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Death Of A Catholic Parish

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On January 14, 2020, I was informed that the Archdiocese of Chicago was closing the Catholic School that I had attended for eight years, first grade, through eighth grade. It was going to be closing at the end of this school year. I, along with many other souls, were devastated at the news. This was home to me. The actual home I had grown up in, after my parents death, was located just three blocks from here and sold a month after their deaths. We had both my parents funerals here. They were Parishioners since the Church was opened. . Although all the comforts of my childhood seemed to be gone, I had always held St. Maria Goretti as a place that would be there for me, to remember. A spiritual anchor, so to speak, to remind me where I came from. Today, that is no longer the case. I learned today, they closed the Rectory and are moving all the religious documents to another Catholic Parish.

St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church, has held a very special place in my heart for as long as I could remember. It was my family’s parish. I was baptized in this Church on January 1, 1967.

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I attended Sunday Mass here with my family, my sisters were Married here. It belonged to my family. My first memories are in this Church. I remember the Communion rail, and how everyone would just get up and go receive our Lord. I remember everyone kneeling to receive Him. I remember it being Lent and being terrified by the  purple ghosts. Which were actually all the statues covered in the purple cloth. I remember asking my mom to please ask the Priest to let me see inside the Tabernacle, because I had to see how Jesus was living in there. Did He have a table? Chairs? A bed? Was Mary and Joseph in there too? I remember this Church being packed with souls, worshiping our Lord. I remember this place being the most important place in my life. I remember this photo below, being taken of my youngest brother and myself.

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St. Maria Goretti was where Sr. Shirley Marie Patzelt OSF, (now deceased) taught me how to play piano when I was five years old. It was where I took my neighbor friend, when we were six years old, to go pray to our Lord, and ask Him to help her find her dog which ran away and could not be found.  It was the place we would drive by and know we were home. It was the place I could walk to without being afraid, and go play baseball in the field behind the Church. It was the place that had the BEST Church Carnival at the end of the school year, marking the beginning of Summer Vacation. Everyone from miles away would attend it. It was the highlight of childhood. It was the place I always KNEW in my heart, commanded respect, reverence and was safe. It was the place our Lord was. It was the place that held the body of our Pastor, when he passed away unexpectedly. I remember my mom and I walking into the Sacristy, walking up to the front of the Church, to pray for him as he lay in state. It was quiet and somber. I remember crying.

This is the School, my parents scraped and suffered for, to ensure I could have a good Catholic education. With that education, came some of the most memorable souls I have ever known. This is the Church they supported with all they could financially, during the hard times in the Parish history, and during the hard times we faced as a family. This is the Church I had made my reconciliation and Confirmation at, and remember speaking with Bishop Abramowicz, who told me my Confirmation name, Mary, was his mothers name. He asked me why I had chosen the name, and I said I needed very strong help. This is the Church, I, along with my eighth grade class, sang The Magnificat in Latin, during our Christmas pageant to surprise the parents. As they had not heard it for some time, being sung. This was the place I called home, for my formative years.

This was the Church that my first daughter was Baptized in, February 14, 1988, and was able to attend Catholic Kindergarten, that did not exist at the time I was in Kindergarten. This is the Church I chose to leave, as I chased a dream I thought I could attain on my own. This Parish was not without scandal and through it all, my parents stayed, and worshiped our Lord.

This is a place where I began to learn how to worship our Lord. This is a place I had thought, would be there at the end.

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This is the Church that my Father’s funeral was held. This is the Parish that would send extraordinary ministers of holy communion to visit my mom, suffering with lung cancer at home, after my Father’s death, as she was unable to attend Holy Mass any longer. This is the Church, my mother begged me to never forget. When I moved back in with her, she asked me to return to this Church with her, to receive Anointing of the Sick. We did together. This is the Church I returned home to, after failing miserably.  This was the Church, which also held the funeral Mass, for my mom, just before I left this place again, for the last time, and moved across country.

This is the Church I called from across country, 9 years after the death of my mom, to obtain all my Religious documents, so I could Marry my husband in the Church and enter the Third Order of Carmel. I was amazed to find that the Rectory secretary, was the same woman who had been there for over 40 years. We talked about the Church, my parents and reminisced a while, before I had requested the documents. She remembered everyone and everything. It was like talking to a family member, I had not seen in many years. She remembered my Great Uncle, the Msgr from Slovakia, and even had the copy of my First Holy Communion record, which was celebrated in my Grandparents Church, which had also closed in 1987.

You see, this was also the place that all my childhood friends received their Sacraments. When I say all, I mean, all. Everyone I knew, all the kids in the neighborhood, were Catholic. Over the years, Mass attendance dwindled. Although my parents and others attended, children grew up and moved away. Older members were dying, funerals were being held, and new Parishioners began to dwindle. Mass times changed to accommodate, and as I hear now, Masses are split between another Parish across town and this Parish, shares the Priest with the other Parish. There isn’t a Priest anymore, who is solely assigned to St. Maria Goretti, but one who splits his time between this Church, and another. The School will be closing at the end of this school year,  the Rectory closed this week and they are moving all the records to another Parish.

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This is an original copy of a Church Bulletin, from January, 1967 which my mom saved for me, as it announces my Baptism. 

I can not tell you how sad and painful it is, to watch a Parish die. Although I have many precious memories, I have just as many more thoughts of what could I have done more to help save it? I often hear Parishioners speak of the Priest shortage, but I must say, I don’t believe there is one. What I do see, is a Parishioner shortage. When souls live the faith, Parish life flourishes. When souls do not live the faith, parishes die.

There are just as many houses and family’s in the neighborhood as there were when I lived there. What there isn’t, is enough souls to fill the school and the Church pews. Just as there were not enough to fill the Church of my Grandparents parish back in 1987.

I will, if our Lord wills it, be visiting this place at the end of May, and will have an update at that time. For now, please pray for the souls of St. Maria Goretti Parish, especially the children who need to find a new school to attend and do not get to build the memories here, that our Lord allowed me to build.

I truly am pondering detachment of even the Parishes we have, although community in Christ is so very important. I ask myself now, is the attachment I had and have to this Parish a prideful one? As if to say this is mine! You can’t do this! Or is it more of an attachment due to it being a place where so many memories had been made, and I hold dear due to my parents being gone, knowing it belonged to them. Should my attachment to this place strictly be, the attachment I have to our Lord, knowing He is with me here where I am in my new place?  I guess its something for me to seriously pray about. I do know there is nothing I can do to change it. But rather, just accept it as it is. All things are passing away. Our Lord is my Anchor. It is He who I am to cling to and not the things nor souls that bring me to Him.

Its like all those life experiences you place in a box, put away, and hear that the place you stored them, was destroyed. I know we all get over things as this, but its to be grieved like the death of a loved one. You know you get through it, you know our Lord is with you, but its still extremely painful. Its a realization that if this can happen here, it can happen anywhere. Its a deep call of conversion home to the Catholic faith. Return to your “first love”, live the faith again, not in the shadows of society, but out in the open, boldly. 

St. Maria Goretti, pray for us

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us all.

 

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Querida Amazonia

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Please read it yourself  here: QUERIDA AMAZONIA

I will be reading it over the next few days and post a few thoughts later.

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Eternal Life Begins Now

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We have many good lessons to learn, through this tragic event…

Sunday morning, my youngest daughter came to me in tears, showing me her iPad and asking me if it was true! She really took me by surprise and was yelling at me to tell her. I asked her a few times before looking down, what? What? Is what true?  She proceed to walk to my husband and show him and he picked up the TV remote, changed the channel and yes. It was true. Kobe Bryant was killed that morning in a horrific helicopter crash. My daughter was inconsolable. I held her as she cried, and asked her if she wanted to pray for him and we did together. My daughter is extremely sensitive when news breaks of anyone’s death.

She walked into her room sobbing while my husband, who happens to be an air traffic controller, and myself, sat in shock watching the news unfold. Later that day, hearing Kobe and his daughter attended Holy Mass, brought us all great comfort. We attended the evening Mass that day, and the Priest added Kobe and Gianna, his 13 year old daughter, along with all who had died in that horrific crash, in the prayers of the faithful. My daughter looked at me during that moment and smiled. She was at peace again.

First spiritual lesson to learn. I can not stress the importance of receiving our Lord in the Sacraments before we die. We never know when our Lord is going to take us home. If we become sick, or if we have sick loved ones, who are Catholic, PLEASE, before they slip into a condition to where they can not longer receive our Lord in the Eucharist, call a Priest to administer the Sacraments! There is a great post here on this subject: A Guide to the Last Rites May take this time for granted and wait until the loved one has already died, or is in a vegetative state. Please, the sooner the better that they may take our Lord with them on that final journey.

Getting back to the news of Kobe.  I must admit, I am not a fan of basketball. Not even a fan as I was living in Chicago, when the Bulls took the Championship five times with Michael Jordan and the rest of the crew. What I am a huge fan of, is repenting sinners. Another spiritual lessons to learn in this, is repentance. In learning more about Kobe and his charities, his regular attendance of Holy Mass and even attending daily Mass, my heart leaped knowing he sure looked like a repenting soul to me. At that point in anyone’s life, the moment of repentance, turning back to our Lord, what we ONCE WERE, is no longer who we are at this moment. It’s gone, as we allow our Lord to build us into what He created us to be. Letting go of what we want to be, accepting the good and the bad. What our Lord has already forgiven, can no longer be held against us. The sin is gone, although the residual effect of the sin may remain. Its not easy to find souls in this society we are exiles in, willing to forgive us, as our Lord has. Holding on to His is forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation, hearing the words “I absolve you”, is key to moving through all society holds against the repenting soul, and not allowing the world to take away the joy of being forgiven,  getting that second chance in life in Christ to do what is right and just again.  Society often holds on to the bitterness, unable to move past others sins, because it lacks the ability to forgive and heal, although society (the world) could never be burdened with thinking of its own sins first.

It no longer mattered to me what he may have done, but my hope for him and all was what may be. His continuing the journey on into eternal life with our Lord.

Another spiritual lesson to be learned, is not constantly looking at the ugliness of one another, and finding the good in each soul.  Anyone can see the dirt in their neighbor, be the one who finds the gold. We must remember that what we hold against our neighbors, will be held also against us. We are called to forgive as we have been forgiven. We are called to see the good in others, and not continually focus on the bad. A repenting soul, knows their own sins and do not need others to help them remember them, especially when they have already been forgiven.  I’m not saying Kobe is a Saint, although I hope he is, as that is a judgement left to our Lord. What I am saying is he definitely was working on his salvation, while he was still here. That is another key to our salvation. We live the faith now, repent now, so not to regret later. Eternal life begins in this life. CS Lewis said:  ‘Die before you die, there is no chance after.’

I pray for everyone, during this tragedy, to remember the words our Lord spoke, directly after teaching us how to pray:

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If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

I hope others see how important it is to forgive as we ourselves have been forgiven.

I pray for the souls of all who have lost their lives in this horrific tragedy, and I also hope that more souls, still here, can see the joy of repentance and forgiveness and begin eternal life, now. Lord have mercy on us all.

Prayer for The Eternal Rest

Eternal rest grant unto them,

O Lord, and let perpetual light

shine upon them. May the souls

of all the faithful departed, through

the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Amen

 

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The Wounded Warrior

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Oh how our Lord surprises us, when we least expect it. One can never hide from Him, as He is everywhere. Hiding in plain sight.

My husband has been dealing with knee issues, since he retired from the Marines a few years back. For the past few weeks, he has had some serious pain, even waking him up at night, along with keeping him up. He finally had enough and called the VA to make an appointment. I drove him to the VA here in San Diego, and found myself unable to get a parking spot. So I dropped him off at the front doors, and continued to look for somewhere to park. A spot never opened large enough for my husbands car, so I corresponded with him, getting updates via text messages, as I parked a few blocks away from where he was. I couldn’t see him, I couldn’t see what he was going through, but I prayed. He was there for about an hour, and discharged. We had to drive up to the VA hospital in La Jolla, so he could get a knee brace and some other things. It actually was rather quick. Please keep Mark in your prayers, as we wait for a diagnosis, and for what our next step may be for him.

As we got to La Jolla, he realized it was much easier for him to access healthcare he needed there, rather than the one closer to our home. The parking was not cramped, and if for some reason, I was unable to take him, he could find a parking spot and not miss his appointment.

We walked into the hospital and could see a Starbucks, a good sized Military gift shop and many souls in need of prayers and healing. The women at the information counter told us where to go, and we began a long walk to where my husband needed to pick up his items. My eyes lit up when we got to the Hospital Chapel. It was just after noon when we arrived, and they had Catholic Mass celebrated at 11:30 AM. Not just that day, but every day but Saturday. I was not expecting this at all as our day began and quite honestly, wished we had made it sooner, so we could attend.

I said to my husband that I would love to go inside to see it. I could not see inside as the entrance was a solid door. We continued on to where my husband needed to go without looking in. As we got to the prosthetic’s department, he had to go in to be fitted for his brace and told me to go and check out the Chapel while I waited for him and I jumped at the chance.

As I walked in, I was awestruck. Instantly thoughts of our Lord on the Cross, came to me, as Thee Wounded Warrior. You see, He was there, right there in that room.

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He survived the battle of death, and defeated the enemy, once and for all. He lives today, to tell us all about it, to all who would listen. I was so awestruck, I could do nothing but listen with my heart. I seen in my thoughts, so many things that I could never put into words. How many hospitals & nursing homes I had been to with Him, bringing Him to the sick,  and this was His room, in this place.

I walked into the Adoration Chapel, immediately falling to my knees and began to pray for all the souls there, and others. I sat in silence, unable to think of anything but Him. He was here! Do others know? How is it that so many walk by without even noticing? I wanted to grab all the souls I seen and take them to Him.

There is a frustration that I have, which I see how souls can not see Him there, just as it wasn’t that long ago, neither would I have. There are days I want to SCREAM what is wrong with souls who don’t believe, but don’t.  Because I know, I didn’t either and forcing anyone to understand this, is not how our Lord works.

My little time with our Lord, the Wounded Warrior, was about to end here, but His time will not. This moment will be imprinted on my heart and I will be unable to forget it. Its just another moment of finding Him in places which we never assume He might be. Oh, but He is. Hidden in plain sight.

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From the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr
(Lib. 4, 6, 3. 5. 6. 7: SC 100, 442. 446. 448-454)

Knowledge of the Father consists in the self-revelation of the Son

No one can know the Father apart from God’s Word, that is, unless the Son reveals him, and no one can know the Son unless the Father so wills. Now the Son fulfills the Father’s good pleasure: the Father sends, the Son is sent, and he comes. The Father is beyond our sight and comprehension; but he is known by his Word, who tells us of him who surpasses all telling. In turn, the Father alone has knowledge of his Word. And the Lord has revealed both truths. Therefore, the Son reveals the knowledge of the Father by his revelation of himself. Knowledge of the Father consists in the self-revelation of the Son, for all is revealed through the Word.

The Father’s purpose in revealing the Son was to make himself known to us all and so to welcome into eternal rest those who believe in him, establishing them in justice, preserving them from death. To believe in him means to do his will.

Through creation itself the Word reveals God the Creator. Through the world he reveals the Lord who made the world. Through all that is fashioned he reveals the craftsman who fashioned it all. Through the Son the Word reveals the Father who begot him as Son. All speak of these things in the same language, but they do not believe them in the same way. Through the law and the prophets the Word revealed himself and his Father in the same way, and though all the people equally heard the message not all equally believed it. Through the Word, made visible and palpable, the Father was revealed, though not all equally believed in him. But all saw the Father in the Son, for the Father of the Son cannot be seen, but the Son of the Father can be seen.

The Son performs everything as a ministry to the Father, from beginning to end, and without the Son no one can know God. The way to know the Father is the Son. Knowledge of the Son is in the Father, and is revealed through the Son. For this reason the Lord said: No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son has revealed him. The word “revealed” refers not only to the future—as though the Word began to reveal the Father only when he was born of Mary; it refers equally to all time. From the beginning the Son is present to creation, reveals the Father to all, to those the Father chooses, when the Father chooses, and as the Father chooses. So, there is in all and through all one God the Father, one Word and Son, and one Spirit, and one salvation for all who believe in him.

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Baptism Of The Lord

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From a Sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, bishop
(Oratio 39 in Sancta Lumina, 14-16, 20: PG 36, 350-351, 354, 358-359)

The baptism of Christ

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.

John is baptizing when Jesus draws near. Perhaps he comes to sanctify his baptizer; certainly he comes to bury sinful humanity in the waters. He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; he who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water.

The Baptist protests; Jesus insists. Then John says: I ought to be baptized by you. He is the lamp in the presence of the sun, the voice in the presence of the Word, the friend in the presence of the Bridegroom, the greatest of all born of woman in the presence of the firstborn of all creation, the one who leapt in his mother’s womb in the presence of him who was adored in the womb, the forerunner and future forerunner in the presence of him who has already come and is to come again. I ought to be baptized by you: we should also add, “and for you,” for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Peter, not only by the washing of his feet.

Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him. The heavens like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are rent open. The Spirit comes to him as to an equal, bearing witness to his Godhead. A voice bears witness to him from heaven, his place of origin. The Spirit descends in bodily form like the dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood and so gives honor to the body that is one with God.

Today let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received—though not in its fullness—a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

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Discernment of Spirits

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Discernment of Spirits.—All moral conduct may be summed up in the rule: avoid evil and do good. See more here at Catholic Answers

The other day, here, I had seen a commercial. As I watched it, it became clear to me how important in all aspects of our lives it is to have and use discernment. Whom are we truly listening to? Whom are we speaking to?

Pope Francis spoke this morning about what I had been pondering & what I seen in this commercial, today. Pope’s Morning Homily: Ask Whenever You Have a Feeling or Instinct, ‘Does This Come from Holy Spirit, or Spirit of the World?’

This is something I have been accustom to doing, for many many years. Ever since this day, which I wrote here, in my post, Repent, Repent, Repent.

I can truly say, and profess this day, John 20:18

As I finished my morning prayers today, the concluding prayer became very luminous.

O God, whose Only Begotten Son
has appeared in our very flesh,
grant, we pray, that we may be inwardly transformed
through him whom we recognize as outwardly like ourselves.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
 Amen.

Back to that commercial…

Notice, Mayhem is NOT her Mother in law, but Mayhem. Although she may see her Mother in law. You never know who you may be listening to, sitting with and speaking to, so fill your minds and hearts with the Word of God, and do not be deceived, discern everything. Have courage, respond in kindness to that which is not our Lord.

 

Repent and submit to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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Fill yourself with our Lord, purge yourself of self.

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Epiphany – Peace On Earth

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The Lord has made his salvation known to the whole world

As we draw close to the Epiphany, and the world is rattling its sabers for war, might I suggest to all, to learn how to forgive those who have hurt you in any way, as I am sure we can all say, we are not so innocent to have never hurt anyone. The fact we are sinners is a testament to hurting someone.  So I also suggest to those who have been hurt by others in any way,  to forgive them. Everyone.

Think for a moment what would happen if every soul on earth, turned to their enemies and said, I am sorry. Please forgive me. And now imagine if that forgiveness was given. With our Lord, it is. And in that moment, we all begin to heal from the pain inflicted to one another.  The key to obtaining word peace is saying and carrying out the words: I am sorry & I forgive you. May the peace of Christ rule our hearts.

From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope
(Sermo 3 in Epiphania Domini, 1-3. 5: PL 54, 240-244)

The Lord has made his salvation known to the whole world

The loving providence of God determined that in the last days he would aid the world, set on its course to destruction. He decreed that all nations should be saved in Christ.

A promise had been made to the holy patriarch Abraham in regard to these nations. He was to have a countless progeny, born not from his body but from the seed of faith. His descendants are therefore compared with the array of the stars. The father of all nations was to hope not in an earthly progeny but in a progeny from above.

Let the full number of the nations now take their place in the family of the patriarchs. Let the children of the promise now receive the blessing in the seed of Abraham, the blessing renounced by the children of his flesh. In the persons of the Magi let all people adore the Creator of the universe; let God be known, not in Judea only, but in the whole world, so that his name may be great in all Israel.

Dear friends, now that we have received instruction in this revelation of God’s grace, let us celebrate with spiritual joy the day of our first harvesting, of the first calling of the Gentiles. Let us give thanks to the merciful God, who has made us worthy, in the words of the Apostle, to share the position of the saints in light, who has rescued us from the power of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son. As Isaiah prophesied: the people of the Gentiles, who sat in darkness, have seen a great light, and for those who dwelt in the region of the shadow of death a light has dawned. He spoke of them to the Lord: The Gentiles, who do not know you, will invoke you, and the peoples, who knew you not, will take refuge in you.

This is the day that Abraham saw, and rejoiced to see, when he knew that the sons born of his faith would be blessed in his seed, that is, in Christ. Believing that he would be the father of the nations, he looked into the future, giving glory to God, in full awareness that God is able to do what he has promised.

This is the day that David prophesied in the psalms, when he said: All the nations that you have brought into being will come and fall down in adoration in your presence, Lord, and glorify your name. Again, the Lord has made known his salvation; in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.

This came to be fulfilled, as we know, from the time when the star beckoned the three wise men out of their distant country and led them to recognize and adore the King of heaven and earth. The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service: to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all men to find Christ.

Dear friends, you must have the same zeal to be of help to one another; then, in the kingdom of God, to which faith and good works are the way, you will shine as children of the light: through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

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