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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

TAIZE II - TAIZE AND ORTHODOXY


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In Moscow in 2006: Taizé’s gratefulness for the Russian Orthodox Church During his visit to Moscow, Brother Alois handed over the following text to Patriarch Alexis II.

Following Brother Roger’s death, it seemed to me essential to come to Moscow with two of our brothers during the first year of my new ministry, to express our community’s desire to continue on its way in great closeness and in profound confidence with the Holy Russian Orthodox Church. Brother Roger opened up this way for us and I want us, his brothers, to walk in his footsteps.
It was in December 1962 that a closer relation between our community and the Patriarchate of Moscow was established through the visit of Metropolitan Nikodim. Brother Roger always felt a strong friendship for him. He was able to speak with him one last time, a few moments before his death, in the anteroom of Pope John Paul I.
Patriarch Alexis II has himself recalled his visit to Taizé when he was archbishop of Tallinn.
In 1977, Bishop Seraphim of Zurich encouraged Brother Roger to make a visit to the Russian Orthodox Church. At the invitation of the patriarchate, in 1978 Brother Roger went to Moscow accompanied by two brothers. He spent two days in Leningrad, where he met again Metropolitan Nikodim, as well as Mgr Kirill, who at that time was rector of the seminary.
In 1988, there was another journey to Moscow, with a brother, on the occasion of the one thousand anniversary of the baptism of Rus. Brother Roger also visited Iaroslav, Kiev, and he was invited to the local council of the Russian Church at Trinity Saint Sergius.
During that visit and on the eve of the profound changes that were to transform the country, Brother Roger understood still more the enormous needs of the Russian Orthodox Church in order to exercise its ministry. He grasped that it was essential to support it. In agreement with the patriarchate, Taizé had one million copies of the New Testament in Russian printed in France, in the synodal translation, and at the beginning of 1989 had them dispatched to Moscow, Kiev, Minsk and Leningrad so that the Orthodox parishes could distribute them. Three years later, in the same spirit, Taizé undertook the printing of extracts from the New Testament in Russian, Bulgarian and Romanian, and had them sent to the three patriarchates.
Following this shipment, Metropolitan Philarete of Minsk came to Taizé in the spring of 1989 to thank Brother Roger. Metropolitan Kirill, who succeeded him as president of the Department of External Affairs, came in 1990. He had already visited Taizé when he was a student at Bossey.
From 1990, young Russian Orthodox began taking part in the international meetings for young adults organized by our community, either at Taizé itself or once a year in one of the major cities of Europe. Young Russians Orthodox have been welcomed in Taizé ever since. We also welcome young Orthodox from Byelorussia, from Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia. Their presence provides many young adults from other countries with a living witness of Orthodoxy.
The Taizé Community has never wished to organize a youth movement around itself. On the contrary, it encourages the young when they return home to commit themselves in their own countries and cities and in their own parishes. The young Orthodox are often accompanied by a priest. It is important for us that this participation receive the blessing of the bishops. During the summer, the Orthodox liturgy is celebrated two or three times each week (at one point, the representative of the Patriarch of Moscow in Paris brought an antimension for the Orthodox Chapel in Taizé).
Every year, the message that Patriarch Alexis II sends for the European meeting is a much appreciated support.
In many parts of the world, Christians are confronted today with the challenge of transmitting the faith to the younger generations. For our part, we can attest that still today the monastic commitment, centred on the essential, can offer a witness to the Gospel being lived out that speaks clearly to the young. ***
We have come to Moscow to express our gratitude for the links that our community has been able to enlarge with the Russian Orthodox Church through the years. These links are rooted in the family history of Brother Roger, who spoke about them one day:
“A profound love of the Orthodox Church goes back to my childhood. During the First World War, Russians had to flee from their country. They were Orthodox. My mother received some of them and I listened to their conversations. Afterwards, she spoke to me about the trials they had come through. Later on, in my youth, we lived near a Russian Orthodox Church. We went to take part in the prayer, and I tried to discern the suffering on the faces of these Christians who had come from Russia.”
Little by little the Taizé Community discovered what Brother Roger called “one of the secrets of the Orthodox soul”. This secret is to be found above all in a prayer of adoration where the goodness of God becomes perceptible.
It is first of all through prayer, the celebration of the liturgy or the prayer of the heart, that the Orthodox find an access to the great mysteries of the faith, the incarnation of Christ, his resurrection, the continuous presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church.
And it is in these mysteries that Orthodoxy understands of the grandeur of the human being. God became man so that human beings might participate in his divinity; and the human being is called to be transfigured with Christ, already here on earth.
Brother Roger underlined the importance for our monastic vocation of celebrating the transfiguration of Christ, premise of our own transfiguration. In this respect, there is a whole meaning for us in being in Moscow for the Feast of the Ascension. For this feast shows that the humanity of Jesus has been forever divinised and is a promise of our own participation in the divine life.
In Taizé, we feel an infinite gratitude towards the Orthodox Church for having kept these realities of the faith so alive through the centuries, in a great fidelity to the Church Fathers. The Greek Fathers were discovered by the West thanks to the Orthodox and in Taizé the thought of the Greek fathers is most important in the formation of the new brothers of our community.
In this period when the frontiers between peoples and cultures are opening up more and more, we have to deepen the bonds of fraternal love. In order to create new links of confidence between East and West, the theological and above all the spiritual contribution of Orthodoxy is vital. Western Christians have such a need to be attentive to the treasures of faith and humanity deposited in Orthodoxy. As for us, therefore, we would like to transmit to the young people from many countries, whom we welcome in Taizé, that vision of God, of human beings, and of the Church that the Eastern tradition has inspired in us.
We already receive with gratitude the love of the liturgy, the sense and the content of tradition. But the most unique aspect, the most irreplaceable, is to be found in the experience of Christians who have transmitted from generation to generation their love of Christ, and in particular those who confessed their faith at the risk of their lives.
Brother Roger had infinite respect for what the Russian Orthodox Church has been through; and he wrote, “In their trials, Orthodox Christians have known how to love and forgive. Goodness of heart is for many of them a vital reality.”
Could it be this capacity for goodness and forgiveness that make it possible today for societies that are a prey to profound tensions not to break apart?
In his last book, published a few weeks before his death, Brother Roger expressed words that remain very present for us as brothers:
“In Taizé, we love the Orthodox Church with all our heart and with all our soul. In the places where they pray, the beauty of the chants, the incense, the icons - windows open on the realities of God - the symbols and the gestures of the liturgy celebrated in the communion of Christians over the centuries, all of this invites us to discern the “joy of heaven on the earth”. Our being is touched in its entirety, not only in the intelligence, but in the sensitivity, and even in the body itself.
How can we express enough our gratitude to the Orthodox, in particular those of Russia, Byelorussia, Ukraine, for what they have been during the trials endured during seventy years, and for what they are today?”

Brother Alois of Taizé 
Moscow, Ascension 2006



Earlier today, I was listening to a wonderful CD produced by the ecumenical monastery at Taizé, France, Alleluia. This thoroughly beautiful album of liturgical music in the Western tradition infuses Gregorianesque chant with very light intrumentation. Instruments like oboes, piccoloes, trumpets and horns, play spritely, modal melodies that blend with the simplified chant to recreate the sound of Renaissance sacred chamber music.

To hear some of my coreligionists yell about the unmitigated evils of ecumenism, you might think that we are all insular, provincial fundamentalists. But the heart of Orthodoxy is theosis — deification, a union of the person with the person of Christ, so that my human nature is interpenetrated with the divine energies just as Christ’s human nature was. I become filled with Christ, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Although some are ready to restrict the Holy Spirit to only working through the sacraments of the Church, the mainline of Orthodox doctrine has recognized that the Holy Spirit — like the wind (gr. pneuma) — blows where he wills, as our Lord said in his discourse with St. Nicodemus. This is sometimes expressed, as Bp. Kallistos once said (writing as Timothy Ware in The Orthodox Church), “We know where the Church is; we can never be sure where it is not.”

Looking at the history and principles of Taizé, I noted the utter simplicity of its rule. I recalled the positive experience Bp. Seraphim (Sigrist) had with Br. Roger and the Taizé Community. Truth cannot be divided. It is one. And Truth is one, just as the Church is one, because Christ is one!

In perhaps the most memorable and important of the great “I AMs” of St. John’s gospel, our Lord announces to his friends, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

I am the truth! Wherever we come upon the Truth, we have hit upon the rock of Christ himself. All that is true is orthodox; all that is false is anathema.

Classically, Truth, Beauty and Goodness have been considered a triumvirate called the “Transcendentals.” They are all related to one another in some way. That relation is Christ — Christ is Truth, Christ is Goodness, Christ is Beauty. They are all simply various facets of his revelation to us. This is why ethics have no meaning for us outside of our sacramental union as Christians with Christ. That is why Orthodoxy places such emphasis on beauty — why the icons are in wood and paint what the Gospels are in word (cf. Seventh Ecumenical Council).

I have been reading, and I’m almost finished, The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1973-1983. Fr. Alexander repeats often how tired he became of Orthodox provincialism — the tendency to eschew everything that doesn’t have an Orthodox-capital-O label, or to accept without question everything that refers back to old Russia, or Byzantium. He praised simplicity and joy without qualification. He denounced complication and sophistication, and he always returned to the Church as the Sacrament of Christ’s Body in the world.

Orthodoxy always brings us back to this union with Christ. Even when the image of Christ becomes mottled with Byzantine acretions, it is only insofar as we become united to Christ that we have anything to offer the world. It is only insofar as we become filled with him — as the chalice is filled with his body and blood — that we are able to bear witness of him to the lonely, hurting, world that continually alienates herself from her Lord, God, creator, and lover — the “only lover of mankind” (gr. philanthropos).

Conversely, everywhere we meet Christ in all of his many disguises, we owe him our humble worship and acknowledgement as our Lord and God and savior. “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” It is only in blessing the Lord Jesus in those we meet that they can see in the Church the fullness of him whom they have already grasped ahold of as best as they can.




 Orthodox Patriarch Greets Taizé MeetingWednesday, 19 December 2007 15:20 Tells Youth There Is No Justice Outside of Christ ISTANBUL, Turkey, DEC. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).-

 Like Benedict XVI, the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople is sending his best wishes to an ecumenical youth meeting in Geneva, organized by the Taizé Community. The encounter will gather some 40,000 youth in Switzerland from Dec. 28 to Jan. 1. In his note, Patriarch Bartholomew I recognized, "The place of young people who desire to live the Gospel in contemporary society is not easy. We live at a time when a relativism of values is dominant. Frequently young people are faced with lies, with contempt for human dignity, with injustice and social inequalities, with the harshness of exploitation, with the violence by which one group of people dominates another, one nation dominates another." "For us, there is no other road than that of following Christ," he continued. "He is the only one who provides an answer to the problems tormenting the world. [...] There is no life, truth and justice outside of Christ. If we remain in Christ and he remains in us, then truth and justice will remain in us, and the love of God will make us his children so that, just as children are free before their father, we too may be free before God. He respects human freedom infinitely and, in his abundant mercy, has given it to human beings as one of his most precious gifts." The program includes moments of prayer, silence, song and testimonies from the ecumenical community of Taizé, founded in 1940 in France by Roger Schutz, also known as Brother Roger.
TAIZE MUSIC (CLICK)


RUSSIA: PILGRIMAGE TO MOSCOW
Message from Metropolitan Hilarion

To his reverence, Brother Alois, 
Prior of Taizé 
and to the young people on pilgrimage in Moscow, 
20-25 april 2011
Dear Brother Alois! 
Dear brothers and sisters!


With all my heart, I welcome each one of you who has come on this pilgrimage to the Russian Orthodox Church during these blessed days of Holy Week and Easter.


Christians from all over the world this year celebrate the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord in one and the same time. The prayer of the Orthodox services in the churches of Moscow will help you experience in its depths Eastern theology and the poetry of its liturgy, which contemplate the Mystery of Salvation of humanity by our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Divine Liturgy of Holy Thursday, the Church remembers the institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the washing of the disciples’ feet by the Lord as a sign that “The Son of Man has come to serve and give his life for the salvation of many” (Mt 20:28). Participating in the Holy Friday services and listening to the reading of the twelve Gospels of the Passion, you will become witnesses to the unjust condemnation to death of Our Lord, His Crucifixion and His burial. Holy Saturday will prepare you celebrate the Feast of feasts – the Resurrection from the dead of the Saviour of the world, when the blessed words of the joyous proclamation ring out during the Paschal Night; “Christ is risen!”


I hope that your pilgrimage will help you learn more about the Russian Orthodox Church, her history, spiritual heritage and life today. Having suffered persecution and the cross of martyrdom during the years of communism, the Russian Church, by the Grace of God, recovering today her ministry of salvation, can carry the proclamation of the Risen Christ into every sphere of the life of society. I invite also you, young people from different countries of Europe, to carry the light of this transfigured life, with which you will be in communion during these holy days in Moscow, to your homes, cities and countries. As long as the transfiguration of the visible world has not yet reached its accomplishment, an the darkness of centuries still obscure the face of God’s Creation, you, young Christians, as “Children of the Light” (Lk 16:8), are called to bear witness to the light of the Risen Christ, incarnating the ideals of the Gospel in your lives and actively committing yourselves in society.


I wish for you every spiritual benefit during these days of your pilgrimage, the fullness of the Paschal joy and invoke God’s blessing upon you all.


Hilarion, 
President of the Department of External Church Relations 
of the Moscow Patriarchate, 
Metropolitian of Volokalams


Words of thanks of Brother Alois to Metropolitan Hilarion
Moscow, Saturday 23 April 2011
Dear Metropolitan Hilarion,


it’s with joy and emotion that we are making this visit to the Holy Russian Orthodox Church. I would like to express my gratitude for your invitation. Through our pilgrimage to Moscow, we would like to humbly express our veneration for the enduring faithfulness of the Christians of Russia.

We brothers of Taizé, following in the steps of our founder, Brother Roger, have discovered that one of the secrets of the Russian soul is in a prayer of adoration where the goodness of God becomes tangible. We came to associate ourselves to that prayer these days.

Through prayer, the celebration of the liturgy or the prayer of the heart, Orthodox Christians find a path towards the great mysteries of our faith: the Incarnation of Christ, his Resurrection, the continual presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church. It is from these mysteries that the Orthodox draw the sense of the greatness of human beings: God became human, so that human beings can participate in his divinity. Human beings are called to be transfigured with Christ already in earth. Orthodox Christians have always placed the emphasis on the Resurrection of Christ which already transfigures the world.

But the most unique and irreplaceable witness of the Russian Church lies in the experience of Christians who have passed on from generation to generation their love of Christ, in particular those who put their lives in peril through confessing their faith. The memory of these martyrs remains alive in Russia. Yesterday, we paid tribute to them in Butovo.

Western Christians need so much to be attentive to the treasures set within Orthodoxy. For our part, we would like to pass on to the young adults from so many countries that we welcome in Taizé, the vision of God, of the human being and of the Church which the Eastern tradition has inspired within us.

Dear Metropolitan Hilarion, we have also come to Moscow to express our thankfulness for the links that our community has been able to forge with the Russian Orthodox Church. These links find their roots in the family history of Brother Roger. He spoke about this in the following terms;

“A deep love for the Orthodox Church goes back to my childhood. During the First World War, some Russians had to leave their country. They were Orthodox. My mother received some of them and I overheard their talks. Then she spoke to me of the trials they had been through. Later on in my youth, we lived near to a Russian Orthodox church. We used to go there and take part in the prayer, listen to the beauty of the singing and I tried to discern the suffering on the faces of these Christians who came from Russia.”

It was in December 1962 that a closer relationship between our community and the Moscow Patriarchate was established, through the visit of Metropolitan Nikodim.

Later on, Patriarch Alexis II, as he reminded me himself, visited Taizé whilst he was still Archbishop of Tallinn.

Invited by the Patriarchate, Brother Roger came in 1978 with two brothers to Moscow. He also spent two days in Leningrad where he met with Metropolitan Nikodim and also with Bishop Kirill, who was rector of the seminary at that time.

Brother Roger made another visit to Moscow in 1988 for the celebration of the thousand years since the baptism of the Rus’. Brother Roger also visited Yaroslavl’ and Kiev. He was invited to the Local Council of the Russian Church at the Trinity Lavra of St Sergius. During this visit, Brother Roger realised the enormous needs of the Russian Church for it to exercise its ministry. With the agreement of the Patriarchate, Taizé printed in France one million New Testaments in Russian in the Synodal translation. They were sent to Moscow, Kiev, Minsk and Leningrad in the beginning of 1989.

Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk came to Taizé to meet Brother Roger in spring 1989. Metropolitan Kirill, who succeeded him as President of the Department of External Church Relations, came in 1990. He had already visited Taizé as a student in Bossey.

From 1990 onwards, young Russian Orthodox began to take part in the international meetings for young adults organised by our community either in Taizé or once a year in a large European city.

Today, when there are Orthodox groups in Taizé, the liturgy is celebrated two or three times a week. The bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate in Paris brought us the antimension for the Orthodox Chapel in Taizé.

As my ministry as Prior began, I wanted so much to visit Patriarch Alexis II in 2006. I returned to take part in his funeral in 2008 and came back once again for the enthronement of Patriarch Kirill I in 2009.

And I wanted to add that the message sent by the Patriarch of Moscow each year for our European meeting of young adults is a much appreciated support.

On the fifth anniversary of the death of Brother Roger, Patriarch Kirill told us in his message, “Combining fidelity to the teaching of the Holy Fathers with creative adaptation to the needs of today, in a missionary ministry among youth, characterized the path of Brother Roger and that of the community founded by him.” By these words, the Patriarch showed us a path that we would like continue to follow.

Dear Metropolitan Hilarion, heartfelt thanks for receiving us, May God bless the Holy Orthodox Church in Russia.




From the Taize website:

More than 9000 young adults from throughout Europe and some from other continents are together in Taizé for the Easter celebrations (5000 at Easter, 4000 the following week). With a few brothers, Brother Alois, the prior of Taizé, left the hill to celebrate Easter in Russia. With 240 young adults from 26 countries, they made a pilgrimage to Moscow to take part in the celebrations of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

The young pilgrims were welcomed in six Orthodox parishes in Moscow. Beginning on Holy Thursday, they took part in the liturgical celebrations. On Good Friday, they traveled to Butovo, in the south of Moscow, where 20,000 people were shot during the Great Terror of Stalin in 1935-36. Many bishops, priests, religious and lay people died there. On Saturday, they took part in the Easter night celebration in each of the six parishes.The pilgrimage ended on Sunday with the solemn Easter vespers, led by Patriarch Kirill I in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
— 
Links between Taizé and Russia go back over many years. Already in the 1960s, Russian Orthodox Church leaders were able to visit the community. During the 1970s and 80s, Brother Roger and other brothers were invited to visit Russia. In 1988, the community sent a million Russian New Testaments to Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev and Minsk. When, at the start of the 1990s, the borders opened, Russians came in large numbers to take part in the youth meetings in Taizé as well as the European meetings at the end of each year. In June 2006, Brother Alois visited Patriarch Alexis II and attended his funeral in December 2008 as well as the enthronement of Patriarch Kirill I in January 2009. For years now, the Patriarch of Moscow has been sending greetings to the participants in the yearly European meetings.



Majella Moloney from Limerick shares her thoughts on her pilgrimage to Russia:

Spring was creeping through the air as I arrived in Moscow. I was greeted by the cheerful sight of freshly painted railings in green and yellow, replacing the ice that had recently fallen to the ground. I was committed to following the traditional Easter ceremonies in the Russian Orthodox Church from Good Friday through to Easter Sunday, along with two hundred other young pilgrims from all over Europe who had come to discover more about this ancient faith and the country of its birth. 

On Holy Thursday morning we participated in a three hour service in our host parish to commemorate the Last Supper. The washing of the feet only takes place in the evening service in the Orthodox cathedral and is carried out by the Russian Patriarch. Instead, in the evening service in our host parish of the Metropolitan Hilarian, the twelve gospels associated with the passion were read. The incense whirled around the church and I watched the women and children dressed in their long skirts and bright headscarves come forward to light candles and whisper a prayer in front of their favourite icon. As I stood, I found myself being drawn into the rhythm of the service, bowing and crossing myself in response to each prayer of invocation and responding along with the choir to the beautiful chant ‘SviatyBozhe- Holy God, have mercy on us’. 

On Good Friday we journeyed as a group to Butovo shooting range on the outskirts of Moscow. It was here that over 20,000 Muscovites died during Stalin’s reign of terror,and here lie the innocent and theguilty, all judged to have been enemies of the Soviet regime. A simple explanation was offered by our guide that ‘inhumanity exists when people don’t believe in God’. It is appropriate that on this place which is referred to as the Russian Golgotha; the suffering of the Russian people have been transformed by their experience of the cross and from this place of witness rise signs of the resurrection of belief in Russia. It is a sign of deep hope for all of us all. Have a look at this short video about the visit of the Taize pilgrims.

On Holy Saturday I attended the First Resurrection service commemorating Christ’s descent into Hell. In the afternoon I participated in a pilgrimage to four historic churches in the centre of Moscow. It is the Orthodox tradition to visit special churches and to venerate the Shroud of Christ which is laid out since the burial service of the Shroud on Good Friday. We had attended this service and Evening Vespers in the Church of the New Martyrs in Butovo. At each church, people had gathered to have their Easter eggs and cake blessed by the priest, who walked up and down the outdoor tables dispensing blessings with his palm branch dipped in Holy Water! Some of these eggs were duck eggs and some were brightly coloured painted-eggs to break the Great Lenten Fast, but there were no chocolate eggs in sight!!!!! (Luckily my German friends had brought enough chocolate for a traditional Easter hunt on Easter Sunday!)

The Easter Vigil was scheduled to begin at 23:00 and last into the morning. However, we departed after two hours, as we were invited to Easter dinner with the parents of my hosts. The traditional Easter greeting is KhristosVoskrese! Christ is Risen! And to kiss on the cheeks three times. It was possible to watch the rest of the Easter vigil with the Patriarch live on the television and this gave us a view into the Sanctuary which had been closed to us until now. This cathedral was rebuilt 10 years ago after the original building was blown up by the Ruling Party and a swimming pool built in its place.I discovered that my host and his family had visited Ireland, and his interest in an ecumenical pilgrimage came about through his involvement in the FocolareCatholic movement!

On Easter Sunday we attended mass in the Church of Saint Louis des Francais de Moscou where we were greeted with the now familiar – Christ is Risen! The readings and sermon were in Russian and the rest of the Mass was in Latin which was easy to follow. In the afternoon we visited the city centre, Red Square, Moscow State University and a newly restored lodge of the former Tzar. 

The meeting closed following vespers with the Patriarch and an address by Br. Alois, the Prior of the Taize community to the young people who had gathered together. He spoke about his recent meeting with Pope Benedict and his surprise and delight at this initiative. He emphasised the historic nature of this pilgrimage – young Christians of different denominations gathering together with the young people of the Orthodox parishes to celebrate Easter on a rare occasion when it falls on the same date in the East and the West.

His last words were to invite us to share what we had found out with other young people and to listen for echoes from this pilgrimage, as he was sure there would be many!

From the Taize website:
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