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By Deacon Keith Fournier

11/10/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Church must be free to proclaim her message in word and deed - in every Nation and in every culture.

Jesus Christ lived in the first home of the whole human race. He progressed through every stage of every child's beautiful growth. He is as completely identified with every child living in that holy place as he is with all those who are poor. It was Blessed Teresa of Calcutta who rightly called these children, the "poorest of the poor". 

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/10/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: abortion, Obama, Culture of Life, Civilization of love, activism, Gospel of Life, activism, Nehemiah Wall, Deacon Keith Fournier


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Let me begin with two accounts drawn from the Bible. The first is taken from the Old Testament and the Second from the New Testament.

"From that time on, however, only half my able men took a hand in the work, while the other half, armed with spears, bucklers, bows, and breastplates, stood guard behind the whole house of Judah as they rebuilt the wall.The load carriers, too, were armed; each did his work with one hand and held a weapon with the other.  Every builder, while he worked, had his sword girt at his side. Also, a trumpeter stood beside me, for I had said to the nobles, the magistrates, and the rest of the people:

"Our work is scattered and extensive, and we are widely separated from one another along the wall; wherever you hear the trumpet sound, join us there; our God will fight with us."

"Thus we went on with the work; half of the men with spears at the ready, from daybreak till the stars came out. At the same time I told the people to spend the nights inside Jerusalem, each man with his own attendant, so that they might serve as a guard by night and a working force by day." (Nehemiah 4:10-16 NAB)

Now, the sobering passage in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Jesus presents an account of what will occur at the Last Judgment:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'  "And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Matthew 25:31-40)"

The passage concerning the Last Judgment could easily contain another line which would be in conformity with the spirit of the passage: "When I was in the womb, you protected and welcomed me - and my Mother." After all, our Redeemer spent nine months in the womb of a very holy mother.

Jesus Christ lived in the first home of the whole human race. He progressed through every stage of every child's beautiful growth. He is as completely identified with every child living in that holy place as he is with all those who are poor. It was Blessed Teresa of Calcutta who rightly called these children, the "poorest of the poor". 

Just as the disciples inquired about the other references the Lord made, we can inquire, for ourselves and for our Nation, "Lord, When did we see you in the Womb and protect you or welcome you?" And he would reply 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'

I have spent decades trying to hold back the advance of the Culture of Death in courtrooms, on Capitol Hill through lobbying, in writing and through apologetics in the public square. I have wielded the figurative "sword" on the Wall of a City under assault from hell itself.

There is no doubt, the recent Presidential election in the United States opens the door to the continued advance of the Culture of Death. However, you and I must stand against that advance. Whether we are posted at the walls of the city with a sword or a trowel, we are together in this work as the people of life.
 
We are the People of Life

That phrase was used by Blessed John Paul II in his wonderful letter "The Gospel of Life": "We are the people of life because God, in his unconditional love, has given us the Gospel of life and by this same Gospel we have been transformed and saved. We have been ransomed by the "Author of life" (Acts 3:15) at the price of his precious blood (cf. 1 Cor 6:20; 7:23; 1 Pet 1:19).

"Through the waters of Baptism we have been made a part of him (cf. Rom 6:4-5; Col 2:12), as branches which draw nourishment and fruitfulness from the one tree (cf. Jn 15:5). Interiorly renewed by the grace of the Spirit, "who is the Lord and giver of life", we have become a people for life and we are called to act accordingly."

"We have been sent. For us, being at the service of life is not a boast but rather a duty, born of our awareness of being "God's own people, that we may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light" (cf. 1 Pet 2:9). On our journey we are guided and sustained by the law of love: a love which has as its source and model the Son of God made man, who "by dying gave life to the world".

"We have been sent as a people. Everyone has an obligation to be at the service of life. This is a properly "ecclesial" responsibility, which requires concerted and generous action by all the members and by all sectors of the Christian community. This community commitment does not however eliminate or lessen the responsibility of each individual, called by the Lord to "become the neighbor" of everyone: "Go and do likewise" (Lk 10:37).

"Together we all sense our duty to preach the Gospel of life, to celebrate it in the Liturgy and in our whole existence, and to serve it with the various programs and structures which support and promote life." The Gospel of Life: On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life, 1995, Par. 79,

Like the people of Israel under the leadership of Nehemiah, some of us have been posted at the wall to fight off those who seek to topple what is left of the protection afforded to early, disabled, infirm and elderly human life in the civil or positive law of the Nation.

The defensive work in which I was engaged in over many years, with so many others, helped to slow the progress of the culture of death. However, the work of rebuilding the walls, securing the city for future generations, that is the more important task. This requires both sword and trowel. Sword and Trowel

We must continue to hold off the forces intent of destroying the Christian influence in culture while we work to rebuild that influence, at every intersecting point of faith and culture.

I have spent many hours since the results of the recent Presidential election trying to help sincere Pro-Life people who are mourning and grieving. I well understand. However, some are beginning to act in a "knee jerk" manner. They are speaking of "politics as a waste of time" and have figuratively or literally decided to "head for the hills".

Others have succumbed to the twin mistakes of yielding to unfocused anger or giving into cynicism. Both reactions will drain them of the very life of the Spirit. Both reactions are tactics of the enemy of our souls and the enemy of life. Jesus told us "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)

It is that thief who who wants us to retreat.

Let's be clear, politics will NEVER save any Nation or culture. To believe otherwise is heresy; a brand of utopianism at odds with the Christian faith or a form of zealotry/triumphaism which fails to understand the mission of the Church. 

However, the Church must be free to proclaim her message in word and deed - in every Nation and in every culture. She must continue the redemptive work of her Head, Jesus Christ.

St Paul used his Roman citizenship to advance the preaching of the Gospel. We must use our American citizenship to do the same. We cannot abandon the call to be leaven in the loaf of human culture. There is no doubt that each of us will serve in a different role in this task, but none of us can retreat. 

A New Momentum for Life

I see a growing new momentum for Life. Public opinion is shifting against those who defend the evil of legally sanctioned abortion on demand. Their false façade of concern for women is being removed; revealing the ugly face of evil beneath it.

Women have been the second victims of the abortion lie for too long. In increasing numbers, women who have had abortions are joining a growing majority of those who oppose it. Your work provides a safe harbor for many of these women and their children.
 
Using Medical Technology 

There is new assistance provided for us in the medical technologies such as sonograms. With the introduction of "baby's first picture" we can all watch these children smile, play, feel pain and grow. These 3 and 4d images are becoming more and more prevalent throughout the social media. They are even showing up on television commercials.

This is helpful in a consumerist culture. Every day it becomes harder to deny that the child in the womb is our neighbor. The Orwellian Newspeak of "Choice" is growing stale and tired. The wind is out of its sails. Some choices are always and everywhere wrong, and the taking of innocent human life in at the top of the list.
 
Establishing Judicial Precedents

The judicial recognition of the inalienable right to life of children in the womb is within reach, at least at the U.S. Supreme Court level. It is only a matter of time before the 14th amendment protections are applied to our smallest neighbors. The work of the growing number of Christian lawyers, in the myriad of public interest law firms and associations, needs to continue. It is a great help in our task.

However, when Roe does fall - and it will fall - our work only begins. We have a new culture of life to build and we must lay the foundation stones right now - not retreat. Not just for our own sake but for the sake of the Nation we live in and the world into which we are sent to continue the redemptive mission of our Lord. 

The truth concerning the humanity of children in the womb - and derived from that - the recognition of their fundamental human right to life can and will win the debate. That is because truth is written on every human heart by the Natural Law. It obligates us to do justice and binds us together in its pursuit.

A growing number of Americans recognize that without the right to life and the freedom to be born there are no other rights. In fact, the infrastructure of human rights itself is placed at risk when the Right to Life is denied. The constituional law work in the Courts must continue and we must support the advocates doing it.

Criminal Law

This work includes the criminal as well as constitutional law. As a former prosecutor, I see the trend of the double prosecution of criminals for two homicides when, in the course of a crime against a mother, they also kill the child in her womb, as a positive development. When a child in the womb is killed, along with her mother, through an act of negligence, we properly prosecute for both vehicular homicides. We need to use the inherent logic this criminal law reveals in our apologetic.It is obvious to anyone. We must also promote this growing recognition in the criminal law of the evil of killing a child.
 
Natural Law

We must not be afraid of making Natural Law arguments in our Pro-Life work. They are essential. they are also our most powerful weapon in a culture which has forgotten God. That is because they reveal the law of God written on every human heart, even the hearts of those who deny His existence. However, we also need to learn to make them well. One does not have to have any religious faith to recognize the truth concerning the dignity of every human life. It is revealed by a Natural law which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason.
 
The Promethean Argument

The last argument left for those who oppose the fundamental Human Right to life is a promethean notion of freedom as the raw power of the strong over the weak. It will not stand because it is so patently wrong and profoundly anti-American. It certainly does not sound "liberal" or "progressive" does it? We need to point out this utter hypocrisy of the movement calling itself "Pro-Choice" as often as we can.We must expose the Orwellian language they use. It is never a moral choice to kill our neighbor in the womb. Truth has an amazing power within it to bring about personal and societal change. I believe that it is doing just that on so many fronts concerning the humanity of the child in the womb and no election result can stop that momentum. However, it is up to us to keep contending for the truth! 

"Religious" Limitations

It is a tactic, a ploy of our opponents, to characterize the pro-life position as only a "religious" position. Our adversaries do so in an effort to undermine and marginalize the implications of the truth of our position. They want to keep us confined in our Church buildings when we make our arguments - through wielding a misinterpretation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. We cannot let that tactic go unopposed. Our position is a human rights position. Yes, for those in our movement who are Christians, it is informed by our faith. However, it is also true for those who do not believe. All of us are obligated by a common moral code which can be known through the exercise of reason and has always informed our life together. At its foundation os the prohibition of killing the innocent. 

Be Wary of Political Labels 

We must remember that the Pro-Life position is not "conservative" or "liberal", or simply "religious" - at least in the sense of a position confined to religious people. "Pro- Life" is a human rights position that can be - and increasingly is being- held by many types of diverse people.This is because it is just and true.  Please understand, as a Christian, I both believe - and proclaim - that this truth is confirmed by Revelation. However, in a culture which has rejected the authority of either the Scriptures or the Church, it is hard to make an argument based on that authority.

Similarly, the claim of our opponents that Pro-Life people are "single issue" in their political participation is also a tactic to attempt to marginalize our impact on the culture. Being Pro-Life is holding a worldview which begins and ends with the dignity of every human person. The reason we care should about the poor is because they have basic human dignity and fundamental human rights. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's words that the child in the womb is the "poorest of the poor" exposes the lie of the current administration which was just reelected as champions of the poor. we should quote it every time we get a chance!

Science as our Ally 

Science is a Pro-Life ally. It always has been. But recent advances help us unmask the lies of the opponents of the Right to Life. For example, sonograms are showing us a film of our first neighbors in their first home, their mother's wombs. Medical Doctors are regularly operating "in utero" to help these children and then placing back in their first home. Psychologists are speaking of effectiveness of communication between parents and their child in the womb- and encouraging it. Music is being played to children in the womb. Think about that in light of the practice of procured abortion, at any time and for any reason. What song would be played to the child as he or she is being dismembered, burned or suctioned to death?

All of these advances in science have "humanized" the child to an increasing number of people who once bought the lie of those who promoted abortion as "choice". The old efforts to paint the child as a "cluster of cells" or to use other dehumanizing phrases to hide the perfidy of abortion are no longer being used by those who oppose the Right to Life for children. Science and technology confirm what our conscience told us all along, the child in the first home of the whole human race is our neighbor. And, it is always and everywhere wrong to kill our innocent neighbor. Whether a child is "wanted" has become the sole criterion for whether he or she has a right to life. Such an approach is heinous. Decent people are beginning to recognize this and indecent people are having a hard time defending their choice to kill.

A growing number of Americans are beginning to understand that the approach of abortion on demand has dangerous implications for the elderly, the infirmed, the poor and the marginalized in a culture which grows increasingly intolerant of the needy.

The Need to Re-Educate the Pro-Life Movement

We need to re-educate some within our own Pro-life community who have become so used to "opposing" abortion that they do not know how to propose a new culture of life and contend for that culture in compelling and convincing language in the public square. The truth about the dignity of life is a positive, life affirming position. We are on the side of truth. Yet, much of the rhetoric has been framed in terms of opposition. Sometimes this has flowed from a persecuted minority or "victim" approach, developed after years of struggle. Though it may be understandable it is not effective.

Lasting movements for societal change are rarely built around negative language. Oh, of course they oppose what is wrong, but they also propose another way. Our task as a people committed to life is not simply about opposition but also about conversion of the culture. We need to engage this age with a confidence borne of truth and not be afraid of the culture of death. Only a faith filled approach, endued with the hope of the Gospel, will enable us to bring about the conversion that is needed. People's hearts and minds need to be changed.

To build a culture of life and a civilization of love we need a new language. For example, I now regularly refer to children in the womb as our first neighbors. After all, they reside in the first home of the whole human race, their mother's womb. As I use the expression "first neighbors" in my pro-life work in the public square, people inevitably ask me the questions that open the door to explaining this truth. Truth is very convincing. When proclaimed, it defends itself.

Additionally, I speak of our Pro-Life work as working for fundamental human rights. The right to life is a basic human right. It is not simply a "civil" right, in the sense that it depends upon the civil government to confer it. Rather, it is an unalienable right in the words of the American founders. It cannot be taken away by any government because it was nnot given by any government.

As Christians we need to shout from the housetops, while we still can, that the American founders did not invent this concept of unalienable rights. It was derived from the treasury of classical western Christian thought. The right to life was given to all men and women by the One who is the source of all life. Every government should be judged as just or unjust based upon how it respects human rights and treats the poor.

Rebuild the Walls, Remember our History 

I believe that we will see the end of federally protected legalized abortion, at least the protection that followed the Supreme Court's horrid ruling in Roe and its progeny. However, the end of Roe will not be the end of the Pro-Life Mission. The current cultural situation we face as Christians in America is not an unfamiliar one. We need to see it now in terms of Christian history. I do not care how "scientifically advanced" we think we have become, or how "modern" the issues purport to be, we humans do not really change all that much, at least without grace.

The struggle we are engaged in as Christians in contemporary western culture still concerns a clash of worldviews, personal and corporate, and competing definitions of freedom. Remember, in the circles of cultural and social revolutionaries, Christians (at least orthodox, faithful ones) are often presented as unenlightened, forcing "our view" on others. In reality, our positions on the dignity of every life, marriage, family, authentic freedom and the nature of truth as objective.. is what actually frees people from the bondage of disordered appetites. These truths are objectively true for all men and women. We were made for relationship. We were structured for authentic love and human flourishing within family and a society founded upon family.

The early Church, just like you and me, was sent into cultures filled with people who thought they were extremely "advanced" in light of the arts and sciences of their day. Yet, these cultures practiced primitive forms of abortion and even "exposure", a practice of leaving unwanted children on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey or picked up by slave traders. To them, freedom was rooted in a notion of power over others and the right to do as they chose.

One has only to read the ancient Christian manuscripts such as the Didache (the Teaching of the Twelve), the ancient Letter to Diognetus, the accounts of Justin Martyr or many other early Christian sources to read of cultures not unlike the one in which we live today. These were also cultures of "use" where people were treated as property - cultures of excess where "freedom" was perceived as a power over others and unrestrained license masqueraded as liberty, leading many to what the Apostle Paul called the slavery of sin.

Our contemporary age is increasingly pagan. Many of the "gods" and goddesses" of the old pagan regimes promoted lives of selfish excess, homosexual practices, and hedonism masquerading as freedom. The myths they told concerning them had these "gods" acting in much the same way. The arguments have been reintroduced today, only the myths, tributes and statues are different.

The early Christians did not point the finger and rail against the "pagans" of their age when they sought to effect the conversion of those cultures. They did not present a "negative" message. They proclaimed the freedom found in Jesus Christ to all who would listen and demonstrated it in their compelling witness of life. They lived in monogamous marriages, raised their children to be faithful Christians and good citizens, and went into the world of their age, offering a new way to live. This "way" (which is what they first called the early Church) presented a very different worldview than the one that the pagans embraced.

The early Christians, with joy and integrity, spoke and lived a different way in the midst of that pagan culture. As a result, they sometimes stirred up hostility. Some of them were martyred in the red martyrdom of shed blood. Countless more joined the train of what use to be called "white martyrdom", by living lives of sacrificial witness and service in the culture, working hard and staying faithful to the end of a long life spent in missionary toil.

Slowly, not only were small numbers of "pagans" converted and baptized, but eventually their leaders and entire Nations followed suit. Resultantly, the Christian worldview began to influence the social order. The "clash of freedoms" continued, but the climate changed significantly. It was the Christian faith and the practices of these Christians that began to win the hearts of men and women. The cultures once enshrined to pagan practices, such as plural marriage, homosexuality, exposure and abortion began to change dramatically and this dynamic continued for centuries.

It was Christianity that taught such novel concepts as the dignity of every person and their equality before the One God. The Christians proclaimed the dignity of women, the dignity of chaste marriage and the sanctity of the family. It was Christianity that introduced the understanding of freedom not simply as a freedom from, but as a freedom for living responsibly and with integrity. The Christians insisted that freedom must be exercised with reference to a moral code, a law higher than the emperor or the shifting sands of public opinion.

It was the Christians who understood that choice, rightly exercised, meant always choosing what was right and that the freedom to exercise that choice brought with it an obligation and concern for the other. Their faith presented a coherent and compelling answer to the existential questions that plagued the ancients, such as why we existed and how we got here. What was the purpose of life? Questions like how evil came into the world and why we could not always make right choices? What force seemed to move us toward evil and how we could be set free from its power?

Christian philosophy began to flourish and the arts also flourished under the Christian worldview. Philosophies of government and economic theory began to be influenced by these principles derived from a Christian worldview. Now, we are called to transform our own American and western culture from within once again. The results of one Presidential election must not be allowed to distract us from this missionary task.

We must be faithful citizens, run for office, and never give up our struggles in the courtroom, the classroom, or the marketplace of commerce, all for the true common good. Our social and cultural mission is not an option. We cannot retreat to religious ghettos, figuratively or literally. Our mission to the culture lies at the heart of what it means to be "leaven", "light", "salt" and the "soul of the world" as the early Christians taught. However, we do need to remember that the task we face is first, at root, a spiritual struggle that will first be won in prayer, stepped into a new Christian missionary movement by the compelling witness of a vibrant, orthodox, faithful Christianity that is culturally engaging, relevant and compelling to the new pagans of our age.

True marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of the universe. They are God's idea and not our own. Marriage is the first vital cell of society and creates the first society wherein children are to be raised so that they can fully develop and flourish. Children have a right to a mother and a father. Yes, there are broken homes and single parent homes and we must always provide a compassionate social framework for those families. True marriage and family are the social foundation and glue of any truly just society. They are now under an assault.

We need to rededicate ourselves to living like Christians in our families, at our workplaces and in our neighborhoods. We need, as the early Church understood so well, to be a visible, palpable reflection of the truth about marriage and family. True marriage and family is the way of the future not the past.The contemporary re-emergence of ancient paganism is not the path to authentic human freedom and flourishing but to misery. The Christian understanding of the dignity of every human life and the truth about marriage and family is not some outdated notion of a past era but the framework for a future of true freedom. We are living in a new missionary age.

The mission field is our own Nation and Western Culture itself.

In 1996, a professor of Sociology and comparative religion named Rodney Stark wrote a compelling book entitled "The Rise of Christianity." Rich in sociological and empirical data it details the growth of Christianity at the beginning of the first millennium. The book chronicles the rise of the Christian faith from a small Jewish sect in the first century to extraordinary cultural dominance 300 years later. Using historical documents, the author demonstrated how the early Christians lived in faithful, heterosexual, monogamous marriages in the midst of a pagan culture, claiming to be "enlightened" while they decayed from within. The lifestyle of the Christians had an extraordinary affect over time.

During the first millennium, in the pagan culture of ancient Rome, fidelity between a husband and wife was uncommon. Sexual promiscuity, "hetero" and "homo" sexual aberrant behaviors were very common. Women (and some men) were considered to be property and used as sexual objects. Abortion, infanticide, and exposure (placing children on rocks to die by the elements or be picked up by slave traders) were not only commonplace practices but also "lawful". Epidemics began to multiply, apparently related to the lifestyle of sexual excess, causing civic and (Pagan) religious leaders to flee the cities, leaving the sick to die.

In contrast to this old pagan culture, the Christian way of life stood out as an alternative. The emphasis of the Christians was upon marrying once. Husbands and wives remained faithful to one another. Children were welcomed, cherished and seen as both gifts from- and the means of serving - the God whom they proclaimed in both word and lifestyle. Christians did not abandon the sick, but cared for them, even the sick pagans, to the point of sacrificing their own health.

According to Stark, Christianity helped to explain "why bad things happen to good people," through the proclamation of the suffering and Cross of Christ. The Christian faith answered the existential questions that were unanswered in classical paganism. The Christians lived the love they proclaimed and had a strong family system that was increasingly attractive to the pagans. This lifestyle also allowed the Christians to live longer. The author wrote that "Christian values of love and charity, from the beginning, had been translated into norms of social service and community solidarity. When disasters struck, the Christians were better able to cope, and this resulted in substantially higher rates of survival. This meant that in the aftermath of each epidemic, Christians made up a larger and larger percentage of the population even without new converts."

Stark noted that Christianity in the first millennium brought a new culture: "To cities filled with homeless and the impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family.To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services."

The Christian Way of Life transformed Christianity from being a small sect into becoming the major dominating faith of the age. It transformed the world of the First Millennium.and the Second. It can and it will do the same in the Third Millennium. We cannot - we must not - we will not - retreat from the culture.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



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By James Robison

The city of Houston has issued a wake up call to all freedom-loving Americans by ordering pastors to turn in their sermons and staff communications dealing with homosexuality, gender identity, and Mayor Annise Parker. You must hear the real message loud and clear ... continue reading


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Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:12-22
12 do not forget, I say, that you were at that time ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
9 His saving help is near for those who fear him, his ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:35-38
35 'See that you have your belts done up and your ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 21st, 2014 Image

St. Hilarion
October 21: Abbot and disciple of St. Anthony the Great, companion of St. ... Read More

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