6th Sunday of Easter May 22, 2022
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Ps 67; Rev 21: 10-14, 22-23; Jn 14:23-29

Today is the sixth Sunday of Easter. 
The Easter season will last until Pentecost Sunday
The church celebrates Christ’s victory over death
The Easter season is longer than the Lenten season
We must celebrate longer than we fast.

This is a season of celebrations
We celebrate First Communion
We celebrate Confirmation
We celebrate graduation
Families come together and celebrate
It is a joyful time of year

May the Lord bless us all during this time of celebration

“The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.” (Revelation)

Jerusalem, the city of peace

How we long for it
Only in God will we find peace

Today, we hear Jesus tell his disciples
The Holy Spirit would come
He would come and be with us 
He would teach us

One time I went on a retreat
During the retreat there was a special time
The retreat leader said that at this time something special could happen

I was trying to be open to the Lord
But I was also a little skeptical

So, I went over by myself and sat down
I leaned back and crossed my legs
And folded my arms
And closed my eyes

And I said to myself
“Ok God, what are you going to do?”

And in the silence something started to pour over me
It was like an invisible waterfall
And a peace came over me
That I can’t explain

That peace has never left me
It is with me during the day
It is there at night

The peace fills my heart during times of joy
And it keeps me from falling during times of sadness

That peace is by my side during death
And comforts me when I am sad

That peace is with me when I try to speak Spanish
Even though it is hard for me

The peace of Christ is with me when I am alone
And it is with me when I am in a crowd

It helps me during the homily

A gift of the Holy Spirit

It can only be found in God

Come Holy Spirit
Descend upon us

Give us your peace
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Speak Lord

4th Sunday of Easter May 8, 2022
1st Communion, Mother’s Day
Acts 13: 14, 42-52; Ps 100; Rev 7:9, 14b-17; Jn 10:27-30

“My sheep hear my voice, and they will follow me.” 
Every Sunday we hear the voice of Jesus
And He is constantly calling us to come closer to Him.

Children can naturally tune into the voices of their parents
They can distinguish the voice of their father and mother from others
Like sheep who hear the voice of the shepherd.

I get comments about my voice and my laugh often
But if you want to get my children's attention  
Their mother just needs to whistle
I have seen her whistle at the kids in a gym full of people
Their heads turn, and they immediately begin to look for her

Mothers are a blessing.
The love Jesus had for his mother can be seen at the Wedding Feast at Cana
When he listened to his mother
We also see his love for her on the cross
When he entrusted her to the care of the beloved disciple 

Today is a day full of blessings
It’s Mother’s Day and it’s also the day we celebrate First Holy Communion 
What a special day.
Our families are here to celebrate both of these special moments in our lives
Our families are here to celebrate our faith

Fr. Anthony said this in a homily last Wednesday and it stuck with me.
Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and cousins…
“The most important thing you can do is share your faith with your family.” (Fr. Anthony weekday homily)

“The most important thing you can do is share your faith with your family.” (Fr. Anthony weekday homily)

Your children will hear your voice…

Now for you who are about to receive First Holy Communion
I want to tell you a story

There once was a young boy named Samuel
His family had dedicated him to God and he lived with the priest
He lived with the priest in the temple… kind of like a church
He slept in the place where the arc of God was kept… 
One night the Lord called Samuel
Samuel thought it was the priest calling and went to him and said “Here I am”

The priest was asleep
He told Samuel that he didn’t call him and to go back to sleep

Samuel went back to sleep
And again the Lord called him
Samuel went back to the priest and said “Here I am”
The priest said that he didn’t call Samuel and to go back to sleep

Samuel went back to sleep
And the Lord called him a third time
Samuel got up again and went to the priest and said
“Here I am. You called me.”

The priest finally figured out that the Lord was calling Samuel
So, he told Samuel to go to sleep, and if he was called again to reply.

“Speak Lord for your servant is listening”

Samuel went back to sleep
And the Lord called out as before
“Samuel, Samuel!
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening”
And the Lord spoke to Samuel…

Jesus the Good Shepherd is constantly calling us to himself
We are his sheep
And his sheep can hear his voice…

In the quiet of the night
In the peace of Communion
In the depth of our heart
He is calling our name

Don’t be afraid to listen
Don’t be afraid to answer

“Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” 
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Holy Thursday- Dreams

Holy Thursday April 14, 2022

Tonight, we remember the celebration of the first Eucharist
Tonight, we celebrate the institution of the priesthood
We witness Jesus wash the feet of the apostles
The first priests…

What are your dreams? 
What is your vision for this church? 

Pope Francis and Bishop Zurek asked us all to dream about the church in our synod meetings
I went to many of these meetings 
I heard many of the same joys and concerns at every meeting
Concern for the youth
The struggles of different cultures and languages
The beauty of the liturgy
The thankfulness for a church, a place to worship

What are your dreams? 
I heard a young lady answer this question
And I thought it was the best answer I had heard

What was her dream?
Full churches

Full churches
Wouldn’t that be beautiful?

But, how do we get full churches? 

I want to tell you my dream…

My dream is for more local vocations
My dream is for more local priests in our churches
More deacons 
More religious vocations like nuns and brothers
And more marriages

I am thankful for external priests like Fr. Anthony
But it is hard for the external priest to understand us
And it is hard for us to understand the external priests

My dream is that all parishes provide and produce seminarians for the priesthood
Men for deacon formation
And men and women for religious communities like the Sisters at Prayer Town
My dream is that we have more marriages in our churches

I am convinced that if we had our own local priests
Priests from places like Gruver and Spearman
Priests from every parish in the Diocese of Amarillo
Our churches would be full

Dream a little more with me…
What if? 
What if every parish in the Diocese of Amarillo committed to providing a seminarian every ten years?
What if every parish like Cristo Redentor and Sacred Heart had a married couple in deacon formation every ten years? 
What if every church had a young man and woman discerning the religious life every ten years?  

What if there were more marriages?
I believe our churches would thrive
I believe our churches would become full

It would be hard…
After all committing to more local vocations would be going against the American dream
We would be encouraging our children to pursue work in the church
Rather than pursue work in the world

We would be encouraging the pursuit of treasure in heaven
Rather than the pursuit of a good job, a fine home, and a nice car
Our priorities would have to change
The American dream would no longer be our goal
After all the American dream is not the Catholic Christian dream

We would be encouraging the pursuit of Christ…
We would talk about vocations with our families as we sat around the table
We would encourage our young men to be priests 
Discerning the priesthood or religious life would be talked about more than what college we should attend 

We wouldn’t postpone or delay a marriage, until we could afford a big wedding party
We wouldn’t worry about the cost of children
Marriage would come before living together

My dream is that all the parishes in the Amarillo diocese produce seminarians
And that our diocese be full of home grown priests
Priests that speak our languages
Priests that know our culture
Priests that know how to ride a horse
Priests that have driven a tractor
Priests that have played football and basketball
Priests that love to eat good Mexican food as well as chicken fried steak

My dream is that our priests are one of us
They “get” us
Because they are us

When we follow our vocation, we are following God’s calling for our lives
When we follow our vocation, we serve our fellow man
Priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters, husbands and wives are all servants of God
They all serve the church

Tonight, Jesus gives us a model of servanthood
Jesus, the leader, washes the feet of the disciples
He serves them

Tonight, when we go to adoration
When we go and sit with Jesus
Listen to your heart

Is Jesus calling you to serve
Is Jesus calling you to serve the church 
Is he calling you to the priesthood, the diaconate, or the religious life
Is Jesus calling you to marriage?

Tonight we eat with him
We sit with him
We pray with him

For tomorrow… we face the cross… 
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A New Creation

4th Sunday of Lent March 27, 2022

Joshua 5:9a, 10-12; Ps 34; 2nd Cor 5:17-21; Lk 15: 1-3, 11-32

He was in a hurry as he drove home from work
He had to go to a class at the church
He was a little angry with the priest 

Why did he have to go to this class? 
His son was the one receiving first communion, not him
But the priest was insistent that all parents must go to the class

The class was full of parents just like him
There was a prayer
And then the teacher asked everyone to share their experience
When they received the Eucharist

All of a sudden he began to panic
He hadn’t received the Eucharist in over two years
He didn’t know what to say
He prayed so hard for something to say

Luckily, one person in the room talked for a long time
And he didn’t have to say anything…

But, he decided he would go to Confession, so he could receive Communion and have an experience to share
He went to Confession
He talked to the priest
And it changed his life…

When he exited the confessional 
He was a new creation
He had been reconciled to God

Today, we hear the famous parable of the Prodigal Son 
We hear of a father and his two sons

The youngest son leaves his father
He goes and lives a life of sin
He spends all of his inheritance
And he ends up poor and hungry

And he remembers how good he had it back home
He feels repentant
And goes back home to confess to his father

The father is an awesome person
He loves his son
He prays for his son
He waiting for his son to come back to him

And when the son does come back…
He is welcomed
Welcomed with a great party
He has been reconciled to his father

The older son, on the other hand, is jealous
He is jealous that his younger brother is getting so much attention

But what does the father say to the older son?
“Everything I have is yours…”
The father loves both sons
He invites both sons to the party

Our Father in Heaven
Is inviting us all to the banquet
The banquet of the Eucharist

When we are like the younger son
And have turned away from God
He invites us to come back to Him
To be reconciled with Him

When we are like the older son
When we are jealous and are only following God to be rewarded
He invites us to come back to Him
To be reconciled with Him

During this time of Lent
We have time to reflect… to think
To think about our lives

We have time to go to Confession
To come back to God
To be reconciled with Him
To become a new creation
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Led by the Spirit

1st Sunday of Lent March 6, 2022

Deut 26:4-10; Ps 91; Rom 10:8-13; Lk 4:1-13

“After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven. ‘You are my beloved Son’ with you I am well pleased.’” (Lk)

“Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert…” (Lk)

“Led by the Spirit…”

Lent began a few days ago on Ash Wednesday
The 6:30 am mass in Gruver was almost full
The evening English mass here was very full
The evening Spanish mass here was overflowing

I saw pictures on the internet of churches that had people standing outside 
I am in awe of the leading of the Spirit on Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent

I remember my first Ash Wednesday service
It was years before I became Catholic

Teague came to me one day and said she would like to go to Ash Wednesday
I was like, “Ok, let’s go.”
I remember taking in the service
The readings
The music
And I remember watching people go forward and receive ashes

In a way it was shocking
Seeing people walk back to their seat marked with the Cross of Christ on their forehead
It gave me a lot to think about…

I remember Teague wanting to go again the next year
This time, I wanted to go forward and receive ashes, the mark
I thought it was cool that anyone could receive ashes
You didn’t have to be Catholic

I remember walking forward and being a little nervous
I remember the priest marking my forehead
And saying “Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
And I said, “Amen.”
It gave me a lot to think about…

Ash Wednesday…
The churches are full
The young, the old, the poor, the rich, the farmer, the businessman
The famous and the ordinary
Come forward to receive the ashes
Come forward and face mortality

“God has planted in every human heart the hunger and longing for the infinite, for nothing less than God. St. Augustine… said it best, ‘Our heart is restless until it rests in you.” (U.S. Catechism for Adults, 3)

God is constantly drawing us to Himself
And it seems Ash Wednesday is one of those days
When many of us follow the leading of the Spirit 
And seek God
Try and come closer to Him

We all long for happiness
And that happiness can only be found in God

Lent is a beautiful time God has given us
Time to see His beauty in creation
Time to see His beauty in other people
Time to see His beauty in prayer, fasting and almsgiving
We see Him in the power of Scripture

Man has a need for communion with God
He has given us the gift of faith
But will our faith grow? 

“Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert…” (Lk)

Jesus was confronted by the tempter, by Satan, the devil
And we too will be tempted
Jesus went to the desert
We too are in the desert

“By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert” (CCC 540)

“Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

We have a lot to think about…
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Holy, Holy, Holy

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time February 6, 2022

Is 6:1-2a, 3-8; Ps 138; 1 Cor 15:1-11; Lk 5:1-11

You can find it on page 138 of the misslet 
The Preface Acclamation (Sanctus)

“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.” (The Preface Acclamation)

I had went to mass with Teague and her family ever since we started dating
To tell you the truth…
I was a little overwhelmed by it all
I tried to take as much in as I could
But I was distracted

(Should I kneel when everyone else was kneeling? 
There’s someone not kneeling
They must not be Catholic either…)

The first 17 years or our marriage we went to another church “my church”
But in the fall of 2000, we began attending the mass here in Sacred Heart
As I started to come to mass weekly
It was like the Bible opening up before my eyes
The Order of the Mass was full of scripture

At the beginning of mass, we would sing the Gloria
And I am reminded of the Heavenly host of angels singing the night of Jesus’ birth
Scripture is read
We stand for the Gospel
Just like the people of Israel stood to hear the Word of the Lord 
In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah 
And Psalms are sung
There is preaching
Explanation of the Word
Like the Prophets, Apostles and Deacons of Scripture

And then there is the Liturgy of the Euchrarist 
Basically, the Eucharistic prayers come word for word
From the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper
Where Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

So, here I was barely forty years old sitting in the pews of the Sacred Heart of Jesus 
Hearing this Scripture 
This same Scripture I had heard and read all of my life
Coming alive right before my eyes

“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts!” (Is 6)
I can imagine Isaiah standing before the throne of God
As he watches the Seraphim (the angels)
Worship the Lord God Almighty
Isaiah thought he was doomed 
In the presence of the holiness of God

After the “Holy, Holy, Holy”
The church kneels in the presence of the Lord
For we are not worthy
I am not worthy

Just as Peter did in today’s Gospel
When he witnessed this huge catch of fish
“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’ (Lk 5)

Isaiah and Peter have just had encounters with God
And all they can do is see their own sinfulness
And how they are unworthy

In the pews of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
I was having my own encounter with the Lord
In this Body of Christ
The Liturgy, the prayers, the songs and the Psalms
The candles, the water, the incense, the bells, the vestments
The alter, the crucifix, the tabernacle, the Eucharist
Had all come out of the Scripture…
That I had been taught all my life

When we began coming to Sacred Heart
I didn’t have any conscious intention of joining the Church
But after the Ash Wednesday mass, I felt a calling, a still small voice
From deep within my heart

I felt like I was being called to the Catholic Church
I felt it so strongly that if I didn’t follow the call
It would be like I was denying God
That frightened me…

I told Teague about it the next day
She was surprised
I went and talked to the priest
And offered myself to the Church
“Here I am, do with me what you want.” 

Every Sunday, we are here in this holy place
Every mass, we are hearing, seeing, smelling, and feeling
Scripture with all of our senses

Jesus is alive!
He is here with us!

Have you heard him? 
Have you seen him? 
Have you touched hIm?

We can all have encounters with Jesus
All we have to do is listen… watch… pay attention

We all are being called by Jesus
Called to be a part of His Body

Let Scripture be our answer…

“They left everything and followed him” (Lk 5)

“Here I am… send me” (Is 6)

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A Moment of Grace

At the graveside, Keith, her son, read the obituary, and said a few words. It was beautiful. Her granddaughter, Katie reads 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 the love chapter. She sat down, and I was about to take it from there.

Suddenly, John Michael stood up and begins to read. John Michael is the youngest grandson, and he has Downs Syndrome. Everyone loves John Michael (and what a powerful name). John Michael’s mom tells him to sit down, and he obeys, but he continues to read out of the memorial program.

I almost interrupt him, and then I realize he is reading the poem on the inside cover, “To Those I love”. I close my book and listen and watch. His older sister, Amy is sitting beside him reading over his shoulder, and she helps him when he needs it. It takes a while.

Time passes…

And then he is finished. John Michael has read a poem to his grandmother, and we were all blessed.

Beyond belief…

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The “Reika Gay”

I heard a saying the other day…
It went something like this…
“When blessings are shared, the joy is multiplied. When mourning is shared, grief is divided.”

The “Reika Gay”
That was the name of the Gibsons boat
I remember when I heard that their boat was named after Reika
I thought “That’s so cool”
It seemed to me to be a great honor to name the boat after the mother

Reika was a woman of grace
A woman of style
I loved to hear her laugh

Reika loved this reading from Corinthians on love
She loved her family
She loved her boys

The Gibson brothers…
What a handful
I suspect Reika became and expert in patience with those boys

One day John came home from a long hard day of work
He looked in the backyard
The boys and their friends were digging holes
Keith will tell you that they were playing army
They dug a hole on one end of the yard
And another hole on the other end
And they were digging a tunnel to connect the two

Of course, John was upset because the boys were digging up his good grass he had been working on all summer
John asked Reika, “Why did you let them dig up my yard?”
And Reika replied, “They need something to keep them busy.”
Reika was willing to sacrifice a little grass for her boys

Once, Johnny and Reika got stopped by a cop
The inspection sticker was out
And the cop was writing Johnny a ticket for it
Reika leaned over and asked the policeman
If there is any way he could write that ticket for Johnny's dad instead of Johnny

She loved her family
And they loved her

The Gibson boys loved her
In fact, I would say they “doted” on Reika

I got a front row seat in the art of love
Watching the Gibson family love Reika
Rusty counted up at least 14 times that they moved her
That’s love…

I got to see the love at the Gibson family gatherings next door
The love they shared with each other

And I watched… when it wasn’t always easy
When Reika was in the manor
When she was in hospice
And her sons were visiting her practically every day

I would see Keith as he left the house to go see her or watch him drive in as he was coming back
I would see Johnny or Rusty’s pickup in the drive
And I would know
They were here to see their mom

Towards the end
When she couldn’t see and couldn’t talk much
They read her scripture
And played songs
“Alexa play ‘How Great Thou Art”

I can only imagine what a blessing that was for Reika to hear her sons read to her
What a blessing it was for Johnny, Keith, and Rusty to read to their mother
And what a blessing it is for us all to hear about later

Love comes from God
For God is love

And Jesus loves Reika
And he loves you too…

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2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time January 16, 2022
Is 62:1-5; Ps 96; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Jn 2:1-11

“On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign-- at his mother’s request-- during a wedding feast.

The Church attaches great importance to Jesus' presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence.” (CCC 1613)

I remember my wedding day
When I woke up I was a little nervous
But those nerves went away when I was standing at the altar
Watching Teague walk down the aisle
She was smiling
She was beautiful

I remember when we kissed
It was like she gave herself to me
I was so happy
I was so happy… I could not keep from smiling

Our honeymoon was fun
We went to New Mexico
And even took a side trip to El Paso and Ciudad Juárez

We came to Gruver to make our home
Teague worked at the bank
And I worked on the farm

When we began having children
We took them to church
My faith began to grow

“The Sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church.
It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church…” (CCC 1661)

Satan does not like marriage 
Marriage is part of God’s plan
And brings the husband and wife closer to God

Satan attacked our marriage

I committed a grave sin
This sin was tearing my family apart
I became convicted of my sin

I confessed my sin
I prayed… I begged for Jesus to save my family

He did…

It didn’t happen quickly
But Jesus began to heal our marriage
In fact, our marriage became stronger than it ever was

It is important for marriages to include God
The more a husband and wife love God
The more they can love one another

The closer a husband and wife come to God
The closer they can come to one another

The love a husband and wife have for one another
Spills over into the children
The children feel this love
They feel the love of their parents
And the love of God

The couple at Cana invited Jesus and his Mother to their wedding
When we invite Jesus into our marriages…
When we invite Jesus into our lives…

We invite hope
We invite peace
We invite joy 

When we invite Jesus into our lives
We invite love…

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The Baptism of the Lord Jesus January 9, 2022
Is 42:1-4, 6-7; Ps 29: Act 10:34-38; Lk 3:15-16, 21-22

It’s dry
We need a rain…

I think I’ve been saying that all of my life
Isn’t it amazing
It can clean
You can cook with it
It’s good to drink

The water from rain
Soaks the ground
Nourishes our crops
And brings the flowers to bloom

Rain on the day of the funeral of a farmer…
Is a blessing from God

Today, we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord

“At Christmas he was born a man; today he is reborn sacramentally. Then he was born from a Virgin; today he is born in mystery.
When he was born a man, his mother Mary held him close to her heart; when he is born in mystery, God the Father embraces him with his voice when he says: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased…” (Sermon by St. Maximus of Turbin, bishop)

“The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism…” (CCC 694)
“The word baptism in its origins is Greek and means ‘immersion’ and ‘bath’. 
Immersion in water is a sign of death, and emersion out of water means new life.” (U.S. Catechism for Adults p.183)

“The origin and foundation of Christian Baptism is Jesus.” 
“Jesus’ immersion in the water is a sign for all human beings of the need to die to themselves and to do God’s will”  (U.S. Catechism for Adults p.184)

We remember our baptism during the Easter Vigil “during the blessing of the baptimsmal water” 
“In Baptism we use your gift of water
which you have made a rich symbol
of the grace you give us in this sacrament” (CCC 1217)

“At the very dawn of creation
your Spirit breathed on the waters,
making them the wellspring of all holiness” (CCC 1218)

“The waters of the great flood
you made a sign of the waters of Baptism,
that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness” (CCC 1219)

“You freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharoh,
bringing them dry-shod through the waters of the Red Sea,
to be an image of the people set free in Baptism” (CCC 1221)

“In Baptism, the Holy Spirit moves us to answer Christ’s call to holiness.
In Baptism, we are asked to walk by the light of Christ and to trust in his wisdom.
We are invited to submit our hearts to Christ with ever deeper love.” (U.S. Catechism for Adults p.196)

When we bless ourselves with Holy Water, we remember our baptism
Our call to holiness
Our call to follow Christ

I can still remember when I was baptized
It was the summer between fourth and fifth grade
I remember thinking that I was a sinner
And the overwhelming feeling that I needed to be baptized

I remember after I was baptized
Feeling joyful and lighthearted
And then someone asked me…
Why? Why were you baptized?

I was caught off guard
I was confused
And a little embarrassed 
I didn’t know the answer

I bet I have read from over six different sources as I wrote this homily
And I am sure there are countless books written about baptism
And I don’t still don’t understand it all
And it’s hard to explain

But I believe that Baptism and the Sacraments are gifts from God
We need baptism 
We need it to come closer to God
To come closer to Jesus

Jesus has shown us the way to the Father
And his Baptism was his first act 
His first step in his public ministry
He is showing us the way
The Way to the Father…
The Way to Holiness…
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