Monday, 12 November 2018

Saint Josaphat Kuncevyct

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Image: Saint Josaphat Kuncevyct
The 12th of November is the feast day of Saint Josaphat Kuncevyct O.S.B.M. (c. 1580 – 12 November 1623). He is the patron saint of Ukraine.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Martyr, born in the little town of Volodymyr in Lithuania (Volyn) in 1580 or — according to some writers — 1584; died at Vitebsk, Russia, 12 November, 1623.

The saint’s birth occurred in a gloomy period for the Ruthenian Church. Even as early as the beginning of the sixteenth century the Florentine Union had become a dead-letter; in the case of the Ruthenian Church, complete demoralization followed in the wake of its severance from Rome, and the whole body of its clergy became notorious alike for their gross ignorance and the viciousness of their lives. After the Union of Berest’ in 1596 the Ruthenian Church was divided into two contending parties — the Uniates and those who persevered in schism — each with its own hierarchy. Among the leaders of the schismatic party, who laboured to enkindle popular hatred against the Uniates, Meletius Smotryckyj was conspicuous, and the most celebrated of his victims was Josaphat.

Although of a noble Ruthenian stock, Josaphat’s father had devoted himself to commercial pursuits, and held the office of town-councilor. Both parents contributed to implant the seeds of piety in the heart of their child. In the school at Volodymyr Josaphat — Johannes was the saint’s baptismal name — gave evidence of unusual talent; he applied himself with the greatest zeal to the study of ecclesiastical Slav, and learned almost the entire casoslov (breviary), which from this period he began to read daily. From this source he drew his early religious education, for the unlettered clergy seldom preached or gave catechetical instruction. Owing to the straitened circumstances of his parents, he was apprenticed to the merchant Popovyc at Vilna. In this town, remarkable for the corruption of its morals and the contentions of the various religious sects, he seemed specially guarded by Providence, and became acquainted with certain excellent men (e.g. Benjamin Rutski), under whose direction he advanced in learning and in virtue.

At the age of twenty-four (1604) he entered the Basilian monastery of the Trinity at Vilna. The fame of his virtues rapidly spread, and distinguished people began to visit him. After a notable life as a layman, Rutski also joined the order, bringing with him a wide erudition. When Josaphat reached the diaconate, regular services and labour for the salvation of souls had been already begun; the number of novices steadily increased, and under Rutski — who had meanwhile been ordained priest — there began the regeneration of religious life among the Ruthenians. In 1609, after private study under the Jesuit Fabricius, Josaphat was ordained priest. He subsequently became superior in several monasteries, and on 12 November, 1617, was reluctantly consecrated Bishop of Vitebsk, with right of succession to the Archbishopric of Polotsk. He became archbishop in 1618.

While each succeeding year saw fresh evidence of his fruitful labours, it also witnessed the steady growth of the hatred of the schismatic party. Finally on 12 November, 1623, an axe-stroke and a bullet brought Josaphat his martyr’s crown. After numerous miracles had occurred, a commission was appointed by Urban VIII in 1628 to inquire into the cause of Josaphat, and examined on oath 116 witnesses. Although five years had elapsed since Josaphat’s death, his body was still incorrupt. In 1637 a second commission investigated the life of the martyr, and in 1643 — twenty years after his death — Josaphat was beatified. His canonization took place in 1867. Great were the virtues of the saint. As a boy he shunned the usual games of childhood, prayed much, and lost no opportunity of assisting at the Divine services. Children especially regarded him with the greatest affection, and found in him a worthy model. As an apprentice, he devoted every leisure hour to prayer and study. At first Popovyc viewed this behaviour with displeasure, but Josaphat gradually won such a position in his esteem, that Popovyc offered him his entire fortune and his daughter’s hand. But Josaphat’s love for the religious life never wavered. At first without a human guide along the paths of virtue, he received all spiritual direction immediately from the Holy Ghost.

His favourite pious exercise was to make a poklony (i.e. a reverence, in which the head touches the ground) with the ejaculation: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.” Never eating meat, he fasted much, wore a hair-shirt and an angular chain, slept on the bare floor, and chastised his body until the blood flowed. The Jesuits frequently urged him to set some bounds to his austerities.

From his zealous study of the liturgical books he drew many proofs of Catholic truth, using his knowledge in the composition of several works — “On the Baptism of St. Volodymyr”; “On the Falsification of the Slavic Books by the Enemies of the Metropolitan”; “On Monks and their Vows”. As deacon, priest, and bishop, he was distinguished by his extraordinary zeal in the service of souls. Not alone in the church did he preach and hear confessions, but likewise in the fields, hospitals, prisons, and even on his journeys. Even where his words of instruction might by themselves have failed, his entreaties and tears ensured him success. This zeal, united with his kindness and extraordinary love for the poor, won numbers to the Catholic Faith. Among his converts were included many important personages such as Ignatius, Patriarch of Moscow, and Emmanuel Cantacuzenus, who belonged to the family of the Greek Emperor Palæologus.

As archbishop he restored the churches; issued a catechism to the clergy with instructions that it should be learned by heart; composed rules for the priestly life, entrusting to the deacons the task of superintending their observance; assembled synods in various towns in the dioceses, and firmly opposed the Imperial Chancellor Sapieha, when he wished to make many concessions in favour of the schismatics. Throughout all his strivings and all his occupations, he continued his exemplary life as a religious, and never abated his zeal for self-mortification and prayer.

He awaited death with a certain yearning, refusing to avail himself of the opportunity of flight afforded him. After his death his influence was still greater: conversions were numerous, and veneration for him continued to extend. His feast is kept on the first Sunday after 12 November, according to the Julian Calendar. [Note: His feast is currently kept on November 12 on the Universal Calendar.]

GUÉPIN, Un Apòtre de l’Union des Eglises en XVIIe siècle (2 vols., Paris, 1898); CONTIERI, Vita di S. Giosafat Arcivescovo e Martire Ruteno dell’ Ordine di S.Basilio il Grande (Rome, 1867); SUSZA,Cursus vitæ et certamen martyrii B. Josaphat Kuncewicz (Rome, 1665), ed. MARTINOV (Paris, 1865); SUSZA, Saulus et Paulus Ruthenæ Unionis sanguine B. Josaphat transformatus (Rome, 1666); GUÉPIN AND KALINKA, Zywot S. Józafata Kuncewicza, meczennika, arcybiskupa polockiego (Lemberg, 1885); KOZANEVYC, Zytje sv. Svjašcenomucenyka Josafata Kuncevyca (Zovkva, 1902); URBAN, Swiety Józafat Kuncewicz, biskup i meczennik (Krakow, 1906) — the two last-mentioned are popular works.

JOSAPHAT J. MARKEVYC

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Saint Martin of Tours

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The 11th of November is the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours (316 or 336 – 8 November 397). He is the patron saint against poverty; against alcoholism; Baħrija, Malta; beggars; Beli Manastir; Archdiocese of Bratislava; Buenos Aires; Burgenland; cavalry; Church Lads’ and Church Girls’ Brigade; Dieburg; Edingen equestrians; Foiano della Chiana; France; geese; horses; hotel-keepers; innkeepers; Kortrijk; diocese of Mainz; Montemagno; Olpe; Ourense; Pietrasanta; Pontifical Swiss Guards; quartermasters; reformed alcoholics; riders; Taal, Batangas; Bocaue, Bulacan; Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart; soldiers; tailors; Utrecht; vintners; Virje; wine growers; wine makers; and Wissmannsdorf and Villadoz.

The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

WHEN a mere boy, Martin became a Christian catechumen against his parents’ wish; and at fifteen was therefore seized by his father, a pagan soldier, and enrolled in the army. One winter’s day, when stationed at Amiens, he met a beggar almost naked and frozen with cold. Having no money, he cut his cloak in two and gave him the half. That night he saw Our Lord clothed in the half cloak, and heard Him say to the angels: “Martin, yet a catechumen, hath wrapped Me in this garment.” This decided him to be baptized, and shortly after he left the army. He succeeded in converting his mother; but, being driven from his home by the Arians, he took shelter with St. Hilary, and founded near Poitiers the first monastery in France. In 372 he was made Bishop of Tours. His flock, though Christian in name, was still pagan in heart. Unarmed and attended only by his monks, Martin destroyed the heathen temples and groves, and completed by his preaching and miracles the conversion of the people, whence he is known as the Apostle of Gaul. His last eleven years were spent in humble toil to atone for his faults, while God made manifest by miracles the purity of his soul.

Reflection.—It was for Christ crucified that St. Martin worked. Are you working for the same Lord?

Image: St Martin leaves the life of chivalry and renounces the army (fresco by Simone Martini)

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Pope Saint Leo I (The Great)

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The 10th of November is the feast day of Pope Saint Leo I (The Great) ( c. 400 – 10 November 461).

The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

LEO was born at Rome. He embraced the sacred ministry, was made archdeacon of the Roman Church by St. Celestine, and under him and Sixtus III. had a large share in governing the Church. On the death of Sixtus, Leo was chosen Pope, and consecrated on St. Michael’s day, 440, amid great joy. It was a time of terrible trial. Vandals and Huns were wasting the provinces of the empire, and Nestorians, Pelagians, and other heretics wrought more grievous havoc among souls. Whilst Leo’s zeal made head against these perils, there arose the new heresy of Eutyches, who confounded the two natures of Christ. At once the vigilant pastor proclaimed the true doctrine of the [paragraph continues] Incarnation in his famous “tome;” but fostered by the Byzantine court, the heresy gained a strong hold amongst the Eastern monks and bishops. After three years of unceasing toil, Leo brought about its solemn condemnation by the Council of Chalcedon, the Fathers all signing his tome, and exclaiming, “Peter hath spoken by Leo.” Soon after, Attila with his Huns broke into Italy, and marched through its burning cities upon Rome. Leo went out boldly to meet him, and prevailed on him to turn back. Astonished to see the terrible Attila, the “Scourge of God,” fresh from the sack of Aquileia, Milan, Pavia, with the rich prize of Rome within his grasp, turn his great host back to the Danube at the Saint’s word, his chiefs asked him why he had acted so strangely. He answered that he saw two venerable personages, supposed to be Sts. Peter and Paul, standing behind Leo, and impressed by this vision he withdrew. If the perils of the Church are as great now as in St. Leo’s day, St. Peter’s solicitude is not less. Two years later the city fell a prey to the Vandals; but even then Leo saved it from destruction. He died A. D. 461, having ruled the Church twenty years.

Reflection.—Leo loved to ascribe all the fruits of his unsparing labors to the glorious chief of the apostles, who, he often declared, lives and governs in his successors.

Image: Saint Leo Magnus by Francisco Herrera the Younger, in the Prado Museum, Madrid.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Saint Benignus of Armagh

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The 9th of November is the feast day of Saint Benignus of Armagh (d. 467 A.D.).

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Date of birth unknown; d. 467, son of Sesenen, an Irish chieftain in that part of Ireland which is now County Meath. He was baptized by St. Patrick, and became his favorite disciple and his coadjutor in the See of Armagh (450). His gentle and lovable disposition suggested the name Benen, which has been Latinized as Benignus. He followed his master in all his travels, and assisted him in his missionary labors, giving most valuable assistance in the formation of choral services. From his musical acquirements he was known as “Patrick’s psalm-singer”, and he drew thousands of souls to Christ by his sweet voice. St. Benignus is said not only to have assisted in compiling the great Irish code of Laws, or Senchus Mor, but also to have contributed materials for the “Psalter of Cashel”, and the “Book of Rights”. He was present at the famous synod which passed the canon recognizing “the See Of the Apostle Peter” as the final court of appeal in difficult cases, which canon is to be found in the Book of Armagh. St. Benignus resigned his coadjutorship in 467 and died at the close of the same year. His feast is celebrated on the 9th of November. Most authorities have identified St. Patrick’s psalm-singer with the St. Benignus who founded Kilbannon, near Tuam, but it is certain, from Tirechán’s collections in the Book of Armagh, that St. Benignus of Armagh and St. Benignus of Kilbannon were two distinct persons. The former is described as son of Sesenen of County Meath, whilst the latter was son of Lugni of Connaught, yet both were contemporaries. St. Benignus of Kilbannon had a famous monastery, where St. Jarlath was educated, and he also presided over Drumlease. His sister, Mathona, was Abbess of Tawney, in Tirerrill.

CAPGRAVE, Nova Legenda Angliæ (1516), fol. 36, for the oldest lives of the saint; see also HARDY, Descriptive Catalogue, etc., 1, 89; WARE-HARRIS, Antiquities of Ireland. 1, 34. II 6:O’HANLON, Lives of Irish Saints (9 November), XI; WHITLEY STOKES (ed.), Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, Rolls Series (London, 1887), in index s. v. BENÉN, BENIGNUS; Bibl. Hagiogr. Lat. (1898), 172, 1324; FORBES in Dict. of Christ. Biog., 1, 312. The very ancient Leabhar-na-gceart or Book of Rights, said to have been compiled by BENIGNUS was edited by O’DONOVAN for the Celtic Society (Dublin. 1847). BENIGNUS is also said to have been the original compiler of the Psalter of Cashel (see CASHEL).

W. H. Grattan-Flood.

Image: Detail of the stained glass window of St. Benen (also named Benin or Benignus).

Thursday, 8 November 2018

The Four Crowned Martyrs

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The 8th of November is the feast day of the Four Crowned Martyrs (d. 305 A.D.). They are the patron saints of sculptors, stonemasons, stonecutters; against fever; and cattle.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

The old guidebooks to the tombs of the Roman martyrs make mention, in connection with the catacomb of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus on the Via Labicana, of the Four Crowned Martyrs (Quatuor Coronati), at whose grave the pilgrims were wont to worship (De Rossi, Roma sotterranea, I, 178-79). One of these itineraries, the “Epitome libri de locis sanctorum martyrum”, adds the names of the four martyrs (in reality five): “IV Coronati, id est Claudius, Nicostratus, Simpronianus, Castorius, Simplicitus”. These are the names of five martyrs, sculptors in the quarries of Pannonia (now a part of Austria-Hungary, south-west of the Danube), who gave up their lives for their Faith in the reign of Diocletian. The Acts of these martyrs, written by a revenue officer named Porphyrius probably in the fourth century, relates of the five sculptors that, although they raised no objections to executing such profane images as Victoria, Cupid, and the Chariot of the Sun, they refused to make a statue of Æsculapius for a heathen temple. For this they were condemned to death as Christians. They were put into leaden caskets and drowned in the River Save. This happened towards the end of 305. The foregoing account of the martyrdom of the five sculptors of Pannonia is substantially authentic; but later on a legend sprang up at Rome concerning the Quatuor Coronati, according to which four Christian soldiers (cornicularii) suffered martyrdom at Rome during the reign of Diocletian, two years after the death of the five sculptors. Their offence consisted in refusing to offer sacrifice to the image of Æsculapius. The bodies of the martyrs were interred at St. Sebastian and Pope Melchiades at the third milestone on the Via Labicana, in a sandpit where rested the remains of others who had perished for the Faith. Since the names of the four martyred soldiers could not be authentically established, Pope Melchiades commanded that, the date of their death (8 November) being the same as that of the Pannonian sculptors, their anniversary should be celebrated on that day, under the names of Sts. Claudius, Nicostratus, Symphorianus, Castor, and Simplicius. This report has no historic foundation. It is merely a tentative explanation of the name Quatuor Coronati, a name given to a group of really authenticated martyrs who were buried and venerated in the catatomb of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus, the real origin of which, however, is not known. They were classed with the five martyrs of Pannonia in a purely external relationship. Numerous manuscripts on the legend as well as the Roman Martyrology give the names of the Four Crowned Martyrs, supposed to have been revealed at a later date, as Secundus, Severianus, Carpoforus, and Victorius. But these four martyrs were not buried in Rome, but in the catacomb of Albano; their feast was celebrated on 7 August, under which date it is cited in the Roman Calender of Feasts of 354. These martyrs of Albano have no connection with the Roman martyrs described above. Of the four Crowned Martyrs we know only that they suffered death for the Faith and the place where they were buried. They evidently were held in great veneration at Rome, since in the fourth and fifth century a basilica was erected and dedicated in the Caelian Hill, probably in the neibourhood of spot where tradition located their execution. This became one of the titular churches of Rome, was restored several times and still stands. It is first mentioned among the signatures of a Roman council in 595. Pope Leo IV ordered the relics removed, about 850, from the Via Labicana to the church dedicated to their memory, together with the relics of the five Pannonian martyrs, which had been brought to Rome at some period now unknown. Both group of maryrs are commemorated on 8 November.

J. P. KIRSCH

Image: The Four Crowned Saints, Nanni di Banco,Orsanmichele, Florence, ca. 1415.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Feast of Order of Preachers

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The 7th of November is the feast day of All Saints of the Order of Preachers, who are also known as the Dominicans.

They were founded by Saint Dominic de Guzman during the early 13th century in France. The order has 14 canonised saints and 215 people who are beatified. Their charism is to study and preach with the intention to save souls. Their martyrs also count in the ten of thousands, including the Martyrs of Nagasaki and the Martyrs of Vietnam. Famous saints include, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Rose of Lima, Saint Martin de Porres, Pope Saint Pius V, Saint Vincent Ferrar, Saint Hyacinth, Saint Louis de Montfort, Saint Albert the Great, Saint Louis Bertrand, Saint Catherine de Ricci, Saint Hyacinth, Saint Margaret of Hungary, Saint Peter Martyr and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.

Image: Allegory of the Virgin Patroness of the Dominicans by Miguel Cabrera

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Saint Leonard of Noblac

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The 6th of November is the feast day of Saint Leonard of Noblac (died 559 AD). He is the patron saint of political prisoners, imprisoned people, prisoners of war, and captives, women in labour, as well as horses. He is also known as Lienard, Linhart, Leonhard, Léonard, Leonardo, Annard; of Limoges or Noblet.

The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

LEONARD, one of the chief personages of the court of Clovis, and for whom this monarch had stood as sponsor in baptism, was so moved by the discourse and example of St. Remigius that he relinquished the world in order to lead a more perfect life. The Bishop of Rheims having trained Leonard to virtue, he became the apostle of such of the Franks as still remained pagans; but fearing that he might be summoned to the court by his reputation for sanctity, he withdrew secretly to the monastery of Micy, near Orleans, and afterwards to the solitude of Noblac near Limoges. His charity not allowing him to remain inactive while there was so much good to be done, he undertook the work of comforting prisoners, making them understand that the captivity of sin was more terrible than any mere bodily constraint. He won over a great many of these unfortunate persons, which gained for him many disciples, in whose behalf he founded a new monastery. St. Leonard died about the year 550.

Reflection.—”The wicked shall be taken with his own iniquities, and shall be held by the cords of his own sin.”

Image: Wooden statue of Saint Leonard, Abbot of Noblac

Monday, 5 November 2018

Saint Elizabeth of the Visitation

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The 5th of November is the feast of Saint Elizabeth of the Visitation (1st c.). She is the patron saint of pregnant women.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Elizabeth (God is an oath—Ex., vi, 23), Zachary’s wife and John the Baptist’s mother, was “of the daughters of Aaron” (Luke, i, 5), and, at the same time, Mary’s kinswoman (Luke, i, 36), although what their actual relationship was, is unknown. St. Hippolytus (in Niceph. Call., Hist. Eccles., II, iii) explains that Sobe and Anna their mothers were sisters, and that Sobe had married a “son of Levi”. Whether this indication, probably gathered from some apocryphal writings, and later on adopted by the compilers of the Greek Menologium, is correct, cannot be ascertained. Elizabeth, like Zachary, was “just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame” (Luke, i, 6). She had been deprived, however, of the blessings of motherhood until, at an advanced age, a son was promised her by the Angel Gabriel (Luke, i, 8-20). When, five months later, Elizabeth was visited in her home by the Virgin Mary, not only was her son sanctified in her womb, but she herself was enlightened from on high to salute her cousin as “the mother of my Lord” (Luke, i, 43). According to some modern critics, we should even attribute to her the canticle “Magnificat”. After the birth and circumcision of John the Baptist, the Gospels do not mention Elizabeth any more. Her feast is celebrated on September 8 by the Greeks, and November 5 in the Latin Church.

CHARLES L. SOUVAY

Image: Elizabeth (left) visited by Mary, the Visitation, by Philippe de Champaigne

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Saint Charles Borromeo

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The 4th of November is the feast day of Saint Charles Borromeo (2 October 1538 – 3 November 1584). He is the patron saint of against ulcers; apple orchards; bishops; catechists; catechumens; colic; intestinal disorders; Lombardy, Italy; Monterey California; cardinals; seminarians; spiritual directors; spiritual leaders; starch makers; stomach diseases; and São Carlos, a city in Brazil.

The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:.

ABOUT fifty years after the Protestant heresy had broken out, Our Lord raised up a mere youth to renew the face of His Church. In 1560 Charles Borromeo, then twenty-two years of age, was created cardinal, and by the side of his uncle, Pius IV., administered the affairs of the Holy See. His first care was the direction of the Council of Trent. He urged forward its sessions, guided its deliberations by continual correspondence from Rome, and by his firmness carried it to its conclusion. Then he entered upon a still more arduous work—the execution of its decrees. As Archbishop of Milan he enforced their observance, and thoroughly restored the discipline of his see. He founded schools for the poor, seminaries for the clerics, and by his community of Oblates trained his priests to perfection. Inflexible in maintaining discipline, to his flock he was a most tender father. He would sit by the roadside to teach a poor man the Pater and Ave, and would enter hovels the stench of which drove his attendants from the door. During the great plague he refused to leave Milan, and was ever by the sick and dying, and sold even his bed for their support. So he lived and so he died, a faithful image of the Good Shepherd, up to his last hour giving his life for his sheep.

Reflection.—Daily resolutions to fulfil, at all cost, every duty demanded by God, is the lesson taught by St. Charles; and a lesson we must learn if we would overcome our corrupt nature and reform our lives.


Image: Carlo Borromeo, by Giovanni Figino

Our Lady of Medjugorje

November 2, 2018 Message to Mirjana

Dear children, My motherly heart suffers as I am looking at my children who do not love the truth, those who are hiding it - as I look at my children who do not pray with their feelings and actions. I am sad as I am saying to my Son that many of my children no longer have faith, that they do not know Him - my Son. That is why I call you, apostles of my love: you strive to look to the very depth in human hearts and there you are certain to find the little hidden treasure. To look in this way is mercy from the Heavenly Father. To seek the good even where there is the greatest evil - to strive to comprehend each other and not to judge - that is what my Son is asking of you. And I, as a mother, am calling you to listen to Him. My children, the spirit is mightier than the flesh, and, carried by love and actions, it overcomes all obstacles. Do not forget: my Son has loved you and loves you. His love is with you and in you when you are one with Him. He is the light of the world and no one and nothing will be able to stop Him in the final glory. Therefore, apostles of my love, do not be afraid to witness the truth. Witness it with enthusiasm, with works, with love, with your sacrifice, and, above all, in humility. Witness the truth to all those who have not come to know my Son. I will be alongside you. I will encourage you. Witness the love which never ends because it comes from the Heavenly Father who is eternal and who offers eternity to all of my children. The spirit of my Son will be alongside you. Anew I am calling you, my children: pray for your shepherds, pray that the love of my Son may lead them. Thank you.

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