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Posts Tagged ‘healing’


Rembrandt: Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem

Jeremiah 39:15-18: A Gesture of Comfort

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Even among the twists and turns in the tangled web of intrigue which surround Jeremiah’s life, this prophet remains true to his God.  Both his words and actions reveal his total devotion to the Lord, and his life – like the flight of a well-aimed arrow – arcs through turbulent history to blaze a path as safe passageway for the faithful to follow.  No one, after reading this man’s story, can say that their burden is too weighty to carry.  Anyone can see – from Jeremiah’s story – that tragedy and loss are not always a bad thing.  We frequently find redemption in the ashes of failure.  But we must be open to the belief that all is possible through God.  We must demonstrate trust.

Today finds us at a point in Jeremiah’s story where he is rewarded by the invaders for maintaining his fidelity to God.  In the midst of horror comes a gesture of comfort.  Horrible events spin around Jeremiah.  The king and his sons have been captured by Nebuchadnezzar’s troops.  Zedekiah’s eyes have been put out, his sons have been executed.  The palace has been burned; the walls of the city are demolished; the deportation to Babylon has begun.  Jeremiah will be given permission to live where he likes – with the exiled or with the remnant.  A time of respite is upon him.

We do not know precisely where or how or when Jeremiah eventually dies; but one thing we know for certain is that he will remain as true to his God in his end days as we see him today.  Jeremiah will be rescued as he is always rescued.

Although there are times when we sit in the mud of the cistern of life, we too, are always rescued.  A word of comfort pierces the darkness.  A gesture of healing staunches a bleeding wound.  The sign of peace arrives at our door.  We know we are blessed.

In these graced moments amid life’s battles, we might pause to give thanks for such a healing and loving God.  All God asks in payment is our trust.


Written on October 20, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on this prophet and his prophecy, see the Jeremiah – Person and Message page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/jeremiah-person-and-message/

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Luke 4:38-44: Taking Time to Heal

Friday, November 8, 2019

I always try to imagine what it must have been like to have Jesus walking among us to heal our physical and psychological ailments.  There were so many of them . . . there are so many of us.  No wonder Jesus had to continually repeat a cycle of retreat and prayer before returning to service.  Two things come to mind in a dovetail as I read these verses today . . . and these thoughts lead to an existential question that came up in my literature class.

Jesus still walks among us healing our ailments . . . God must be quite occupied with all of the problems we continually send to him . . . that is why we rest on Sundays.  Does God rest?  Do we rest in the proper way?

We are continually healed of our afflictions.  We continually receive balm for our spiritual wounds – and our spiritual self is the version of us that matters most in the end.  The enormity and the immensity of God are evident as we see Jesus walking among the people he loves, healing them with his passing.  In today’s hectic life this is sometimes hard to feel.  We are too occupied.  This leads us to the dovetail.

When God created the world, according to the versions of the story we find in Genesis, he rested.  He asks that we rest as well.  In twenty-first century USA perhaps we have too much activity on Sundays.  Perhaps we ought to return to the days of a few decades ago when only nurses, police, fire personal and other emergency personnel worked on the Sabbath – and perhaps we might honor these dedicated rescuers and healers more often. Perhaps we have forgotten to retreat in an intentional way.  Maybe the only times we do retreat are when we are exhausted.  I think this cannot be good.

Jesus rebukes the fever in Simon’s mother-in-law so well and so thoroughly that she immediately returns to her kitchen chores.  It must be wonderful to be able to bounce back in that way from an illness.  Yet this is what we are offered each day on our rising.  Do we respond to this call?  Or are we too exhausted or too occupied with the day’s schedule to hear it?

When we hear Christ invite us away from something in which we are fully engaged, do we turn to him or do we say that we will meet him at the next appointed worship event?  Are we scheduling our prayer and healing rather than living it moment to moment?  Is this what ails our collective and individual selves?

Jesus physically leaves the town of Capernaum but he remains in the hearts of the people whom he healed.  Jesus is itinerant, wandering among us, making home in our hearts and minds, settling into our routines with us, calling us away to sit with him a little while from time to time, asking us to put down our pencils, our papers, out thoughts . . . to be with him.

Perhaps the healing we receive in daily doses does not register so well with us because we are rushing forward in petition to make our next appeal for grace and peace.

Perhaps we do not allow the many blessings we have received to fully permeate our being because we are not quite ready to give up our illnesses.

Perhaps Jesus calls us away just when we begin something we want to complete in order that we make a demonstration of our belief that only he is worth living through and for.

Perhaps . . . but we must take the time to heal in order that we know him.  We must leave Capernaum from time to time when Christ calls to go into the desert . . . to strip away the world . . . and meet our God.

Perhaps . . . but we will never know until we begin.  So let us begin today.


Written on October 22, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://universitychurchdenver.org/index.php/articles/article/open-the-eyes-of-my-heart/

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Ezekiel 39:25-29: Restoration After Hiatus

Monday, October 21, 2019

Govert Flink: Issac Blessing Jacob

When we look at the life of Jacob we might be tempted to look at the story of his deeds or accomplishments: his early toying with deceit, his growing ability to focus persistently on a goal, his fathering of twelve sons who lead the Twelve Tribes of Israel.  When we look more closely we see that rather than a rising and falling arc of “doings” what we really find is a string of actions that are separated by pauses.  What Jacob has mastered is not so much the “doing” of life but the thoughtful hiatus.

In the story of Jacob we see that are many periods of hiatus in which he is separated from all he loves by either his own actions or the events that swirl around him.  When we reflect a bit more on Jacob, we might also see how and if and whether we experience hiatus in our own lives.  Today’s Noontime calls us to reflect on the goal we all have in mind when we are in a state of hiatus.  We yearn for the reunion, the curing, the re-construction, the bridging, the healing . . . the restoration.

We know that the lands and fortunes of the tribes of Jacob are indeed restored . . . and then lost again.  The people wander away from the lesson they thought they had learned during exile.  Their hubris and their lack of willingness to listen to and for the voice within gets in their way, they become easily distracted, and wander into the wilderness again to lose what they had regained.  Fortunately for humans, God forgives endlessly.  The prophet Ezekiel reminds us of this.

When we experience hiatus well we have the opportunity to learn much about ourselves.

We come to know that the Lord is our God, before whom no other god may stand.  These other gods may be our desire for wealth, looks, fashion, friends, prestige, life style, addiction – anything which separates us from God.

We experience the New Law of Love, the Law of the Beatitudes which Jesus brought us on the Mount (Matthew) and on the Plain (Luke).

We become people who do not fear poverty, illness or rejection suffered as the result of Kingdom Building and Kingdom Living.

We become light and salt and yeast to the world.  We are to be brothers and sisters together shouting with joy that God is good.

We become to be harvesters who go forth weeping to return singing.

We become people who are Jesus in a world which is not.

We become people who wait for, and hope for, and work for Restoration.

And this is the Restoration which awaited the tribes of Jacob.  It is the same restoration which comes to all those who wait actively, seek patiently, and witness persistently.

This is a Way worth following.  It is a Life worth living.

Amen.


To explore how hiatus figures in Jacob’s life and in our own, go to the A Journey Hiatus in the Journeys of Transformation page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/a-journey-of-transformation/a-journey-hiatus/

Image from: https://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/jesus-who-do-you-think-you-are-1-abraham-isaac-and-jacob

First written on October 6, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Mark 3: Unhardened Hearts

Monday, February 18, 2019

Chapter 3 of Mark’s Gospel opens with Jesus healing a man with a withered hand and he is immediately criticized for working on the sabbath.  The Pharisees have, in fact, been watching Jesus; they are waiting for him to slip up, to break one of the many rules the old law has laid upon the people.  They watched him closely to see if he would cure [the man] on the sabbath so that they might accuse him.  Jesus not only heals the man, he delivers a quick homily with both his actions and words: Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save the life rather than to destroy it?”  But they remained silent.  Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand”.  Jesus does not allow his fear or anger to overtake him.  He chooses instead to speak and act with compassion.  He does what is good despite the evil that would prevent him.

When we read this story carefully we understand why Jesus then withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.  We live in a world of easily hardened hearts and for that reason we understand why a large number of people [followed Jesus] from Galilee and from Judea.  We also understand why Jesus warns those he has healed not to make him known.  He knows that he has come to soften hardened hearts.  He understands the Father’s plan and bows to it.  He heals, he counsels, he goes about his work knowing that he embodies a loving God . . . and knowing that his presence stirs up envy and hate.  He knows that his actions ripple into the darkness and disturb those whose hearts are stony.

Jesus appoints the Twelve and charges them with delivering the story of good news and in so doing he sends a wave of his own love into the world to soften the hardness he sees.  He appoints each of us as well.  He returns home where the streets are so crowded that his relatives are so fearful of the hardened Pharisees and scribes that they proclaim: He is out of his mind.   But Jesus moves forward and calls out those who accuse him of drawing his power from the devil himself.  He presents a simple yet effective response and then he warns all that they are in danger of committing a most egregious offense against the Spirit.  His accusers blunder on, hardening their hearts still more; Jesus moves forward as well, calling them to redemption.

When we place ourselves in the thick of these intense stories from Mark’s Gospel, we see that our own lives echo the events on the written page.  We too have been accused unjustly.  We too have been the unjust accusers.   We have both hardened our own hearts and watched with sadness as others harden themselves against us.

In our search for comfort and joy we fall prey to darkness from time to time on our journey.  We succumb to anxiety, impatience, anger, fear and sorrow.  We may let these experiences harden our hearts . . . or we may expect God’s ransom and healing.  We may look for desolation . . . or we may anticipate God’s love.  Psalm 95 is the perfect prayer for us when we feel a certain coldness begin to settle into our hearts.  And for that reason we pray . . .

Just and gentle God, send us the patience we need to hear your word and act in it.  Fortify us in your love.

Good and gracious God, guide us with the wisdom we seek and hope for in you.  Counsel us in your fidelity.

Compassionate and wonderful God, forgive us our endless errors and wanderings.  Call us back to you.


A re-post from February 18, 2012.

For a beautiful music video of Psalm 95 click here, or go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7IryEV4F2c&feature=related

Images of hearts in nature are from: http://www.funzug.com/index.php/nature/awesome-hearts-by-the-nature.html

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John 4: The Samaritan Woman and the Official with the Ailing Son

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Henry Siemiradski: Christ and the Samaritan Woman

There is so much about these stories to interest us.  There is so much here that Jesus teaches us.  There is so much for us to experience and pass on . . . if we only take the time to look.

The Samaritan Woman in today’s Noontime comes alone at mid-day to Jacob’s Well in the town of Sychar.  Her delayed arrival indicates that she is a late riser and therefore does not live like other women in the community.  Perhaps she is shunned by the other orthodox, early rising women.  We do not know.

What we do know is that this woman approaches a man, Jesus, resting by the well and they speak.  Jesus tells her more than anyone passing through town can know. The woman recognizes that he is special, she believes him to be a prophet, and she slips easily into a redemptive conversation.  After Jesus reveals himself as the Messiah – something he rarely does in the Gospels – and sends her back to her life as a changed woman, she converts others to such an extent that at the town’s request he remains with them for two days.  The result is that far more believed because of his word.

Jan Vermeyen: Wedding Feast at Cana

This second part of this chapter is the story of the official whose son who is cured without Jesus physically touching him. The miracle takes place in Cana, the town where, according to this Gospel, Jesus began his public ministry at the wedding feast where he changed jars of water for ritual cleansing into jars of superb wine. Perhaps this official knew about Jesus from the stories circulating after the miracle at the wedding feast.  Perhaps this is why the official sought out this healing man in search of a cure for his ailing son.  Again, we do not know.

But here is something that we do know . . . in one long elliptical circling journey of physical and spiritual healing, Jesus shows us two stories that speak of the good news of the Messiah’s coming.  Through his words and actions Jesus retells the story of creation, and foreshadows the cycle of redemption and healing in our own lives. In one powerful, long, sweeping arc Jesus moves from north to south to north again; and in his path he leaves a wake of people whose spirits and bodies are touched, healed and transformed. The central episode of the calling and conversion of the Samaritan woman takes place at a well, not a cistern of stagnant water. It happens in the full light of day rather than in the crepuscular light of dawn or dusk, so that all can be revealed to her – and to us – through Christ. All is healed when she commits an act of faith and returns to her people to tell them of this unusual man. This outcast and unorthodox woman becomes an immediate apostle for Christ as she calls the townspeople to this well of now living water, Jesus himself.  And together they create an immediate temple around him, a place of nourishment, cleansing, healing and redemption.

Detail: Christ and the Samaritan Woman

Like the woman at the well, the official realizes that his son was healed at the exact moment Jesus spoke the curing words: So he and all his household believed. The official makes an act of faith in the moment he realizes that he and his son have been touched by something wonderfully special and different, and so he too, becomes an apostle for Christ.

These stories tell us about how Jesus brings both the powerful official and the outcast woman into the temple.  These stories offer us a window into our own lives.  These stories are our own story of call and answer, conversion and healing, rescue and ransom.  They are stories of our own resurrection.

We watch Jesus in this chapter reap these unbelieving souls, convert them, and send them back into the world to continue the harvest. For there is much to gather and the workers are scarce. And just as these diverse followers of Christ make huge, risky changes in their lives, just as they go abroad to tell the good news, so too can we reap the message from our lives and then use it to bring life to others . . . if we only take the time to look.


A re-post from February 15, 2012. 

Images from: http://www.catholicjournal.us/monsignorialmusings/tag/reconciliation and http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.1.Mary_of_Nazareth.htm

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Tobit 11Homeward Journey

Friday, November 16, 2018

I love this story and I can never read it enough for it is the tale of healing, fidelity, and joy.  It is a story with an ending we all wish for ourselves and our loved ones.  It is even a story we might wish for our enemies.

Commentary tells us that this story harbingers the miracles of the New Testament and even prepares us for miracles in our own lives.  In this homeward journey, everyone is happy with their new in-laws, cataracts are removed, a family rejoices.  The reader senses that all the characters will live happily ever after, and so pushes on toward the end of the tale in delicious anticipation of the revelation of the angel Raphael’s identity.  This is the ideal ending to a perfect bed-time story.  The loyal but harried young couple meets, overcomes odds, weds and returns home.  Goodness comes out of evil and illness – even in exile.  Our journey home has its reward.

Today’s first reading at Mass is from Hebrews 13:1-8 and it reminds us that we never know when the stranger beside us may be an angel: Let brotherly love continue.  Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.  Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you are also in the body.  Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled . . . Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never forsake or abandon you’.  Thus we may say with confidence: ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?’  Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

When we feel as though the journey behind us has been too arduous, or the journey before us will be too difficult . . . let us remember how Tobias and Sarah overcame fear to journey home.

When it seems that the present leg of our journey offers no hope and little comfort . . . let us remember that healing angels accompany us in the guise of fellow travelers.

When we find ourselves distracted in our journey by the many tempting way stations . . . let us remember that Holy Spirit accompanies us, the Father calls us, and Jesus Christ heals us.

Let us remember . . . and let us rejoice as we join one another in the journey homeward.


A re-post from October 14, 2011.

Image from: http://namakparay.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

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Luke 18:1-8The Persistent Widow

Thursday, September 20, 2018

This has for a long time been one of my favorite stories.  Perhaps this is because it has to do with the importance of stamina, something I look for daily.   It is so easy to give up.  And it is so important to continue.

Yesterday I spent pilgrim time with friends renewing the soul and remembering what is accurately the most significant work of each day . . . breathing, living, and remaining in God.  The world so quickly distracts us, and we so easily are drawn away from the only path that can lead us to the tranquility we seek.  In the end, there is only God.

The persistent widow and the unjust judge . . . it is likely that this story has universal appeal because the figures represent archetypal images we see and hear each day.  We relish this story because on any given day we are either the judge or the widow and so we know these roles well.  When we are overwhelmed, cranky, and feeling our “underdog” status we lash out at others, trying to snatch what we perceive to be rightfully ours.  We are the unjust judge.  When we are tired but hopeful and we allow God to smooth away fatigue, we come to understand that we must become the persistent widow.  When we are wounded but determined, we come to know for certain that in the end, there is only God.

Elizabeth Seton

Yesterday’s pilgrimage was to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmittsburg, Maryland, a memorial to a woman with a remarkable story.  http://www.setonshrine.org/  Mother Seton was a familiar friend of both sorrow and joy and the details of her biography illustrate that she fully understood her role as a persistent widow.  Her life is a model for those who are determined to remain close to God knowing that although there will be sadness they will fail at nothing and they will never be alone.  Through the turmoil, strife, happiness, and joy of her journey, Elizabeth Seton recognized that in the end, there is only God.

My granddaughter likes a particular saying and recently I gave her a mug with its words printed in blues and purples: Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.  This granddaughter is wise beyond her years for one so young; she already knows how to be the persistent widow.  She understands the importance of doggedness, the need for perseverance, the sensibleness of diligence.   She – and her mother – believe that in the end, there is only God.  They believe, and try to act in the belief that, restoration and resurrection are God’s healing gift.  I thought of them a great deal on our pilgrimage yesterday.

I am convinced that fatigue is the devil’s companion and that our little demon doubts and anxieties weigh us down to exhaust us.  A cloud of anxiety descends and suddenly we find ourselves believing that there is nothing for us but sadness.  Our eyes become clouded and we act as if we are doomed to a life of sorrow when in reality we are creatures of joy.  Spiritual weariness will tell us that we are worth little and that we are alone.  It will take its toll and lead to inertia . . . and so we must keep moving forward in the journey, always seeking God, always asking for healing and rebirth.   We must ask for manna and feed ourselves, always thanking God.  We must “go away for a little while” as Jesus did, and find pilgrim companions who thirst as we thirst and who understand the importance of nourishing one another, always loving God.

I believe that in today’s parable the unjust judge recognizes God in the widow . . . and so he finds in her favor, hoping that no one will notice or remember what she has said.  I also believe that the persistent widow has nourished herself and bolstered her soul for the journey.  She has slacked her thirst and hunger with the manna of God’s goodness, she has rested awhile in the company of those who know and understand her plight.  In this way she has come to fully understand and to act in the belief . . .  that there is nothing but God.  She fully strengthens herself to once more go up against the enormous obstacle that blocks her path, not worrying about what others think of her, only knowing that . . . in the end, there is only God.


A re-post from August 20, 2011.

Images from: http://www.church-on-the-net.com/show-weekly.aspx?ID=105 and http://www.church-on-the-net.com/show-weekly.aspx?ID=105

Other links of interest about Elizabeth Seton: http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/educ/exhibits/womenshall/html/seton.html

http://www.setonshrine.com/ 

 http://www.srcharitycinti.org/about/who_is_elizabeth.htm

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John 15:1-5: Branches

Thursday, June 14, 2018

We have examined scripture to reflect on the ways in which the beauty, wisdom, truth, and love in our identity in Christ exemplify our relationship with God in the Spirit. Jesus tells us who he is, reflecting Yahweh’s promise of “I Am Who I Am”. Today we continue to reflect on who we are, and on how we respond to God’s call for merciful justice in all of creation.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples”. (THE MESSAGE)

Rather than giving in to our fear that we might fall away from the Vine of Christ, we consider the beauty of union with all of creation.

Rather than seeking revenge for the injustices we suffer, we reflect on the wisdom of grafting ourselves to the healing truth of the abiding Spirit.

Rather than lamenting the evil that stalks societies, we contemplate the truth of pruning away all that separates us from the courage and patience of God.

Today we have the opportunity to produce fruit on the great vine of life. Today we rejoice in the gift of Christ’s vineyard. Today we come together in the Spirit of beauty, wisdom, truth, and love.

We pray Psalm 80and we consider God’s gifts of healing, restoration, and transformation while we repeat verses 8-10 as the antiphon, 

You brought a grapevine out of Egypt;
    you drove out other nations and planted it in their land.
You cleared a place for it to grow;
    its roots went deep, and it spread out over the whole land.
It covered the hills with its shade;
    its branches overshadowed the giant cedars.

 


To find more Vine and Branches posts on this blog, use these links.

The Vine and Branches: https://thenoontimes.com/2018/05/19/john-15-the-vine-and-branches/

Sawing Off Branches: https://thenoontimes.com/2017/01/30/mark-322-30-sawing-off-branches/

Roots and Branches: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/02/07/roots-and-branches/

Grafting to the Vine: https://thenoontimes.com/2017/05/26/psalm-106-grafting-to-the-vine/

Enter the words, Vine or Branch into the blog search bar to explore other reflections.

When we compare other versions of these verses, we discover the beauty, wisdom, truth, and love of our relationship of Vine and Branches.

Image from: https://www.stpeterschurchchicago.org/cm/articles/vine-and-branches

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Tobit 5Rafael 

Jacopo Vignali: Tobias and the Arcangel Raphael

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Favorite from May 12, 2010.

I have always loved this story of synchronicity, healing and steadfastness and each time I read it I reflect upon – and marvel at – the number of times that the angel Rafael has been present in my life.  Sometimes I know he is present in the healing hands of physicians, ministers and friends.  Other times it is only until well after an event that I realize I have been visited by an angel.  God constantly sends us his guides; we may or may not be aware of their presence.

We are created to experience joy rather than sorrow, reunion rather than separation, salvation rather than abandonment.  We are meant to be free from bondage, free to enter into relationship with the force that created us, free to enter fully into our divinity.  In yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Fr. Maurice Zundel we read:  We are called into a heart-to-heart relationship with the Lord in which our whole being must enter . . . The only way to enter into the mystery of the universe is through the divine presence.  When we are hidden in the presence of God . . . we are at the heart of the true universe.

Fr. Maurice Zundel

Humans have a yearning to belong, an ache to be part of something significant, and I believe that this is what makes human love so alluring to us.  We want to be the center, the axis point, the object of someone’s love . . . and yet we already are.  Rafael walks with us and guides us more times than we even know; and he arrives as the healing messenger of God.  Let us give thanks and be glad.  Let us rejoice and praise God.  Let us keep a sharp look out for the Rafaels in our lives . . . and let us repeat our stories of God’s power to save, of God’s infinite and compassionate love, for we are creatures of joy and not woe.


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.11 (2010). Print.  

To learn more about Fr. Maurice Zundel, a Swiss theologian, visit: https://amishcatholic.com/2018/02/28/maurice-zundel-on-prayer/ 

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