PREPARING MYSELF FOR LENT

This blog is written in honor of Our Lady of High Grace (Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia), patroness of the Dominican Republic and whose feast is today, January 21.

It is being posted very much ahead of the last weekend of January for two reasons: one, because God said so very early in the month and after receiving Him in the Eucharist… Then, when I tried in my own human terms to find out why, I realized that February is shorter and that the last weekend of February starts with Feb. 24th. Also, Ash Wednesday will be Feb. 22. So, it seems to make sense because this early posting not only will allow exactly one month between them but it will also be one month before Lent starts. In the other hand, this blog turned out to be the training that God has placed in my path in order to comply with my resolutions for 2012, and it may give you ideas for your Lent celebration. Again, when you read it, remember that this was His suggestion for me, and it may not work for your soul…

Personally, it has given me so much power over the handling of my present moments… which my flesh and the world’s training of my brain had taken over. As always, I need to remind you of science: as we go through life our brains are wired by circumstances, images we see, our own emotions and needs, past experiences, sufferings, etc. We have created a vast amount of memories which hide in our unconscious mind, and which become touch buttons that react to circumstances faster than we can consciously get hold of them… Think about it… In my case, I react in my conscious mind with judgments, fears, anxiety, etc. triggered by what I see or feel or have others live in front of my eyes or say to my ears via radio or personally, but related to a set of great and not so great experiences, prejudices, uncried tears, successes, failures, scientific knowledge, likes, dislikes and on and on, all hiding deep inside (unconscious), in this computer within my head that is controlled by an auto pilot

This blog will share what God created for me: a system to re-wire my brain through some months or years, and with His grace, so that all these unconscious ways of reacting to the outside world may be uprooted automatically, and changed to live the Truth: that I am loved by God at all times; that my crosses are but kisses from His Heart to make me a true disciple; that I was created to love Him back and to be a conduit of His love for others. Said in other words, this system has placed an automatic click to a section of my brain where I think of what is good, noble, loving, forgiving, and at any time when I find myself dominated by my unconscious mode with less noble content, created since infancy, basically without I realizing it and having no clear explanation of what is in there or why (except for the science of the human brain)

God gave me a way to recognize this unconscious deep seated reactions and He gave it the name of “looking down” reality. He is training me to change all those occasions with things that represent the good and noble in me but being applied to the other somewhat negative reactions, and He called it, “looking up” realities. This re-wiring, in scientific terms means that in time, I will always have a human reaction to things and events and peoples, but at the same time, in the future I will be re-wired to react with the opposite good, also as if on automatic pilot.

In the process of learning this new method, I realized how extraordinary this God has been working with my concoscius! Example: He did change my attitude towards my Indian brothers and sisters in a radical way, and this now represents how He started showing me this way of how my brain can be re-wired, and it happened without I really being conscious about it. As I have shared it before, I ended up in a parish that He chose and He used my pastor as the instrument. This priest did not know about my malady… I did not know that I was being re-wired, but he acted in general in a way so different from other 7 Indian physicians I had crossed my path with for the last 30 years, that one image and by the grace of God… supplanted the others! Again, the point here is grace doing the re-wring exchanging the bad for the good…

But this can now serve as an example of what God can do in our brains, and how we can change radically to become evangelizers that can really be bridges of hope to others. How could I have become an effective evangelizer, that is, be totally opened to the Holy Spirit as the best servant, while at the same time carrying a grudge against Indian nationals in general, because of distasteful professional relationships with just seven of them? I would have been disobeying the second most important commandment and blocking my spiritual growth without actually being conscious about it. In hindsight, I was unconsciously agreeing to dislike people from India as a result of my past stored experiences! After being healed was when I was able to recognize this spiritual cancer. Ouch!  

A few highlights of what I experienced this month:

Sunday January 1, 2012.

Before Mass I was led to my little Bible in my purse and found this story from John 7. “After this, Jesus moved about within Galilee; but He did not wish to travel in Judea because the Jews were trying to kill Him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. So, His brothers said to Him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples also may see the works You are doing. No one works in secret if he wants to be known publicly. If You do these things, manifest Yourself to the world.’ For His brothers did not believe in Him. So Jesus said to them, ‘My time is not yet here, but the time is always right for you. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me, because I testify to it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, because My time has not yet been fulfilled.’ After He had said this, He stayed on in Galilee.”

If you read in your Bible the verses that follow this discourse, you will remember that secretly Jesus did go to the feast and eventually He went to the synagogue and spoke.

I took a very deep breath… There were excellent teaching points for me and the following reflections came just before Mass.

1. Jesus’ fidelity to the will of His Father was clearly manifested by avoiding His death ahead of time… Wow.

2. His brothers were absolutely blinded to this Truth. Worse, they were on a teaching frenzy of how He should behave… Even more amazing to me was to have St. John the Beloved disciple write that His brothers did not believe in Him. I also thought of Jesus, Who also knew it. There is no doubt that it was hard for Him to see that they were seeing His miracles and at the same time, were trying to order Him around… and all because they lacked faith in His claims of being the Son of God.

3. I suddenly realized that these basically good men (and supposedly His relatives) were magnifying a greater good if He went to the Feast of Tabernacles. Just think how many people could advice us with the greatest of intentions, and one such intention is always the greater good that we can do with our God given gifts, but never paying attention that God has a special work for each of us, and the best advice received must always be what the will of God is for all of us. It made me reflect on how easy is for any of us to manage other people’s lives, and fail to pray to the Holy Spirit to understand what the will of God is even in regards to giving  the advice. Only He knows what should be said.

4. Recently, Fr. Robert Barron has been appearing in EWTN teaching about the seven capital sins and among them, envy. Were these brothers of Jesus envious of Him? It is possible! Yet, Satan comes in and under the disguise of the good of others, dissuades them to do God’s will. In a recent reading of Mass, we heard how King Saul became envious of David… and he had been chosen by God to be David’s superior… Hmm. How much we need the Holy Ghost reigning in our lives!

5. But something that impressed me just as much was to realize that God the Father had a plan for Jesus… Jesus was simply living each present moment with a perfect Yes to His Father’s will. I am sure that Jesus knew He would go to the Feast anyway, and of course, I have not read what the Saints and Father’s of the Church have interpreted this to be. Yet, the point here is that Jesus is showing us that He ended up doing what His brothers wanted Him to do, and yet, it had to happen in His Father’s time. He had to be in that synagogue not one moment before. On this particular day and without my knowing it, God was trying to impress on me of how close I have to be to prayer to the Holy Spirit and my Mother for assistance, at EACH PRESENT MOMENT of my life while on earth, in order to not only do the will of God, but do it in His time, not mine. If I do it at a later date, it will not be a perfect “yes” at all! It will be God’s will and my will, mixed together… Ouch…

HERE YOU CAN SEE HOW HE WAS ALREADY LEADING ME AS TO HOW TO FIND A METHOD TO STAY LISTENING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT. It cannot be a once a while effort, since Satan does not work that way. Satan is a spirit, does not sleep, can show up in many circumstances and events around me, and worse, he will try his best to bring others to disrupt the will of God for me… This was a super lesson that launched my understanding of how important would be to re-wire my brain… in order to be attentive to God’s will in His time, for His purposes, and mostly, for His glory; or said in other words, to avoid being distracted by so many things and feelings, many of which do not come from Satan, but from my unconscious mind.

This short meditation led me to offer this Mass in reparation for what I had not done in 2011; for the times that I may have ordered Him around requesting my will to be done. For my carelessness in not paying attention moment to moment to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and may be gone to do something that was not what God wanted or needed me to do, for my own good of the good of someone else.

3:30 PM at home, I was led to 1 Maccabees 1. This happened in the year 169 B.C. The Jews opted to deal with gentiles, and eventually the King ordered to abandon all Jewish religious practices. I realized that the present times are the same. History always repeats itself.

Later in the afternoon, between the Latin Grammy’s in Vegas and the National Football League games, I could find many who did not believe in Him as in the Bible verses just quoted. The good news is that at least, regarding American football, we have two players who announce Him just by playing the game and both as quarterbacks…, which places them in a unique central part of the game, so that the fans can be reminded of their belief in God. God bless them! And since for God all things are possible, they are now making pizzas and creating with the toppings, the face of one of these players, plus they also are writing: 3:16 (referring to John 3:16 – for God so loved the world that He sent His only Son!). Wow! It is a great example for us to reflect how the faithfulness to God can be used to create neon signs for His message.

8: 25 PM. In the midst of watching a little of the above programs, I felt called once more to abandon all curiosity about my work… and how to daily grow in becoming a better servant than the day before. I have to just live calling the Holy Spirit and praying the Ave Maria asking my Mother to intercede for me, so that I can do what Jesus did: be faithful to the end to the will of my Father. Again, this day of the Feast of the Mother of God, I had had the most extraordinary introduction to look up and never down…

January 3.

Early morning I was led to Acts 13 and it suggests that everything has an order in the history of salvation, and cites King Saul, King David and Jesus. Shortly after, I heard these words within my temple, “The same is for you. Always remember that you are part of this ‘order’ that comes from God for all His creation. Submit to it without delay or questions of any kind, so that He can use you for the reasons He created you.”

Fr. Wade Menezes, CPM, in his homily for the EWTN Mass, mentioned the Catechism and it was good to remember section 563. “No one, whether shepherd or wise man, can approach God here below except by kneeling before the manger at Bethlehem, and adoring Him hidden in the weakness of a new born child.”

I then remembered that I had been practicing a special devotion to the Infant Jesus to help me remember to be in prayer to the Holy Spirit and Our Lady (all part of my resolutions for 2012). So, this quote was very consoling to me, and ignited more desire to adore the Babe within my soul. At times, and as I reported before, I love to close my eyes and imagine playing with His little toes and hands, as He smiles like any other baby would!

Tuesday, January 4th.

Fr. Menezes again preached the EWTN Mass, spoke about the need for prayer and quoted the founder of his Order, Fr. Jean Baptiste Rauzan, and later I will share it.

Also on this date, I heard Fr. Mitch Pacwa discussing the Blessed Sacrament with Sr. Bridgette McKenna, well known in our Catholic circles. Fr. Pacwa said something very important, which I normally hate to write about it because I am a simple lay person who has little theology to say it. However, it resonated with me deeply since it is one of my daily confrontations with reality. Paraphrasing, he said, “People come to Mass as if it were an event, as a community reunion! But they do not come with Christ at the center.”

Sunday, January 8th.

Early morning, and I mean early, 12:15 AM, I could not go back to bed because my illness of POTS was giving me a severe diarrhea, and when this happens, I could go to sleep instantaneously any time I want, but I lose control of judging when to visit the bathroom. It is a cross… The Holy Father had a LIVE presentation for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and I thought that maybe I had to be up for me to be present LIVE in Rome at this time, instead of watching the re-run later. But it was not just that. Suddenly, I received three different Bible quotes;

1. 1Maccbees 3. God won the battles for Judas and Israel against their enemies.

2. Proverbs 8: 10, 12 – Discourse on wisdom: “Receive my instructions in preference to silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold. Those who love me, I also love, and those who seek me, find me.”

3. Luke 9. The disciples wanted Jesus to send the large crowd away so that they could eat. Again, a very good idea… of love of neighbor… Yet, even these men who had been chosen and had lived near Him for months were not seeing the big picture…

a) Jesus was making miracles right and left and they should have figured out what He eventually would find a way to feed the crowds. (They did not have to tell Him what to do) If Yahweh had produced manna for Israel, and if they knew He was the Son of God, it was logical to expect a miracle from Him to do what it had been done in the history of their predecessors.

b) And one step further, had they truly loved the crowds, truly love them, they would have pleaded for Jesus to produce the food… Here we see a repetition of John 7. Here we find advisors to Jesus bringing the semblance of a greater good, but deep in their hearts they, may be, were tired of the day and wanted to rest by sending the crowds away, yet they would have blocked an extraordinary evangelistic opportunity. And when Jesus sent them to feed the crowds themselves, in verse 13 they said to Him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all this people.” It was amazing to reflect on the fact that they were blinded to Jesus’ miracles done everywhere. How many times I have done the same thing? Many!

c) Ah, but Jesus did His Father’s will… and fed them by multiplying the bread and fish. Not only that, He asked his disciples to gather them in groups of 50… I started thinking of human reasoning… Just the fact of asking them to be in groups of 50 meant to me that they were asked to sit at table to be served. Otherwise, as the bread and fish distribution started, many in the periphery of this huge crowd (5,000) would have pushed and shoved others to get to the food, and who knows if instead of having dinner, they would have fought with each other… What a beauty of imagery…

d) But there is one more point here: they had to be waiting, group by group, to get the bread and fish that kept multiplying in their eyes. So, sitting in groups of 50 would not distract them by having to fight for the bread, but instead they were able to observe this HUGE miracle, and that was the whole point, to show them how much Jesus loved them, but within the context of a family that cares for each other!

e) But still there is another idea of what happened: Jesus could have done it alone. He could have said to the crowds, “Sit in groups of 50 and I will feed you…”  O no, He spoke to His disciples and mandated them to feed the crowds themselves. Yes, everybody knew He produced the miracle, but His disciples were the ones in charge of giving away the food… Doesn’t it look like the Church we have now?

f) But there is more: this was the beginning of what would eventually be His Church on earth. We all are one Body, and we have an organization (groups of 50 = parishes or dioceses) and everybody can be fed. This feeding was not just with bread and fish. There was also a feeding of love….!!! A feeding of hope!!!! It also started a relationship of trust between the disciples and the people. Eventually, after His death, they would come to talk to them and who knows how many were there remembering the distribution of the food by these men… Wow…

I always admire the words for the Chaplet of Mercy. It is an awesome prayer, and that is why I intertwine it with all my Rosaries, to the point that my brain is totally wired up to say both prayers together. On one hand, so that I do not forget to pray the Chaplet asking for His mercy, but most importantly, because I offer my Father the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in expiation for my sins and of those I am praying for in the family Rosary and in the community Rosary… I am offering His Eucharistic Presence for all of our sins that came to be in the Altar of Sacrifice of the Mass … And with the community Rosary I pray for our Holy Father, Cardinals, Bishops, some Priests, family, friends, politian’s, etc.  and all of it is written so that God knows it is for them. I feel like I am distributing the BREAD of the Mercy of God to all of us, and by praying in this way I am feeding the crowds…

At 1:45 AM, after all this teaching for me using the above Bible quotes, I realized that the entire message was meant to teach me the following:

1) Whatever needs to be done in regards to this blog because of the problems with my left eye, and bringing others to hear my experience of how I found Him at age 6.5, He will win all the wars that may arise in sharing my love for God. Yet, MY JOB IS TO BELIEVE THAT IT WILL BE SO like Judas Maccabeus did… I have to trust, trust, trust God that He can do it. I realized that I could say many Chaplets of Mercy, but if I do not trust that He can do the impossible as I offer to do the ridiculous for Him, my words are lip service. Ouch!

Again, this was the beginning of being able to see that I had to believe in Jesus, or to “look up” because otherwise, like Peter, if I look down with doubts and pay too much attention to the reality around, I can drown, and the major problem was that St. Peter had not trusted Jesus… Ouch again!  Whom of us would forget this phrase,”O you of little faith; why did you doubt?” The same is for me now: I have to win many wars, and yet I cannot do it by myself unless dressed with faith, hope, charity, as I open the doors to the Holy Spirit to do it. So, I must adore the Babe Jesus lying on the crèche of my inner temple and as often as possible, as I call the Holy Ghost and the intercession of my Mother, so that I can TRUST that my wars will be won, but for His glory. I finally went to bed at 2:15 AM to be up at 6 AM to get ready for 8 AM Sunday Mass!!!

Monday, January 9.

Oprah Winfrey came to talk to Dr. Oz, and she is the one who launched him to the spot light some 3 years ago, when she invited him to be in her show to talk about medical topics. She defined the meaning of one’s life as: “to attain the highest expression of yourself” and said that one has to stay committed to what you do and ask yourself, “How do I use what I have to serve others. And it means to share ideas, information, and then your life is better when you share.” (Notice that this definition sounds very good and similar to the events in John 7, when Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to share Himself with others).

Oz asked how she stayed committed to this goal. She answered that the question is really “How do I stay true to myself?” and added, “Without knowing yourself, you get sidetracked. If you know who you are, solidly centered, knowing steadfastly who you are and holding to it, pursuing it, then you are not defined by what you do or what others say about you, but defined by the light you bring to each moment! At times you get tired at where you are at! Then is when you have to have ‘power of intention’, that is when you envision what you want.” She added that she does not do anything without power of intention.

“Power of intention is to know the real reason why I want to do what is ahead: like when looking for a new job. The intention must be bigger than the moment. I move closer to God and not religion, to understand where you come from, to fulfill a supreme moment in history.” So, she started meditating 3 times per day. She said that one time and years ago when she traveled to do a program, she found in the small town of Fairfield, Iowa, that at mid day one third of the town goes to the Dome (gym) and meditate. In her own company in Chicago and for many years, she started doing it with the whole staff after this visit to Fairfield, and her employees stopped having headaches, pains of all sorts and had better relationships at home.

When I heard this NEW AGE message, I ran like crazy to my inner temple and started adoring my Baby Jesus inside, but with the knowledge that the Holy Spirit and my Mother were overseeing the health of my soul. On this same evening, Journey Home presented a younger man who explained superbly about the difference between the two sides of Mormonism and his conversion to the Catholic faith many years before; he happened to attend the Franciscan University of Steubenville. That rang a big bell… since my theologian son and wife both attended this place. This program was very soothing to me after hearing the previous explanation of how to stay true to yourself. It was like if I were applying a cream of peace to my soul. In due time, I let my son know that the program would be repeated, especially because his work is in theology and the description about the two sides of Mormonism was so interesting and so well explained regarding their philosophy and the why’s of their differences. As it turned out, my sons’ wife personally knew this guest, and my son had him as a roommate while in Rome!!! Wow! What a small world!

A few days later another important person came to Dr. Oz: the famous Hollywood actress, Goldie Hawn (GH). I realized that God was getting me ready to re-wire my own brain for my own salvation, and He used this program to show me how our brains are used to make us self-sufficient or pagans in other words. I will transcribe the best I can some of what was said, which will illustrate how much science is used by the least likely people, plus it will affirm God’s teaching on re-wring my own brain.

Oz started by saying, “How to stay young and find true happiness.” Several pictures and a little story were shown of Goldie’s youth. Later she claimed that she was always joyful, giggly. In one of them GH appeared with the Dalai Lama. (A great man but I realized that her talk would be related to Buddhism). She has a foundation to teach kids how to be happy!!!! She was a dancer as a young teen and eventually ended up acting but she always missed dancing. At the top of her career as an actress, she suffered from depression, stress, anxiety and panic attacks.

GH told Oz that she started wondering how she could recapture the feeling of joy she had as a teen dancer. So, she went to a psychologist in order to understand how to be in a better state of mind, since the body reacts differently when keeping the mind focusing in positive things.

Then, Oz showed pictures of scans of brains of real patients and how the light goes off when the brain is stressed out. Here GH explained that we have to take 10 minutes a day to stop the stress, and she called it, “brain breaks,” since we are surrounded by much noise, TV programs, etc. She explained that the brain has three parts:

1. The brain stem (the part that connects the brain to the spine and the rest of the body’s nervous system

2. The center brain where the amygdala is, a fire alarm that alerts the mind about danger.

3. The prefrontal brain, the front of the brain which serves to create self-awareness, and which connects with the hippocampus, the main memory center.

GH also explained how when you hold anger, stress, fear, we tend to react too quickly to our environment. Many times we end up saying things we should not have said. The amygdala is like a dog barking, and we need “brain breaks” to allow us to consciously put the dog back into the dog house, that is to calm the amygdala….

“Brain breaks” will open up the prefrontal part to better secure our awareness of things. It is here where the mind/body connection lies, where the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland meet. Our brains are as plastic as play doe.  Brain breaks therefore can change our nervous system and the whole body! (Notice how so far, all of this is true science and very well explained!)

GH then said that when you feel you are having a negative point of view, you should look for gratitude instead. Every day you should think of five things that you are grateful for. (In hindsight, this particular advice was actually teaching me to “look up.” God can be so funny! You will understand it better when you read the last part of this  blog!)

Therefore, the 10 minutes brain brakes serve:

1. To practice self-awareness in order to quiet down so to reduce stress. She wrote a book for children and parents to teach them the importance of this step. If we do not quiet down the brain (she does it at times by staring at a wall, for example), the stressed brain cannot connect with the hippocampus area, and what has been taught in the classroom, never gets retained.

2. To focus on a feeling! She asked Oz to place a bite size candy in his mouth and to close his eyes and start feeling the edges and the taste of it. Finally, she said to go ahead and chew on it and later swallow it. She added that if we all trained ourselves to focus on what we are doing, even eating, there would not be obesity in this country. (I thought that if all trained ourselves to focus on Jesus, there would not be wars)

Oz added that this happens also with Monks who do meditation, and others call it prayer. GH said that it was better to call it, “brain breaks.” (Here I tied it up with the famous Zen practice and Yoga.)

3. To show kindness but as an action, which is an emotion and crucial for good health. We automatically smile to someone who smiles at us. (End)

I was amazed because this month God was teaching me to re-wire my brain,  and this wonderful computer was being beautifully presented as play doe that you can manipulate to stay young, to be happy, etc. It was pure science… although there were elements added that are totally pagan in nature. I wanted to place it here and risk making this blog too long, but we have to identify what Jesus said at one time, and how the dishonest servant was so wise to make friends with the friends of the master who had let him go… THIS IS SATAN using science and good meaning people to pull religious beliefs from us. Even prayer if done to be in charge of our brain, is paganism… 

I REALIZED that God timed it so well in order to give me a powerful incentive to re-wire my brain in total negation of my choices, of my I, of my ego, of the seven capital sins that I can become part of! BUT HE ALSO wanted me to review the physiology of our plastic brains. Even more, I felt called to RUN to change my brain by His grace and guidance, because a book is being published for kids and parents, and Oz said that it is also for all of us adults as well, which translates into teaching how to become pagan… Ouch! I had to talk about it and tell you what we are against… BUT ONE MORE THING: have I ever prayed for Goldie Hawn? Never. She is now in my community Rosary list!

And yes, I must go and tell others in whatever ways God wants it, that meditation will give us much joy and freedom… only if we stay in Jesus Christ. She may have joy because she gave herself brain breaks, but I am sure, totally sure, that his 63 year old woman who looks 40, does not want to look old or die soon. On my side, my meditation in the Trinity that lives within and trying to love God and neighbor, by His grace, produces amazing joy in the midst even of depressions, but makes me free and dying will be gain for me. Is GH ready to die? I am super sure she is not by the way she spoke.

I MUST ALSO REPORT that the use of Inositol discussed last month, yes, it is still working marvels… More interesting is that just a couple of days before this posting, I found on a back stand an unopened bottle of capsules with Inositol … Apparently, I I had it ready waiting to finish another bottle, and when that happened, I totally forgot to bring it to the area where I keep my vita nutrients that are in use. A simple mistake…or perhaps God allowing it in order for me to understand the importance of this vitamin for some of us. How otherwise would I have found out of the POWER OF THIS NUTRIENT? It was an experiment that I was unaware I was doing… and many depressions came and I offered them up!!! Of course, this God of love eventually alerted me to what was going on… Is He alive or what?

Tuesday, January 10

At 9 AM, after listening to a program mentioning maladies at large within the Church followed by I praying the Rosary with Mother Angelica and Nuns, I remembered the words of the Eucharistic Jesus some days before when He said, “When you see dissipation around you, turn your eyes to Me. Adore Me as a Baby just like the three Kings and the shepherds.” I also realized that these two so different groups of people, Kings and shepherds, were summoned out of their daily duties to adore the Babe! Yes, this was in fulfillment of a prophesy, but it is interesting that the plan of God announced centuries before by the Prophet, brought the highest and lowest ranks of society together to adore Him! What a hint for me… It was clear to me that I have to keep my focus in Jesus, and something that St. Peter miscalculated big time while walking on water!

I also started realizing how important it is to exchange my images of religious dissipation for the reality of my life: my Baptism with titles of queen, prophetess and priestess, which made me a daughter of God the Father. The gift of Fear of the Lord again became at tool to look for what is good, and not for what others do or not do. So, “looking up” in my life meant to live in awe of God and His gifts, especially the Church, the Sacraments and His Word… It was in this moment of clarity that I said to myself, “My work is to look up.” At this moment, my Mother seemed to remind me and I heard: “Just look at this room and count your blessings.” Yes, my double bed and computers and many bottles of vita-nutrients in a very large room, with adjacent private bath and large closet Yes, I have very much when compared to my homeless friends or those who live in great numbers sharing one room. This was a form of looking up, by being grateful to God. The training had started, but noticed in hindsight.

Wednesday, January 11.

In my Holy Hour before noon Mass, I sat very close to the Tabernacle and I received these words, “Again, I tell you, stand like a soldier fully arrayed with the battle gear of Ephesians 6, and I will guide you. Your TRUST in this process of abandonment to My Providence is the key to My Heart, so that you can ‘see’, as well help others ‘see’. Be still in My Presence all day long. Keep your eyes on Me and you and others will walk on water, but a little doubt will drown you!”  Hmm!

In his homily, the associate pastor of my parish spoke very well using the readings of the Mass, where Samuel is called by God and aided by Eli’s counsel, answered, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Psalm 40’s response was, “Here am I Lord, I come to do Your will.” Peter’s mother-in-law was also healed but to get up and serve, and later Jesus went to pray… This priest called all of us to pray in order to hear the call of God! His homily as well as the readings were a confirmation to my summon to go and learn how to abandon myself to Him, to be healed of my attachments and become abandoned to His will, so that I can get up and serve.

Friday, January 13.

Before Mass, He had something to say, “Keep up the plan. It is urgent to do what you need to do. This morning, when you visited Martinez and found Antonio (a bagger from a supermarket), you immediately remembered those day, 3.5 years ago, when you used this supermarket more often than the one you do now… Your memory was worse than ever… Your health was not good because you had no diagnosis to work with. You had just been persecuted and lies had been sent to a medical board so that you could not keep your medical licenses in the Midwest and therefore, you could not order your own drugs in this country.” I kept saying yes to everything He was telling me, and how He was taking me to each scenario and all somber in my memory bank. He continued, “Have you noticed a big difference from then to this morning when seeing Antonio reminded you of those days? (“Yes,” I said). “So, for this Mass, thank Me for what is coming to you, as it happened 3.5 years ago. Thank Me for My Presence in your life for so many years.” (I did… and then I thought we were done, but He continued). “Open your little Bible after calling My Holy Spirit to show you something you need to know.” So, I did.

Acts 8. Paraphrasing the story says that in Samaria, Simon the magician astonished people with his magic. Yet, people started believing in Philip who preached the Good News, and men and women were baptized. Even Simon himself believed and after being baptized, he became devoted to Philip, and saw the signs occurring, all mighty deeds. Simon offered money to buy this power so to be able to lay down hands on people and receive the Holy Spirit (the power of conversion). But Peter said to Simon that he could not get it because his heart was not upright before God! In verse 23 it says that he was “filled with bitter gall and was in bonds of iniquity.”

I realized that evangelization requires having a heart upright with God… Re-wiring my brain to keep my eyes on Jesus and not looking down on everything that is wrong and becoming anxious and afraid of these scenarios, is very important to increase my trust in the One who will win all my battles. In verse 26, Philip was sent in the path to Gaza and to an Ethiopian eunuch who eventually he also baptized. My take: all evangelization is directed by the Holy Spirit, and only done through those who were and are right with God.

Then I was sent to a particular page, and it was Mark 3: 33-35. “Who are My mother and brothers? And looking around at those seated in the circle, He said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers. For whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.” Of course, this was the best description of what means to be upright with God. It gave me another assurance that my “yes” to His will, will sharpen my preparation to be able to be used for evangelization. It showed me that the salvation of other souls directly depends on how I witness to them, and for this to happen, I must say the best “yes” possible to whatever He wants, from crosses to changing routes, like Philip did.

Saturday, January 14

Something extraordinary happened at the Consecration. I UNDERSTOOD, and never heard a word, but knew that at that moment I was present to the Incarnation of Jesus by the Holy Spirit, but this time in the womb of the Church, meaning all of us there. It was a surreal moment. That became an imagery to look up at and whenever I get down with the peccadilloes of the Church. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!

Monday, January 16.

I found an email in my AOL account from someone I knew in the 90’s in Cleveland. My friend Rina was sending me this message because she just had found an old letter of mine from 2001 with my email address, and I am sure it was the Christmas letter (I was in Toledo at the time and shortly after my husband had died). I answered with a short note and promised more info later, since I was in the middle of writing this blog and I have to update her about 10 years of my life. Two days later, their son wrote that he lives near me… I have to get together via Internet with both parties, but suddenly, another person from the past also came into my life… I always get suspicious about these events… What was God trying to tell me? And always I keep forgetting that we are one Body, one Body in Christ, and He likes all His parts to communicate here and there. The next day is when I heard from this other friend.

Wednesday, January 18.

A was surprised by the call of this dear friend and her husband. They are from Puerto Rico but live in Georgia. Many years ago, her husband was with me while we did our internship in Michigan. They have been always very religious. In those days, they were adopting their first daughter since she could not get pregnant. Then they adopted a boy, and soon after, she was able to have 3 children, all blue eyed, and looking more Caucasian than the adopted ones. I was asked to represent the godmother of their own first born boy for his Baptism, since the person was in Puerto Rico. With the years, they made me the official godmother of this child.

Well, the day before she had obtained my phone number via another common friend from Chicago. In the conversation, I learned that the husband, my internship classmate, had undergone several surgeries for his carotids and one recent for his hip, and he had lost some memory!!! She said that the day before she had pleaded with God to show her how to help her husband. Husband and wife now connected to a speaker phone, were able to hear how I had recuperated my memory almost 90%, and a process that continues to this date. They were amazed. They could not speak enough about God’s intervention. In fact, her cell phone was low in power and started with two of four bars lighted… She was afraid that any moment we would lose the communication. We did not, but at the end, she said that the phone actually had lighted 3 bars instead of dropping lower. She was enthused with the idea of my writing a book on the subject matter. (Another push from God to write this book… He is relentless… and sends signs galore…)

He is so alive! Again, since they needed my information which is not where to be found yet, after she prayed, the Holy Spirit moved her to make a phone call and in the process she asked for me…There are days when I simply cannot understand why I go through life so distracted… and looking down, instead of up, since He is in charge of all things…

Method to live my resolutions for 2012 by re-wiring my brain

Conclusion: the year 2012 started with my understanding that in order to walk on top of the furious waters of a pagan world and to become a disciple, I needed a system to re-wire my brain, my mind. The scene of St. Peter walking on water and making the mistake of looking down for an instant and almost drowning, became a center point to understand that I needed a way to keep my eyes on Jesus for everything. Now, His words to Peter were even more important. He said, “O you of poor faith, why did you doubt? This was followed with His revelations through St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. The moment He asked for the words, “Jesus, I trust in You,” to be printed under His image, it was clear that trusting in Him, in His love and mercy, is central to walking on water.

This is not a suggestion… This is a big hint… that applied to St. Peter’s time as well. He allowed the furious waters below to make a hole in his trust that Jesus was in charge, had commanded him to walk on water, and that He was to be trusted 200%… The point would be to find out how to train my brain to automatically look up (at Him) and not down… and this becoming then an act of trust in action… to obtain His mercy?

Now, what does it mean to look up? What does it mean to look down?

LOOKING UP versus LOOKING DOWN

1.To look up means: 1) To live each present moment within the mystery of Who God is, and that He loves me no matter what; that this love calls me to often adore Him within, knowing that the Holy Spirit is there ready with the graces of His Gifts in order for me to do whatever He tells me. 2) It means to remember often everything that He has done personally for me: how He has taken me by the hand, and at times how He as carried me in His arms when the road had too many stumbling stones. 3) It means how He has been preparing me to hopefully become love for others, 4) as well as giving me a clear sense of what sin is in my life and a sorrowful heart with desire to repent and amend my ways. 5) Looking up means to reflect often of His love for me demonstrated with many spiritual blessing and graces received… 6) Looking up means to reflect in the divine joy that He gives me even in my middle of storms, the one that I cannot create or manipulate according to my will.

Looking down: 1) It means to be distracted with what others may do to me, or not do, their blindness, importance, beauty, intelligence, their sins, their religious dissipation, pagan behavior, etc. 2) And looking down in the worse manner is to let these distractions attack me without me praying for them right and there…3) It means to keep re-visiting the injustices and mal treatment received without truly deserving their full blown acts of hatred. To remember them is on automatic pilot, but I must turn this looking down into a good and look up by always praying for my persecutors as the memory erupts, and immediately remembering the resilience I had by grace and not ending up hating them.

For example: on January 27, 2008, some respectable good person turned to me and said, “You are a disgrace.” I write it every year in the calendar in order to give thanks to my Lord because I survived the moment and without resentment. It makes me look up because it makes me savor God’s love for me, and to “look up” further (now that I understand this concept of looking up), I pray for this person and also try to remember the good and magnificent in this image of God. And there is always something good about any human being. I was hesitating to share this part even that I had already written it, but at Mass in this day of posting this message, the homilist spoke about how Jesus was considered crazy by his own family… (Gospel for today – Mark 3: 20-21). I then wondered how many have thought that of me and with some reason. It gave me much peace… and helped me decide to share this story with you. I thought, “If they did it to Him, why not me?” I was able to look further up regarding this story… and I should expect many more times to be regarded as crazy…

2. Looking up also means 1) To often contemplate the exquisite plan of God since He created the universe, Adam and Eve and the rest of us, with total freedom to love Him or not. 2) And because there was the possibility of our rejection, as Adam and Eve did with their disobedience, He made sure that He left us a Book with a plan to follow Him. 3) How He created a family for us, the Church, and organized it in such way that we could be served by the Sacraments, instruments of sanctification for our journey towards Him. 4) But the greatest invention of this plan was to send His only begotten Son to die for us, so that His instructions for the journey and His Holy Spirit could be available to return to our Father’s home to live forever and ever in His Presence.

Looking down:  1) It means for us not to study the Plan He left us in the Bible. 2) It also means to reject the family He created, our parishes and by not visiting each other every Sunday, as we also receive the Sacraments to increment the graces needed to follow Him. 3) But “looking down” is also our attitude against the scandals of our Church. Yes, it truly can give us a huge disillusion to see men who have being anointed to act “in Persona Christi” and deviating their behavior so much, that this only can prove to us that they never met Christ personally for whatever reasons, and who knows if they never received during their priestly formation, the witness of what it is to have a personal relationship with Him

However, looking up means 1) To realize that any major scandal of the Church comes from human beings who failed Jesus, and not different than St. Peter, again, denying Jesus three times when He needed him the most. 2) That these failures have existed from day one, and yet, after 2,000 years, His Church is growing in numbers, and it only means that He is in charge of our family. In other words, this His Church, His Body, has survived all kinds of scandals from the moment He founded it and starting with Judas.

Looking up in cases as recent as to what happened to a Bishop in this State where I live, 1) it means to pray for him and pray for myself so that I can forgive my brother and even get the grace to love him, so that my prayer can truly give fruits to his life. 2) Besides that, looking up is to offer the pain I have experienced for his own salvation.

3. To look up also signifies to pay attention to our brain, the most advanced computer in the world, since all manmade computers are the product of a human brain/computer, which by the way, is made each time to live in the skull of an image of God, and to a point, our brains are gifts that we must multiply, but they need to be trained under the guidelines of the Word of God… It is important to remember that our brains were created to give light to others, as has been done by scientific geniuses and great philosophers and theologians, who have lighted our lives for many centuries. A way to “look up” is to give thanks to God for our brains.

4. To look up means to get to know the Stars in the Firmament of Holiness: our Saints, those who were found to have lived extraordinary lives of heroism, but always dressed with faith, hope and love, something that they sought day and night for the sake of giving glory to God and to become witnesses to all of us. And why not, to look up also means to get to know our earthly firmament, full of galaxies and planets, witnesses that announce God’s exuberant taste in creation.

5. To look up means to reflect how He rescued some from the most sinful places, and turned them into Saints… There are so many examples: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Agustin of Hippo, and St. Ignatius of Loyola to mention just three. These cases can prove to us that for Him all things are possible.

6. Regarding the world around us and the media in particular, to look up means to open our eyes often during the day and in awe (Fear of God) to look at the Truth: that He created us but that He is with us; that He is alive and very interested in everything we do, seeking ways for us to choose living lives that would take us back to Him. He sends signs, He surprises us with miraculous gifts, He feed us with His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, so that we can learn to trust Him 100% of the time, and this trust then can extract the ocean of His mercy, or better said, to receive the tsunami of His mercy… And His mercy can win all our wars against the world and the media.

To look down means wasting time listening to an inordinate amount of opinions from the different media sources and about multiple of topics. It also means our waste of time watching constantly all kind of make believe stories, many of which are full of violence, lies, pornography, atheism, etc. To look up in this category would be to constantly pray for actors, producers, writers, as we encounter their work.

In the real world of the media, pornography is growing at a very fast pace. While watching the coming of 2012 in Time Square in N.Y., CNN had two reporters, Anderson Cooper and a comedian, with Irish genes and from a Catholic family, who took off her clothes and showed her body just with her underwear. My question was why?… I started to look down at her and the cable station for showing such little class. Yet, I totally forgot to look up and pray for her and even for CNN.

The media is showing another extraordinary phase that truly bores my brain. Whether politics, sports, or whatever topic of the day, they ensemble teams to give opinions, and in the middle of programs, they giggle, they act like children but not trusting like kids do; no, they act as people with little content in their brains that try to engage mine in a deep conversation about a topic full of the so called entertainment mixed with their personal opinions. There is hardly any moral or intelligent content to these presentations. The worst part is that although I do not watch much television, when I do, I allow them to trick me into raising fences of resentment and lack of love for them. At the end, I will share what to do in these cases, at least, what God is training me to do.

7. To look down is to worry about my left eye’s partial loss of vision, and how difficult it turns to be the writing of these blogs since I need to take multiple breaks just to rest the good eye… To look down is to worry about the work I have been told I must do for the Kingdom and the command to write these blogs. To look up would mean to reject immediately any worry about the above issues, since I know, and I know it with great certitude, that He is in charge of every detail of my life, and to recall briefly all the battles He has already won for me!

8. To look down is to pay excessive attention to the world problems in general and to the Catholic Church in particular. Here I want to explain what I understand on the latter issue. To look down is to run to create programs in order to saturate all those problems, without paying attention first to the state of our own souls in order to discern what the Spirit is telling us. Said in other words, to look down is to work for the Church with personal plans, and some are excellent, but are built in collaboration with God, and not under God’s perfect will. To look up for this same category, it means to pray daily for our Church that all those in charge can work always under consultation with the Holy Spirit.

9. Regarding prayer. To look down is to ask God begging for His help in whatever we need. To look up is to say the same prayer with thanksgiving, in victory for what God will do for us. To look up is to know that our faith can move mountains… 

Conclusion: the outside world has programmed us for everything, to the point of believing that we are in charge of our own happiness; yet we do not know how to win our battles… Advent comes and goes; Holy Week and Easter come and go. We do many things and follow many traditions and rituals but our hearts are far from sitting down to learn that there is only one way: His way, and that we should trust in God’s plans for each of us, and in the Presence of the Holy Spirit in our interior temple, capable to save us and many others using us, but that we have to live this Trust in His love so that His mercy can finish up the work.

Looking up can be summarized this way: it is to grow into a deeper relationship with Jesus via His Holy Spirit, through the Sacraments and much prayer of worship, adoration, thanksgiving and some petitions for our own transformation and a perfect yes to obey His will, but always remembering that all should be done seeking to be the best servant who works according to His designs and plans. Looking down is to try to be God’s co-worker on equal basis!  Even studying the Bible needs a big dose of preparation in our hearts to always be ready to do whatever He tells us! We cannot have a relationship with Jesus unless we insist in accepting His will for us, moment to moment without fear to say Yes for His glory. It is then that we are capable to look up and not be brought down with distaste for brothers and sisters who may not be in the same frame of mind.

The change of the entire world is at the tip of our fingers but we must have our brains totally immersed in the Truth of who we are in God, and that He loves us, as we say Yes to His will regardless. Again, all of this in order to be upright in the eyes of God to become instruments of the Holy Spirit. Personally, I need to rewire my brain to live this way. I must share with you that I have been trying as best as I can, to do so, and that it truly seems to work well for evangelization purposes.

I end this with the full plan of action to keep myself LOOKING UP, and it coincides with my resolutions for 2012.

When I find myself looking down, I should react as follows, and by the way, I must memorize and practice these steps over and over, until I re-wire the brain.

I. Immediate reaction

1. I will pray for those who are causing me to look down, and ask God for His mercy. No one who enters my brain through my eyes or hearing should ever be gone without my prayer, ever. (And yes, Satan hates it)

2. I will try to think even for a second of their worthiness as images of God and all the good things that they may have done.

3. I will forgive them from my heart for the scandal they are giving me.

4. I will ask God for the grace to love them where they are at, whenever I find myself not loving them, although not hating them but I may have a tepid feeling for them. Love conquers all, and Satan runs as well…

5.  I will immediately substitute the looking down for a scenario that makes me look up, as the many examples I have shared with you.

6. In THOSE CASES WHERE I am looking down because I want to know what is next for my life and not related with my neighbor, like regarding my cooperation with the Holy Spirit for the work of evangelization, or worrying as to how I would do it, or doubting my call that has been repeated so many times in moments of great intimate relationship with Jesus (e.g.: after receiving Communion in the state of grace), I must immediately reject these questions and wonderings by calling the Holy Spirit and saying a Hail Mary, followed by practicing my looking up scenarios and remembering how many great things He has done for me. I am reversing the process and praying immediately, because any wondering about my future is lack of trust that God is in charge of everything, and this, in my case, is a major obstacle for the work since it takes away my status as being upright in His eyes. It is like saying, “I will serve but first let me find out the pros and cons,” which in itself is not a “yes” but a “may be.”

I want to emphasize that for me, I will worship the Lord, as Joshua said… and I have to live this worship by always saying yes to His will as loud as I can, simply because the times are begging me for this conversion of heart. I do not want to attend my personal judgment meeting and be told, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” I have done enough of that… Souls are being sent to me everywhere, like He is saying, “Look, I need you to tell them about Me.” And if I am not upright in His eyes, the Holy Spirit cannot use me to witness this Truth… One thing is to talk and talk, and another, to proclaim it is so because we are totally devoted to live such life, for the right reasons: for His glory, to thank Him for His sacrifice for us at Calvary and for His Church, and for the good of many who cannot “see.” I want this zeal, and He can give to me, if I just cooperate with a huge “yes” to His will.

II. General plan

To live in constant prayer at all times in order to be able to be awakened to this ministry of mercy towards those that make me look down, and I possibly sinning against them, and getting distracted from my life of a true disciple and servant. This prayer has its own petitions (which I do not have to repeat as I pray; suffice is to write them and make them present to God), so that I can get the graces necessary to reform myself starting NOW because the times are extremely treacherous for my pagan brothers and sisters. (These three actions: prayer, adoration and offering up my sufferings represent my living out the resolutions for 2012)

A. Constant adoration of the Infant Jesus, as He resides in the crèche of my inner temple.

B. Frequent prayer during the day, but also every time that I find myself looking down as explained before and as follows:

1) Calling the Holy Spirit with the following prayer”

Come Holy Spirit enlighten my heart,

To see the things which are of God.

Come Holy Spirit into my mind,

That I may know the things that are of God.

Come Holy Spirit, into my soul,

That I may belong only to God.

Sanctify all that I think, say and do,

That all will be for the glory of God. Amen.

 

I like to add something else that I do when I say this prayer, which I know by heart: It is extremely important to ask the Spirit of God to enlighten me but not out of a desire to know what is next in the agenda. Actually, it is a prayer to become the best servant of God. He decides the rest, if I should know how to proceed or wait for direction. It is a prayer to seek “total abandonment to Divine Providence.” I do it even when I come out of Mass and need to do some shopping. I want Him to decide if I should go, in what order I visit the places, and simply because I am a servant, ready to evangelize at all times. In this past month, I have found many “clients” and it would be too long to share all the instances, but I am certain that one way of looking up to God for His mercy, is to be docile to His promptings that could help my brother/sister.

2) Praying frequently the Ave Maria in order to ask for Our Lady’s intercession for the reasons enumerated in last December’s blog.

C. Both prayers said for the following intentions which seek to silence my own will.

1. To be able to trust God as a child would, that the Lord has won, is winning and will win all my battles, and therefore, refusing as well to consider any pros and cons of my present moments.

2. To be able to embrace all my crosses, present or expected, but making this embrace a reality, and not just cheap words and intentions, by doing the following:

a) With a firm yes to each present moment in TOTAL INDIFFERENCE for any present or expected suffering, acting as a child who trusts his/her parents.  To actually be ready to do the ridiculous in the eyes of the world, in order to obtain the miraculous.

b) “To do everything with exactness; to do it at its proper time, in the most perfect manner possible and without regard for that which follows it. To have direction of intention at the outset and offering thanksgiving at the end, and raising the mind with tender aspirations during the course of the action itself.” Quote from Fr. Jean Baptiste Rauzan, founder of the Order of the Fathers of Mercy (Kentucky, U.S.A.)

3. To stop passing judgment and condemning my neighbor’s behavior and spiritual blindness. Instead, to offer sacrifice and prayer for him/her and in the way a child would do it, without resentment.

4. To keep a robust prayer life, not interrupted by what happens around me, which should include the Holy Mass, the Rosary, Chaplet of Mercy and a continuous novena to Jesus in His Infancy.

5. To receive the grace to stay without attachments and idols, most especially the idol of my own ego, of my own will.

6. To always maintain a clear understanding of sin and contrition for my personal sins.

7. To live constantly with great zeal to “look up” and not to “look down.”

D. Offering each morning this plan of life, most especially any suffering associated with the crosses encountered, in expiation for my sins, the sins of family members, of all ministerial priests and laity, and the sins of the whole world.

E. Corollary: abandonment to Divine Providence means exactly, that I am abandoned and that I have no plans until He gives them to me and equip me to do His will. When I practice it, it truly gives me so much peace and joy, but it requires my conversion to keep my eyes on Him while I walk on water… I cannot change the world but I can cooperate with God to change me and help others, and I am trying very hard to follow this plan and perhaps be better prepared to receive many blessing during this coming Lent. It has not been difficult as I follow it, and my love for God and neighbor seem to be better kept than any time before. I must also report that God is so present because I may be looking down (as explained before), and suddenly I hear, “Look up.” I then smile knowing that the re-wiring of my brain through His grace is working…

This morning, on this day feast of Our Lady of High Grace, I had so much joy… before Mass and during Mass. Yet, as I left was slightly down while driving to a nearby health food store because I had seen a very poor man walking in this downtown Walnut Creek. Shortly after, I saw another younger man with a supermarket cart full of junk… or it seemed so, and he was acting crazily. I thought of my normal hard working sons and felt so oppressed; I thought of the parents or family of these homeless people. It was raining again. I ached for them even more. After my shopping, I took the expressway and this internal voice said, “Look up.” This time was actually to truly look up, and O yes, there it was the most beautiful “arco iris” in Spanish, rainbow in English. First, I rejoiced because my Spanish is back and thanked Him profusely… I could not have recalled the words of “arco iris” some 2 years back. Then, I started in the middle of the expressway to laugh like crazy, but remembered that it was OK, since Jesus had been called crazy.

Suddenly, I thought of Noah… and his covenant with God and the rainbow. I checked it up when I came home, and in Genesis 9: 4-9, God said to Noah, “”For your own lifeblood, too, I will demand an accounting: from every animal I will demand it, and from man in regard to his fellow man, I will demand an accounting for human life. If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has man been made. Be fertile, then, and multiply; abound on earth and subdue it. God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘See, I am now establishing My covenant with you and our descendants after you.’”

It was surreal… I went to Mass precisely to honor my Mother, consecrate myself to her and to ask for good weather and peace for the March of Life to start 2 hours later… And here, through the rainbow, God had reminded me that yes, we are committing a grave sin against the unborn. And as if you pay attention, God is first rejecting any sin against the life of others, but follows with a covenant where He commands Noah and sons to multiply… Wow… He was already addressing the abortion on demand issues of our times…

All of this takes me to my last words: I have to run this race and in a hurry. I must re-wire my brain to better live in God’s Presence, so that I can witness to His love and mercy for all of us…

Come Holy Spirit and help me to do so. Mother, under all your titles, help me to do what you did in Mexico in the XVI C… We need to save souls… Lord, I am your servant. Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.” Amen.

 

 

 


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