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Some five years ago Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, as he was confirmed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, stated that reception of Holy Communion according to the Church’s ancient tradition, kneeling and on the tongue should be encouraged. When asked if this were simply a question of external form, he replied that “it is not just a matter of form,” and went on to discuss the “profound meaning” of a man kneeling before God in adoration.

At the time of his statement, many believed that his concluding words on the subject may have pointed to an alteration in the Church’s current discipline for the novus ordo Mass: “What we have to grasp is that profound attitude of the man who prostrates himself before God, and that is what the Pope wants. (Emphasis mine.) Although Vatican prefects don’t generally say something is “what the Pope wants” unless they are really speaking for the Man in White himself, Pope Benedict at the time. That Canizares Llovera has earned for himself the name he Ratzingerino — the “Little Ratzinger” — is a sign of his like-mindedness with the Pope Emeritus, who was said to be amused by the sobriquet.

Several years on, since the statements above, we continue to witness worldwide triviality of Catholics while receiving Holy Communion. It makes one wonder whether there is an intrinsic problem with the way Catechism has been taught since the II Vatican council. That is, are Catholics still being taught to appreciate that Holy Communion really is the Presence of the Lord at Mass? If so, it is rather puzzling to verify that although most would not hesitate to prostrate before God should anyone be blessed with a ‘burning bush’ like encounter, most Catholics are reluctant to solemnly kneel at communion.

Over the years I have received quite a few comments by non-catholics denying or challenging the Catholic view that the Apostle Peter had ever lived in Rome. I am currently reading the work of Eusebius (The History of the Church) and, according to the author – and other works quoted by him in this book – the Apostle Peter not only lived in Rome, but he was martyred and died there. Below is a short excerpt of Chapter 25 on this subject. In G.A. Williamson’s translation the reader will also learn in Chapter II, page 49, that Peter was already in Rome at the time of a serious heresy started by Simon the Magus, which was overcome only with   the Apostle’s help, by the grace of God.

Book II, Chapter 25 of “The History of the Church” written by Eusebius of Caesaria (A.D. 265-340)

The Persecution under Nero in which Paul and Peter were honored at Rome with Martyrdom in Behalf of Religion

When the government of Nero was now firmly established, he began to plunge into unholy pursuits, and armed himself even against the religion of the God of the universe. To describe the greatness of his depravity does not lie within the plan of the present work. As there are many indeed that have recorded his history in most accurate narratives, every one may at his pleasure learn from them the coarseness of the man’s extraordinary madness, under the influence of which, after he had accomplished the destruction of so many myriads without any reason, he ran into such blood-guiltiness that he did not spare even his nearest relatives and dearest friends, but destroyed his mother and his brothers and his wife, with very many others of his own family as he would private and public enemies, with various kinds of deaths.

But with all these things this particular in the catalogue of his crimes was still wanting, that he was the first of the emperors who showed himself an enemy of the divine religion. The Roman Tertullian is likewise a witness of this. He writes as follows: “Examine your records. There you will find that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine, particularly then when after subduing all the east, he exercised his cruelty against all at Rome. We glory in having such a man the leader in our punishment. For whoever knows him can understand that nothing was condemned by Nero unless it was something of great excellence.”

Thus publicly announcing himself as the first among God’s chief enemies, he was led on to the slaughter of the apostles.

It is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even to the present day.

It is confirmed likewise by Caius, a member of the Church, who arose under Zephyrinus, bishop of Rome. He, in a published disputation with Proclus, the leader of the Phrygian heresy, speaks as follows concerning the places where the sacred corpses of the aforesaid apostles are laid: “But I can show the trophies of the apostles. For if you will go to the Vatican or to the Ostian way, you will find the trophies of those who laid the foundations of this church.”

And that they both suffered martyrdom at the same time is stated by Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, in his epistle to the Romans, in the following words: “You have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter and of Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and likewise taught us in our Corinth. And they taught together in like manner in Italy, and suffered martyrdom at the same time.”

I have quoted these things in order that the truth of the history might be still more confirmed.

Habemus Papa!!!

The excerpt below was taken from a truly wonderful book I found online on EWTN's website.
I recommend it to all who want to learn what the Catholic Church teaches on marital sexual
relationship, birth-control,etc and why.
  

Contraception is commonly called birth-control; an unfortunate term, since birth-control as such obviously is a reasonable and necessary thing. Catholics would be the last to deny that the human reason should control as far as possible such an important matter as the coming of new life into the world, with its added responsibilities to the parents. In point of fact, the very institution of marriage is a method of birth-control, since it limits procreation to those conditions in which a child will be cared for. Married people are called upon to be unselfish and generous, sometimes even heroic. A child must be regarded as more important than the refinements and luxuries of a social class. But they are not bound to have a child, or children, if reasonable chances of proper education and upbringing are lacking. The health and reasonable comfort of the mother require the spacing of births at intervals to be sanely and sensibly decided, though for the sake of the children themselves there should not be too great a difference between their ages. Clearly procreation cannot be undertaken without thought and control; trust in Providence does not mean banking on a very doubtful future. Let this be made quite clear. The Catholic Church is not opposed to rational birth-control as an end. Catholics, of course, do not agree with the propaganda for birth-control based on the difficulties of present social and economic conditions. Blessings should not be surrendered when the causes making them difficult can be changed. It should be intolerable that in a world of plenty many parents are unable to have as many children as they would like and could have, were the social structure not so unjust. Nor can Catholics admit the disinclination to have children because they are tiresome and worrying. Marriage is not a perpetual honeymoon, but a serious responsibility, and none the less happy for that. The Catholic Church’s condemnation is directed at the means employed for birth-control. What is opposed is not birth-control or the regulation of births, but certain methods of ensuring this. They are generally without qualification called birth control, but more accurately they should be classed under the term of contraception. They consist in altering or interfering with the natural character of sex-intercourse, or its antecedent or consequent processes. They are species of injustice or of impurity: of injustice when the family and social quality of sex is affected; of impurity when the sex impulse itself is disorganized. All wrongful methods of birth-control fall under these heads. Unjust methods may be reduced to sterilization and abortion, impure methods to onanism. (See Fig. 2.) UNJUST MEANS Our bodies are not our own to do with just as we will, they belong completely to God alone who made them; we must take reasonable care of them and administer them according to their nature. As we may not destroy our bodies by suicide, so we may not mutilate them or deprive them of an essential function, unless it be for the health of the body itself, when the part must be removed for the sake of the whole. Leaving aside the question of punitive and curative operations, the Catholic Church teaches that it is unlawful directly to deprive oneself of a bodily power. Thus all methods of eugenic sterilization are ruled out. They include surgical operations on the male or female designed primarily to prevent their having fruitful intercourse; also all mechanical or chemical methods of sterilizing the female for a period. Birth may be prevented after conception by chemical or mechanical or surgical methods, all of which come under the head of injustice when the taking of life is directly intended. Either they go so far as to murder the child in the womb (and without baptism) or they destroy a living thing that is becoming a human being. The unlawfulness of the operation is intensified by the fact that, for all we know, an immortal soul may be present from the moment of conception or soon after. The direct destruction of a fetus is the sin of abortion. IMPURE MEANS Impure methods of birth-control, or those that alter the nature of the sex act itself, are classed under the sin of onanism. Before considering this attempt to secure sex satisfaction without proper intercourse, let us return to the distinction of deed and motive. Two aspects must be separately considered, sex intercourse itself, which is the means, and the generation of a child, which is an end. Two aspects in the action of the married couple correspond to this distinction, namely their deed and their motives respectively. First as regards motives. If a couple decide against the birth of a child at a given time, the rightness or wrongness of their decision must be tested by the question: ought they to try to have a child then? If their decision springs from timidity, selfishness, love of ease and so on, then it is wrong, whatever the means they adopt in carrying it into effect. If the reasons against the birth of a child outweigh those in favour, if they are prudent in a Christian sense, then their decision is just. Up to the present it all hinges on the motives of the man and woman. In the first case, the motives are unworthy; in the second case, they are worthy. The question now narrows down to the nature of the means adopted. The couple may decide to abstain from intercourse. This means is not bad in itself; the moral colouring comes from the motives; bad in the first case, good in the second case. But complete abstinence from intercourse is not easy, nor is it honestly desirable in some cases from a Christian point of view. It is natural that a man and woman living together should strongly desire one another’s bodies, and though grace is always sufficient for proper self-control it does not blanket lawful desire, and the marriage act may be necessary for the real happiness of their lives together. Here is the real problem of contraception. How is it possible to combine the reasonable avoidance of pregnancy with the reasonable exercise of sex relations? The case of really selfish married people may be dismissed. We are concerned with those who decided against a child, not for unworthy motives, but because they feel they are not in a position to have one, for such reasons as ill- health or poverty. Quite decently they feel the need of intercourse. The rightness or wrongness of what they do turns on the means they adopt. If they commit onanism, then the Church judges that they do something wrong in itself, a bad kind of action, leaving aside the question of motives. It may be an act of self-indulgence, it may be an attempt to express human love. In either case, the means is wrong. The noblest end does not justify a bad means. Onanism is that action between the bodies of a man and woman which goes as closely as it can to proper sex union while at the same time attempting to prevent the joining of the male seed and the female ovum from which new human life begins. In old- fashioned onanism the act starts properly, but the man withdraws before his seed can enter the woman’s body. Modern research has invented methods by which the man can remain united to the woman, but his seed is either sterilized or prevented from joining the ovum. By this fact, the natural union of man and woman is not secured, and the climax of sex pleasure is reached without the appropriate act. They do not delight in one another as they really are, they do not commit themselves in confidence and happiness to sex as God has made it. The intercourse is bogus. They are not joined together immediately as man and woman, for an instrument or chemical interposes and destroys the life-giving character of the action. They have contrived to alter the situation and so use their sex powers in an act which is not the generative act of sex intercourse, but the reverse. The attempt to secure sex satisfaction without the complete sex act disorganizes the rational and natural arrangement of powers to their proper ends, the proper purpose of sex powers being the life-offering action of intercourse. With respect to the deed, there is little essential difference between contraceptive intercourse and mutual masturbation, though admittedly the surrounding psychological circumstances make for a different situation. Married people who use contraceptives may love one another decently and humanly apart from this, but whether they use them with an easy or uneasy conscience, the nature of the action in itself is not altered. According to Catholic teaching, moral standards do not entirely depend on individual judgement, and motives need not be considered for a kind of action to be condemned. Contraception is wrong in itself, and no motive can justify it; and it is gravely wrong, because of the importance of the action which is spoilt. It is worth noting that this attitude is not based principally on Revelation or on the supernatural authority of the Church. It is a matter of natural law. An instinctive repugnance to contraception which still exists is an echo of the case against it which can be worked out on purely rational grounds without appealing to doctrinal authority. There are also secondary, though considerable, arguments against contraception. It offers the occasion of sexual indiscipline; it can be responsible for serious bodily and mental disorders; it makes acquiescence easier in unjust social conditions; it is prejudicial to national life. Yet the problem remains unsolved of what is to be done when at the same time there are true and good reasons both against pregnancy and for sex-intercourse. We must go back and stress the necessity of making marriage a relationship of human friendship depending chiefly on the characters of the two persons, who enter the state to share their human lives together, to strengthen one another, to build up their characters together. Their lore is supported by the sacrament, which gives grace to all who try to live up to the ideal it sets. The couple, whether they are in a position to have a numerous family or whether they are not, must love one another with a love stronger and deeper than passion. But it is easier to preach than to practise. There are not a few cases when children cannot be welcomed and at the same time mutual love must be expressed through intercourse. It is possible that recent research has discovered a partial remedy, a providential arrangement existing for the benefit of such cases.

For the full work, please visit EWTN’s page here

When we have achieved a certain level of progress in our spiritual journey, not rarely we may experience a sense of sadness and even discouragement after committing a sin, after offending God. This sadness may lead us to feel like a failure and can cause us to focus not on our progress but on our failures, which we know is not a positive thing.

Obviously, Scripture tells us in Romans 6 that, as Christians, we have been buried with Christ and thus, we died to sin. We are a new creation and live by the hope of the Resurrection, and so we must always strive to overcome sin and live in accordance to the will of God. However, as good a thing as the feeling of sadness or disappointment after committing a sin may seem at a first glance, we should be cautious and aware of the dangers of such seemly positive emotions. We have, at all times, to remember the words of St Paul in Ephesian 6 and bear in mind that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but principalities and spiritual forces of evil. The Devil will explore our weaknesses and bad tendencies and do all that he can to divert us from our trust in God. Therefore those feelings which may present themselves as innocent, if not as a sign of spiritual zeal, may in fact be the result of our failure to put our trust in God, trusting instead, ourselves.

In order to be sure that the pain we feel after committing a sin results from a pure sadness for offending God – which comes from the Holy Spirit acting in us – and is not the result of our own week flesh, our pride for not living up to the standard that we set up for ourselves, we have to be mindful of a few hidden clues. Those who love God and genuinely regret offending the Lord because of their love for God – not for themselves – will not despair at their own faults. They may not be surprised at all that they have fallen, because they acknowledge that they are weak and in doing so, they are more aware of the fact that sinning is not something they can prevent in their own power and so they surrender they faults to God. This attitude comes exactly from an opposite movement of the soul that, rather than making us feel hurt because we are too proud to recognize our many flaws and brokenness, make us  humble enough to accept it and trust in the work that God is doing in us. To this effect the words of St Paul in Romans 8,28 come in hand: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The saints understood this very well and have left us their example in their lives and their writings. St. Augustine added, when quoting Rom 8,28, that God can use even our sins for our good.

Therefore, whenever we are faced with our own faults and imperfections, let us not be discouraged and become despondent, but rather, set our eyes in Jesus and His Mercy and trust that He will bring to completion the work that he has begun in us.

Finally, I should like to share this prayer that I found in this little book by Fr Jacques Philippe which I have been reading – ‘ Searching for and Maintaining Peace’ – a book which  in fact was not only the inspiration for this post but a major reference while writing it.

“Lord, I ask your pardon, I have sinned again. This is, alas, what I am capable of doing on my own! But I abandon myself with confidence to Your mercy and Your pardon, and I thank you for not allowing me to sin more grievously. I abandon myself to You with confidence because I know that one day You will heal me completely, and in the meantime, I ask you that the experience of my misery would cause me to be more humble, more considerate of others, more conscious that I can do nothing by myself, but that I must rely solely on Your love and Your mercy.”

According to the definition given by the Catholic Encyclopedia, temperance is one of those virtues that many want to posses, but few understand what it really is. As I was meditating on my own spiritual journey, I made a conscious decision to find out what are the virtues I lack the most and how to master them. As it turned out, I lack all of them to a greater or lesser extend and should get to work pretty hard if I want to became a “saint” before I leave this world… So, on to the definition and thoughts on temperance:

(Latin temperare, to mingle in due proportions; to qualify).

Temperance is here considered as one of the four cardinal virtues. It may be defined as the righteous habit which makes a man govern his natural appetite for pleasures of the senses in accordance with the norm prescribed by reason. In one sense temperance may be regarded as a characteristic of all the moral virtues; the moderation it enjoins is central to each of them. It is also according to St. Thomas (II-II:141:2) a special virtue. Thus, it is the virtue which bridles concupiscence or which controls the yearning for pleasures and delights which most powerfully attract the human heart. These fall mainly into three classes: some are associated with the preservation of the human individual; others with the perpetuation of the race, and others still with the well-being and comfort of human life. Under this aspect temperance has for subordinate virtues, abstinence, chastity, and modesty.

Abstinence

Abstinence prescribes the restraint to be employed in the partaking of food and drink. Obviously the measure of this self-restraint is not constant and invariable. It is different for different persons as well as for different ends in view. The diet of an anchorite would not do for a farm labourer. Abstinence is opposed to the vices of gluttony and drunkenness. The disorder of these is that food and drink are made use of in such wise as to damage instead of benefit the bodily health. Hence gluttony and drunkenness are said to be intrinsically wrong. That does not mean, however, that they are always grievous sins. Gluttony is seldom such; drunkenness is so when it is complete, that is when it destroys the use of reason for the time being.

Chastity

Chastity as a part of temperance regulates the sensual satisfactions connected with the propagation of the human species. The contrary vice is lust. As these pleasures appeal with the special vehemence to human nature, it is the function of chastity to impose the norm of reason. Thus it will decide that they are altogether to be refrained from in obedience to a higher vocation or at any rate only availed of with reference to the purposes of marriage. Chastity is not fanaticism; much less is it insensibility. It is the carrying out of the mandate of temperance in a particular department where such a steadying power is acutely needed.

Modesty

The virtue of modesty, as ranged under temperance, has as its task the holding in reasonable leash of the less violent human passions. It brings into service humility to set in order a man’s interior. By transfusing his estimates with truth, and increasing his self-knowledge it guards him against the radical malice of pride. It is averse to pusillanimity, the product of low views and a mean-spirited will. In the government of the exterior of a man modesty aims to make it conform to the demands of decency and decorousness (honestas). In this way his whole outward tenor of conduct and method of life fall under its sway. Such things as his attire, manner of speech, habitual bearing, style of living, have to be made to square with its injunctions. To be sure they cannot always be settled by hard and fast rules. Convention will often have a good deal to say in the case, but in turn will have its propriety determined by modesty.

Other virtues are enumerated by St. Thomas as subordinate to temperance inasmuch as they imply moderation in the management of some passion. It ought to be noted, however, that in its primary and generally understood sense temperance is concerned with what is difficult for a man, not in so far as he is a rational being precisely, but rather in so far as he is an animal. The hardest duties for flesh and blood are self-restraint in the use of food and drink and of the venereal pleasures that go with the propagation of the race. That is why abstinence and chastity may be reckoned the chief and ordinary phases of this virtue. All that has been said receives additional force of we suppose that the self-control commanded by temperance is measured not only by the rule of reason but by the revealed law of God as well. It is called a cardinal virtue because the moderation required for every righteous habit has in the practice of temperance a specially trying arena. The satisfactions upon which it imposes a check are at once supremely natural and necessary in the present order of human existence. It is not, however, the greatest of moral virtues. That rank is held by prudence; then come justice, fortitude, and finally temperance.

“And He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ; that henceforth we be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men, by cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive. But doing the Truth in charity, we may in all things grow up in Him who is the head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-15)
What kind of church did Jesus intend to establish?

A church that would be universal, united and holy, one that could not teach error and that could not be destroyed.
Which is the only church that has these qualities?

Only the Catholic Church.
What does the word “Catholic” mean?

It means “universal”, embracing all.
Why is the Church of Jesus called “Catholic”?

Because it is:
for all people
of all nations
of all times
it teaches all the doctrines of Jesus.
“Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
When was the name “Catholic” first used of the Church of Jesus?

In the year 110, by St. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, who wrote:
“Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” (Ad Smyrn. 8:2)

“The Church is called Catholic by all Her enemies, as well as by Her own children. Heretics and schismatics can call the Church by no other name than Catholic, for they would not be understood, unless they used the name by which the Church is known to the whole world.” (St. Augustine, 4th-5th Centuries, in De Vera Religione-“Concerning True Religion”)
Is the Catholic Church spread all over the world?

Yes, its approximately 1,000,000,000 members are from all races and all colors and all sections of the world.
The marvelous growth of the Church in spite of great obstacles and fierce persecution, is certainly a sign that it is the Church of Jesus Christ.
What is meant by the unity of the Catholic Church?

This unity means that all Catholics worldwide–
Believe the same things,
Obey the same laws,
Receive the same Sacraments,
Worship at the same Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,
Are all united under the same authority, that of the Pope in Rome.
“And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in Me; that they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us.” (John 17: 20-21)
Why is the Catholic Church holy?

It is holy because–
Its Founder, Jesus Christ, is holy,
It teaches a holy doctrine.
It gives Its members what is needed to lead a holy life,
Thousands of Its members, from every walk of life, from every race and from every period of history, have become Saints.
Why cannot the Catholic Church ever teach error?

Because Jesus Christ promised to be always with His Church to protect it from error.
“Going therefore, teach ye all nations… Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Has the Catholic Church ever changed its teaching?

No, for some 2,000 years the Catholic Church has taught the same things which Jesus Christ taught.
“The Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the Truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
Why can the Catholic Church never be destroyed?

Because Jesus promised that…
“The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18)

“The God of Heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed.” (Daniel 2:44)
Has anyone ever tried to destroy the Church?

Yes, as Jesus Christ foretold, many governments have tried without success to destroy the Church, and thousands of Catholics (martyrs) have died for the True Church.
“They will deliver you up in councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. And you shall be brought before governors, and before kings for my sake…and you will be hated by all men for My name’s sake.” (Matthew 10:17-22)
FALSE SLOGANS
“All religions are good.”

Answer: There is only one religion, as far as God is concerned, since He established only one, not three hundred. All other religions were established by men who had no authority from God to start them. A religion is either true or false, just as a dollar bill is either genuine or counterfeit. Although a religion may have some truth, it is a false religion if it was established by a man.
“It does not make any difference what church you belong to.”

Answer: It certainly does make a difference whether you belong to the one established by God or to one established by a man. It makes a difference whether you belong to the church that has everything necessary to lead you to Heaven, or not.
“All religions teach the same thing and believe in the same God.”

Answer: All religions disagree on the important teachings of Jesus Christ. Some teach that He is God; others say He is not. Some teach that you have to be baptized to get into Heaven; others deny the necessity of Baptism. Some teach that Baptism really takes away sin, while others hold that it is only a symbol. If all religions believed in the same God, they would all have to teach the same things, since God cannot contradict Himself. God is not the author of confusion and contradiction, but of clear, unchangeable Truth.
“Jesus Christ, yesterday and today, and the same forever. Be not led away with various and strange doctrines.” (Heb. 13:8-9)
“It doesn’t matter what you believe; it’s how you act that counts.”

Answer: It does matter, because you act according to your belief. It does matter whether you believe killing a person dying of an incurable disease is a sin or not, or whether marriage is to last until death or not. God has given the human race certain, definite truths to believe, and He expects everyone to believe them.
“He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)

He told His Apostles: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations… teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20)
PRACTICAL POINTS
You have an obligation to join the Catholic Church; otherwise, you cannot go to Heaven. However, joining the Church is a very serious step, because in so doing, you place yourself completely and forever under the authority of the Church in all things concerning religion. This means that you promise to believe everything the Church teaches, to worship the way the Catholic Church worships, and to obey all the laws of the Church.
It is not unreasonable to place yourself under the authority of the Catholic Church, because its authority is from God.
“He who heareth you, heareth Me; and he who despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he who despiseth Me, despiseth Him Who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16)
By joining the Catholic Church, you can be sure of what you have to believe and do in order to save your soul, and you will be able to lead a good life and attain salvation with the graces flowing from the Sacraments and the countless other sources of spiritual strength provided by God’s Church. Besides, you will have the peace of mind that comes only from knowing that you are doing God’s will.
“For you were as sheep going astray; but you are now converted to the shepherd and bishop of your souls.” (I Peter 2:25)

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