Bishop Joseph N. Perry: Our Men Need Our Compassion

Certainly, one of the great American plays that runs periodically on the stages of our cities’ theatres is: A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry.

In the play, the Youngers, an African-American family living in a rundown apartment in Chicago in the late 1950s, inherit $10,000 from their late father’s life insurance policy.  Lena, the family matriarch, wants to use the money as a down-payment on a small house in the suburbs.  This in itself raises some eyebrows in that suburb, in pre-open housing America, and a spokesman is sent to visit the Youngers to help them change their mind.

Daughter Beneatha sees the money as a chance to realize her dream of going to medical school.  But son, Walter Lee, who works as a chauffeur for a rich white business man, harbors dreams of opening his own business. Walter, a proud young man who has experienced one disappointing setback after another in trying to make a life for himself, persuades his mother to let him use the money to open a liquor store with his buddy.  He promises that he can give back to the family all the blessings their hard lives had denied them.

Against her better judgment, the mother agrees.  But, sure enough, the son’s partner and buddy skips town with the money.  The distraught son can hardly bring himself to tell his mother and sister what has happened. Beneatha launches into an angry tirade against her brother.  At one pinot in her angry denunciation, her mother admonishes,

“Beneatha, I thought I taught you to love your brother.”
 “Love him!” Beneatha says contemptuously.  “There’s nothing left to love!”
 Her mother stops her.

“There is always something left to love. And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothin.  Have you cried for that boy today?  I don’t mean for yourself and the family because we lost all that money. I mean for him: for what he’s been through and what it done to him. Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most: when they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learnin because that ain’t the time at all.  It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in himself ‘cause the world done whipped him so. When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right.  Make sure you done take into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got where he is.”

Regardless of what evils and disappointments befall us, regardless of the messes we make of our lives and the lives of those we love, Lena Younger has it exactly right: There is always something left to love. And the worse things are, the more there is to love.  In Christ, God has assured us of his love, his acceptance, his understanding, his peace at all times – especially when times are the dreariest and the most hopeless God asks us who would be his holy people to be as ready as God is to lift up, to forgive, to support, to love every man.

+JNP 2013


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Catholic Men: Family as First Ministry

As Catholic Men and husbands, our family is our first ministry.  Some of us men question that our work should be our first ministry, because of how it provides for the family.

However, the time we spend with our family should never be a second thought. It should always be our first thought. …. it is our first ministry. I mean, as husbands and fathers, Jesus said we are the priest of our homes, and as dads our job is to get our family members to heaven.  And if we are a single man we have an obligation to our parents and siblings.

I find this to be very clear from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, how the husband is the head of the home and, together with his wife, models the Holy Family with their children.

1657    It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.” 170 Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.” 171 Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous—even repeated—forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life. (1268, 2214-2231, 2685)

1659    St. Paul said: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church…. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:25, 32).

1666    The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called “the domestic church,” a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity.

I am told by some people they have the impression that because I share words like this that my household is perfect and I speak from experience. People have also said to me that my only priority should be to work and provide financially for my family, for this is what God says.

Our work, or  the ‘what’ we do in life, is not our identity and has nothing to do with who we are as a man, Catholic, husband, father, and person in Christ.

Rather, the ‘why’ we work is to be a witness of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Our paycheck is a certificate of performance, and it is through ‘how’ we witness that God provides.

If I speak from experience, it is only from many coffee time discussions with men. This is why over a decade ago I saw a need for a Catholic men’s movement in Chicago, starting for myself to grow and be accountable too. So I started one so that others may benefit.

This is my purpose in life because it is my passion, it is not my identity.

How about you?


Frank J Casella


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Bishop Joseph N. Perry: The Eucharist

Let me tell you a true story of a 6-year old Jewish boy named Mortakai who refused to go to school.  Each day, despite his protests, his mother walked him to school but as soon as she left him, he ran back home only to have his mother bring him back to the school once again.

This scenario played itself out for several days with Mortakai continuing to refuse to stay in school and his parents refusing to acquiesce to his desires.  No bribe or threat could convince Mortakai to change his mind.

Finally, in desperation, the boy’s parents took him to their rabbi, who said, “If the boy won’t listen to words, bring him to me.”

When the parents brought their son into the rabbi’s study he said not a word.  He simply picked up the boy and held him to his heart for a long time.  Then, without speaking a word, he set the boy down.

What words alone could not accomplish a silent embrace did.

Not only did Mortakai go to school willingly he went on to become a great scholar and rabbi.

This parable wonderfully expresses the essence of the Holy Eucharist.  Through the Eucharist, and through all the sacraments for that matter, God physically embraces the believer and holds the believer close to the divine heart.

Words remain important, of course, but at times and in the most critical situations, words can fail us.  When this occurs, we have recourse to another language – the language of ritual which can say what words cannot.

The gift of the Eucharist clearly gives evidence that Jesus incorporated such ritual into his interaction with his disciples.  Jesus made powerful use of parables, metaphors and similes to communicate his message and he obviously used words with untold skill and charisma to comfort, to chastise, to challenge and to command, to teach and to guide his own.  It is clear, though, that the gift of his body and blood is a ritual, a physical embrace, a kiss that holds us to his heart.

Another illustration:

There comes a time, usually late in the afternoon, when children tire of playing with their regular amusements.  It is then that a little one begins to torment his brother or sister.  Mothers are all too familiar with this particular dynamic. The day has been long and supper time is drawing near, the child is tired and begins to whine. The mother, too, is tired, but must turn her attention to supper.  She begins to scold. The child, tense and miserable, begins to whimper. The mother, in that moment, knows exactly what to do. She scoops up the child and without speaking holds the child to her heart.

This is an apt image for the Eucharist. Each of us comes to the Eucharist, at times tense, overwrought and needy.  We have devolved into torturing one another and are unhappy with ourselves.  Misery sometimes loves company.

There are times when we have no words, want to hear no words, will not heed any words.  Nevertheless, in that wordless moment, God picks us up and, like a mother calming her child, touches us.  In that moment, only physical embrace, physical touch will suffice.

This is why God, in Jesus, gave us the Eucharist and it is this physical embrace by the divine that we celebrate today, all the while remembering that when we are sacramentally and physically embraced at Eucharist we become one with the One who nourishes us and one with all other believers in the embrace of the One Spirit.

The sacred writers of the New Testament advanced forward the idea of life in the sacramental blood, offered by Jesus to his followers.

There is no make-believe here, no pageantry, no play acting.  This is real.  This is Real Presence.  We hold not a wafer in our hands but the body and blood of the Lord. We hold not a cup of wine in our hands but the chalice which holds the blood of Jesus spilled that we might be rescued.  Eucharist is Jesus’ choice to remain with us in breathtaking intimacy, in his Eucharistic body and blood.

Something takes place on that altar only God can do!  Real Presence, therefore, is distinct from mere memorial presence.

The striking thing about the Holy Eucharist is the bond it establishes between love and suffering in the Lord’s own life and in our experience.

At the cross, God wrapped his heart in flesh and blood and let it be nailed to the cross for our ransom

2009 CMCS

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Dear Friend,
Welcome to our blog – Catholic Chicago Men; our way of connecting with you and letting you know about the spiritual direction of Catholic men wishing to live the gospel in their lives.  This is a way also where you can keep in touch with us, let us know what you are thinking.  We hope you check us out regularly for updates!
Sincerely in the Lord,
Rev. Bishop Joseph Perry, Archdiocese of Chicago

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The Power of the Cross for Catholic Men

Back to basics. We can’t love the Church if we don’t know and love Christ.

God has called us through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thes 2:14

This struck me on the importance and power of the Cross. And we are given access to this power just through believing in Jesus Christ.

As men we face many challenges in this world. It is simply by the sign of the Cross that we are not alone and are given strength.

Heed these words of the late Francis Cardinal George:

“God sustains the world, in good times and in bad. Catholics, along with many others, believe that only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, savior of the world and head of his body, the church. Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb, no matter their nationality, are on the right side of history. Those who lie about him and persecute or harass his followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up ringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression. There is nothing “progressive” about sin, even when it is promoted as “enlightened.”

The world divorced from the God who created and redeemed it inevitably comes to a bad end. It’s on the wrong side of the only history that finally matters. The Synod on the New Evangelization is taking place in Rome this month because entire societies, especially in the West, have placed themselves on the wrong side of history.”


You Become What You Think About

The Catholic Catechism and the Bible tells you how to do the right thing. But you may think, as I have, that a certain movie you see or how you look at that woman walking down the street or sitting in the church pew across the isle is a simple, innocent thing and doesn’t make a difference.

The other day when I was on Twitter a quote I saw from sales guru hit me: “You become what you think about all day long”.  It made me ponder on what I think about every day, which lead me to realize how much my thinking – and lifestyle – has changed over the years.

I used to be more selfish, helping and serving others with the end motive of serving my own needs and ego, and praying for my own needs – talking to God more than listening.  St. Francis says [that] it is through giving that we receive, and I took it literal.

Today …  when I give of myself I don’t look for what I receive, because the real gift is how God is blessing others through me .. which I may never see. My agenda has become God’s agenda. Said another way, I live my life as a prayer.

Your words and actions, men, say a lot about your thinking, and when you live your life as a prayer you see the world and others through God’s eyes … and become more like Christ. You’ll know this is happening when others tell you, because you might be too humble to see it in yourself.

A spiritual director once told me ”the ‘best’ Christian’s are those people who constantly feel that they fall short in living-out God’s will for their life“.

Here are some scriptures from the Catholic Bible that speak to me on what and how you – a Catholic Man – should think:

Power of the Tongue.  James Chapter 3    Proverbs Chapter 15

Thoughts and Thinking.   Proverbs Chapter 18    Matthew Chapter 9

What do you think about all day long?

Without the Cross, your life can be horizontal = world view, selfish and self serving.

When Jesus’ stretched out arms of love were nailed to the Cross, He created the vertical = Heavenly view, seeing others as better than yourself, and helping each other make it through life.


Holiness and the Cross

Too many times, we allow sin in our lives to distract us from the Holiness of God. As scripture says, “be still … and know that I am God”.  The two main things that keeps us from Holiness as men is our human understanding of sex and money.

Stay with me now …

The more we be still and look at that crucifix everyday the more we will see how us men need to turn off the porn on the computer; walk away from that affair (emotional or otherwise); stop flirting with all the ladies and instead look at them as a person and as a Woman; turn marital sex from self-gratification into being a Sacred and Holy gift to your spouse; stop using profanity .. PERIOD; stop little white lies and then rationalizing them; and take our minds off materialism: the faster car, the big house or boat, or the latest electronic gadget . .. or just the need to make more money.

(it is not bad to have things, but we must keep it all in right perspective)

All of these.. and more … distract us from keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. When us Men get sex and money – and the power of the Cross – in the right Christian order, we will then shake the world for Jesus Christ!

So, if you are going through an identity crisis I suggest you find the crucifix in your house and just look at it … and look at it… and look at it.


Your identity is in Jesus Christ! 

I assure you, the longer you look at Jesus on that Cross, the more He will speak to you about who you are and how you can become more Holy.

The greatest image I have of my late father is how he prayed the rosary, looking at the Cross, each morning in a room with only the window light – just him and God – before leaving for work.

The greatest image my children say they have of me is how I kiss the crucifix each morning as soon as I wake up. What they don’t see is how often I spend just looking at it in holy contemplation.

Us men have the power that when we get our holiness in order can impact the world, the church, humanity, and our families …  and all of this can be felt three generations deep!

We have one message to give through our lives … and the sign of the Cross:

… “only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ.”


— Frank J Casella, CMCS Executive Director


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Bishop Joseph N. Perry: Men And Mass

From the CMCS archives, in this video Bishop Joseph Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, reflects on the importance of Sunday Mass to Catholic men and their families. Bishop Perry oversees Catholic Men Chicago Southland, an Apostolate that works to encourage and support Catholic men to grow spiritually and to bring Christ into their daily lives. This reflection was recorded in Saint James Chapel during the Year of Sunday Mass.


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Jesus’ Love has No Boundaries

Note: This blog entry is from the authors homily archives.

By Deacon John Rangel

The Scripture selections for the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Times contain several themes and images for our consideration. As I reflected on and prayed over the readings during the past two weeks, images of certain people lodged in my mind …foreigners, immigrants, Gentiles, the Canaanite woman and other outsiders. Classes of people that Scripture tells us were excluded from temple worship, social and cultural participation and discriminated against in many other ways. They were not invited in but rather held in distain, contempt and hatred. Today, as we survey the current social, civic, moral, religious and political conditions in our country and abroad not much has changed over 4,000 years.

I have to be honest and say that the horrific and tragic events of the past ten days
have been very unsettling for me, and I suspect for all people of good will, and
people who know, love and serve God. My initial homily focus was on themes
drawn from today’s readings like: “All are Welcome”, “Jesus’ love has no
Boundaries”, “Persistence in Prayer”, “Make room for Others”, and Insiders and
Outsiders”. I thought… surely I can craft a homily around one of these themes that
speaks to the heart of people through the word of God in this time and place.

Then Charlottesville happened – August 12, three dead many injured. August 17
Barcelona, Spain, 17 dead, hundreds injured. Both deadly events triggered by
hatred, anger, bigotry, racism and religious fanatics. Then on August 16 mudslides
in Sierra Leon killed hundreds and hundreds more are missing. And yes the sun
will disappear in our area Monday, August 21 beginning at 11:54AM. Tranquility
and peacefulness are missing in so much of our world. But the evil one is gleeful!

Not surprising, my mind became clouded, my heart heavy because of these events
so I turned to God and prayed .” God what can I say? Holy Spirit what should I
say? The answer came in a Sunday reflection I happened to read this week on a
Catholic web site (LPI) by Fr. Mark Suslenko. His thoughts and words about Life
with Conflicting Opposites spoke directly to my heart.

I will share Fr. Mark’s reflection now for your prayerful consideration.

Life with Conflicting Opposites
One of the graced blessings of Christianity is learning how to develop and sharpen the gift of discernment in the face of opposites. As believers we are asked to internalize the Gospel message, allowing it to enlighten our minds and inform our actions.

A simple authentic and honest encounter with another human being can reveal hidden truths, allow enemies to embrace, and mutual respect to flourish. It is necessary to journey into the heart of a person in order for walls, prejudices, and antiquated barriers to be removed. Inclusivity has been one of the hallmarks of God’s agenda from the beginning of time. His house is intended to be “a house of prayer for all peoples” where human dignity is safeguarded regardless of who we are, where we come from, and what we believe.

It sometimes requires that we take a radical stance in order to catch people’s attention and reveal the smallness and ego-centeredness of their thinking—whether this be a religious community of nuns deciding to construct a new outdoor chapel in order to protect the sacredness of their ground from the path of an intended pipeline; a bride-to-be who calls off her wedding and invites the homeless to her reception; two known enemies sitting down and finding resolution to a common issue; restructuring our priorities to give more service to the poor and vulnerable; learning how to offer the hand of forgiveness and mercy rather than anger, resentment, hatred and bitterness; or embracing the agony and suffering of crucifixion on the cross.

We live with seemingly conflicting opposites all of the time. Jesus’ message offers us a way to bring two distinct realities together and discover a central, healing, and harmonious meeting place. We are people of the “already and the not yet” who are called to live in this tension regardless of the cost. We are asked to love as God loves as we live in the broken, the contradictory, the mundane, the silly, and even evil.

It is not our task to get everyone on the same page, to create some uniform and consistent way of thinking, or become robotic in our approach to life. It is, however, our call to be open to God’s surprises, to be vehicles of healing, to discern what God has in mind for our world and for us, to challenge conventional and outdated ways of thinking and being, and becoming risk-takers whose thoughts and actions catch people’s attention and cause them to think.

It requires that we drop the exaggerated concern we have with ourselves and the impressions people may have of us and risk looking silly as we find our way through this often silly but graced world.

As our relationship with God unfolds and we begin to celebrate the love relationship we have with our Creator, we will lose our preoccupation with trying to score points for heaven or achieving some personal satisfaction and learn how to love and embrace all things and people as God does. We will understand that the primary task of discipleship is learning how to discern and cooperate with God’s life-giving, loving, and all unifying plan of salvation. Only a contemplative heart can love those most difficult to love and do what is most challenging and risky to do. O God, let all the nations praise you!
Rev. Mark Suslenko


Brothers and sisters the events of the past ten days should be troubling and disturbing to all God’s people. As disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to be witnesses of love and forgiveness, to oppose hatred and bigotry and other evils against humanity whenever and wherever it occurs, to stand with all our marginalized brothers and sisters.

We need the persistence of the Canaanite woman. We should talk to people about the sinful nature of hatred, bigotry, and anger and its destructive power and explain to them how we can overcome it.

Let that Canaanite woman be our example and let us be quick with our arguments and have answers ready for those who dismiss our faith and belittle our beliefs.

Christ was a bit off-hand with that woman as a way of getting her to express her faith. Let us be like her and be fearless in explaining to others those things that bring true meaning and purpose to our lives.


Deacon John Rangel is Director of Mission for Catholic Men Chicago Southland Apostolate


What we would like to do is change the world—
Make it a little simpler for people
To feed, clothe and shelter themselves
As God intended them to do…
We can to a certain extent change the world;
We can work for the oasis,
The little cell of joy and peace in a harried world.
We can throw our pebble in the pond
And be confident that its ever widening circle
Will reach around the world…
There is nothing that we can do but love,
And dear God—please enlarge our hearts
To love each other, to love our neighbor,
To love our enemy as well as our friend.

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Haven’t Been to Confession In A While?

By Bishop Joseph N. Perry

Needing to go to Confession is like needing to check in with a doctor regarding our physical health.  We cannot afford to neglect spiritual doctoring of our souls anymore than we can afford to neglect a physical doctor of our bodies.  The Sacrament of Penance also works for a healthy life.  Mature and healthy men are men who can take themselves to task, recognize their mistakes and take aim to correct those mistakes for the sake of positive connections with their spouse, their children, their friends, the people they work with and, therefore our God.

Check your parish confession schedule or some parish, shrine or oratory that has a regular confession schedule.


–  Examine Your Conscience Beforehand –

Have I any habits of serious sin to confess: drunkenness, sexual misconduct, drug use, dishonesty or cheating on the job?

Have I willfully doubted or denied any of the teachings of the Church?

Have I taken active part in any non-Catholic worship?

Am I a member of any anti-Catholic or any secret society?

Have I practiced any superstitions, horoscopes, fortune tellers, etc?


Have I used God’s name in vain by use of profanity?

Have I murmured or complained against God?

Have I maligned priests or others consecrated to God?

Have I sworn by God’s name falsely or rashly?

Have I missed Mass on Sundays or holy days of obligation through negligence?

Have I done unnecessary physical work on Sunday?

Have I been disrespectful to my parents or neglected them?

Have I failed in obedience or reverence to others in authority?

Have I mistreated my wife or children?

Have I neglected the material needs of my children?

Have I neglected my children’s religious education?

Have I given my children bad example?

Have I allowed my children to neglect their religious duties?


Have I quarreled or cursed anyone or otherwise wished evil on them?

Have I taken pleasure in anyone’s misfortune?

Is there anyone to whom I refuse to speak or be reconciled?

Have I lied about anyone?

Have I rashly judged anyone?

Have I engaged in gossip or spread scandal?

Have I been jealous or envious of anyone?


Have I practiced unlawful birth control?

Have I abused my marriage rights in any other way?

Have I committed adultery or fornication?

Have I touched or embraced another impurely?

Have I sinned with others of the same or opposite sex?

Have I disrespected my own body sexually?

Have I harbored lustful desires for anyone?

Have I indulged in pornography or indecent literature?

Have I done anything to provoke or occasion impure thoughts or actions in others?

Have I committed or cooperated with an abortion of life in the womb?


Have I stolen anything?

Have I damaged anyone’s property through my own fault or negligence?

Have I cheated or defrauded others

Have I neglected to follow through on my debts?

Have I failed to make restitution for any negligence of mine?

Have I sinned by gluttony?

Have I sinned by becoming intoxicated?

Have I used narcotics?

Have I been motivated by greed or avarice?


– The Ten Commandments –

  • I am the Lord your God.  You shall not have any strange Gods before me.
  • You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  • Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
  • Honor your father and your mother
  • You shall not kill
  • You shall not commit adultery
  • You shall not steal
  • You shall not bear false witness
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods


– The Beatitudes –

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of  heaven
  • Blessed are the meek; for they shall possess the land
  • Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted
  • Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for justice; for they shall be fulfilled
  • Blessed are the merciful; for they shall be fulfilled
  • Blessed are the pure of heart; for they shall see God
  • Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God
  • Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

After the priest welcomes you, either in the confessional box or a face-to-face encounter, which ever you choose, make the Sign of the Cross.  Then you may wish to indicate facts about your life such as whether you are a single man or married, widowed, divorced or….  Mention how long it’s been since your last confession, any difficulties in leading the Christian life and anything else that may help you ease your mind.  If you feel you need help with making your confession, just ask the priest.  He is more than willing to gently lead you.

Confess your sins as they are evident to your conscience.  The priest then offers you suitable advice and imposes an act of penance or satisfaction, such as certain prayers you should say once you leave the confessional or some action to make restitution, some act of self-denial or work of mercy or charity.

The priest will ask you to make an Act of Contrition:

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee.
And I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments.
But most of all, because my sins have offended Thee my God
Who art all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace
To confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life,



My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against You whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more
And to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy!



Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Lamb of God;
you take away the sins of the world.
Through the grace of the Holy Spirit
restore me to friendship with your Father,
Cleanse me from every stain of sin
in the blood you shed for me,
And raise me to new life
for the glory of your name.


The priest then extends his hand and pronounces the formula of absolution, making the Sign of the Cross over you during the final words.  You answer, “Amen!”

The priest sends you on your way with Christian best wishes for peace and your well-being lived in God’s grace through a life renewed according to the Gospel and more and more steeped in the love of God.

End by saying:  “thank you Father!”


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