As War Rages in Ukraine, Take Comfort in Heaven’s Miracles

Cathedral in Pompeii, Italy, one of many sites visited in “Explore With the Miracle Hunter: Pompeii.”

Much like the Ukrainian people of our own time, where cities and towns are facing a Russian invasion, the people in the little town of Pontmain, France faced an advancing army as the Franco-Prussian war of 1871 raged. They were terrified. But suddenly, the Virgin Mary, while simultaneously making herself visible to a group of children in Pontmain, appeared in the sky adorned in a robe filled with glowing stars. The Prussian Army made the decision not to advance – they said a woman in the sky was blocking the way! – and the war soon ended.

“Next to the Battle of Lepanto, this is one of the most famous cases of the Virgin Mary miraculously interceding in war,” says “Miracle Hunter” Michael O’Neill, who is the executive producer and host of EWTN’s new series “Explore with the Miracle Hunter.” This popular show, which chronicles miracles around the world with impressive dramatizations, has now been made into a weekly EWTN series with new episodes and a regular time slot. The story of Our Lady’s appearance in Pontmain, France is just one of the many “Explore” episodes viewers can look forward to seeing at 6 p.m. ET, Saturdays, with an encore at 6:30 a.m. ET, Wednesdays.

Find out about the Eurcharistic miracle that took place in Lanciano, Italy, (above) when EWTN airs  “Explore With the Miracle Hunter: Lanciano.”

“When we think about miracles, we all imagine how they may have happened, what that would have looked like,” O’Neill said. “These episodes bring those moments to life with some spectacular recreations, paired with some beautiful cinematic footage of these locations. Because of everything going on in the world right now, this is a great way for people to see the world without leaving their homes — and it will hopefully encourage people to travel to these sites in the near future.”

This coming week, tune in to see the astounding miracle at Lanciano, Italy, in which an unbelieving monk had his doubts turned around during the consecration of the Mass, when the Eucharist transformed into real flesh and the wine into real blood. This will be followed the next week by an episode on the famed visions of Jesus Christ at Paray-Le-Monial, where Catholics were blessed with the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and “Explore Naples,” which is one of O’Neill’s favorite episodes.

An image from “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Assisi,” where St Francis has a vision and receives the stigmata.

Travel with O’Neill to the Neapolitan basilica which houses the blood of St. Januarius in a special container known as an ampoule. Most years, the dried blood liquefies on the saint’s feast day. But in the rare years when the blood does not liquefy, disastrous things have happened: Mt. Vesuvius erupts, earthquakes happen, the economy collapses, or, most recently, the city faces a worldwide pandemic.

“Every year on Sept. 19, they have a special feast day Mass with the bishop and they bring out this relic,” O’Neill said, who traveled to the site and filmed the event in 2019. “The basilica and the streets are packed with people. The bishop will hold up the ampoule and, if the blood liquefies, the cheer is so loud it’s like a winning touchdown at a football game! It’s a portent of a good year for Naples.”

See the story of the origins of the Miraculous Medal come to life in “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Paris.”

O’Neill is also partial to “Explore: Rome,” in which he tells the story of Alphonse Ratisbonne, a wealthy French businessman who was challenged by friends during a visit to Rome to wear a Miraculous Medal and say the Memorare for seven days. This Jewish atheist not only ended up experiencing a vision of the Virgin Mary but also instantaneously converted to Catholicism and was infused with knowledge of the Catholic faith, later becoming a priest and founding the  Order of Our Lady of Sion devoted to the conversion of Jews. And that’s not the half of it!

Other “Explore with the Miracle Hunter” episodes will include visits to Beauraing, in which the Virgin with the Golden Heart appeared numerous times, urging the people of Belgium to pray; Pompeii, in which Our Lady of the Rosary won the heart of Blessed Bartolo Longo, who at that time was a satanic priest; and Trefontane, site of the beheading of St. Paul and the apparition of Our Lady of Revelation, which O’Neill says may be the most interesting of all!

“Explore with the Miracle Hunter” Host Michael O’Neill.

As the war rages in Ukraine, viewers can take comfort in these miraculous stories, particularly the story of the Vatican-recognized apparitions at Pontmain, France. So tune in this Saturday at 6 p.m. ET on EWTN. And meantime, consider asking Our Lady of Pontmain to intercede for the people of Ukraine – and the world.

Our Lady of Pontmain, pray for us!

 

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EWTN’s New Movie Chronicles True Stories Of Ukrainian Persecution

Viewers who want to know what life is really like after a Communist invasion need look no further than EWTN’s brand new film, “To Believe,” which was produced by EWTN Ukraine in Kyiv, a city which is now under assault after Thursday’s invasion by Russia. Written by Ukrainians and filmed in Ukraine, the film is subtitled, but the acting is so good viewers barely need the subtitles to understand the plot. The movie premieres 10 p.m. ET, Saturday, Feb. 26, with encores at 10 p.m. ET, Sunday, Feb. 27, and 3 a.m. ET, Tuesday, March 1.

(Find trailer here: https://bit.ly/ToBelieveTrailer; find EWTN here: www.ewtn.com/everywhere. The film can also be viewed for free anytime at EWTN’s On Demand site: https://ondemand.ewtn.com/free)

This outstanding hour-long film presents the true story of Father Sebastian Sabudzinski and the families in his small Catholic parish during the Communist persecution. As the film opens, viewers see a round-up of priests marching through a forest where they are given one last chance to renounce their faith. When there are no takers, all are shot to death by a firing squad. But the story really begins in 1953 when a man, who had been taken from his family as a young boy and interned in a concentration camp for 30 years, returns home to his family. The film then flashes back to 1921 and the events that led to the man’s internment.

“This film is based on actual events and the stories of real people,” we read in the opening credits. “It is dedicated to all those who have preserved their faith during the long night of Communism.”

The film will bring many viewers to tears as they experience the emotional turmoil of those who were traumatized by the Soviets during the persecution. This should come as no surprise because many Ukrainians were either alive during Soviet persecution or are descendants of the persecuted.

Viewers will hear Communist propaganda just as those who lived it heard it. There was propaganda before the repression, where people were assured that the Communists would bring in a new world where no one would be rich or poor; all would be fair. And there was propaganda at the concentration camp, where songs about the glory of the Soviet Union were blasted out over a loud speaker even as the inmates were told they no longer had a name, but a number; they no longer had a voice, but had to obey every command quickly and silently.

Viewers will also experience the repression of people sent to Siberia for attending a prayer service, wearing a medal, or owning a Bible – and the agony of those who did not know if their loved one was alive or dead, or where they had been taken. Ukrainian Catholics risked their lives to save religious objects from their churches and to hide religious objects, even as their oppressors dug up the ground around their homes to ensure no such objects were present.

All of this takes place even before the story of Father Sebastian Sabudzinski is introduced.

How did the Ukrainian people survive? Viewers will see that even as those holding a prayer service at a cemetery are either killed or sent to Siberia, “faith and love for God were stronger than fear.”

Don’t miss this incredible film, which was set to premiere in June, but moved up to February due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As the faithful say in the film, and today:

“Praised be Jesus Christ.”

“Now and forever!”

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EWTN In Ukraine

EWTN In Ukraine!

Editor’s Note: The blog post below was written in 2013. We republish it now because it provides a window into the former Soviet Union’s historic persecution of Christians in the not so distant past. That window opens after a few paragraphs about the beginnings of EWTN Ukraine and our colleagues, who are now in imminent danger due to the Russian invasion. Please pray for them.

EWTN President and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw traveled to Ukraine last week for meetings about EWTN’s Ukrainian-language television channel.

Michael arrived in Kyiv the same day as Father Diego Sáez Martín OMI, the new Director of the Catholic Media Centre, where EWTN is broadcast. In fact, the two men were introduced to the staff of the Centre at the same time! The permanent staff consists of three priests and three religious sisters and four lay people. The rest of the staff are all volunteers.

The Catholic Media Centre, which was launched in 2004 at the invitation of the head of the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference, is located in a church that is still under construction. EWTN Ukraine launched on Dec. 8, 2011. The Centre receives EWTN’s European feed via satellite, downlinks it, and provides Ukrainian translation. The channel is then sent via fiber optics to Volia, the leading Ukrainian cable television company. EWTN Ukraine now reaches 21 towns and cities. Believe it or not, the staff translates all of EWTN’s live shows and papal events into Ukrainian!

“They are also hoping to translate our live shows into Russian as well,” said Michael, “since a significant portion of the population prefers to speak Russian because of the Soviet era!”

To say everyone works extremely hard is an understatement. In fact, the three Oblate of Mary Immaculate priests often work 18 hours a day! On weekends, the priests preach about EWTN in the parishes. They are grateful beyond measure to EWTN for helping them bring the Ukrainian Church back to life.

On the set of EWTN Ukraine with EWTN President & CEO Michael P. Warsaw (center), Catholic Media Center Director Fr. Diego Saez Martin OMI (left of center), EWTN Marketing Director Ian Murray (right of center), and staff.

Although the number of Catholics in Ukraine is small – estimates range from 0.6% to 2% for the Latin Rite and 5.3% to 8% for the Greek Rite –Michael says the miracle is that the Church has survived at all. To understand why, you only have to hear the story of Father Pavlo Vyshkovskyy, Provincial Superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Ukraine. Father Pavlo founded the “media community” which does much of its work through the Catholic Media Centre, and also publishes a magazine and EWTN’s Ukrainian website, www.ewtn.org.ua. Father Pavlo was the first director of the Centre and, although he recently became the Superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Ukraine, he still tracks everything at the Centre on a daily basis. Michael shakes his head as he recalls this priest’s remarkable story.

“As a boy during the Soviet era, [Pavlo] went to Midnight Mass. Because of this ‘crime,’ he was declared an enemy of the state. Teachers stripped him of everything but his shirt and he had to walk and eventually crawl 5 km home in the middle of winter. He ended up in the hospital for eight months and lost the hearing in one ear — but he survived. He grew up to be a priest with a serious motivation for spreading the Gospel!”

Michael brought back a DVD of Father Pavlo’s account of the Soviet destruction of the Church in Ukraine. It is devastating. You can understand why this priest was willing to suffer as he did while only a young boy. His own grandfather was beaten and buried alive by Soviet soldiers because of his faith. Parishioners defending his parish church were given the choice to deny their faith. When they did not, they were hung by their ears around the church. He says more than 45,000 bishops and priests were murdered: crucified in prison cells, thrown into steam engine boilers, and frozen to death, and most of the churches were blown up. Says Fr. Pavlo: “The Church in Ukraine passed the maturity exam.”

You may think this all happened in the distant past, but Michael said Fr. Pavlo is only 38-years-old.

Michael had a chance to see – up close and personal – what happens when the citizens of a country lose the fundamental right to openly practice their religion. During the Soviet era, gorgeous cathedrals in Kyiv were taken over by the government and turned into everything from tractor repair shops and stables to atheism museums and concert halls. Although the Soviet Union has fallen, these houses of worship in Kyiv have not been returned to the diocese. Even today, the Diocese of Kyiv has to purchase seats in its former churches every Sunday for the congregation.

While in Ukraine, Michael had the opportunity to meet Archbishop Petro Malchuk OFM, Latin Rite Archbishop for the Diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr. He is the first Catholic bishop allowed to reside in Kyiv in 350 years! Archbishop Malchuk’s office is in the bell tower of the Cathedral. To reach it, one must ascend a rickety spiral staircase to a room with a desk, computer and a phone. The Bishop has no staff.

Michael also had the opportunity to meet with His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. He normally resides in Kyiv, but was in Lviv at the time of Michael’s visit. Unlike Kyiv, which was almost totally destroyed during World War II, many of the beautiful churches in Lviv were not destroyed and are still maintained by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. While that is a significant advantage, both the Latin Rite and the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches face the challenge of rebuilding relatively small congregations.

But how can the Church rebuild after such devastation? In the “I Love Jesus” DVD that Michael was given, Fr. Pavlo tells the story of his days as a young seminarian. He desperately wanted to meet Pope John Paul II.

Fortunately, his order had a contest. The seminarian who learned the most about the Oblate of Mary Immaculate’s founder would be sent to Rome for the canonization. Fr. Pavlo won.

However, Fr. Pavlo is very tall, so he was placed at the very back of the crowd being greeted by the Pope after the canonization. Fr. Pavlo saw he would have no chance to touch the Pope, much less converse with him – so he prayed to Jesus. When the Pope got to his group, he suddenly stopped and said, “Is there anybody from the East here?” Fr. Pavlo was pushed forward. The Pope said to him: “I give you my blessing to revive the Church in Ukraine.”

Fr. Pavlo will have help. As Michael was told time and time again during his trip, EWTN is the primary method for spreading the Gospel in a country where many of the people who are left don’t even know who Jesus Christ is! What an honor – and what a responsibility!

“In Ukraine, the Catholic Church is a small church in a nation that has overwhelmingly had its religious essence taken away by successive governments,” Michael said. “It can happen all too easily. We thank God for inspiring our viewers to make the donations that allow this kind of worldwide evangelization to take place.”

God bless you Family!

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Mourning the Death of a Loved One? The Shrine of Our Lady of Montligeon Can Help

Father Paul Denizot welcomes visitors to the Basilica at the Shrine of Montligeon in the Normandy region of France.

Are you mourning a loved one who died recently – or years ago? Are you devastated because you could not be with your loved one when they died because of the pandemic? Are you in despair because you failed to apologize or thank someone who has died?

If so, you are not alone. Mourners with concerns like the above – and a lot more – represent just a few of the many pilgrims Father Paul Denizot and his translator/assistant Martine Courvosier minister to each year at the Shrine of Our Lady of Montligeon in the Normandy region of France. The 130-year old basilica is a world center of prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory and a place of healing for millions – and the good news is that you don’t have to travel to France to get the benefits. (Watch “EWTN Live” with Father Paul and Martine, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXVYll-coDk&t=3s)

Overview of Our Catholic Faith on Death

“On earth we suffer [when a loved one dies]; that’s normal. We can’t touch or hear them,” says Father Paul. “But the relationship of love is not ended by death. [As Lumen Gentium 49 says], the relationship between the dead and the living is ongoing. The relationship can grow beyond death. This bond of love goes on. We can pray for them and they pray for us. When we [join] them [in heaven], it will be as if we never lost them. That’s the Catholic faith.”

Father Paul says that’s why Louis and Zéli Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, were canonized together. “Even if they’re not married in heaven, this communion, this proximity, this bond of love goes on after death.”

Don’t take that for granted. A group of Protestants who came to the Shrine told Father Paul that they found mourning difficult because after the funeral, their faith teaches them  there is nothing more they can do for them. They are either in heaven or hell and, in either case, they cannot speak to them.

Says Father: “It’s more human, I think, to know that we can do something for them; that the relationship is not ended. They are still close to us [through] prayer and the Eucharist. The link between [us and the Holy Souls} is this love of God, this Communion.”

Famous statue of Our Lady of Montligeon inside the Shrine Basilica of the same name in La Chapelle-Montligeon, France. Our Lady of Montligeon, pray for the souls in Purgatory.

In fact, our Church says the Holy Souls are never closer to us than we participate in the Mass.

“During the Mass the proximity [with our loved ones] is very strong,” Father said. “All of heaven and all of purgatory are close to us. [Those in Purgatory] are suffering, but they are in grace too. They need purification to see God, but they live in love; there’s not just suffering, but joy too. They know they are saved.”

Those of us who are left behind may be sad, but for a Catholic there is this hope, this joy, that we will see our loved ones again – and we have a beautiful and important job to do, which is to pray for our beloved deceased.

The Catholic Faith teaches that our relationships with loved ones continue after death and into the afterlife. Prayers for the dead are very important!

“We put them in the hands of the Lord,” says Father Paul. “That’s a great consolation. We put them in the hands of our Mother. We all need a mother; that’s a gift that Jesus gave us. She protects us.”

Father reminds us: “God is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the Living because all of the Holy Souls in Purgatory live in and for Him.”

NEVER TOO LATE

All of this helps explain why it’s never too late to beg pardon or to say thanks to loved ones, as Father Paul reminds us was made clear in Pope Benedict’s encyclical Spes Salvi (“In hope, we are saved”).

That’s why the Shrine offers visitors – to the Shrine itself or to the Shrine website – an opportunity to fill out thank you and/or forgive me cards, which are placed at the feet of the famous statue of Our Lady of Montligeon, Libertrix (of Deliverance).

Father Paul says he himself writes up one or more of these cards every year on the anniversary of his own father’s death – and at other times as well. People say things like: “You weren’t kind in this or that moment. I forgive you” and/or “I remember this beautiful moment. Thank you!”

Remembering good and bad moments is common to everyone, but it’s especially important to those who were unable to be with their loved ones when they died or who were estranged from a loved one. But, as Father says, it’s never too late!

The peaceful French countryside in Normandy, which surrounds the Shrine of Our Lady of Montligeon. The area, which saw horrific fighting during World War II, is now an oasis of prayer.

Mourning/Grieving Sessions at the Shrine

The Shrine holds seven mourning sessions each year which are facilitated by the priests and sisters stationed at the Shrine.

Often, the visit starts with a 1 hour listening session with a priest, which gives mourners the opportunity to unload their emotions.

“We just listen,” Father said. “This place is dedicated to holy Mary, adoration, and the rosary. Everyone can find some kind of answers to their questions [about] the way they feel. When you love someone [who has died], it’s like someone cut off a part of your body.”

The Shrine offers mourners a place to talk to the priests and nuns, but also to others who have experienced a similar loss. Mourners at the Shrine often walk “The Way of Resurrection,” which helps them “open to hope.” (Download the leaflet, https://bit.ly/WayOfResurrection.

Says Father: “They talk together. They pray together. At the end of some stations, there are smiles. They come with very dark, sad faces, and three days later, we can hear them laughing, take coffee, and speaking about their husbands.”

Another inspiring look at the Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Montligeon in Spring.

Stories of the Shrine’s Pilgrim Mourners

Father Paul shared examples of the kinds of pilgrims who come to the Shrine for healing.

One woman, who was mourning the loss of her 14-year-old daughter, came to the Shrine to rail against the priests; in this particular case, Father Paul. One of the brothers at the Shrine had once counseled him to let pilgrims like this woman go on their way. But an older priest advised him differently, saying that the anger of some pilgrims is not directed against the priest himself. “You are just an instrument of God. You have to be the punching bag.”

Says Father Paul: “It’s not against me she needs to express her anger, it’s against the Lord, against death.” Father Paul says that angry woman just needed someone to whom she could express her anger and her heartbreak. She is now a friend.

Another couple who lost two daughters during a terrorist attack in Paris have been coming to the Shrine for six years. Although they never really practiced their faith, that is changing.

“There is anger; they are still suffering, but there is hope. [At the Shrine], they can speak with other parents who lost their children.”

And then there are the atheists. One widow who attended Mass at the Shrine every day she was there, nevertheless told everyone who would listen that she didn’t believe in God. At the end of the week, Father Paul asked the woman why she came to Montligeon. She said, “You Christians are the only ones who speak about death and hope – and your God died. You celebrate the death of your God in the Eucharist.”

Says Father: “It’s an incredible thing that God should die [and rise from the dead]; it’s a revolution!” It’s the splendor of the Catholic faith and something many cradle Catholics take for granted!

Sanctuaire Notre-Dame de Montligeon

And then, there is the story of a man who was working at his Paris office when his wife, who had gotten a jumpstart on a vacation with their children, called to tell him that their son had died in a swimming pool accident.

“All the hours he traveled from his work to try to join [his family] were terrible,” Father said. “He was alone on the train during the holidays. Everybody was happy and he was crying. He told me three things helped him.

“First, a priest told him, ‘You have a wife and other children. You have to live and to pray. It was a strong thing to say, but it helped. Second, he was walking a thin blade between hope and despair and he told me, ‘I chose hope.’ Third, [a line from the Bible:] ‘Jesus wept.’ That was a consolation.”

Father Paul’s own father died just before he became rector at the Shrine. Before that time, he wanted to be a parish priest so he wasn’t particularly happy about the assignment. But after losing his own father, on the Feast of Our Lady of Montligeon, he realized the importance of his vocation and his work at the Shrine, which is obviously where he was meant to be. This wonderful priest now radiates peace and joy in his assignment.

A look at the inside of the magnificent Basilica of Our Lady of Montligeon.

Why We Sometimes Mourn A Death Years After It Occurred

In modern times, people expect those who have experienced a death to move on relatively quickly. Martine, Father’s assistant, said that even though she hardly knew her diocesan bishop, she grew fond of him because of his devotion to the Blessed Mother. When she learned he had been reassigned, she shocked herself by breaking down in tears. She couldn’t understand why she was so upset.

But Martine had lost her father at age 17 and a brother a few years ago, and more recently had mourned when her 25-year-old sister-in-law lost her nine-month-old child. Someone at the Shrine helped Martine realize that she hadn’t fully grieved these losses.

“I couldn’t allow myself to show my grief,” she said. “it’s crazy it took all this time. New bereavements reveal older bereavements.”

Father Paul agreed. He recalled comforting a mourner whose husband had died, but it was her father who she ended up speaking about extensively during her husband’s funeral. “All our bereavements revive our previous griefs.”

Father Paul Denizot, Shrine Rector, says his own father died on the Feast of Our Lady of Montligeon. He took that as a sign that this was where the Lord wanted him to be.

Bottom line

Mourners come to the Shrine – either virtually or in person – to get a better understanding of their emotions and to heal. They come from every walk of life and with every type of pain, including murder and suicide. How is it possible for the religious and all who work at the Shrine to handle this?

Says Father, “To hear all the evil, the sadness, we can’t do that without prayer. If I don’t pray one or two days, I feel it. Meditation and silence. Without them, I’m like a boat in the storm.”

And that’s the message they pass on to mourners.

“Sometimes people don’t die as we expected. Death can be a struggle. But the Lord is always there – that’s our consolation. Beyond the struggle, beyond the crying, if there is hope, faith, and the matter of God, we can pray for them peacefully.”

The Shrine of Our Lady of Montligeon is a world center of prayer for the holy souls, but you don’t have to go to France to access its services.

Quick Links for Mourners To Access Shrine Services Plus a Video Interview

You don’t have to go to France to take advantage of the Shrine of Our Lady of Montligeon’s many services for the bereaved – although going there is a beautiful thing! Below are links for those who want to make a pilgrimage and five other things you can do in your own hometown.

  1. Make a pilgrimage to the Shrine as an individual or with a group. The Shrine website, montligeon.org/en, has information about accommodations as well as group activities, https://montligeon.org/en/venir-en-groupe/, and a whole lot more. To find out more, write to reception@montligeon.org.
  2. Fr. Paul-Joseph Buguet, a parish priest in La Chapelle-Montligeon, founded the Expiatory Association for the deliverance of the most neglected souls in Purgatory in 1884. Thanks to its popularity, he was able to build a church dedicated to Our Lady of Deliverance of Holy Souls, which would become the Basilica/Shrine of Our Lady of Montligeon, which has been visited by multiple popes.

    Can’t make a trip to France? No problem! Father Paul Denizot, Shrine Rector, says the most important work of the Shrine is prayer. Go to the link below to have a Mass offered, present a prayer petition, or to enroll yourself or a loved one in the Spiritual Fraternity of Our Lady of Montligeon: https://montligeon.org/en/entrust-your-beloved-ones-to-the-prayer-of-the-shrine/. The Spiritual Fraternity offers both the living and the deceased a perpetual enrollment in the five daily Masses offered at the Shrine by five priests, over 30,000 praying associates, and throughout the world by means of 800 Montligeon prayer groups in 45 countries. Click here to join the Fraternity: https://montligeon.org/en/fraternity-enrolment/

  3. Send a thank you/sorry card, https://montligeon.org/en/a-thank-you-sorry-card-to-a-deceased-person/. Simply download the card you will find at this link and forward it to the Shrine, either digitally or by mail, where it will be placed in a box under the Statue of Our Lady of Montligeon.
  4. With the permission of your pastor, start a “Montligeon Prayer Group.” Groups meet at least once a month in a public place such as a church, hospital, nursing home, hospice, school, seminary, Catholic radio station, etc. Groups pray a rosary for the deceased, participate in a Mass, and, very importantly, offer charitable acts on behalf of the deceased, which help mourners heal. What kinds of charitable acts might a group do? “People have to be inventive,” says Father Paul. “They can support orphans, clean the cemetery, sing at funerals, become a lay server at parish funerals, visit bereaved families, pray a rosary close to the body of the deceased, offer roses to the bereaved – you can’t limit charity.” To find out more about prayer groups, the training offered, and to register, email Nathalie Blondeau at groupesdepriere@montligeon.org.
  5. Looking for more? The Shrine’s entire website is a treasure trove of information. Here is a link to some other useful downloads, which include The Way of Resurrection, https://bit.ly/WayOfResurrection, helpful for the bereaved, and The Way of Consolation, written for parents who have lost a child before birth: https://montligeon.org/en/free-downloads/
  6. And don’t forget: You can watch the “EWTN Live” interview that Father Mitch Pacwa conducted with Father Paul and translator/assistant Martine Courvoisier here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXVYll-coDk&t=3s)
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Strengthen Your Faith in the Miraculous When EWTN Premieres ‘Guadalupe Mysteries’

Think you know everything you need to know about the miraculous tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, whose feast day is Dec. 12? EWTN’s newest program “Guadalupe Mysteries,” a visually stunning documentary that includes spectacular recreations and drone footage, will show you in detail that you almost certainly do not!

“My goal was to create the best documentary related to the miraculous phenomenon of the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe that had ever been done in English,” said host and Executive Producer Michael O’Neill of this 16h Century Marian apparition.

“Guadalupe Mysteries” airs 1:30 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET, Sunday, Dec. 12. O’Neill’s latest episode of his travel series “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Guadalupe” also airs on Dec. 12 at 4 a.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. ET, and 8 p.m. ET. That’s not all! Miracle Hunter fans will also want to check out an interview with O’Neill on “EWTN News Nightly” at 6 p.m. ET, Thursday Dec. 9 to talk about the new episode of “They Might be Saints: Blessed Solanus Casey,” which airs 5 p.m. ET, Friday, Dec. 10. Finally, this week, don’t miss “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Loreto,” which airs at 5:30 p.m. ET, Friday, Dec. 10.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the world’s most visited Marian shrine, holds 50,000 pilgrims.

 

Many Catholics know the story of Our Lady’s appearance, but the ongoing Guadalupe mysteries involve St. Juan Diego’s miraculous tilma, whose symbolism spoke to the hearts of the native and Spanish population, and converted nine million people in the following decade.

But O’Neill says: “While many people have a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, know some of the stories, and have seen the images, they might not know these mysteries,” O’Neill said. “I wanted to interview the top experts in the world and so we had to fly to Mexico to interview them in Spanish.

“I interviewed top experts on all aspects of the tilma about what those icons and images mean, the star pattern, the figures in the eyes, the topography of Mexico represented in the cloth, the absolute blend of two cultures represented in the art, and a lot more. It’s remarkable that we got to speak to the absolute experts in their fields and to put that all in the film.”

Juan Diego, the young Mexican man to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared, tried to avoid Our Lady before a second apparition because his uncle was dying and he needed to get a priest to hear his confession. Our Lady blocked his way. However, she honored his desire to help his uncle by healing him even as she bade him to visit his bishop yet again to ask that he honor her requests.

 

O’Neill’s interviewees include people like Msgr. Salvador Martinez Ávila, bishop/rector of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who had never before given an interview to media from the United States; Msgr. Eduardo Chávez, the priest who is the world’s top Guadalupe expert as he runs the Higher Institute of Guadalupan Studies and served as the postulator for visionary Juan Diego’s canonization cause; Don. Fernado Ojeda Llanes, the top scientific researcher of the tilma and Fr. Armando Ruiz, from the Commission of Sacred Art in the Archdiocese of Mexico and one of the top art historians in all of Mexico.

Viewers will learn extraordinary things. For example, Juan Diego’s apparition began when he heard music, which helped draw him up Tepeyac Hill, where the apparition took place. Mathematicians drew a line up the seam running down the middle of the cloth and came up with a mathematical model with 23 vertical lines. The stars and flowers on the tilma were changed into notes. This purely mathematical operation turned out notes that produced a perfect harmony. They tried this with numerous other famous images and nothing similar happened. This beautiful music is played in this documentary.

A well-known opthamologist, who was skeptical of what he heard about a figure that had been detected under magnification in Our Lady’s eyes, was granted access to the original tilma. Photos of the highest possible quality were taken. Enlargements showed not only a bearded man, which is all that had been seen in the past, but 12 other people! The eyes are 5/16 of an inch. As we learn in the film, “No painter on earth could have painted such a precise image according to the laws of optics not known until the 19th Century.”

Drone shot of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

O’Neill said his own devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe came from his mother, who prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe when her own mother fell away from the faith. She was young and planning to be a teacher.

Miracle Hunter Michael O’Neill is host and Executive Producer of “Guadalupe Mysteries.”

The young, would-be teacher prayed: “If you bring my mother back to the faith, I will teach every student I ever teach and any children I ever have about Our Lady of Guadalupe.” O’Neill says the story of his grandmother coming back to the faith led him on the path of studying miracles, which became his career.

“This is one of my favorite programs that I’ve done for EWTN,” O’Neill said. “It really brings things full circle for our family.”

Note: O’Neill collaborated with the creators of the book “Guadalupe Mysteries” – the renowned author-photographer team Grzegorz Gorny and Janusz Rosikonon – and features their photography throughout the program. The book is available from EWTNRC, https://www.ewtnreligiouscatalogue.com/guadalupe-mysteries-deciphering-the-code/p/BKMAR01155. Viewers may also want to check out “Our Lady of Guadalupe Art,” a center in Texas run by Ricardo Flores Kastanis, whose bronze foundry work is featured in the film and who helped O’Neill connect with many of his amazing sources, (http://ourladyofguadalupe.us/).

 

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Our Lady Warns The World Of Impending Disaster In EWTN’s ‘Kibeho: Listen My Children’

The 10 p.m. ET Nov. 24 premiere of “Kibeho: Listen My Children” will be preceded at 8 a.m. ET by “EWTN Live,” with Immaculée IIlibagiza, who appears prominently in the docudrama. Immaculée is the woman who told the world about the genocide in the 2017 best-selling book, “Left to Tell,” which was later made into a well-known documentary by the same name.

Many have heard of the horrific genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994, when 200,000 Hutus slaughtered 800,000 Tutsis and some moderate Hutus – their own countrymen. But few are aware that Our Lady warned the country about the impending disaster – and how to avoid it – during a series of apparitions to three school girls 12 years earlier. The visions of destruction, torture, and human carnage as well as a river of blood viewed by one of the visionaries were so terrifying that the young girl told Our Lady she was afraid she would never be able to sleep again.

“Kibeho: Listen My Children,” an EWTN Original production, premieres at 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Nov. 24, with encores at 1:30 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 28. (Click here for the trailer: https://bit.ly/KibehoTrailer.

The Nov. 24 premiere will be preceded at 8 a.m. ET by “EWTN Live,” with Immaculée IIlibagiza, who appears prominently in the docudrama. Immaculée is the woman who told the world about the genocide in the 2017 best-selling book, “Left to Tell,” which was later made into a well-known documentary by the same name.

In addition to observations from Immaculée, the docudrama includes footage of the actual Rwandan school girl visionaries, the mental torture they endured by those who did not believe them, the doctors who were charged with determining if they were mentally ill, and church officials who made the final determination.

Immaculée IIlibagizawas instrumental in the design of the statue of Our Lady of Kibeho, which is available exclusively from EWTN Religious Catalogue, https://bit.ly/OurLadyOfKibehoStatue.

Among other things, Our Lady of Kibeho requested that the people of Rwanda pray the Seven Sorrow Rosary, a devotion given to St. Bridget centuries earlier which had largely been forgotten. During the genocide, the sisters at the convent school the visionaries attended prayed this rosary from morning to evening. All survived the bloodbath. (Find meditations on the Seven Sorrows Rosary and more in this little booklet from EWTNRC: https://bit.ly/7SorrowsRosary

Our Lady first appeared to Alphonsine Mumureke, a student at Kibeho High School, on Nov. 28, 1981. She asked Alphonsine to tell people that they needed to convert. But Immaculee tells us that Alphonsine was “regular” girl, not known for her piety so no one believed her. Unfortunately, their unbelief morphed into physical persecution. The young girl begged Our Lady to appear to another girl so she would be believed.

On January 12, 1982, Our Lady answered Alphonsine’s prayer by appearing to Nathalie Mukamazimpaka, a fellow student with a sterling reputation who was known for her piety. Things got somewhat better, but there were still many who did not believe. The worst of the persecutors was a tough girl named Marie Claire Mukangango who received her own apparition on March 2, 1982.

During an apparition with Marie Claire, Our Lady spent much time weeping. She said she was sad because so many did not believe her warnings. It was Marie Claire to whom she gave the visions of “destruction, torture, and savage human carnage.” Those visions were, of course, a preview of the genocide that would tear the country apart a dozen years later. In fact, online accounts of the history of this conflict are eerily prescient of problems that persist in the world today.

Immaculée IIlibagiza on the set of “EWTN Live” with Father Mitch Pacwa to discuss the EWTN original docudrama “Kibeho: Listen My Children.” Few are aware that Our Lady warned Rwanda about the impending genocide – and how to avoid it – during a series of apparitions to three Rwandan school girls 12 years before the tragedy occurred.

Each girl was given specific groups of people for whom to pray, but interestingly it was again Marie Claire who was taken on a trip to the three places about which Catholics so often hear. The first was a place where people were in terrible pain, fighting, and extremely angry. Our Lady told her this place was “for those who will suffer eternally, who will never be forgiven.” She then went to a place where there was little light, and where there was suffering, but less than in the first place, and “where people seemed to be expecting somebody to come and help them.” Finally, she was taken to a place with a beautiful light, brighter than the sun, where she could hear beautiful voices. She was told it was for “those who have light in their heart, the place of those who respect God.”

When Marie Claire asked Our Lady why she had showed her these places, Out Lady said: “I showed you so you know the life that matters most is what is coming after this life on earth. Go and tell everyone. Encourage them to live the right way. Tell them to live without respecting God is the ultimate waste of time. They will regret it bitterly.” Our Lady also said: “You have to tell the people that these places actually exist. To refuse Jesus is to refuse paradise.”

Marie Claire was also the visionary to whom Our Lady taught the Seven Sorrows Rosary, which the docudrama explains in detail. Our Lady said it is important we say this rosary “to help Jesus to save the world.”

Our Lady said to Marie Claire: “Tell the sisters [at the convent school the visionaries attended] that they must love the rosary: the Seven Sorrows Rosary and the traditional rosary. Tell them to say it with their hearts, being conscious of who they are talking to. Tell them to ask for strength to help them accomplish the promises they made to God. Remind them to always show love to each other so that others may take the example from my daughters. Tell them to be a true reflection of my love to everyone that they meet, everywhere they go, imitating my behavior and virtues.”

There is so much more to tell about these apparitions. This is a story no one who cares about eternal life should miss. In fact, in advice that seems equally applicable to us today, we are told in the film that one of Our Lady’s biggest sorrows was that “[f]ew people truly listened to the advice and counsel she had given to her visionaries,”.

The question for us decades later is: Will we?

 

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EWTN’s docudrama ‘Speak of the devil – Spiritual warfare’ teaches us how to fight and win the battle with satan

Do you believe the devil exists? Do you know how he operates and how you might unwittingly open the door to evil in your life? Do you know how to best defend yourself against his accusations and deceptions?

The father in this drama doesn’t know if his youngest son has killed their priest, but he goes to rescue him from his evil companions anyway.

In EWTN’s stunning new docudrama, “Speak of the Devil – Spiritual warfare,’ Director Campbell Miller takes you inside a pious medieval family whose youngest son is seduced by the devil in a riveting retelling of the story of the Prodigal Son. As the drama unfolds, we hear from experts in spiritual warfare who explain what is happening on a supernatural level and the many weapons we have in our battle against the evil one. Watch the story unfold in all its medieval splendor at 10 p.m. ET, Oct. 20 when EWTN premieres “Speak of the devil – Spiritual warfare.”

The event will be preceded at 8 p.m. ET by a special “EWTN Live” with Miller and Executive Producer Aidan Gallagher from EWTN’s Ireland office who will take you behind the scenes to show you not only how the film was made, but the spiritual battle they had to fight in order to get the project completed. This truly is don’t miss television! (Additional airings at 10:30 a.m. ET, Thursday, Oct. 21; 8 p.m. ET, Saturday, Oct. 23; and 1:30 am. ET, Monday, Oct. 25.)

The devil is a monster of deception.

“People don’t realize the devil exists,” says Miller. “When you dabble with the occult, you’re opening the door. But we have weapons and armor that have been given us by our Lord to fight it. That is the one thing I would like the viewer to take away.”

“One of [satan’s] greatest weapons is deception,” Miller continues. “People believe he’s only the symbol of evil. Reiki, palm reading, the Ouija board, angel cards – they all open the door to evil. I’ve heard of people talking about angel cards. They’re using Christian terminology so people think it’s Christian warfare they are taking part in.”

EWTN Host Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J. is one of our spiritual guides in this EWTN Original docudrama.

As the film opens, Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J., theologian, author and EWTN TV host, explains that the devil is very real and it’s our job to know who he is and how he fights. “We are in a spiritual war with demonic powers,” says Father Mitch. “These spiritual forces try to prevent human beings from making a decision to love God. They will do everything in their power to stop us from being with our Father.”

Have you ever thought about the devil in this way?

Viewers will learn a lot by watching this film. For example, did you know that while we have many weapons to help us resist evil, we have only one to actively fight it – and you may be surprised to discover that it’s the Word of God!

God gives us a guardian angel (man in blue) to walk with us (the youngest son who represents all of us) in good times and in times of danger and temptation.

Did you know that we are not only commanded to pray every day, we are commanded to read and pray the BIBLE every day? According to Father Pat Collins, C.M., Archdiocese of Dublin, Ireland: “If I’m not reading from Scripture, I don’t have a sword! The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God!”

We know this is true because our Savior modeled this weapon for us in his own battle with satan in the desert where he had gone to fast and pray for 40 days. The fasting and prayer prepared Him for battle, but Paul Thigpen, author of “Manual for Spiritual Warfare,” says: “When He [Jesus] actually engaged the enemy, He used Scripture!” “The enemy tries to come at you to make you afraid. ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I will not fear.’ The enemy comes at you with an accusation. ‘The accuser of our brothers has been cast out.’”

Scripture is powerful—and so is the name of Jesus! These are just a few of the many powerful weapons we learn about – or gain a new appreciation for – even as we become engrossed in a truly gripping drama.

The devil and his minions hunt are not about to let the youngest son go his own way.

The many obstacles encountered in the making of this film showed cast and crew that the devil was not happy about this project. Miller said he thought the last film he made, which told the story of Our Lady of Knock, was tough, but he says this film took spiritual warfare to a whole new level.

First, filming was cancelled because of the pandemic. When things finally opened up again, a lot of work had to be redone because cast and crew – including makeup artists and costume designers – had moved on to other jobs, which were paying a post pandemic premium for such workers. Thanks to Brexit (Great Britain leaving the European Union), getting costumes, props, and various other materials was next to impossible.

Worst of all, the site where a large part of the docudrama had been filmed was bought by another entity, which meant the film’s incredible medieval setting was being made into a pristine wedding venue. Because of all the construction work taking place around them, a day of filming which might normally take 12 hours could take 20 to 21 hours. “At one point, the crew had only eight hours of sleep in nearly three days!” say Miller. “But everybody came together and we fought through these issues.”

Director Campbell Miller (center) on location in Ireland.

This film is brimming with information all of us desperately need to hear. You’ll learn what the most terrifying moment in history was for the devil, about the moment when the devil is most afraid of us; why we must be sensitive to the voice of the angels; and what happens when we don’t pray.

The good news is that the spiritual battle is not just about us looking for God. “The Hound of Heaven chases us down the highways and byways of life.” This film will encourage you to let yourself be caught!

The film is set in a stunning medieval setting.

Find out what you can do to not only fight the enemy but win when EWTN premieres one of the important films you will see this year – and please, bring your friends and family to the viewing. We promise it will be a night to remember!

Note: Want more? View the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0HI7J5b8sc

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‘Metanoia:’ EWTN’s New Series Teaches You How To Have a Personal Relationship With Jesus

Are you looking for a way to get closer to Jesus? If so, you will definitely want to make a commitment to watch EWTN’s newest series, “Metanoia,” and to share it with family and friends. (Airs 6 p.m. ET, Saturdays, with an encore at 5:30 a.m. ET Tuesdays and coming soon on www.ewtnrc.com.)

The term “metanoia” may not be familiar to everyone, but Host Fr. Dave Pivonka TOR (President of Franciscan University of Steubenville, and host of “The Wild Goose” series on EWTN) tells us that metanoia is a reference to conversion, to a mind and a life changed through Jesus – and it’s not something that should be experienced only once.

When discussing his new series on the set of “Franciscan University Presents” (which airs Sundays, the first full week of the month, at 10 p.m. ET), Fr. Dave told the hosts that he once discussed metanoia/conversion with a student who he later discovered he had unintentionally insulted because she had fallen into the trap of thinking that her conversion was a once and done experience.

Franciscan University Professor Scott Hahn agreed saying that he had recently met with a group of people with whom he had walked in faith 40 years ago. He was struck by how many were talking about their faith life in the same way they had so many years ago. As the saying goes, if we are not moving ahead in our faith life, we are falling behind.

Fr. Dave kicked off this 10-part series, which was beautifully filmed in the Holy Land, with an episode last week that posed the same question to viewers that Jesus posed to his disciples: Who do you say I am? In other words, the series challenges us to go beyond a textbook answer by asking each of us to answer the question: Who is God to ME? And then: Is that who God REALLY is?

This series is unique in that it includes testimonies of people from all walks of life, as well as Fr. Dave himself, who share their own answers to this and other questions such as – How can I hope to achieve victory over satan? How do I deal with the “hard sayings” in Scripture? How do I show Jesus that I love Him? – and so many more!

One woman bared her soul in the first episode, saying she always felt she had been a good Catholic until she delivered a child born with cerebral palsy. This was the first time she faced such a big challenge. At first, she thought that, since she had always been a pretty good person, she could just ask God to cure her child and He would. In other words, she saw Jesus as a “Genie” or “Santa Claus.” But He didn’t grant her the cure she requested.

It wasn’t until later that she finally admitted to Jesus that she didn’t really know Him, that she felt like a fraud in her faith, and she humbly asked Him to help her see Him as He really is. That’s when Jesus revealed Himself to her as “Love, Mercy, my Friend, my Brother, my Love – and He doesn’t abandon us,” she said.

Father Dave himself says that, as a teenager, he prayed that his brother would be able to see how wrong he was about something. Days later, a car his brother was working on fell on his head! Although his brother was ultimately okay, Father Dave said that experience left him with an impression of God as a harsh disciplinarian. It wasn’t until eight years later that God revealed to Him that his impression was very wrong. As Fr. Dave says: “Jesus is not who we WANT [or suppose] Him to be.”

If you missed Episode 1, don’t worry. This episode, and all the episodes to follow, will soon be available on www.ewtnrc.com. But you can jump in anytime for answers to many more important questions such as – What must I do to inherit eternal life? Why does Scripture say I must die in order to live? How is it possible to have a personal relationship with Jesus? – and many others!

Father Dave prays that through this series you will discover the ultimate truth about Our Lord: “He is more than you can imagine!”

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EWTN Radio’s Open Line-Up Of Heavy Hitters

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Montse Grases: Find Out Why This Teen’s Life Shows Holiness Is Possible For Everyone

Photo of the real Montse Grases, now Venerable, whose story is told in the new EWTN docu-drama “They Might Be Saints: Montse Grases” with Host Michael O’Neill.

The beatification of 15-year-old Carlo Acutis caused great excitement in the Church, especially among young Catholics. Now, Catholics have yet another young person to get excited about: 17-year-old Montse Grases of Spain, who we discover is on the path to sainthood. Find out more when EWTN airs “They Might Be Saints: Montse Grases,” which airs at 11:30 a.m. ET, Saturday, July 10, and 11 p.m. ET, Wednesday, July 14 on EWTN.

“I think everybody gets excited about these young people – the Fatima children, St. Thérèse, Maria Goretti, Carlo Acutis,” says “They Might Be Saints” series Host/Writer/Producer Michael O’Neill, aka The Miracle Hunter. “It inspires the youth and gives hope to the Church.”

Scene from the new EWTN docudrama “They Might Be Saints: Montse Grases” with Host Michael O’Neill.

This teenager, who was declared Venerable on April 26, 2016 for living a life of heroic virtue, was a lay member of Opus Dei. If she is beatified, she will follow in the footsteps of Chemist Guadalupe Ortiz and become the second woman and second lay member of the international Catholic institution to achieve this.

The central message of Opus Dei, with approximately 100,000 lay members and 2,000 priests worldwide, involves the universal call to holiness. It teaches people to offer up their daily work and the ordinary things of everyday life to God.

Montse Grases, who died of cancer of the leg, offered up her sufferings for the Pope and for the founder of Opus Dei, an international Catholic institution of which she was a member.

“Montse fit into that idea that you don’t have to do spectacular deeds,” says O’Neill. “She was a regular teenager, with a sparkling personality, who loved who loved to play the guitar, sing songs, dance, perform in plays, and play basketball and tennis.

“She was able to take those occasions of ordinary life and share her faith with friends, to do things well, and to offer her sufferings up to God. She inspired others by her holiness in everyday life.”

Montse died of Ewing Sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that grows around a bone or the tissue surrounding the bone; in this case, her leg. She offered her suffering for the Pope and for the founder of Opus Dei. “She set a great example for those who surrounded her,” says O’Neill. “She died well.”

Ven. Montse Grases lived the life of an ordinary Spanish teenager extraordinarily well.

Viewers of this episode will hear from a full roster of people, including the Prelate of Opus Dei, and the Vice Postulator of her Cause for Canonization, and will hear the story of a remarkable favor that took place through Montse’s intercession.

“The intercession involved a 2 ½ year old girl. Out of the blue she began having extreme health conditions. During her interview, the child’s mother says their life had gotten out of control and an MRI revealed a tumor in the hypothalamus. This was removed in surgery, after which the young girl started going downhill.”

Although the mother admitted that she was not one to pray to the saints, she started to see the face of Montse in her mind so she directed her prayers there.

Scene from the new EWTN docudrama “They Might Be Saints: Montse Grases” with Host Michael O’Neill.

“The next day she went to the doctor’s office and the child started to recover,” O’Neill said. “This surgery had never been done in that way before. It was a remarkable and unexpected success. Because it involved medical intervention, it is not the type of healing considered by Rome for a beatification miracle but this was a tremendous favor. These are the types of intercessions they are seeing.”

O’Neill says it’s Montse’s simplicity that he, and others, find so appealing.

“We have this idea that saints must be these famous people who accomplished a huge checklist of things. It makes us all feel that we’ll never get there. Her life is so simple yet so inspiring. Her story shows that if you live your life well and offer up your struggles and sufferings and the difficulties of life, you can achieve holiness too.”

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