A Prayer attributed to St. Polycarp – Increase in us faith, truth and gentleness

February 23, 2009

Although I posted on St. Polycarp earlier today, I’d forgotten all about this prayer. I just came across it in our archives from Feb. 2007 as I was working on reposting various Lent prayers from archives here on the new version of the blog for this coming Lent.
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O sweet Saviour Christ, in your undeserved love for us you were prepared to suffer the painful death of the cross: let me not be cold or even lukewarm in my love for you.

Lord help me to face the truth about myself. Help me to hear my words as others hear them, To see my face as others see me; Let me be honest enough to recognise my impatience and conceit;

Let me recognise my anger and selfishness; Give me sufficient humility to accept my own weakness for what they are. Give me the grace – at least in your presence – to say. ‘I was wrong – forgive me.’

God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, increase in us faith and truth and gentleness and grant us part and lot among the saints.

— St. Polycarp 69-115
Source: Thisischurch.com


Some *NEW* Lenten resources to recommend

February 23, 2009

Just about all of the links I included in my top ten favorite Lenten resources post earlier today were sites I’ve known about and linked repeatedly for the last several years during both Lent and Advent. That’s why they’re Top Ten material. They’re tried and true.

But there are a number of other excellent sites out there that I haven’t linked to often if at all. Most of these sites came up on my radar screen for the first time this past Advent and I’m just now browsing some of these blogs and other sites to see what they’ve got on tap for Lent. The links that follow are in no particular order…

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1. Godspace blog

See especially the entries in the Lent category.  Christine Sine at Godspace has been kind enough to link to Lent & Beyond several times, both in Advent and now in Lent, but my linking her blog here is more than just a way to thank her for her link.  There are some excellent resources and posts at Godspace.  See for instance: The 2009 Lenten Guide“What is Lent anyway”, A Lenten meditation video, A liturgy for Lent, etc.

I have only skimmed through the 2009 Lenten Guide posted at Godspace, but what I’ve seen looks very encouraging.  It seems to provide an excellent balance between focusing on our own need for personal repentance and holiness and looking outward to the needs of a broken world.  It might make an excellent small group resource.

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2. RCA’s Lent / Easter / Pentecost Resources page

I discovered the Reformed Church in America’s excellent seasonal liturgical and family resources back in December when I was doing a compilation of links to resources on Jesse Trees and other Advent crafts. Of particular note:  They have suggestions for celebrating Lent in the home, Children’s bulletins for Lent and Easter, an alternative to the traditional Easter Egg hunt (which includes many symbols related to Holy week and Easter, making it a good teaching tool), and worship resources for each Sunday of Lent.

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3. The Story-Formed blog

I greatly enjoyed the reflections and liturgical ideas posted on this blog during Advent and am looking forward to seeing their Lenten posts.

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4. Our Sunday Visitor/ Catholic Moms / Fridge Art sites:  Some Lenten activities for Children

A “hand” garland – to symbolize resolutions made

Here is a downloadable Lenten poster which might be useful for families or Sunday School classes

CatholicMom.Com – lenten activities for Children, including:  A family Lenten calendar, Stations of the Cross for Kids (including printable coloring book)

Fridge Art Lenten Crafts & Activities pageNote especially their idea for a Lenten Cross — which is basically very similar to an Advent Jesse tree in that it provides a structured way to appreciate prophecies about Christ’s crucifixion. Here’s how the Lenten Cross is described — this looks to be a really excellent idea, and all the Scripture references for each day of Lent are provided!

This family activity is similar to the Jesse Tree used at Advent. The Jesse Tree follows both the family tree of Jesus and the history of the first Advent when God’s people awaited the coming of the Messiah. The Lenten Cross simultaneously follows the Messianic prophecies through the Old Testament and matches each with its fulfillment in the Crucifixion narrative.

Like the Jesse Tree, your family Lenten Cross can be made of many materials. Some options are: a banner with Velcro dots for fastening, a wooden cross with small nails or hooks, or a laminated cardboard poster with reuseable sticky putty.

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5. Some Lenten ideas and Resources from Desiring God (John Piper’s ministry)

For several years I’ve linked to wonderful Advent Poems by John Piper.  I’d never come across any Lenten resources on his website before.  Today I went and did a search to see if he had anything.  (I love it when Baptists and other evangelicals “get” Advent or Lent.)  I found two resources.  One a post on how John Piper and his family celebrate Lent and Holy Week  in their home.  I found the idea of starting with lighting seven candles and extinguishing one each week to be very intruiging.   There is also a booklet of Lenten reflections written by John’s wife Noel Piper.  These can either be used weekly during Lent or daily during Holy Week.  I am looking forward to checking these out.

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6. Center for Excellence in Preaching’s Lent & Easter Resources page:

There are three main pages of interest here. First: Some great sermon outlines / reflections based on each Sunday in Lent’s Gospel reading.  Second:  Lenten Worship planning ideas, the Further Resources page – which contains several nice pages with summaries of Scriptures applying to Ash Wednesday, Lent in General, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  Very useful.


Reflecting further on the juxtaposition of the Transfiguration & Lent

February 23, 2009

Yesterday I posted excerpts from two bloggers’ entries which note the juxtaposition between the Transfiguration (the focus of the Gospel lesson in yesterday’s lectionary) and Lent, which begins on Wednesday.

Today, I discover yet another blogging friend and pastor is reflecting on this theme of the Transfiguration in relation to Lent. I suppose that’s not surprising…! But I’m struck by this continued refrain nonetheless. This time it’s Lutheran pastor Eric Swensson who’s reflecting on this juxtaposition, in what appears to be his sermon from yesterday: Turn, Turn, Turn

Here’s a key excerpt from Eric’s sermon:

The message today is called “Turn, Turn, Turn!” and concerns the need for humanity to turn toward God.

Ps 119:37 says “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” Turn away from worthless things toward something worthwhile. In some cases we need to rid our lives of really bad things, some times it is just junk, silly stuff that gets in our way, whatever it is, as Ecclesiastes says, life is about “A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away..” Think about what you need to lose and what you need to get.

I want us to talk about 1) what we gain from turning our eyes away from worthless things and turning our eyes upon Jesus, 2) what averts our eyes away from Him, 3) how to avoid turning away and 4) what is the greater good when the Church keeps its eyes on Jesus.

What you gain by focusing on Jesus is seen in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” You get a Savior, a Shepherd, a Sustainer, a Sanctifier. Ps 119:37 preserve my life according to your word.” What you gain by focusing on Jesus is salvation.

Read the whole sermon here.

Perhaps the reason these sermons & poems/prayers re: the Transfiguration are so striking to me at the moment is that it is so easy when thinking about Lent to focus on the things we want to give up and change, the negative things in our lives… the sins we need to overcome.  But what the Holy Spirit seems to keep reminding me about this week — hitting me over the head with it really — is that what Lent really needs to be about, at least for me right now,  is fixing our eyes on Jesus, of growing in my desire to be with Him, of living in His light and letting His glory shine through me.

As Fr. Tim Fountain reminded us in his sermon yesterday, we can’t chase away the “shadows” of the world, the flesh and devil in our own strength.  No. Instead we need to seek Christ and let His light disperse those things in our lives.

And the excerpt I posted today from Preparing for Lent from the Creighton University “Praying Lent” site also reminds us that Lent is not about our own efforts and what we do or give up.  It’s about desiring Christ more and receiving more of His grace.  It’s His grace that changes us, not our own efforts.

Keeping the Transfiguration in sight on the eve of Lent is so helpful because it gives us such a clear and dazzling goal, the goal of being able to enjoy a clearer vision of the Lord’s glory and to have His glory reflected in our own lives.  That’s what I really want Lent to be about for me this year.  I want to daily turn more to Christ so that the veil, the things of this world that obstruct my vision of Christ and block His glory from being seen in me, will be taken away.

2 Cor 3:16-18
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Cor 4:6
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Amen.

(posted by KB)


The Martyrdom of Polycarp

February 23, 2009

We don’t routinely post commemorations of saints days here at Lent & Beyond, but the commemoration of Polycarp always seems to strike a chord, especially when it’s right in the lead up to Lent. In fact, this blog began 5 years ago this week. In 2004, Lent began on Feb. 24th and we began posting a few days prior to that. An entry about Polycarp was the 10th post back on our original blog!

Here are a few links to Anglican friends who are blogging about Polycarp today:

Sanctus has an account of Polycarp’s martyrdom

Confessing Reader and Ohio Anglican both have commemorative and informative posts on Polycarp as well.

I also just noted that Polycarp’s epistle is included in the Church Father’s Lenten Reading schedule later this week…

Here’s the Collect commemorating Polycarp:
O God, the maker of heaven and earth, you gave your venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, following his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Somehow, the reminder of Polycarp’s martyrdom on the cusp of Lent puts the idea of Lenten disciplines and abstinence in proper perspective. May the Lord continue to raise up many with his steadfastness and boldness to confess Christ.


Preparing for Lent: What can I do before Lent begins?

February 23, 2009

While working on my Lent resource post below, I read a post on the Praying Lent site from Creighton University that both encouraged and challenged me. I thought I’d share it with our readers.

What Can I Do Before Lent Begins?

Anything worth doing is worth preparing for.

Just imagine that this Lent is going to be different from every other Lent we’ve experienced. Imagine that there will be many graces offered me this year. Let’s even imagine that God is going to help transform our lives, with greater freedom, greater joy, deeper desires for love and service.

If we want it, we will choose it.

Lent will be this wonderful season of grace for us if we give ourselves to it. And, we will give ourselves to it to the degree we really want it badly. So, in these days before Lent, we need to prepare our hearts. We need to prepare by realizing how much we want to grow in freedom, how much we need to lighten our spirits and experience some real joy, and how much some parts of our lives really need changing.

So, preparing our hearts is a process of preparing our desires. This means practicing our sense of anticipation. If I imagine Lent as an “ordeal” or a time I dread in some way, then I’ve already pre-disposed myself to not get very much out of it. These days before Lent are a time to start anticipating something wonderful that is about to happen.

Our Focus: On what God wants to give us.

Our sense of excitement and anticipation will grow more easily if we begin to imagine what God wants to give us. There is really something coming that we can truly look forward to.

Read the rest of the entry here.


Lent 2009 at Lent & Beyond

February 23, 2009

lent
Lent 2009 officially begins on Feb. 25th and continues through April 11.  This page will stay at the top of the blog throughout Lent to help readers easily find the many different varieties of Lenten resources and devotionals we have posted.

A Blessed Lent to all of our readers!

We should have a Lenten prayer and/or quote just about every day of Lent.   So check back daily!

All of our Lent entriesLent QuotesLent PrayersOur Top Ten Favorite Lent Resources .   & more…

Read the rest of this entry »


An Appeal for Recommended Anglican Lenten Resources

February 23, 2009

Update: I’m glad to report there is now a Lent category at Anglican Mainstream.  You’ll find excellent daily Lenten devotionals here that are focused on the daily Anglican lectionary and include Anglican heritage reflections.  Highly recommended.

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Below I’ve posted my Top Ten list of favorite online Lenten Resources.   These are all great resources.  But given that Lent & Beyond is billed as an “Anglican Prayer Blog,”  there’s a pretty glaring shortfall in that list.  Very few of the resources linked below are specifically Anglican.

In the overall scheme of things, that’s not such a big deal.  Over the years, I’ve been blessed and encouraged by Lenten resources from Roman Catholic sources, Orthodox sources, Lutheran sources, Evangelical sources, etc.  When it comes to Lent, one does not need to be strictly confessional / denominational.

BUT, we here at Lent & Beyond would like to promote and publicize excellent ANGLICAN resources as well.  Please get out the word.  And please leave comments or send us e-mails if you have good resources you can recommend for orthodox Anglican / Episcopal readers.  These resources could be either online or offline – books, sermons, devotional guides, study guides, liturgical materials, etc. etc.   Our e-mail address:  AnglicanPrayer@gmail.com

We would be particularly thrilled to have links to or copies of parish devotional guides, family Lenten worship guides, etc., and materials that center around the Anglican lectionary and daily office readings (either 1928, 1979, RCL or some other recognized Anglican lectionary).

Please help us out!  Thanks, and a blessed Lent to all our readers.


Our Top Ten Favorite Lent Resources

February 23, 2009

Update: I’m glad to report there is now a Lent category at Anglican Mainstream.  You’ll find excellent daily Lenten devotionals here that are focused on the daily Anglican lectionary and include Anglican heritage reflections.  Highly recommended.

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I’m working on updating and reposting our longer list of Lenten Resources from our archives (last updated in 2007).  In the meantime, here are some of the best/ most helpful Lenten Resources that we have found online in the past 5 years.  Yes, this Lent marks the 5th anniversary of Lent & Beyond’s creation! Hard to believe!

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1. Lent Categories here at Lent & Beyond:
All of our Lent entriesLent DevotionalsLent Prayers.   Lent QuotesLent ResourcesLent: Family & Children

(note: some of these categories do not yet contain posts, but by Wednesday, there will definitely be entries in all of these categories.  Thanks for your patience as we seek to repost dozens of Lent entries from our archives.)

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2. Per Christum blog/Church Year.Net’s 2009 Lent Resources page:
This is one of the best collection of Lent Resources online.  If you check out no other link, check this out! It is a compilation of all the Lent resources posted at the ChurchYear.Net site which is an absolutely “MUST BOOKMARK” site for anyone who follows the Liturgical Calendar and wants to deepen their understanding of the seasons of the Church Year. Here’s just a partial list of the Church Year.Net resources linked at Per Christum:

All About Lent, Lent Prayers, All About Ash Wednesday, Ash Wednesday Prayers and Collects, Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan, Church Fathers Reading Plan (with texts), Orthodox Great Lent Prayers and Hymns, The Litany of the Precious Blood, The Great Litany (Anglican Use), The Decalogue, Seven Penitential Psalms (in English), Lenten Canticles and Hymns, Lent Reading List, Lent Fast Suggestions

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3.  Liturgies.Net:  Lenten Readings & Collects
I personally have found the Liturgies.Net Lent website extremely helpful.  There is a short collect for each day of Lent and links to the daily lectionary readings online. Whenever I lack the energy or creativity to do anything else for Lenten daily devotional reading, this is a fantastic “fall back” site helping keep me focused on the basics.

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4. Christian Resource Institute’s Lent Resources:
This is an excellent site that encourage Protestants from a non-Liturgical background to appreciate and celebrate Lent.  But don’t let that fool you.  There’s much here for us Anglicans and others who already know and love the lectionary and the Liturgy.

Start with their overview page:  The Season of Lent.  There you’ll find a good overview of the history and purpose of Lent, and many helpful links (look on the sidebar as well as in the text.)  Here are just a few of their helpful links: Daily Scripture Readings for Lent, Reflections on Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday Worship Service (adapted from the Book of Common Prayer). For Maundy Thursday:  Introduction to a Christian Seder and The Passover Seder for Christians. For Good Friday:  The Cross as a Journey (Stations of the Cross for Protestant Worship) and 14 Stations of the Cross. There is more here too… just do some digging and follow various links.

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5.  “Keeping a Holy Lent” reflections from the now defunct Whitehall Blog.
Back in 2006, friend of this blog Fr. WB penned two blog entries which I continue to find deeply helpful in reminding me/us “What is Lent for?” and providing an excellent overview of traditional Lenten spiritual disciplines. Here is his Part 1 on “theory”: What is Lent For? and Part 2 on “practice”:  Keeping a Holy Lent

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6.  Creighton University’s Praying Lent 2009:
As regular readers of L&B will know, for years I have been a BIG fan of the special Advent & Lent prayer pages which Creighton University produces each year.  They are excellent devotional resources.  Here is the Praying Lent 2009 page. Note:  this is a Roman Catholic site, so the lectionary used for each day’s prayers and devotions does not match the Episcopal/Anglican lectionary. Here’s how the site describes itself and what you’ll find there:

For centuries, the Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist have guided our Lenten reflection.  Inspired by these liturgies, we offer a simply daily prayer for each day of Lent and the Easter Triduum.  Each day, we share the Opening Prayer text for that day’s liturgy.  This prayer is simple and, in many cases, memorable.  It alone could be repeated several times throughout the day.  We also offer a link to the readings of the day, a brief meditation, a link to the Daily Reflection for that day and Intercessions from the Liturgy of the Hours.  Each daily prayer concludes with a spontaneous prayer we composed, as an example of the type of prayer each of us might pray, in our own words, for that day.

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7. Meditations and Prayers for Lent – including excellent Children’s Resources
Victor Hoagland and the Community of the Passionists as always have some excellent Lent resources.   Here is the Overview Page with links for each week of Lent. Note especially their special Lenten Resources for ChildrenHeart Prayer During Lent , Stations of the Cross for Children, Holy Week for Children, Heart Prayer During Holy Week, “The Easter Tree” – a six-part illustrated story providing a brief overview of the theme of salvation and why we celebrate the Cross.  Very nicely done.

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8. RC.Net’s Readings and Meditations for Lent
Here is the index page.  There is a wealth of awesome resources here including a number of reading plans and meditations based on various sections of Scripture including:  The 10 Plagues, the Passover & Exodus, Hebrews, the Passion narratives. There are many other meditations and essays here, many of them illustrated.  Finally, don’t miss one of this site’s highlights:  the selection of Sermons by Early Church Fathers found on the bottom of the main page.

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9. Three online Lenten daily devotional sites:
It’s hard to pick just one of these.  They’re each quite different.

EWTN Lenten Devotional site:  A scripture verse, a reflection, and a prayer for each day of Lent.  Simple yet not trite.

Scripture Union:  Word Live at Lent – for a number of years while in college & grad school I regularly read and greatly profited from some of Scripture Union’s devotional guides.  It looks like they now have an online daily multi-media devotional site called Word Live.  My internet connection is too poor at the moment for me to try it out, but based on my past experience with Scripture Union materials, I suggest this might be worth checking out. From the WordLive sylabbus, it looks like readings and devotionals throughout Lent will primarily be based in the books of John, 1 Corinthians, Amos and Nahum.

Note also that Scripture Union has a 5 week Lenten Study Course called “From Ram to Lamb” which explores the ways in which Jesus fulfils Old Testament prophecy and the sacrificial system.

Journey to the Cross (the special Lenten Devotional series from d365.org).  We’ve been linking this site along with d365′s Advent site for a number of years.   Although I don’t visit this site that frequently, I do find it can be a very useful resource to help me pause and meditate on Scripture in the middle of a busy day.  (The instrumental music that accompanies each devotional is very soothing and helpful if one needs to “de-stress”).  Each day’s devotional is broken into 5 parts:  Pause, Listen, Think, Pray, Go.  The site is primarily geared for teens/college students, but still  a nice resource for adults.

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10.  Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan
Although this is technically covered by our link to all the ChurchYear.Net resources in #2 above, it is SO good and helpful it deserves its own link.  This is an incredibly fantastic resource!  A daily Lenten plan with readings from the Didache, St. Ignatius, St. Justin Martyr, St. Athanasius, St. Cyril of Jerusalem and more.  Here’s the overview of the Full Plan.  Here’s the link to the full 198 page PDF file with all the texts. Here’s a shorter version.

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Runners Up: Other Favorite/Helpful Links for Lent

- Lectionary Central (traditional Anglican lectionary, commentary and sermons for each week)

- Common Prayer.Org (1928 BCP Daily Office online & Ordo Kalendar)

- Satucket.Com (links to each day’s daily office and each Sunday’s lectionary readings.  (TEC 1979 BCP & RCL readings)

- Pray as you go.  Daily short audio MP3 podcasts from the British Jesuits to help you pray through a daily Scripture passage.

- Holy Trinity ELCA church, New Rochelle, NY – seasonal resources & poetry:  Lent Page, Good Friday Page, Easter Page, Poetry Page

- Lift Up Your Hearts: Comprehensive listing of Online Lent & Easter Resources

- Textweek.Com’s Lent Links page (Use with caution.  There are some good resources linked here but also quite a few which are very revisionist/liberal, such as a long listing of “inclusive language” resources.)

- Anglicans Online Lent Links page (also use with caution)

- Scripture Union Lenten Resources.  Not too well organized, I had to do a search of the site to find these links.  But it looks like there is some good material here.

- Classic Church Music Online

Let us know your favorite Lenten sites please!


International Anglican Women’s Network

February 23, 2009

On Feb 22-27, the International Anglican Women’s Network meeting will be held at General Theological Seminary.  “We will focus on progress or lack thereof toward equality and empowerment for women in our regions,” said Mrs. Priscilla Julie of the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean, who chairs the IAWN Steering Group.

Who are those who fear the Lord?
      He will show them the path they should choose. 
Psalm 25:12 NLT

O Lord, may they exalt Your holy name and find the path of You would have them choose.  Amen.


CACAMRM

February 23, 2009

Members of the six Anglican Communion provinces in the Americas will gather February 22-27 in San José, Costa Rica, for the Conference of the Anglican Churches in the Americas in Mutual Responsibility and Mission.

Deeply respect God, your God. Serve and worship him exclusively. Back up your promises with his name only. Don’t fool around with other gods, the gods of your neighbors, because God, your God, who is alive among you is a jealous God.   Deuteronomy 6:13-15a The Message

Lord, we lift up Your children.  Amen.


John 1:1

February 23, 2009

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
      Father, please help us throughout this diocese return to “first things” this Lent: Jesus and his cross and resurrection, the Holy Spirit and his power to change our lives, and your love and care for us and all your children by adoption and grace. Thank you.

Monday: 25; Deuteronomy 6:10-15; Hebrews 1:1-14; John 1:1-18
Tuesday: 26, 28; Deuteronomy 6:16-25; Hebrews 2:1-10; John 1:19-28

      Notes from the Front Line

Please pray for April, an inmate in a NYS correctional facility and an intercessor for the Diocese of Albany who is going through a rough time right now.

Albany Intercessor


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