Archive for August 2019

Feast of Blessed Marie Poussepin (January 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Marie Poussepin

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MARIE POUSSEPIN (OCTOBER 14, 1653-JANUARY 24, 1744)

Foundress of the Dominican Sisters of Charity of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin

Alternative feast day = October 14

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Do your best and pray fervently to obtain the capacities you lack.

–Blessed Marie Poussepin

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Blessed Marie Poussepin spent most of her life serving God in the less fortunate.  She, born in Dourdan, Essone, France, on October 14, 1653, grew up in a devout family.  Claude, her father, was a stocking manufacturer.  Our saint’s mother was usually ill.  The mother died when Marie was 22 years old.  Our saint, accustomed to being a caregiver, began to run the household and to care for her ailing father, rather than join a contemplative religious order.  After Claude died in 1683, our saint assumed control of the family business, which she modernized.  After a few years, Marie gave the business to a brother and focused on religious life.

Our saint became a Dominican tertiary in 1690.  She, head of the local Confraternity of Charity in 1693-1694, began to care for people in her home.  At Sainville, in 1695, Poussepin founded the first house of the Dominican Sisters of Charity of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin.  Our saint was responsible for educating many children and providing much health care in parts of rural France.

Poussepin, aged 90 years, died in Sainville on January 24, 1744.

Pope John Paul II declared Poussepin a Venerable in 1991 then beatified her in 1994.

The order continues its good works in 36 countries.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of James D. Smart (January 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of the Presbyterian Church in Canada

Fair Use

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JAMES DICK SMART (MARCH 1, 1906-JANUARY 23, 1982)

Canadian Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar

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In Jesus Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.  Jesus Christ is God with man.  He is the eternal Son of the Father, who became man and lived among us to fulfill the work of reconciliation.  He is present in the church by the power of the Holy Spirit to continue and complete his mission.  This work of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the foundation of all confessional statements about God, man, and the world.  Therefore the church calls men to be reconciled to God and to one another.

–The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., The Confession of 1967

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James D. Smart comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, for which he wrote the introduction to and the exegesis of the Book of Jonah in Volume VI (1956).  He described that story as a postexilic parable, a position I take for granted.  Based on Smart’s academic analysis of the Book of Jonah, I responded with surprise when I read one source describe him as conservative.  I grew up around many self-described conservatives, who considered such talk heretical.  Smart was a Barthian, a position many fundamentalists (especially hardcore Calvinists) consider heretical.  Smart was Neo-orthodox, a position many fundamentalists consider too liberal.

Words such as “liberal” and “conservative” are inherently relative and of limited value.

Smart, a Presbyterian, grew up in a Presbyterian family.  He, born in Alton, Ontario, Canada, on March 1, 1906, was a child of John George Smart and Janet Dick Smart.  The Smarts raised their son firmly in the faith.  Our saint studied at the University of Toronto (B.A., 1926; M.A., 1927) then at Knox College (Class of 1927).  Smart continued his studies, focusing on the Old Testament, at the Universities of Marburg and Berlin (1929-1930) before returning to the University of Toronto to complete his doctorate (1931).

Smart married and had a family.  He married Christine Mckillop on September 24, 1931.  The couple raised three daughters:  Margaret Jean, Mary Eleanor, and Janet Ann.

Smart became a Presbyterian minister.  He, ordained into the Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1931, served the Ailsa Craig Presbyterian Church, Ailsa Craig, Ontario, from 1931 to 1934.  Then our saint was pastor of Knox Presbyterian Church, Galt, Ontario (1934-1941), and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Peterborough, Ontario (1941-1944).  While pastor in Peterborough, Smart wrote a book, What a Man Can Believe (1943).

That volume earned Smart his next job, Editor-in-Chief of the Christian education curriculum in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., from 1944 to 1950.  Our saint’s ability to communicate theology effectively to lay people proved useful in his new position.  He overhauled the curriculum, shifting it away from progressive, secular, student-centered theories of education, especially learning by doing, and to Bible-centered lessons that presented doctrines and Biblical scholarship.  Sunday School enrollment in the denomination doubled and the curriculum helped to strengthen other practical aspects (such as home visitation and the training of parents) of Christian education.

Smart worked in Canada again from 1950 to 1957. He served as minister of Rosedale Presbyterian Church, Toronto, Ontario; lecturer in Christian education at Knox College (1951-1957) and at Ewart College; Professor of Hermeneutics, Knox College; and Editor-in-Chief of Curriculum Publications for the Presbyterian Church in Canada.  Our saint also found time to write more books, including The Teaching Ministry of the Church (1954).  He linked the recovery of theology to the revitalization of ministry.

Smart was the Jesup Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, from 1957 to 1970.  He also traveled around the world as a lecturer.  Smart’s theological fingerprints were all over The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.’s Confession of 1967, a document to which many self-described conservatives objected strenuously.

Smart spent 1970-1982 in Canada.  He was a collegiate minister at Rosedale Presbyterian Church, Toronto, from 1970 to 1974.  He retired from ministry in 1974, but continued to write.  He died at home on January 23, 1982.  Our saint was 75 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [James D. Smart and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Edward Grubb (January 23)   1 comment

Above:  Edward Grubb

Image in the Public Domain

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EDWARD GRUBB (OCTOBER 19, 1854-JANUARY 23, 1939)

English Quaker Author, Social Reformer, and Hymn Writer

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We believe in human brotherhood, in the sanctity of human life and personality.  We will not kill.

–No-Conscription Fellowship, “Shall Britons Be Conscripts?” (May 25, 1916)

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Edward Grubb, born in Sudbury, Suffolk, England, on October 19, 1854, was a faithful Quaker.  His family, originally from southern Ireland, included Jonathan (his father) and Elizabeth (his mother).  Our saint, educated at the Friends’ School at Sidcot, Leeds University, and the University of London (M.A., 1880), married Emma Marie Horsnail on July 8, 1877.  The couple had one daughter, Edith.

Our saint, who reconciled faith and reason, admired the works of John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), taught in Quaker schools, wrote books, edited a publication, opposed wars, and worked for prison reform.  He edited The British Friend from 1901 to 1913, served as the secretary of the Howard Association (for prison reform) from 1901 to 1906, and held the title of Honorary Treasurer of the No-Conscription Fellowship during World War I.  Grubb’s books included the following:

  1. What is Quakerism?,
  2. The Bible:  Its Nature and Inspiration,
  3. Christianity is Life,
  4. Christianity is Truth, and
  5. The Light of Life:  Hymns of Faith and Consolation (1925).

The time immediately following World War I was an era of widespread disillusionment.  The Great War was not the “war to end all wars,” and the world it created was not ideal.  In the context of the Lost Generation, Grubb wrote his most famous hymn, “Our God, to Whom We Turn.”

Grubb, aged 84 years, died on January 23, 1939.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Edward Grubb and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of St. John the Almsgiver (January 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint John the Almoner, by Titian

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER (CIRCA 550-616/620)

Patriarch of Alexandria

Also known as Saint John the Almoner, Saint John the Merciful, and Saint John V of Alexandria

Eastern Orthodox feast day = November 12

St. John the Almsgiver served God faithfully, especially as God was present in the poor of Alexandria, Egypt.

St. John, from Roman imperial nobility, initially pursued a secular life.  His father was Epiphanus, governor of Cyprus.  Our saint, born in Amathus, Cyprus, circa 550, married and a had a family.  After St. John’s wife and children died, he entered religious life.

St. John became the Patriarch of Alexandria, succeeding Theodore I, in 610.  Our saint gave money to needy people, whom he called his

lords and masters.

He also opposed simony, as well as corruption in secular life.  For example, St. John, aware of the habitual and frequent exploitation of the poor, lobbied for uniform weights and measures.  The Patriarch also advocated for improved religious education as a means of counteracting heresies. St. John also increased the number of churches in Alexandria from seven to seventy.

After the Persian occupation of Alexandria began, St. John went into exile on Cyprus.  He died there no earlier than 616 and no later than 620.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Saint John the Almsgiver,

to be a bishop in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household as true servants of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 719

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Feast of Blessed Ladislao Batthyany-Strattmann (January 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  Flag of Austria-Hungary

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED LADISLAO BATTHYÁNY-STRATTMANN (OCTOBER 20, 1870-JANUARY 22, 1931)

Austro-Hungarian Roman Catholic Physician and Philanthropist

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When I grow up, I will be a doctor to give free treatment to the sick and poor.

–Blessed Ladislao Batthyány-Strattmann

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Blessed Ladislao Batthyány-Strattmann, born into wealth, used that privilege for the benefit of poor and sick people.

Ladislao Batthyány came from Hungarian nobility.  He, born in Dunakiliti, Hungary, Austria-Hungary, on October 20, 1870, moved with his family to Austria when he was six years old.  The devout family trained our saint well; he understood his obligation to the less fortunate.  He graduated from the University of Vienna in 1900 and became a physician.

Meanwhile, Batthyány had married Countess Maria Teresa Coreth on November 10, 1898.  The couple had 13 children.  The family attended Mass and prayed the Rosary daily.

Batthyány opened his first hospital in 1902, at Kittsee.  This hospital, originally with 25 beds, increased its capacity to 120 beds during World War I.

In 1915 our saint became a prince, gained “-Strattmann” in his surname, and inherited Körmend Castle in Hungary.  He and the family moved to the castle five years later.  Batthyány-Strattmann converted one wing of the castle in to a hospital specializing in diseases of the eye.  He, a world-famous ophthalmologist, prayed over patients, provided proper medical care, and never turned away anyone who could not pay.  He earned his reputation as a living saint.

Batthyány-Strattmann, aged 60 years, died of bladder cancer in Vienna on January 22, 1931.

Pope John Paul II declared our saint a Venerable in 1992 then beatified him in 2003.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Alexander Men (January 22)   1 comment

Above:  Flag of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Image in the Public Domain

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ALEKSANDR VLADIMIROVICH MEN (JANUARY 22, 1935-SEPTEMBER 9, 1990)

Russian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1990

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I have always wanted to be a Christian living not by candlelight, but in the direct light of the sun.

–Alexander Men; quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 40

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Alexander Men spent his life negotiating difficulties of church-state relationships in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the Soviet Union).  He, from a family of Jewish converts to Christianity, entered the world on January 22, 1935.  Political realities played havoc with the Russian Orthodox Church.  The Moscow Patriarchate cooperated with the Soviet government.  The Russian True Orthodox Church (the Catacomb Church) did not.  Men’s baptism, when he was seven months old, was in the Catacomb Church.  Mother Mariya, abbess of a covert group of nuns, baptized our saint at the closed Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Zadorsk.

Men managed to become a priest, despite political obstacles.  He studied at the Moscow Fur Institute in 1953 and 1954, then at the Irkutsk Agriculture Institute from 1955 to 1958. Our saint’s religious convictions led to his expulsion.  Men, ordained to the diaconate in 1958, graduated from the Leningrad Theological Seminary and became a priest in 1960.  He earned degrees from the Moscow Theological Academy in 1968 and 1969.  Our saint’s dissertation for the Doctor of Theology degree was “Elements of Monotheism in Pre-Christian Religions and Philosophies.”

Men, a parish priest in the Moscow region, was a controversial figure and a subject of harassment and questioning by agents of the KGB.  He, the author of many articles and books, sought to evangelize members of the younger generation.  Near the end of Men’s life, he became a popular lecturer and a founder of the Russian Bible Society (1990).

Men, aged 55 years, died in Semkhoz, Sergiev Posad, Russia, USSR, on September 9, 1990.  That morning, he was walking on a woodland trail, en route to church.  Someone struck Men from behind with an axe.  Authorities have never solved the murder.

The most difficult moment for the church will come when everything is permitted us.  Then we will be ashamed because we are not ready to bear witness.

–Alexander Men; quoted in All Saints (1997), 41

Men, if he were still alive, would almost certainly disagree with the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of Vladimir Putin.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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Almighty God, who gave to your servant Alexander Men boldness to confess

the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 713

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Feast of Louise Cecilia Fleming (January 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  Flag of the Congo Free State

Image in the Public Domain

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LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING (JANUARY 10, 1862-JUNE 20, 1899)

African-American Baptist Missionary and Physician

Louise “Lulu” Cecilia Fleming comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Fleming, born a slave on Fleming Island, Florida, on January 10, 1862, became a physician and a missionary.  Our saint’s grandfather was Lewis Fleming, owner of the Hibernia Plantation, Fleming Island.  Her father–perhaps David Fleming–was a slave who escaped to the North and enlisted in the United States Army during the Civil War.  Our saint’s mother was a maid in the plantation house.  The Flemings–free and enslaved–attended the old Bethel Baptist Church, Jacksonville.  In 1865 the majority African-American congregation divided after the white minority failed to expel the African-American members.  The white members formed First Baptist Church.  The African-American members became Bethel Baptist Institutional Church.

Lulu became a teacher then a missionary.  She, educated at the Stanton Institute, Jacksonville, worked as a public school teacher in St. Augustine from 1878 to 1882.  She also taught Sunday School during those years.  The Reverend Rufus B. Kelsay (1842-1896), pastor of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York, met our saint in St. Augustine.  He, impressed with her zeal for missionary work, arranged for the financing necessary for her to study at Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina.  She became the valedictorian of her class in 1885.  After the Women’s American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society denied Fleming’s request to become a missionary in 1885, our saint returned to Florida.  There she worked as an organizer in the temperance movement and as a journalist for the International Order of Good Templars.  Then, in 1886, Fleming became the first African-American missionary the Women’s Baptist Foreign Missionary Society of the West hired.  She prepared for her assignment to the Congo Free State (later Belgian Congo and now the Democratic Republic of the Congo by attending lectures at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1886 and 1887.  Lulu arrived at the Palabala mission station in the Congo Free State on May 20, 1887.

Above:  Congo Free State

Image in the Public Domain

Fleming’s first stint as a missionary to the Congo Free State lasted from 1887 to 1891.  She, officially a teacher, also preached and provided medical care.  Furthermore, our saint sent three Congolese youth to Shaw University in 1888.  Failing health forced Fleming to return to the United States in 1891.

Fleming spent 1891-1895 in the United States.  After studying at the Leonard Medical School of Shaw University (1891-1892), she rested on Fleming Island for about a year.  From 1893 to 1895, our saint studied at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.  She became the school’s first African-American female graduate.

Fleming’s second stint as a missionary to the Congo Free State lasted from 1895 to 1899.  She, working under the auspices of the Women’s Baptist Foreign Missionary Society (East), went deeper into the interior the second time.  Our saint, stationed first at Irebu (1895-1898) then at Bolengi (1898-1899), contracted African sleeping sickness in 1899.

Fleming, aged 37 years, returned to the United States for the last time.  She died at Samaritan Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 20, 1899.

Fleming followed Jesus to the end.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Louise Cecilia Fleming,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of the Congo Free State.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716

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