Sustaining the weary with a word…

As I was writing this blog post, I heard the shocking news that Notre Dame Basilica in Paris was burning. News reports rightly spoke of the tragic loss of historical treasures, not least the Basilica herself. But even more tragic is the loss of faith in that part of the world. God is calling, louder and louder it seems, and it is always the same call: “Come back to me, my children. Are you weary? Let me sustain you with a word…”

Isaiah 50:4 The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.

Jesus, the Word, knows well our weariness, the weariness that today oppresses us and threatens to crush our spirit.

Think of his weariness in the Garden of Gethsemane. As the weight of the sins of billions of souls crushed him to the point of sweating blood, the word that sustained Jesus in the garden was the one he spoke to the Father in his agony, “Not my will but yours be done.” The word was fiat. At that moment angels came and waited on him to sustain him, for it was not the end of his suffering. That fiat called down the graces he would need to complete his mission.

Indeed, Jesus is a Redeemer who knows our weariness—but infinitely magnified. In his weariness, or perhaps because of it, he went on to embrace the cross and resolutely climb the hill to Calvary bearing in mind the glory that would be his—and ours—if only he would complete his mission. Fiat. His weariness of body and spirit ended with death, but his rising from the dead gave new life and glorious hope to all. He took his weariness to the tomb and left it imprinted on his burial shroud for all to see.

Mary, the Blessed Mother, whom Jesus bequeathed to us, and us to her from the cross, also endured unimaginable sorrow and crushing weariness. When they met face-to-face on the Via Dolorosa, what pain must have been in their eyes. Yet, what love and trust. Wordlessly their hearts beat as one, fiat, fiat, fiat… Here as in every moment of her existence, her will remained chained to the Throne of God.

There is astonishing power in that little word, fiat. It can sustain us in our weariness as it did for Jesus and Mary, but more than that it can propel us forward with new strength, fortitude, courage, and hope. Like a cosmic explosion, it is a word which, united to the divine fiat, dramatically transforms people and changes the trajectory of world events.

The cosmic importance of this little word is expanded upon in great detail in the Lord’s teachings on the Divine Will in the writings of Luisa Piccarreta. In the Easter Vigil Mass we recall how God’s fiat, “Let there be…” set all creation in motion. On Good Friday we hear Jesus re-echo his fiat of redemption in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Word he initially uttered in heaven when the plan of redemption was conceived, first in the Divine Will and then after her fiat, in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

It is almost inconceivable that our salvation hinged on one little word uttered by a humble Hebrew Maiden. Throughout her existence, that word was as constant in her as the beating of her heart, even in the unimaginable agony of her own Calvary.

She is a model of abject trust in the glorious power of God. At our Parish Lenten Mission the priest reminded us that none of the prophecies made at the Presentation of Jesus had been fulfilled by the time he was crucified. No salvation, no light for the Gentiles, no glory for God’s people Israel. Yet, even in the face of that, she trusted. Her heart never ceased to beat out the rhythm, fiat, fiat, fiat…

At the Annunciation, just before she proclaimed the fiat that changed everything, the Angel Gabriel called greeted by her title, “Full of Grace”. Let us then beg her, by virtue of her continuous fiat to obtain from her Son every grace we need in our weariness, that we may navigate in trust the thick darkness that surrounds us, as we wait in joyful hope for the glorious dawn which has been promised.

Jesus is himself the Word who sustains us in our weariness, and the word he gives us is a word that we can utter in any circumstance: “Fiat.”Sometimes it is the only word that makes sense. I think of the few Christian souls remaining in the Holy Land, Bethlehem in particular. When the security perimeter (now a wall) went up in 2002, they were crushed in spirit for a time. But today, even though their situation is still dire, and they remain weary, they are not crushed. Their hope is alive because Jesus Christ is alive.

God is on the march dear friends. It may not look promising at this point, but neither did the crucifixion. He will not lose the battle that now rages for souls, and in the end his triumph will be more glorious than we can imagine.

We have now entered the Garden with Jesus. The passion is upon us. Let us not flee for fear of the wolves. Whatever our weariness, even if we feel crushed in spirit, if we but link ourselves to Christ in his passion, we may anticipate with great joy and hope a glorious day of triumph. Let our fiat be one with his and his Mother’s as we place our unshakable trust in God’s Holy Will, as they did.

Our Lady of Fatima: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

Heavenly Father, may Your kingdom come, and Your will be done on earth as in heaven.

 Come Divine Will to reign upon the earth!

Fiat, fiat, fiat…


Prayer suggestions for Holy Week

A few years back I wrote a Way of the Cross for Greater Trust. Please feel free to print, pray, and share it if you wish. (Here it is formatted as a double-sided brochure.)

A very powerful prayer for Holy Week is the 24 Hours of the Passion, as given to Luisa Piccarreta, which has an imprimatur. Praying it in its entirety is ideal, but if that is not possible, consider meditating on part of it on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. God will touch you, guaranteed.

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Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Part I…

Last Fall I made a special pilgrimage to Medjugorje, having promised Our Lady I would go if my house sold. Our Lady kept her end of the bargain, and, as promised, I went. What a blessing it was.

I had not left yet for the pilgrimage when I heard about a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There are many such pilgrimages on offer at any given time. I put it to prayer and decided that if there were still spaces available after Christmas I would consider it. There were, so I prayed some more and was given three strong confirmations. Fiat!

As it turned out, it was just the right pilgrimage for me; the tour leader was excellent and I was warmly welcomed by the other pilgrims, almost all of whom I had never met before. God had many graces for us, many of which have yet to be revealed!

I have had a difficult time knowing how to write about my pilgrimage. A spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land cannot be unpacked in one sitting. I have come to understand that it will likely unfold over the next liturgical year, but probably much longer. Already I have found that the rosary beads have come to life in my hands as I meditate on the mysteries, remembering the holy places I have visited. As I am beginning to write this on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, it seems right to let Our Lady reveal the lessons of this pilgrimage—to you and to me.

[Two notes: First, my reflections will not be arranged by the chronology of our pilgrimage, but will unfold as the Spirit leads. Second is to apologize for the quality of some of my photos. As it was a spiritual pilgrimage, we were not encouraged to take numerous photos but to respect the holy places and remain prayerful. As pilgrims we tried to find that balance, but it was not always easy, and there was no chance to go back for re-takes!]

First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation

We were blessed to spend one night in Nazareth where we visited the Basilica of the Annunciation. There, pilgrims file past the ancient grotto where it is believed Mary received the message that she had been chosen to be the Mother of Jesus. A stunning statue of Mary depicts the wonder on her face the moment she received the greeting by St. Gabriel. The crowds were fairly thin that day, so we were able to spend a bit of time in contemplation.

Basilica of the Annunciation
Grotto of the Annunciation
Statue of Mary as she is greeted by the angel

The feast day of the Annunciation is the celebration of the “Fiat” that changed everything, the moment the New Eve tied her human will to the Throne of the Almighty. Her, “Let it be done to me…” echoed in every moment of her life and through all eternity.

Dear Mother, thank you for your FIAT! Teach me how to let my “fiat” echo in each moment of my life. With your help and guidance I pray that God’s will alone might be done in me and through me all the days of my life.


The Basilica of the Annunciation and the Sisters of Nazareth convent are in very close proximity. A short walk away, beneath the convent of the Sisters of Nazareth, is what is believed to have been the Holy Family’s home at Nazareth near the “Tomb of the Just One”, one of the titles by which St. Joseph is known. Our first Mass in the Holy Land was celebrated in the convent chapel above the tomb of St. Joseph. Glorious!

Holy Family statue at the convent

We felt honoured to be led down to the ancient site by one of the sisters. The site is unspoiled and it was easy to imagine the Holy Family entering and leaving their home countless times over the hidden years of Jesus’ life. We can only wonder what spiritual gifts were bestowed on the world through those myriad daily comings and goings.

Believed to be the doorway to the Home of Nazareth
Tomb of the “Just One”

As I was pondering this writing, it happened that our parish Lenten mission was scheduled. The topic the first night was the spirituality of Mary. Our mission leader, Fr. Irudaya, spoke about the deep spirituality of the silent years of Nazareth and explained that what Mary was accomplishing during those years of silence, was to prepare the Lamb of God for sacrifice. She was teaching her Son the spirituality of work, service, obedience, and faith. Their hidden years were the epitome of lives lived in pure love of God and neighbour, a daily dying to self which left everybody a winner. Fr. Irudaya called it a “spirituality of weakness”, the “power of powerlessness”. It was a spirituality of complete self-renunciation, of embracing the crosses of daily life, of encountering the other and pouring sacred balm into their woundedness.

Pondering that spirituality of weakness gave new meaning to the places I had visited, and having visited those places gave greater depth to the teachings I was hearing. Glory to God!

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may the silence of Nazareth teach us what we need to learn about the spirituality of our own powerlessness, and the sanctity of daily life lived in uniformity with the Will of God. Show us new ways to die to self so that we may imitate you in love and service for love of God and neighbor.

St. Joseph, guardian of the unborn Jesus and the Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for us!

Mountains laid low…

(Friends, I first wrote this in 2006 and have re-posted it a few times now. I find it helps me in preparing for Christmas to meditate on this at Advent.)

(John the Baptist) went throughout (the) whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’ (Luke 3:3-6)

For some reason I have found myself doing a lot of apologizing lately. So much so, that I have felt compelled to reflect on the phenomena. Two possibilities emerge: either I have been acting more rashly than usual lately, or else the Lord is giving me some new illumination on the effects my words and actions are having on others. If it is the latter, then comes the horrifying thought that I have habitually acted in ways that are arbitrarily hurtful to others. Mercy!

“Every mountain and hill shall be made low.” As I read the above gospel reading, I begin to realize that these humiliations may be meant to form part of my “fast of St. Martin”**. The mountains of my pride and the hills of my arrogance are being laid low, one at a time. Gee, I wonder how many there are?

As painful and humiliating as the process is, I must be grateful to God for the grace of it. The more the rough ways of my selfishness are made smooth, the more comfortable a resting-place will my heart be for the Prince of Peace when he comes. I suppose it is Mary’s doing. As I prepare to renew my consecration to her on December 12, I can imagine her making ready the poor and lowly manger of my heart to receive the Infant King. Her loving care for my miserable soul dazzles like the star of Bethlehem. Who can fathom her love for us and for all she does to make us ready to receive her Son?

I am reminded of an Advent experience a few years ago. It was a time of great personal trial for me. Our business was failing and the future seemed far from certain. It was at this very low point of my life, during Advent, that God withdrew from me any smidgen of evidence that he was there. I had no comfort. Prayer was a chore. I felt heavy. It was a feeling that went beyond the circumstances of my life. Spiritually speaking, it was a dark night.

There was one prayer I prayed over and over, but even that I prayed without feeling. It was from Psalm 116, vs 10: “I trusted, even when I said, ‘I am sorely afflicted.’” It was a prayer of the will, not the heart. But it was all I could muster, and I clung to it.

It was a long, dry Advent for me. I could not look forward to Christmas in any way. When I went to confession, even though I had not told the priest about my darkness, he made this comment out of the blue, “I see a baby. Why don’t you invite the Infant Jesus into your heart this Christmas.”

I did not give his words much thought. They were far too simplistic for what I was going through. Then, the BSP newsletter came out. In Bruce’s column, lo! and behold, he also encouraged us to invite the Infant Jesus into our hearts at Christmas.

Okay,okay, I’ll do it, I thought. Something simple can always be tried, I suppose. But, like Naaman*, I didn’t hold out much hope.

I dragged myself to Christmas Eve mass even though I had no heart for it. After communion I decided to try the “simple thing”. I invited the Infant Jesus into my heart. At that very moment, the darkness lifted. The Light was back! I could not believe or understand it, but there it was! My life circumstances had not changed, but my Jesus was back in my heart! With unprecedented joy my heart sang, “Glory to God in the highest! And peace to his people on earth!” My prayer of trust had been answered most spectacularly in my very own Christmas miracle!

If I were to draw a single lesson for penitents from these Advent experiences it would be to encourage all of us to remain docile to whatever the Lord or his Mother ask of us during Advent. As penitents we have a special role to play in making straight the way of the Lord. Let us not begrudge Our Lord and Our Lady anything they ask, but offer it all up for the forgiveness of sins and for the conversion of sinners.

May our Advent sacrifices make straight the way of the Lord, so that all flesh may see the salvation of God this Christmas. May the Infant Jesus dwell in every heart.

(* Naaman – see 2 Kings 5:1-14)

(**Fast of St. Martin – in the BSP we have a 40 day pre-Christmas fasting period that begins after the Feast of St. Martin of Tours.)

The gift of vexation…

2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (The trials of St. Paul) Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches.

One only has to read the trials of St. Paul to put their own trials into perspective. It seems that lately I am beset, not so much by trials, although there have been some of those, but it is the day-to-day vexations that are getting under my skin. For instance, our house is for sale* and the market is rather stagnant here, so there is the elation/disappointment roller-coaster I ride every time we have a showing. There are the vexations of waiting for a showing, of waiting to move, and waiting for someone else to move.

And there is the vexation that comes in my dealings with others, when I fail to act as I should or when my expectations fail to materialize. I once heard about a person complaining to another about someone who was always pushing their buttons. The wise reply was, “Well, what are you doing with buttons?” Touché. As someone who is trying to live in God’s will, sometimes all I can see is how far I am from it.

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“…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…” (Ecclesiastes 3:7)

Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

Grace and peace to you as I begin this writing on the Solemnity of Annunciation, the feast day of Our Lady’s Fiat!

Here are a few of my thoughts on the sudden decision to suspend my Pelianito blog.

Under obedience to my spiritual director, a holy priest who has known me for 10 years and is very familiar with my writings, and out of respect for what was communicated to me about what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said about my Pelianito blog, I did what I felt was necessary and suspended my blog until such time as, under obedience, I may be able to bring it back online.

I am at peace. My spiritual director has told me before, “Don’t make it happen. Let it happen.” Even if the evil one is behind this, God allowed it, for His glorious triumph. If God wants to defend me he will, and I will wait for that. God may yet decide to bring my blog back online. Whatever happens I must remain docile to the Spirit and detached from the results. So—fiat!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’ (Is 6:8)

Back in 1997, when I first began hearing the Lord speaking to my heart, I felt him give me the name Pelianito, which he revealed to me means “sent”. Since 2003, my Pelianito Journal Blog, has been online in one form or another. It started with the messages being “sent” as a weekly mailout and grew from there. For me it was never about how many visitors or views or subscribers there were, but about fulfilling the will of God for my life. For the first few years it was mostly people who knew me personally reading the messages. Eventually, more people found the blog, thanks in no small part to a mention by Mark Mallett, whom I have come to know as a dear spiritual brother and friend. Being a Catholic blogger—especially in the prophetic landscape—has unique challenges. I am glad he was there.

I have also been greatly edified by those who visited or commented on my blog. Many times, when a message would not really speak to anything I was going through, someone would comment that it was exactly what they needed to hear. These were powerful confirmations that it was God’s work, not mine. Others wrote to encourage me at just the right time or to discuss spiritual matters. We were blessed in each other, thanks be to God!

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

But…things change. They always do. I see the hand of God in this change. I find the Holy Spirit often teaches in themes, and the theme of silence has been coming to me from various sources recently, always a reason to take notice. In response, a few months ago, I wrote an article for my Joy of Penance blog, titled Silence, which I invite you to read if you wish. Just recently, someone brought to my attention the book, “The Power of Silence” by African Cardinal Sarah. (Click here to read a review.) And you may remember, a few of my posts over the years have spoken of “a silence and a stillness” coming to the church. Jesus in the tomb.

I keep thinking of Mark’s blog post titled, The Age of Ministries is Ending. Certainly, signs abound these days, such as the recent sudden deaths of Fr. Robert Young and Anthony Mullen, strong voices, men God was using in a powerful way to spread his most urgent messages for our time. And whatever you may think about Charlie Johnston, his love of the Church cannot be doubted. His voice too has been largely silenced. Now this event with my blog has been just as sudden. Could it be that we are being prepared for that deeper silence of Christ in the tomb? Let us take heed and ponder. If we learn our lessons well, we will know how to respond when the time comes. Listen to the voices that are left while you can.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. (Cor 13:8)

I feel as if I have been prepared for this moment. There was a strong theme of surrender in my writings, and you may remember that I posted Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo’s Novena of Surrender to the Will of God. I have prayed the novena numerous times over the years, and for some months now, each morning and evening I repeat 10 times: “Jesus I surrender myself to you, take care of everything. I love you and I thank you with your own Divine Will.” For each repetition, in place of the word “love” I use “adore”, “bless”, “console”, “glorify & honor”, “kiss”, “praise”, “supplicate”, “trust”, or “worship”. I put them in alphabetical order so they are easier to remember and even know which finger belongs to which one. I have often said, “Pray it till you mean it!” I took my own advice on this one and I’m glad I did!

A few years ago, during the night I felt the Lord’s presence and saw an image. It was like multi-colored pieces shifting and overlapping. The image seemed to have no order to it. It was very chaotic and hard to figure out. These words came to me: “Things will happen in rapid succession.” In the image it seemed like things were happening all over the place that were seemingly unconnected, but really, they were all connected in the big picture. Still, I could not make sense of it. Kind of like a living, moving, “crazy quilt”.

Even in the dream, I had the feeling that even though things appeared chaotic to me, even though I could not make sense of them, that God certainly could, that indeed, God’s plan always looks like this to us. We just don’t get it. The good news is that we don’t have to understand. We just have to do what God puts in front of us every day, and trust in him for everything.

A good guess would be that Jesus is taking away all that we cling to so that we can cling only to him, knowing that when we have him we have everything. Like a child’s weaning, at first there is a lot of crying, then we realize that what is happening is right and good and necessary for our spiritual growth. Then let us cling to Jesus with both hands and trust that all shall indeed be well.

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (Rev. 8:1)

Silence does not mean inactivity nor acquiescence to the status quo. It means going deeper and becoming a conduit of the Divine Silence, the power of God, which contains all fullness, and holding every word you do speak captive to Christ. While there is little we know for certain about the earthly life of the Blessed Mother, I think we can surmise that she was always deliberate, mindful, and intentional in thought, word, and deed. Let us imitate her. (See also this article On Being Deliberate.)

The world is in great need of conduits of the Divine Power, which can only come through prayer, meditation, Scripture, sacraments, and not least, obedience to proper authority. Think of the contemplatives who, as I have said before, are the ones keeping this planet from spinning out of orbit!

If this silence is indeed a sign of the times, we can be comforted in knowing that God is on the march and is set to put an end to this wicked age. Whatever that entails, let us give God our clear and firm FIAT!

Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything. I love you and I thank you with your own Divine Will. Fiat!

“And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.” ―St. Thomas More

I leave you with the Antiphons for this past Tuesday’s Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours:

Antiphon 1 – Surrender to God, and he will do everything for you. Alleluia.

Antiphon 2 – Turn away from evil and learn to do God’s will’ the Lord will strengthen you if you obey him. Alleluia.

Antiphon 3 – Wait for the Lord to lead, then follow in his way. Alleluia.

Amen. Fiat!

 

Harmony…

“And I said: ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’” (Isaiah 6:5)

By the grace of God, I am involved in music ministry in our parish. I have no voice training, so I am always amazed at people who can harmonize, seemingly without effort. It occurred to me recently that these people, by singing “wrong” are vastly enhancing the beauty of the piece. There is a lesson here for all of us, who even on our best days have only weakness to offer God.

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Daily bread…

“Then I said, ‘Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’” (Psalm 40:7-8)

“Remember—death is never convenient.” Those were almost the first words I said to my replacement when I retired from my job as parish secretary recently. “Everything stops for a funeral.” I told her that this was probably God’s design, as death is meant to disrupt, to dislodge us from our schedules and plans, to give us pause, and to point us away from what is mortal and towards eternity.

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Crosses…

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

We all have crosses. And indeed, as Franciscan penitents, we are exhorted to take the words of Christ to heart and live them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mt. 16:24) Knowing that this is our call and living it, however, are two different matters. How often, when a cross is given to us, do we turn our faces, pray for deliverance, tell the Lord, “Not this cross, Lord. It is much too heavy for me! I will carry a cross, just not this one.” How fickle and frail we are! I was struggling last week with a cross of my own when I felt led to pick up the writings of Luisa Piccarreta. Here is what I read:

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Humility…

John 14:10, 12 “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works….Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.

Every Christian, indeed every human creature, is called to humility. Certainly as Christians, we should be always aware that we are mere creatures, miniscule fragments in the Divine imagination. Pondering on our own smallness must always lead us farther down the path of humility. Christ must increase, and we must decrease. We all know that, but implementing it is often a tricky business.

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Misplaced hope…

Colossians 1: 12-20 Brothers and sisters: Give thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

I have found throughout my life that the Holy Spirit teaches in themes. I love that He does that. We come across something that speaks to us, and then some unrelated source confirms it and the lesson continues through a series of seemingly unrelated experiences. When that happens, I have learned that it is time to pay attention.

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