is its own reward and no thanks are necessary or even considered. The worker looses themselves in giving thanks, as they share the love given to them, instead.

Published in: on January 10, 2013 at 6:13 am  Comments Off on Workers unite! You have nothing to lose but your self, in love! … Thursday, January 10  
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