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Listing August - 2009
‘At this time of year, the focus is on how children, teenagers and parents feel about the return to school but nobody asks how teachers feel. Teachers are the architects of the ethos of a classroom and have a profound influence on children’s attitude to learning and career progress.’ ~Tony Humphreys

All schools reopen this week after the summer holidays. Despite poor weather many families have made the best of the break. There is also a sense of relief about getting back to normal life and routine again. As we begin the new school term it is a good time to ask God’s blessings on everyone returning to school. We include children who start school for the very first time and those beginning a new journey in secondary school. We especially pray for all teachers. There is a lovely saying that says a teacher affects eternity and that they can never tell where their influence stops. We ask God to gently guide and direct them in all the great work they do each day. Help them to face all the challenges of the year ahead. May it be a good school year for everyone.
Moses said to the people:"You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God just as I lay them down for you." ~Deuteronomy 4:2

The following reflection has been written by Fr.Tom Cahill

I wonder what goes wrong to give the impression that God’s commandments are burdens to be borne, better yet ignored, rather than gifts to be cherished. Why do some people worship money, power and sex instead of the one true God? Why can’t they see the tyranny that servitude to these produces? Why can’t they see the freedom that having only the one true God in one’s life endows? And why can’t they see God’s commandments as guiding lights to help them travel life’s convoluted course in safety? There are so many ‘whys’.

God created us to live in community. At family level community living calls for give-and-take. If members make demands regardless of how it affects others, then the quality of life degrades. If all are equally demanding, then you have a dysfunctional family. At world level, community living also calls for give-and-take: individually, collectively and nationally. God’s commandments wise us up to the need for justice, generosity, and respect for all people. They help us to adapt to life out there in the real world. They prevent us from expecting that life should adapt to us. That’s why many don’t like them. But, if we didn’t have them, would we not have to invent them?
‘Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterwards.’ ~Author Unknown

We know that experience can get us through many aspects of life, through what’s certain but also through the unknown. Experience is often hard earned. It might be a difficult job interview that didn’t go well, the game we should have won but threw away, the decision we should have made but didn’t. We spend our lives gathering experiences but they all do stand to us. What is our experience of God? For many people it is wide and varied. All our experiences of God are valid and important. The great lesson of life is to feel loved and cherished. This should be the goal of all our experiences especially that of God.
A film called ‘Goal’ was shown on RTE last night.

It was the story about a young player from Mexico who was trying to get a break and make it into Newcastle Football Club. The film gave some insight into the rough and tough side of football. At reserve level the young player wouldn’t pass the ball when he should. The coach pulled him aside and asked him to run to the end of the pitch. He kicked the ball ahead of him. The coach repeated this and then asked the young player what he had learned. The player was unsure. The coach told him: “The ball will always be quicker than you. You will never be faster than it. So pass, pass and keep passing.” Life has little place for solo runs. We do best working together and as a team. The same goes with our belief in God. It can never be a private affair or a solo run. Each of us can make our relationship with God as personal as we want but it only has real meaning in how we relate with others. We need each other for support and encouragement. It can never happen if we insist on going solo.
‘Bats In The Roof’ by John Whiteley

I have bats in my roof. At first I was not pleased but they are a protected species. So I had to preserve them. Then I started reading about them and I rather got to like the fascinating creatures. Now I am happy, even proud to have them in my roof. But I would not want them in my living room. They are alright as long as they are up in the attic. Then I realised, that’s how I treat you Lord. I may know all about you but do I really know you? I may be happy, even proud to be associated with you. But I want to keep you in your place, where you cannot invade my comfort, where you cannot change my life. The bats are happy with my attic. It meets all their needs. But what about you Lord, will I continue to keep you in the attic of my life or can I begin to relax and allow you to be a part of my life?
‘Heaven’s Grocery Store’ ~Author Unknown

One day I was walking down one of life’s many roads. Then I saw a sign that read ‘Heaven’s Grocery Store’. As I got a little closer a door opened and in I went. I met an angel who said, “My child shop with care. Everything you need for life is in this store, carry all you want.” First I got some patience. Love was in the same row. Further down was understanding. I made sure to pick that up as you need it all the time. I picked up wisdom and a bag or two of faith. I stopped to pick up some strength and courage. I made sure to pick up love too, it was everywhere. As I went up the aisle I saw prayer and I had to put that in too. Peace and joy were plentiful as were song, praise and thanksgiving. Then I asked the angel, “How much do I owe?” The angel said, “Take them everywhere you go.” And then I said again, “But really how much do I owe you?” The angel smiled and said, “My child, Jesus paid your bill a long time ago.”
‘We’re all familiar with the expression “straddling the fence”. We criticize people for doing it and we do it ourselves sometimes too. Straddling the fence is about refusing to make a clear decision about something.’ ~Joseph Slattery

It’s fair to say that many of us are experts at straddling the fence. We want the best of both worlds. It also happens in our relationship with God and our everyday lives. We want to believe that we are in with God and we also want to believe that we are in touch with all that is happening in our lives. What tends to happen is that we push anything spiritual into a box of its own and only open it when we want to or when we’re in the mood. We sometimes don’t connect God with our own lives. So instead of straddling the fence and trying to have a foot in both camps, why not take down the fence? Why not try and integrate our connection with God and what goes on in our everyday lives. So instead of pushing God into a box, why not allow God to be a part of all that’s going in our lives. This is where real growth can take place.
The 5 Finger Prayer Guide:

(1) Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember.
(2) The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, nurses, counsellors, priests, sisters and others in the caring profession. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.
(3) Next is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for our president, leaders in government, business and industry. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.
(4)The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need our prayers day and night.
(5) Lastly is our little finger, the smallest finger of all. Here we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. Your little finger should remind you to pray for yourself. You yourself know best your own needs and concerns.
After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him. Then Jesus said to the Twelve, 'What about you, do you want to go away too?' Simon Peter answered, 'Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.' ~John 6:68-69

The following reflection has been written by Fr.Tom Clancy

It started in Christ's lifetime. The great preacher and miracle worker drew great crowds. He looked a winner. It was fashionable to be with him. Then the tide turned. His preaching demanded faith in him as Son of God who could give himself under the form of bread. That was hard to take. Many could not or would not accept him. He even wondered would his closest friends desert him.

It is a story that has been repeated again and again. The Church has enjoyed periods of popularity and prestige. It was the side to be on. At times the tide turned. Persecution or suffering meant that it was only those close to Christ who remained faithful.

Our own time is one of challenge and cross currents, especially for our young. Some find the message of Jesus and practice too hard and walk no more with him. As he says to Peter in today's gospel, he says to each one of us: "Will you also go away?". We can try to make our own of Peter's reply: "To whom shall we go Lord? You have the words of eternal life."
‘Consider the endless possibilities that our young people have within themselves and their genuine desire for God in their lives. It is these possibilities that bring about a hope that is lived out in every one of our young people today.’ ~Patricia O’Brien speaking during the novena taking place at Knock Shrine this week

It is always great to hear a woman give a homily and hopefully we’ll see much more of it. Patricia gave an inspiring talk on young people and her topic was ‘Hope for Young People Today’. When it comes to young people the perception out there is that they have abandoned the faith with little connection to God in their lives. All the evidence points to a much different story. Often it is the sceptic in us that doubts the motivation behind what a young person may do. We don’t give them enough credit or try to understand where they are coming from. Many young people are genuinely searching for God and are willing to seek God out in their lives. This search may not always be obvious but it is alive and well. They need our support and encouragement on that journey.
'Rest is not a matter of doing absolutely nothing. Rest is repair.' ~Daniel Josselyn

We sometimes underestimate rest in our daily lives. Rest is taking it easy for a while, giving ourselves and our bodies a chance to unwind and relax. It is during this time that our bodies repair, refresh and rejuvenate. Resting doesn't necessarily mean doing nothing. Rest is slowing our pace, becoming less active and less tense. If we look back on any given day it’s easy to see how we are often racing around getting things done. It’s as if there’s some big handout or bonus points if I get everything or as much as possible done today. Let’s leave that to Lance Armstrong and the rest of the professional cyclists who begin the Tour of Ireland today! Rest is God’s gift to each of us. It’s a gift that helps us appreciate more of what’s around us and helps us appreciate the gift of this present moment.
‘We need to ensure that we never let despair or hopelessness or despondency overwhelm us. We need to know that as human beings created by God with all our imperfections and our talents, that there is another way. We know that we shall overcome.’ ~Bryan Dobson (RTE) speaking during the novena taking place at Knock Shrine this week.

As a human race we are tough and resilient. Yes we are vulnerable, weak and frail at times but deep down there is an inbuilt strength within each person to keep going. During tough economic times we rely on this inbuilt strength even more. Some call it hope, some call it being optimistic and some call it faith. But no matter how bad things may be there is another way. There is always a solution to a crisis, always light after darkness, always calm after a storm, always possibilities in bleakness and always a God to gently guide us through to where we need to go. This is the other way. It is easy to loose sight of this way but we must keep it in sight at all times.
Now I am revealing new things to you, things hidden and unknown to you, created just now. This very moment you have heard nothing of these things until now, so that you cannot say, ‘Oh yes, I knew all this’. ~Isaiah 48:6

We sometimes think of God, religion and spirituality as just static. Some see it as created in the past which has been passed onto us to preserve and in turn we pass it on to someone else. This is very limiting. Everything about God is fresh, moving and changing. Nothing stays still. We can never say we know God fully or that we know what God’s plans are for us. Each day we can learn something new about ourselves, about God, about life, about the world we live in, about our family, our friends and so on. All of them are never in isolation but are connected in a mysterious web that make up today. God is never boring, dull or static. If we believe that today is God’s gift to us then we are open to possibility, freshness and a sense of freedom in our lives. The invitation is to be open to God’s many blessings that make up each day.
Bits and Pieces… ~Author Unknown

Stop trying to love God and let God love you. Don’t stay away from your local church because there are so many hypocrites going. There’s always room for one more! No person can be a friend of Jesus, who is not a friend of their neighbour. The church is not made up of people who are better than the rest, but of people who want to become better than they are. The day a person is baptised is far more important than the day when a person is ordained a priest or bishop. A child is not likely to find a father in God, unless they find something of God in their own father first. Success in marriage is more than finding the right person; it is being the right person. God wants spiritual fruit not spiritual nuts. Marriage is like a twirling baton or turning handsprings or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy till you try it. You grow up the day you have your first laugh at yourself.
From Parent to Teenager……

I gave you life but I cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things but I cannot make you learn.
I can allow you freedom but I cannot account for you.
I can take you to church but I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong but I cannot always decide for you.
I can buy you beautiful clothes but I cannot make you beautiful inside.
I can offer you advice but I can’t force you to accept it.
I can give you love but I can’t force it on you.
I can teach you to share but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can advise you about friends but I cannot choose them for you.
I can advise you about sex but only you can build your reputation.
I can tell you about drink but I can’t say no for you.
I can advise you about drugs but I can’t prevent you using them.
I can tell you about lofty goals but I can’t achieve them for you.
I can teach you kindness but really it’s up to you to show it.
I can tell you about sin but I can’t make your morals.
I can pray for you but I can’t make you walk with God.
I can tell you how to live but in the end it’s up to you.
To the fool she says, 'Come and eat my bread, drink the wine I have prepared! Leave your folly and you will live, walk in the ways of perception. ~Proverbs 9:5-6

The following reflection is written by Fr.Tom Cahill. It's called 'Cop on or Cop out'

The message on the church bulletin board reads: ‘Those who stand for nothing fall for everything.’ Wisdom is knowing what to stand for – and standing up for it. Wisdom is putting knowledge to good use. Today’s First Reading (Prov 9:1-6) urges us to ‘lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight’ (v 6). Easier said than done. Someone who is immature is not ripe. Growth in one or more areas of their life slowed down or stopped completely at some stage. It’s scary enough that such a thing can happen, but to make matters worse it can happen without our realising it until it’s late in the day.

Today’s reading also tells us to walk in the way of insight. Fine! But how do you do that? You can’t just decide to have an insight as you’d have a cup of tea. You can’t conjure one up, order one over the Internet, or go to a shop and buy one. No! They either come to you or they don’t. However, maybe it’s just one basic insight that the reading refers to. Once you’ve had that one others follow of their own accord as life presents them. But without the basic one you miss the others. And what is more basic to realise than that life has purpose, and consequences that extend beyond death. Once that sinks in we begin to see things differently. Wisdom has built her house, set her pillars, and prepared a meal for those who enter. So let’s put immaturity aside and live. Let’s cop on not cop out.
Feast Of The Assumption of Mary. See Saint for Today for more
Background info for our thought today....On April 5th 2008 Stuart Mangan suffered a spinal injury while playing a game of rugby, that left him paralysed from the neck down. It was a horrific freak injury. His family were a massive support to him and they set up efforts to raise funds for his ongoing medical care. Their efforts and the great courage that Stuart displayed, sparked one of the biggest charity fundraising campaigns ever seen in Ireland. Tragically Stuart died last Friday in the presence of his family after suffering respiratory problems at home. His funeral Mass takes place later today in Fermoy.

‘During his short life Stuart showed incredible energy, enthusiasm and love for people. Since his accident he has inspired many with his courage and greatly increased his circle of friends. In this way he has left us all a great legacy.’ ~Family of the late Stuart Mangan

Words fail to describe the impact Stuart has had on so many people. His short life has deeply touched such a wide circle and his life will continue to inspire. When we are faced with difficulties, darkness, doubts, impossible odds, tragedy, depression, setbacks and severe trauma, it is tempting to give up and throw the towel in. Stuart Mangan’s life will be a reminder that there is another way. His bravery, courage and sheer determination will be an inspiration to keep going when the odds are stacked against us. For many of us who may complain and grumble about trivialities, we are challenged to get our priorities right. Stuart certainly had many admirable priorities, mainly his love of family, love of sport and rugby, the strength of friendship, wonderful courage, openness and bravery. He never lost hope when it seemed all was lost and hopeless. He will never be forgotten. May Stuart rest in peace.
10 Things To Remember by Donna Fargo

(1) Your life is a gift to you. Appreciate this gift with all your heart.
(2) Know that God is with you wherever you are and no matter how you feel.
(3) Respect your body. It’s the only one you have. Make wise choices about what you feed it.
(4) A balanced life is based on give and take. Give joyfully out of your own need and you will draw whatever you need to you.
(5) The choices you make will work for or against you. Your thoughts, words, and actions paint a total picture of who you are.
(6) Treat others as you would want to be treated no matter how they’ve treated you.
(7) Don’t judge others; it’s not good for you. Don’t try to change others, it won’t work. You’ll have enough trouble changing yourself.
(8) When you’re down, get up and try again. Know that whatever you’re going through will look different another day.
(9) If you wrong someone ask forgiveness.
(10) Love is the basis of life. Choose to love others, for when you show love, you are keeping God’s greatest commandment and making a positive difference.
It’s All In What You Say…

“I got 2 A’s in my exam”, the small boy shouted. His voice was filled with glee. But his father very bluntly asked, “Why did you not get 3?” “Mum I’ve got the dishes done”, the girl called from the door. But her mother very calmly said, “And did you sweep the floor?” “I’ve mowed the grass”, the tall boy said, “and I’ve put the mower away”. But his father asked him with a shrug, “Did you clean the lawnmower after you?”

The children in the house next door seem happy and content. The same things happened over there. But this is how it went.

“I got 2 A’s in my exam”, the small boy shouted. His voice was filled with glee. His father proudly said “That’s great you really have made my day.” “Mum I’ve got the dishes done, the girl called from the door. Her mother smiled and said, “Thank you so much, I really appreciate what you have done.” “I’ve mowed the grass”, the tall boy said, “and I’ve put the mower away”. His father answered, “That’s great and you did a great job too.”
‘It is never the wrong time to do the right thing.’ ~Author Unknown

As the old saying goes, ‘there is a time and a place for everything in life.’ This includes a time to do the right thing. Sometimes we’re not sure what the right thing to do is and at other times it is very clear and obvious. But even when we know what the right thing to do is, we’re sometimes slow and stubborn to do it. This is where prayer can be a great catalyst. Prayer no matter how simple can kick us into action. A simple prayer might be to ask God for the strength and courage to do the right thing or make the right decision. There is never a wrong time to begin such a prayer.
The following reflection is called ‘For A Reason’. The author is unknown.

Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there. They serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson or help figure out who you are or who you want to become. Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by chance or by means of good or bad luck. Without the small tests we go through each day, life would be like a smoothly paved, straight and flat road to nowhere. It would be safe and comfortable but dull and utterly pointless. If someone hurts you, betrays or breaks your heart, forgive them for they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to who you open your heart to. Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you either. You can make of your life anything you wish. Create your own life and then go out and live it.
Our thought for today has been writen by Fr.Paddy Byrne. In this piece Paddy reflects on the need for us to avoiding holding on so tightly to our possessions, fears and hurts that cause us to become imprisoned.

There is a beautiful story told about a child playing with a vase his mother had left on the table for a few moments. When the mother turned at the sound of her son crying she saw that his hand was in the vase and was apparently stuck. She tried to help him and pulled and pulled until the child cried out in pain. But the hand was stuck fast. How would they get it out? The father suggested breaking the vase but it was quite valuable and the child's hand might be cut in the process. Yet he knew that if all else failed there would be no alternative. So he said to the boy, "Now, let's make one more try. Open your hands and stretch out your fingers out straight, like I'm doing, and then pull!". "But Dad", said the boy, "If I do that I will lose my penny!" The boy had a coin in his hand all the time and was holding it securely in his tight little fist. He wasn't prepared to open his hand and loose the penny. But once he opened his hand it came out of the vase easily.

The story, though simple, may well reflect our own lives. Often we can hold on tightly to hurt, fear and memory, that it hinders us to experience freedom and contentment in our adult lives. Many of us at times in our lives may well hold on so tightly to our possessions, fears and hurts that in fact we can become imprisoned. There are many prisoners in all our communities who are confined to a very limited sense of freedom, because of a great struggle in regard to being able to let go. Jesus Christ is a great liberator and patiently encourages us to let go, so that we may taste the true sense of human freedom.

A Prayer to conclude
Lord gives us a true appreciation for the gift of our health, our families and friendship and the environment where we live. Where our hands may be clenched and our fears imprison us, may we open our hands to the love and healing that comes from our God.
A reflection called ‘The World Goes On’…

If we pause for a moment and briefly forget all that we have to do. If we can pause for those few moments and if we can forget everything we will make a surprising discovery. We will discover that the world actually goes on without us. This means that all we do and all our rushing about is not as important as we imagine. If we can realise this that the world will actually go on without us a healing process begins. We begin to relax in the presence of God. We begin to realize that everything around us is pure gift to be enjoyed and appreciated. We begin to understand that the most important thing is just being ourselves. We surrender ourselves into God’s hands taking it one day at a time. We are at peace knowing that hectic, shallow and frenzied activity serves no real purpose. What can I do or where can I go this weekend to help me appreciate that today is pure gift to be enjoyed and appreciated?
‘One of the rights I treasure most greatly in my life is my right to be wrong. I absolutely demand this right. I demand the right to be wrong one hundred times a day, in big things and small things. I could surrender many other rights and still live a satisfying life but I could not survive a single day without the right to be wrong.’ ~Geoffrey Robinson

An ability to be able to say ‘I’m sorry’ can be powerful. I’m sure we can recall moments in our own lives when we didn’t do so and we know we should have. Perhaps there was an element of pride or a fear of feeling vulnerable and weak to say sorry. No matter what our age to say we got it wrong isn’t the end of the world. It implies honesty and openness. It implies that we are willing to move on and try again. It doesn’t mean that we will never get it wrong again but it does mean we are willing to give it our best. Our ability to say sorry may be rusty. Is there anyone in my life whom I need to say sorry to?
What is a typical day in the life of a Priest? Every day is different but the following on display in Galway Cathedral will give some clues:

My husband has left me
Can you spare a fiver? I’m out on the streets
Bless me Father for I have sinned
Can you bless our house?
Will you say a prayer that I’ll get the interview?
The Paschal candle's been stolen!
Sarah’s living with her boyfriend
Come up later for the tea
Eddie has given up his faith
My son has got his girlfriend pregnant
What made you become a priest?
The organist refuses to play that!
Alex wants to be confirmed
The folk group has walked out
Dad’s been sent to prison
Deirdre’s on drugs
Father come quickly our mother is dying
Owen doesn’t want to serve Mass any more
Can I marry a Buddhist in a Church ceremony?
Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit
My girlfriend is having an abortion
Will you teach me how to pray?
Can you say Mass with the youth group next week?
We want to get married
I’d say she could do with a chat
Do you do baptisms on a Friday?
The Bishop wants your help with something, will you call to his house this evening
Will you help us set up a St.Vincent De Paul conference in the parish?
Something’s really bothering me Father and I’ve never told this to anyone before.
‘Being created anew is a desire of many of us. We want to start fresh, do it better, transform our lives and live more deeply. But we get stuck and lose our way. We yearn for more meaningful lives but we get co-opted by the superficial values of our society.’ ~Edward L.Beck

A new and fresh start can be liberating. It can open up a whole new set of horizons for us. But our initial enthusiasm is not always followed through by a consistent plan. We tend to stumble and lose our way. It’s like the effects of a big magnet and we get pulled back into our old ways and old habits. We then loose confidence and eventually give up. It is even truer of all things spiritual. How many times have we made an effort to prioritise our spiritual lives, only to find our best plans pushed aside by busyness and other priorities? Making a fresh start is something we should not give up on. Perhaps more manageable and realistic goals is the way to go. Any new path requires effort, commitment and enthusiasm. We pray to God today to help us make it happen.
‘We must know people, like them, enjoy them, make friends with them, take trouble for them, before it may ever be right to “speak” to them about spiritual matters. ~Samuel Shoemaker

A community is one where faith thrives, grows and blossoms. In our modern world, community is most at risk from increasing individualism and isolation. All the modern gadgets in the world are vainly trying to help us cope with a lack of community. There are little comfort zones in an economic downturn but one is a realization that a community working together will get through. Spirituality can only take root when there is a sense of community. It can never operate in a vacuum. If there is no community it’s all just lip service, shallow and even false. We can’t wave a magic wand and hope for instant community, where there is a sense of belonging, friendship and genuine care. But we can do our bit to be more community conscious no matter how small. It can only happen when we realize that every single one of us has a key part to play.
A short prayer for today..

We hunger for lots of things.
We hunger for food to give us sustenance and energy.
We hunger for relationships to help us through life.
We hunger for faith to give deeper meaning to our lives.
We hunger for hope especially in the midst of a recession.
We hunger for love to bring out the best part of each of us.
And we hunger for God to bring meaning and fulfilment to all we do.

We pray to you God to satisfy all our hungers but especially our hunger for meaning and fulfilment in life.
We invite you our loving God, into our lives.
We ask you to bring many blessings into our lives today and throughout the coming week.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen
‘There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.’ ~Beverly Sills

Shortcuts are becoming more attractive because they can generate more time. The fact that there doesn’t seem to be enough time these days means that shortcuts are tempting. But not all short cuts are going to work. Any shortcut that sacrifices values such as honesty, respect and the good name of a person is going to fail. The longer road may seem unattractive at times but it has been tested and tried with all of life’s experiences. Values such as humility, respect, honesty, simplicity, gentleness and peace are certainly places worth going to. At times they seem to be almost an endangered species. They may not have any value in terms of money but in God’s eyes they have infinite value.


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