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Renewal in the Holy Spirit

Past Theme of the Month:

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#1 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 07:11 PM

Dear all,

Due to the very successful study and discussion that emerged from our first 'patristic theme of the month' in May, on the subject of joy, and notwithstanding the lateness of the present date, we're carrying forward with our June theme: Renewal in the Holy Spirit. As was pointed out in the recommendations thread, this is an apt theme for the current season, given the recent celebration of the feast of Pentecost and the Church's focus on the newness of the Spirit in the Church.

A reminder about these themes of the month. This idea behind them is relatively simple: a theme is chosen for each month, with a thread dedicated to discussing it from the framework of the fathers. This does not mean (and should not be understood as) simply collecting-and-posting quotations / snippets from the fathers on these themes: such quotations will of course be helpful and part of the conversation; but the idea is to foster active discussion of the themes themselves, engaging with the patristic testimony in approaching the issues under address.

Everyone is invited to participate. The only preamble for participation is that all discussion of the theme should be of engagement with patristic testimony. This does not mean every post needs to be a quotation of the fathers; but that the discussion should be driven by striving to understand and articulate the theme from a patristic context, exploring, questioning, and reflecting on the testimony of the fathers on various issues.

So we carry forward with the theme of 'Renewal in the Holy Spirit'. May this second theme, like the first, lead to fruitful conversation!

INXC, Dcn Matthew
Monachos.net

NOTE: Do remember that we've a dedicated thread for suggestions for future months' themes. If you would like to suggest a topic for focused address in this way, please make your suggestions in that thread.

#2 Mary

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 08:15 PM

I was wondering when we'd get started! Ok, I'm here, fill me up. =)

Is there a link to the 'kneeling prayers'? I don't know what they're called. We all knelt down when the priest prayed them, because he said: "On bended knee..." before he began each one. I wanted to hold on to all the words, but instead I've lost every single one (except for the '... on bended knee... part). We did them at our parish, right after Divine Liturgy, tucked into a Vespers service. I think they were to the Holy Spirit, asking him to come and make us one, like he did the disciples. (Please forgive my gross ignorance. Now you know how much trouble I have paying attention to all the readings in Church.)

On a very personal, rather embarrassing note (I don't know if it has anything to do with being renewed by the Holy Spirit, but it has a lot to do with being awakened): I was stunned by Eph 5:14, which was part of the Epistle reading from yesterday: 'Therefore He says, "Awake, you who are asleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light." '

I had awakened rather early, so I could go for a walk before it got warm. Got home, got the kids ready for school, dropped them off at the bus stop, came home to pray. I know I finished my morning prayers. And then, I just fell asleep. I don't know how long I slept, mostly because I didn't look at the clock when I started praying. (I do know what time I woke up, but I'm not telling.) Anyway, it was embarrassingly late, and as I read that verse... I was sure it was written just for me. So, today, I didn't fall asleep after my morning prayers. =)

When it says in that verse, ".... He says...", who is the He that it's talking about? The Holy Spirit?

In Christ,
mary.

#3 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 08:28 PM

Dear Mary,

The 'kneeling prayers' as said at the vespers of Pentecost (Sunday evening vespers) are as follows, from Archimandrite Ephrem's translation (found here). You note that they do focus a great deal on the Holy Spirit, as you suggested.

AT VESPERS

The signal is given earlier because of the Service of Kneeling. After the Opening Psalm the Litany of Peace by the Deacon, if there is one, if not, by the Priest.


Deacon: In peace, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy. And so after each petition.

Deacon: For the peace from on high and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy Churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord.

For this holy house, and for those who enter it with faith, reverence and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.

For all devout and Orthodox Christians, let us pray to the Lord.

For our Archbishop N., for the honoured order of presbyters, for the diaconate in Christ, for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord.

[For our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Family, her Government, and all in authority, let us pray to the Lord.]

For this city, for every city, town and village, and for the faithful who dwell in them, let us pray to the Lord.

For favourable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and temperate seasons, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who travel by land, air or water, for the sick, the suffering, for those in captivity, and for their safety and salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

For the people here present who await the grace of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who bend their hearts and their knees before the Lord, let us pray to the Lord.

For us to be strengthened for the fulfilment of what is well-pleasing, let us pray to the Lord.

For there to be sent down upon us the his rich mercies, let us pray to the Lord.

For the bending of our knees to be accepted in his sight like incense, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who are in need of help from him, let us pray to the Lord.

For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger and constraint, let us pray to the Lord.

Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by your grace.

Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

People: To you, O Lord.

Priest: For to you belong all glory, honour and worship, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

At Lord, I have cried we insert 6 Stichera and sing the 3 following Idiomel Stichera, doubling them.

Tone 4.

Marvellous things all the nations saw to-day in the city of David, when the holy Spirit came down in tongues of fire, as Luke, God’s mouthpiece, declared. For he said: When Christ’s Disciples were assembled, there came a sound as of a mighty wind, and filled the whole house where they were sitting; and all began to speak with strange words, strange doctrines, strange teachings of the holy Trinity. (Twice)

The holy Spirit always was, and is, and will be, neither beginning nor coming to an end, but always ranked and numbered with the Father and the Son; life and giver of life; light and bestower of light; goodness itself and source of goodness; through whom the Father is known and the Son glorified and by all is known, one power, one order, one worship of the holy Trinity. (Twice)

The holy Spirit is light and life and living, spiritual spring. Spirit of wisdom, Spirit of understanding; good, right, spiritual, sovereign, cleansing faults. God and making divine; fire and proceeding from fire, speaking, working, distributing the gifts of grace; through whom all the prophets and Apostles of God with the Martyrs have been crowned. Strange tidings, strange sight: fire divided for the apportioning of gifts. (Twice)

Glory. Both now. Tone 6.

Heavenly King, Paraclete, Spirit of Truth, present everywhere, filling all things, Treasury of blessings and Giver of life; come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of every stain, and, O Good One, save our souls.

Entrance, O Joyful Light, and the Great Prokeimenon.

Tone 7.

What god is great as our God? You are the God who alone works wonders.

Verse 1: You have made known your power among the peoples; with your arm you have redeemed your people.

What god is great as our God? You are the God who alone works wonders.

Verse 2: And I said, ‘Now I have begun. This change is of the right hand of the Most High’.

What god is great as our God? You are the God who alone works wonders.

Verse 3: I have remembered the works of the Lord, because I shall remember your wonders from the beginning.

What god is great as our God? You are the God who alone works wonders.

Then the Deacon says:

Again and again on bended knees, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

And as we bend our knees to the ground and uncover, the Priest reads the prayers from the Bema, facing west, in a loud voice for all to hear.

Immaculate, undefiled, without beginning, invisible, incomprehensible, unsearchable, unchangeable, unsurpassable, immeasurable, long-suffering Lord, who alone possess immortality and dwell in unapproachable light; who made the heaven, the earth and the sea and all that was created in them; who grant to all their requests before they ask; we pray and beseech you, Master who love mankind, the Father of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who for our sake and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and Mary, the Ever-Virgin and glorious Mother of God.

Teaching us first by words and later also showing us by deeds, when he underwent the saving Passion, he granted us, your humble, sinful and unworthy servants, an example to offer supplications by the bending of neck and knees for our sins and those committed in ignorance by the people. Do you, then, who are full of mercy and love for mankind, hear us on whatever day we call upon you; but especially on this day of Pentecost, on which after our Lord Jesus Christ had been taken up and been enthroned at your right hand, God and Father, he sent down on his disciples and Apostles the holy Spirit, who settled on each one of them and they were all filled with his inexhaustible grace and spoke in strange tongues of your mighty works and prophesied.

Now therefore hear us as we pray, remember us, humble and condemned, and turn back the captivity of our souls. Receive us as we fall before you and cry out, ‘We have sinned’. On you we have been cast from the womb. From our mother’s womb you are our God. But because our days have wasted away in vanity, we have been stripped of your help, we have been deprived of all defence. But confident of your compassion we cry, ‘Do not remember the sins of our youth and cleanse us of our secret faults. Do not cast us aside in the time of old age. When our strength fails, do not abandon us. Before we return to the earth, count us worthy to turn back to you and give heed to us with kindness and grace. Measure our iniquities by your acts of compassion. Set against the multitude of our offences the depth of your compassion. Look from your holy height, Lord, upon your people here present and who await from you rich mercy. Visit us in your goodness; deliver us from the oppression of the devil; make our lives safe with your holy and sacred laws. Entrust your people to a faithful Angel guardian; gather us all into your kingdom; give pardon to all who hope in you; forgive their sins and ours; purify us by the operation of your holy Spirit; destroy all the wiles of the foe against us’.

He adds this prayer:

Blessed are you Lord, Master almighty, who made the day light with the light of the sun and the night radiant with the rays of fire; who have granted us to pass through the length of the day and to draw near the beginnings of the night. Hear our supplication and that of all your people. And pardoning all of us our offences, voluntary and involuntary, accept our evening entreaties and send down the multitude of your rich mercy and acts of compassion on your inheritance. Wall us about with your holy Angels; arm us with the arms of justice; fence us with the rampart of your truth; guard us by your power; deliver us from every misfortune and from every trick of the adversary. Grant us also that both the present day with the coming night and all the days of our life may be perfect, holy, peaceful, sinless, without stumbling, without dreams, at the prayers of the holy Mother of God and of all the Saints who have been well-pleasing to you since time began.

Deacon:

Help us, save us, have mercy on us, raise us up and guard us, O God, by your grace.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

People: To you, O Lord.

For yours it is to show and mercy and to save us, O our God, and to you we give glory, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Deacon: Let us all say, with all our soul and with all our mind, let us say.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: Lord almighty, the God of our fathers, we pray you, hear and have mercy.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: Have mercy on us, O God, according to your great mercy, we pray you, hear and have mercy.

People: Lord, have mercy. Three times. And so after the remaining petitions.

Deacon: Also we pray for our Archbishop N.

Also we pray for our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, the royal family, her government and all in authority.

Also we pray for mercy, life, peace, health, salvation, visitation, pardon and forgiveness of sins for the servants of God, all devout and Orthodox Christians, those who dwell in or visit this city and parish, the wardens and members of this church and their families; [and for the servants of God N. & N. (Here he may name those for whom he has been asked to pray), and all who have asked for our prayers, unworthy though we are.]

Also we pray for the blessed and ever-remembered founders of this holy church, and for all our brothers and sisters who have gone to their rest before us, and who lie asleep here in the true faith; and for the Orthodox everywhere[, and for the servants of God N. & N. (Here he may name those for whom he has been asked to pray), and that they may be pardoned all their offences, both voluntary and involuntary].

Also we pray for those who bring offerings, those who care for the beauty of this holy and venerable house, for those who labour in its service, for those who sing, and for the people here present, who await your great and rich mercy.

Priest For you, O God, are merciful, and love mankind, and to you we give glory, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Deacon:

Again and again, on bended knees, let us pray to the Lord.

The Priest prays as before:

Lord Jesus Christ our God, who, while still present with us in this life, gave your peace to humankind, and ever grant the gift of the all-holy Spirit to the faithful as an inheritance which cannot be taken away, you sent down this grace today in a more manifest form to your Disciples and Apostles and gave eloquence to their lips with tongues of fire, through which we, every race of humankind, having received the knowledge of God in our own language by the hearing of the ear, have been enlightened by the light of the Spirit, delivered from the darkness of error and, by the distribution and supernatural force of the perceptible tongues of fire, have been taught faith in you and have been illumined to speak of you as God with the Father and the holy Spirit in one Godhead, power and authority.

Do you, then, the radiance of the Father, the unchangeable and unalterable stamp of his Essence and nature, the source of salvation and grace, open also the lips of me, a sinner, and teach me how I should and for whom I ought to pray, for you know the multitude of my sins, but your compassion will overcome their measureless number. For see, with fear I stand before you, having cast away despair of my soul into the sea of your mercy. Govern my life, by the ineffable power of your wisdom, you who govern all creation by a word, who are the fair haven of the storm-tossed, and make known to me the way in which I shall walk.

Grant to my thoughts the Spirit of your wisdom, to my folly the Spirit of understanding, with the Spirit of your fear overshadow my deeds. Renew a right Spirit within my inward parts and make firm the instability of my mind with the sovereign Spirit, so that guided each day by your good Spirit to what is profitable, I may be found worthy to do your commandments and always keep in mind your Coming, which searches out all that we have done. Do not neglect me, so that I become deceived by the corrupted pleasures of the world, but give me strength to yearn for the enjoyment of the treasures which are to come. For you said, Master, that whatever someone asks in your name they receive without restraint from your co-eternal God and Father. And so I a sinner at the coming of your holy Spirit implore your goodness, ‘The things that I have prayed for grant me for my salvation’. Yes, Lord, the loving and most generous giver of every benefaction, for it is you who give superabundantly more than we ask. It is you who are compassionate, merciful, who without sin became a partaker in our flesh and who in loving compassion bend down to those who bend the knee to you and became the atonement for our sins. Give your people, Lord, your acts of pity; hear us from your holy heaven; sanctify us by the power of your saving right hand; shelter us in the shelter of your wings; do not despise the works of your hands. Against you alone we have sinned, but it is you alone that we adore. We do not know how to worship a strange god, nor to spread out our hands, Master, to another god. Forgive us our offences and, accepting our supplications on our bended knees, stretch out to us all a helping hand. Accept the prayer of all as acceptable incense, rising up before your kingdom, above all goodness.

And he adds the following prayer:

Lord, Lord, who have delivered us from every arrow that flies by day, deliver us also from every deed that walks in darkness. Accept as an evening sacrifice the lifting up of our hands. Count us worthy also to pass through the stadium of the night untried by evils, and rescue us from every disturbance and fear which comes to us from the Devil. Grant our souls the grace of compunction and our thoughts concern for the examination at your dread and just judgement. Nail down our flesh with fear of you, and deaden our members that are on earth, so that, in the calm of sleep, we may be made radiant with joy by the contemplation of your judgements. Remove from us every unseemly imagining and harmful desire. Raise us up at the time for prayer strengthened in the faith and advancing in your commandments.

Deacon:

Help us, save us, have mercy on us, raise us up and guard us, O God, by your grace.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

People: To you, O Lord.

Priest:

By the good pleasure and grace of your only-begotten Son, with whom you are blessed, with your all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Then Grant, Lord, this evening.

After which the Deacon:

Again and again, on bended knees, let us pray to the Lord.

The Priest prays:

Christ our God, ever-flowing Spring, source of life and illumination, co-eternal creative power of the Father, for the salvation of mortals, who fulfilled the whole dispensation with surpassing goodness; tore apart the indissoluble bonds of Death and the bars of Hell, trampling down multitudes of evil spirits; offered yourself as an unblemished oblation for our sake, giving your most pure body, intangible and inaccessible to every sin, as a sacrifice, and through this dread and inexpressible offering you granting us the grace of everlasting life. You descended into Hell, smashed the everlasting bars and showed the way up to those who sat below. With a bait of divine wisdom you hooked the author of evil, the dragon of the deep, bound him with cords of darkness in Tartarus and secured him with the unquenchable fire and the exterior darkness through your infinitely powerful strength. Glorious wisdom of the Father, who appeared to those in distress as a mighty helper and enlightened those who sat in darkness and the shadow of death, Lord of unending glory, beloved Son of the most high Father, eternal light from eternal light, Sun of justice, hear us who entreat you and give rest to the souls of your servants who have fallen asleep before us, our fathers, mothers and brethren and the rest of our relatives according to the flesh and all our kinsfolk of the household of the faith, whose memory we too now keep, because in you is the might of all things and in your hand you hold all the ends of the earth.

Master almighty, God of our fathers and Lord of mercy, Creator of the mortal and immortal race and of every human nature that is brought together and again dissolved, of life and death, of our sojourn here and our translation there, you apportion times to the living and establish the moments of death. You lead down to Hell and you lead up. You bind with weakness and release with power. You dispose all things for our use and direct what is to come for our advantage. You give life by hope of resurrection to those wounded by the sting of Death. Master of all things, our God and Saviour, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of those far off upon the sea, who on this final, great and saving day of Pentecost revealed to us the mystery of the holy, consubstantial, co-eternal, undivided and uncompounded Trinity and the coming and presence of your holy and life-giving Spirit poured out in the form of tongues of fire on your holy Apostles, setting them as Evangelists of our true faith, revealing them as confessors and heralds of true theology; who have also been pleased on this most perfect and saving Feast to receive suppliant prayers of atonement for those who are immured in Hell, granting us great hopes that repose and comfort will be sent down from you to the departed from the pains which hold them, hear us, lowly and wretched, who entreat you, and give rest to the souls of your servants who have fallen asleep before us in a place of light, a place of green pasture, a place of refreshment, from which all grief, sorrow and sighing have fled away, and establish their spirits in the tents of the Just and count them worthy of peace and repose. Because the dead will not praise you, O Lord, nor do those in Hell have the freedom to offer you thanksgiving, but we the living bless you and implore you and bring before you atoning prayers and sacrifices on behalf of their souls.

And he adds this Prayer:

God, great and eternal, holy and lover of humankind, who have counted us worthy to stand at this hour before your unapproachable glory to hymn and praise your wonders, be gracious to us, your unworthy servants. Grant us grace to offer you without conceit and with a broken heart the thrice-holy hymn of glory and thanksgiving for your great gifts, which you have made us and always do so.

Remember, Lord, our weakness and do not destroy us with our iniquities, but in our humiliation show us your great mercy, so that fleeing the darkness of sin we may walk in the daylight of justice; and having put on the weapons of light we may persevere unassailed by any assault of the evil one, and that with boldness we may glorify you for all things, the only true God and lover of humankind. For indeed, Master and Maker of all things, truly great is your mystery: the temporary dissolution of your creatures and after this their restoration and repose to the ages. We give thanks to you for all things, for our entrances into this world and for our departures, which through your unfailing promise betoken for us beforehand our hopes of resurrection and unending life. Would that we may enjoy it at your future second Coming, for you are the author of our resurrection and the impartial judge who loves humankind of what we have done in life, the Master and Lord of our reward.

Through your supreme condescension you became a partaker with us in the same flesh and blood and in those passions of ours that are blameless by willingly submitting to temptation, and, possessing compassionate pity, having yourself suffered by being tempted, and, as you promised, have yourself become a helper for us who are tempted, and so you have also led us to dispassion. Accept therefore, Master, our supplications and entreaties, and give rest to all the fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, and children of each, and to every other kinsman and relative, and to all the souls who have gone to their rest before us in the hope of resurrection to eternal life, and establish their spirits and their names in the book of life and in the bosoms of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and in the land of the living, for the kingdom of heaven, in the Paradise of pleasure, through your shining Angels introducing them into your holy mansions. With them raise our bodies also on the day which you have appointed in accordance with your holy and unfailing promises. There is therefore no death for your servants, Lord, when we go out from the body and come to you, O God, but a translation from sorrowful things to better and more desirable, and rest and joy. But if we have in anything sinned against you, be gracious to us and them, because no one is clean of defilement before you, though they last but a day, except you alone, who appeared sinless upon earth, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we all hope to obtain mercy and forgiveness of sins. Therefore, as you are good and love humankind, remit, forgive, pardon us our faults, voluntary and involuntary, in knowledge and in ignorance, manifest and unnoticed, in deed, in thought, in word, of all our actions and movements. Give freedom and respite to those who have gone before us and bless all of us here present, granting a good and peaceful end to us and to all your people, and opening to us the compassion of your mercy and love for humankind at your dread and fearful Second Coming, and make us all worthy of your kingdom.

He also adds this.

Great and most high God, who alone possess immortality and dwell in unapproachable light, who made all creation with wisdom, who made a separation between the light and the darkness and placed the sun to rule the day and the moon and the stars to rule the night, who have counted us sinners worthy on this present day to come before your face with thanksgiving and to offer you our evening worship. Direct our prayer, Lord, like incense before you and accept it as a sweet fragrance. Grant us also that the present evening and the coming night may be peaceful; clothe us with the weapons of light; deliver us from every terror of the night and from every deed that operates in darkness, and give us sleep, which you have given for the repose of our weakness, free from every diabolical vision. Yes, Master of all things, giver of blessings, may we, being moved to compunction on our beds, call to mind your all-holy Name in the night, and made radiant by the meditation of your commandments may we rise up with joy of soul to give glory to your loving-kindness, offering supplications and entreaties to your compassion for our sins and those of all your people. Visit them in your mercy at the prayers of the holy Mother of God.

Deacon:

Help us, save us, have mercy on us, raise us up and guard us, O God, by your grace.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

People: To you, O Lord.

The Priest, aloud:

For you are the repose of our souls and bodies and to you we give glory, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Deacon: Let us complete our evening prayer to the Lord.

Help us, save us, have mercy on us and keep us, O God, by your grace.

That the whole day may be perfect, holy, peaceful and sinless, let us ask of the Lord.

People: Grant this, O Lord. And so after each of the following petitions.

Deacon: An angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies, let us ask of the Lord.

Pardon and forgiveness of our sins and offences, let us ask of the Lord.

Things good and profitable for our souls, and peace for the world, let us ask of the Lord.

That we may live out the rest of our days in peace and repentance, let us ask of the Lord.

A Christian end to our life, painless, unashamed and peaceful, and a good defence before the dread judgement seat of Christ, let us ask.

Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

People: To you, O Lord.

Priest:

For you, O God, are good and love mankind, and to you we give glory, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest: Peace to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Deacon: Let us bow our heads to the Lord.

People: To you, O Lord.

The Priest reads this quietly:

Lord, our God, who bowed the heavens and came down for the salvation of the human race, look upon your servants and upon your inheritance; for to you the fearful Judge who love mankind your servants have bowed their heads and inclined their necks, not waiting for any human help, but awaiting your mercy and looking for your salvation. Guard them at every moment, during both the present evening and the approaching night, from every foe, from every hostile operation of the devil, and from vain thoughts and evil desires.

(Aloud): Blessed and glorified be the might of your Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

At the Aposticha we sing the Idiomels in Tone 3.

Now the tongues have clearly become a sign to all: for the Jews, from whom came Christ according to the flesh, have become sick through unbelief and fallen from divine grace, and we from the nations have been counted worthy of the divine light, established by the words of the Disciples, as they declaim the glory of God the benefactor of all things; with them, as we bow our hearts with our knees, in faith let us worship, established by the holy Spirit, the Saviour of our souls.

Verse: Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Now the Advocate Spirit has been poured out on all flesh: for beginning with the choir of the Apostles, from them he has unfolded grace by participation to the faithful, and he confirms his mighty descent distributing the tongues in the form of fire to the Disciples, to the praise and glory of God. And so with hearts spiritually illumined and established in faith in the holy Spirit, we entreat that our souls may be saved.

Verse: Do not cast me away from your presence: and take not your holy Spirit from me.

Now the Apostles of Christ are clothed with might from above; for the Advocate, being renewed in them, renews them with mystical newness of knowledge, which they proclaim in strange voices and lofty words, teaching us to reverence the eternal, simple and three-personned nature of the God of all things. And so enlightened by their doctrines, let us worship the Father with the Son and the Spirit, imploring that our souls may be saved.

Glory. Both now. Tone 8.

Come, you peoples, let us worship the Godhead in three persons, the Son in the father, with the Holy Spirit; for the Father timelessly begot the Son, co-eternal and co-reigning, and the Holy Spirit was in the Father, glorified with the Son; one power, one essence, one Godhead, whom we all worship as we say: Holy God, who created all things through the Son, with the co-operation of the Holy Spirit. Holy Strong, through whom we have come to know the Father, and through whom the Holy Spirit came into the world. Holy Immortal, the Advocate Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son. Holy Trinity, glory to you.

Then Now, Master, the Trisagion etc., and the Apolytikion of the Feast three times.

Apolytikion. Tone 8.

Blessed are you, Christ our God, who revealed the fishermen to be most wise by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, and so through them catching the whole world in a net: Lover of mankind, glory to you!

Then the Priest gives the Dismissal:

May he who emptied himself from the bosom of the Father and took up our whole human nature and made it divine, and who after he had gone up again to heaven and sat down at the right hand of his God and Father sent down the divine, holy, consubstantial, co-eternal Spirit, identical in power and identical in glory, upon his holy Disciples and Apostles, and through him enlightened them, and through them the whole inhabited world, Christ our true God, at the prayers of his all-pure and all-blameless holy Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-praised Apostles, heralds of God, and of all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us through his own loving-kindness.

Reader: Amen.

#4 Mary

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 04:30 PM

Thank you Fr Matthew!

What beautiful, wonderful prayers!! They're so loaded, it'll take a lifetime to get through them completely!

Thanks for the link too, with all the special stuff for the Pentecostal services. I didn't know, before orthodoxy, how delicious words could taste!

Thank you!

In Christ,
mary.

#5 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 09:12 AM

Perhaps a discussion-starter is in order.

Some questions to ponder on our theme:

  • What do the fathers have to say about any specific connection between the Holy Spirit and 'renewal'?
  • How is the Spirit understood by the fathers as 'life-giving' / 'vivifying' for the Church and for Christian persons?
  • What is implied in the concept of 'renewal' itself?
INXC, Dcn Matthew

#6 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 06:42 PM

Dear all,

As I happen to be working in detail with Book 3 of St Irenaeus of Lyons' magnum opus, 'The refutation and overthrow of knowledge falsely so-called', at the moment, a few passages from its pages struck me as relevant to this month's theme.

Firstly, this:

"This is the Spirit whom David petitioned for the human race, saying, And strengthen me with Your sovereign Spirit. Luke tells us that this Spirit descended on the disciples after the Lord’s ascension, at the Pentecost, since He possessed the power over all nations for admitting them to life and for opening the New Covenant. Wherefore, with one accord in all languages they sang a hymn to God, while the Spirit brought together in unity distant tribes and offered the first-fruits of the Gentiles to the Father. Wherefore, the Lord too promised to send the Paraclete, who would prepare us for God. For just as out of dry wheat without some moisture one cannot make dough, nor bread, so neither could we, the many, have become one in Christ Jesus, without the water which is from heaven. And just as dry earth, if it does not receive moisture, does not produce fruit, so also we, since we were first dry wood, would never produce the fruit that is life without the gratuitous heavenly rain. For our bodies were united to imperishability by means of the bath [i.e. baptism]; but our souls, by means of the Spirit. And so both are necessary, since both prepare [us] for life with God. Our Lord pitied the Samaritan woman, that sinner, who did not remain with the one husband but committed immorality in many marriages, and He pointed out and promised her the living water, so that she would no longer thirst, and would not be occupied with refreshing herself with water gotten laboriously; for she would have within herself a drink welling up to eternal life. The Lord received this life as a gift from the Father, and He, by sending the Holy Spirit into the whole world, bestows it upon those who partake of Him (participantur ex ipso)." (3.17.2.)

This remarkable text directly relates the reception of the Spirit to baptism, following on the common patristic perception of seeing the water as the cleansing of the body, the Spirit the cleansing of the soul. What is particularly potent in this text to me, however, is the explicit link between receiving the Spirit and being joined to Christ. The Son receives life from the Father in the Spirit (at his baptism); and this life is granted to all human persons as Christ's gift. Thus the Spirit unites man to Christ, and hence to the Father.

Another passage is equally as revealing:

"For this, God’s gift, has been entrusted to the Church, as the life-breath to the first-fashioned, so that all the members receiving it might be vivified. And in this gift has been deposited the Communion of Christ, that is, the Holy Spirit, the pledge of imperishability, the strength of our faith and the ladder of ascent to God. For in the Church, [Paul] says, God has placed apostles, prophets <…> and all the rest of the Spirit’s ministries. Of Him [the Spirit] all those do not partake who do not agree with the Church, but defraud themselves of life by their evil doctrines and wicked practices. For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where God’s Spirit is, there is the Church, and all grace; and the Spirit is truth.

"Those, then, who are not in communion with Him, neither are nourished by the mother’s breasts unto life, nor receive from the most limpid spring which proceeds from the body of Christ. No, they dig for themselves broken cisterns out of earthen ditches and drink from the mire the putrid water, fleeing as they do from the faith, lest they be exposed, and rejecting the Spirit, lest they become educated." (3.24.1)

What comes across in both passages is the connection of the Holy Spirit to imperishability: it is in receiving the Spirit that man is made 'imperishable' -- and elsewhere Irenaeus makes explicit that this in turn comes about because the Son has taken flesh and united us to himself; for it is in his anointing with the Spirit as man (i.e., at his own baptism), that we are united to the Spirit in him.

There is also the beautiful perception of the Spirit as 'vivifying', as life-giving. In the first passage, Irenaeus relates this to the image of dry soil, that only when watered can be fruitful; and in the second, directly to vivification -- to life given by a mother to her child.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#7 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 21 June 2008 - 12:22 AM

I have been reflecting on this thread for some time but work constrained me from offering anything until now. It's late but I'll try to be coherent.

Renewal in the Holy Spirit means, I think , two things. First, there is that regeneration of the person at baptism. In the Holy Spirit, we rejoice in this life through faith in the promise of the graces to come, and in faith we hope to share in the fulness of the blessings of the hereafter. But we do not attain to perfection; we can thereafter fall into sin and be in need of 'repentance, tears and confession' (cf. St Symeon the New Theologian, Practical and Theological Texts, 74-75). Accordingly, there is a second meaning which is the continuing process of renewal in the Holy Spirit.

St Seraphim of Sarov famously said that the aim of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. This must refer to this second meaning. In acquiring the Holy Spirit, we attain to paradise which is, says St Silouan the Athonite, the kingdom of the Holy Spirit. A closely related notion is, I think, that of St Symeon the New Theologian in his comment on the phrase, 'redeem the time' from Ephesians 5:16. This means, he says, that we must redeem the time of our life by acquiring the virtues through which by the gifts of the Holy Spirit we may arrive at the 'calm haven of God's Kingdom' (Ethical Discourses, 12). This notion of redemption is thrown graphically into relief by the saying of St Maximos the Confessor that we are 'mortgaged to sin'. The Holy Spirit is, of course, present everywhere and fills all things. He is one and unchanging but His energies come to each person as He wills according to the faith and spiritual condition of the person (cf. St Mark the Ascetic). What, then, can it mean to acquire Him? As St Silouan says, the Holy Spirit is easily lost - not lost but He 'hides' and grace withdraws (something about which Elder Sophrony writes a lot).

So, after baptism, we lose grace and need to acquire it afresh, not once but continually. St Silouan writes much about alternating states of grace, the acquisition and loss of the Holy Spirit. But it is that very loss which motivates the person to seek Him and so whilst the withdrawal of grace seems harsh it is beneficial because it ensures our continual striving towards God. By our wicked thoughts and deeds, we 'quench the Spirit' (1 Thess. 5:19). According to St Diadochus of Photike, most of us cannot even see our faults because of our inattentiveness and lack of remembrance of God. We need the Holy Spirit to 'come and abide in us' so He will be the purifier of our mind and the lamp of our soul. Then we shall be able to see our darkness and the things which attack us. We are split in two in our faculty of perception. On the one hand, we are passionate because of the Fall and captivated by the attractions of the world. (One of the kneeling prayers mentions 'the captivity of our souls'.) We run after what seems sweet only to find bitterness (cf. Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete). On the other hand, we yearn for heavenly things and the Holy Spirit then communes with us and furthers this desire. St Seraphim said of Motovilov that he could not have imagined that there could be a person in whom the carnal and the spiritual were so mixed up, and so it may be for many of us. Yet Satan tempts us and drags us down to the things of this world of which he is prince. How, then, are we to attract and acquire the Holy Spirit?

First, we must not despair. As Nikitas Stithatos says, though our sins be grievous, we must not think we cannot be purified; through repentance, we are reborn in the Holy Spirit. But we must experience great inward grief and true repentance before we can be united with the Holy Spirit, says St Symeon the New Theologian. We must engage in ascesis: prayer, fasting and vigils, and we must engage in the sacramental life of the Church, especially Confession and Holy Communion. These are not aims; we seek the fruit of ascesis which is our purification which allows the Holy Spirit to abide in us. His abiding in us is proportionate to the extent of our purification. In prayer, we especially need to invoke the Name of Jesus since one cannot say, 'Lord Jesus' except in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3).

As St Maximos the Confessor says, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, 'Treasury of all good', help us in our struggle for renewal. For many, the gift of the fear of God should cause us to avoid gross sins. Further gifts lead us incrementally from what is near to us and far from God to what is near God and furthest from us. When we are terrified by the assaults of temptation, the Holy Spirit, as it were, parts the Red Sea for us and we pass to safety, our 'Egyptian' pursuers being lost in the closing waters behind us (cf. St Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses). We need further to attract the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Elder Sophrony says to do this we must be 'poor in spirit' because when we know our spiritual poverty, the Holy Spirit comes with His gifts and lifts us upwards. Christ's words, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit' are, says the Elder, the root of Christian asceticism. The Holy Spirit comes upon those who are 'gentle and humble' and who 'tremble at my words': the Holy Spirit comes to the humble and meek (cf. St Maximos the Confessor, On the Lord's Prayer).

Our work, then, is the struggle through ascesis for constant renewal in the Holy Spirit which we an achieve by His help: our humility and motivation, His help - the synergy of God and man. The Holy Spirit knows how hard it can be to get rid of the passions. We must recognise and struggle against both the overt sins and the hiddens sins such as desire, falsity, love of acclaim, and hypocrisy. We must acquire 'fear of God and holy love'. A person must have unceasing remembrance of God or else 'the divine commandments will appear harsh and laborious', or the doing of them may 'deceive him with the presumption of self-righteousness' (cf. St Symeon Metaphrastis, Paraphrase of St Makarios).

Edited by Andreas Moran, 21 June 2008 - 09:59 AM.


#8 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 08:06 AM

I am totally unfit for this discussion and need to study the informed messages on this thread and whatever else I can find on this subject.

Just a couple of thoughts :

Andreas wrote :

"Renewal in the Holy Spirit means, I think , two things. First, there is that regeneration of the person at baptism. In the Holy Spirit, we rejoice in this life through faith in the promise of the graces to come, and in faith we hope to share in the fulness of the blessings of the hereafter. But we do not attain to perfection; we can thereafter fall into sin and be in need of 'repentance, tears and confession' (cf. St Symeon the New Theologian, Practical and Theological Texts, 74-75). Accordingly, there is a second meaning which is the continuing process of renewal in the Holy Spirit."




Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.

St. Paul

What does this mean exactly? That we must continually strive to achieve this?

Does this mean that we must watch ourselves and examine ourselves to ascertain whether we have strayed from the path to God? Does this mean that we must also "nip things in the bud" so to speak, before small sins become major sins?


What is the main thing we need to do? Strengthen our inner selves by intense study of the bible so that we may be enlightened as to what "the good, and the acceptable and the perfect will of God" is"? A deeper knowledge of God's will as given to us by Jesus Christ will enable us to achieve this purpose, or will guide us, I think, is a more accurate way of saying this.

"Romans 12:2

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God"

So, this is an ongoing battle, one that lasts our whole lives because the devil will try his utmost to tear us away from our Lord.

Am I making any sense at all or have I completely misunderstood the subject?

Effie

#9 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 11:00 AM

Dear all,

There is much to ponder in the recent posts, for which I'm very grateful. For the time being, just to pick out one item:

Elder Sophrony says to do this we must be 'poor in spirit' because when we know our spiritual poverty, the Holy Spirit comes with His gifts and lifts us upwards. Christ's words, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit' are, says the Elder, the root of Christian asceticism. The Holy Spirit comes upon those who are 'gentle and humble' and who 'tremble at my words': the Holy Spirit comes to the humble and meek (cf. St Maximos the Confessor, On the Lord's Prayer).


This of course comes famously from St Gregory Palamas, in his correspondence with a nun, Xenia. He dedicates the better part of that letter to the beatitude, 'Blessed are the poor in Spirit'. What is interesting is how poverty of Spirit is in fact richness of Spirit: and so 'renewal' in the Spirit is linked to the very heart of the ascetical endeavour.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#10 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 02:26 PM

Dear all,

In his collection of homilies on St John's gospel, St John the Chrysostom writes the following, which seems pertinent to our theme. It is a rather dense text, so I've sub-divided it into shorter paragraphs.

John 20.22-23: 'He breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.'

As a king sending forth governors, gives power to cast into prison and to deliver from it, so in sending these forth, Christ invests them with the same power. But how is it that he says, 'If I do go not away, he will not come' (John 16:7), and yet gives them the Spirit? Some say that he did not give the Spirit, but rendered them fit to receive it, by breathing on them. For if Daniel when he saw an angel, was afraid, what would not they have suffered when they received that unspeakable gift, unless he had first made them learners? For this reason he did not say, 'You have received the Holy Spirit', but, 'Receive ye the Holy Spirit.'

Yet one will not be wrong in asserting that they then also received some spiritual power and grace; not so as to raise the dead, or to work miracles, but so as to remit sins. For the gifts of the Spirit are of different kinds; wherefore [Christ] added, 'Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them', showing what kind of power he was giving. But in the other case, after forty days, they received the power of working miracles. Wherefore he says, 'You shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea' (Acts 1.8). And witnesses they became by means of miracles, for unspeakable is the grace of the Spirit and multiform the gift. But this comes to pass, that you may learn that the gift and the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is one. For things which appear to be peculiar to the Father, these are seen also to belong to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. 'How then', says some one, 'does none come to the Son, "except the Father draw him"?' (John 6.44). Why, this very thing is shown to belong to the Son also. 'I', he says, 'am the way: no man comes unto the Father but by me' (John 14.6). And observe that it belongs to the Spirit also; for 'No man can call Jesus Christ Lord, but by the Holy Spirit' (1 Corinthians 12.3). Again, we see that the apostles were given to the Church at one time by the Father, at another by the Son, at another by the Holy Spirit, and that the 'diversities of gifts' (1 Corinthians 12.4) belong to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

(John Chrysostom, Homily 86 on the Gospel of John, 20.22-23; translation modified.)

It is perhaps worth mentioning, first of all, that many people forget about this first granting of the Holy Spirit by Christ, which precedes that of the Pentecost. Jesus 'breathes on them' the Holy Spirit -- which is in fact the Gospel pericope read at the Pentecost Liturgy proper (given that the Pentecostal account is given not in the Gospels, but in the Acts).

Secondly, St John links the reception of the Spirit with all the 'powers' of the Church. First and foremost here is the power to remit sins, as this is the subject of the Gospel text itself; but he also notes the other powers associated later with the Pentecost. As such, all that the Church does 'in truth and in power' is and must be done of the Holy Spirit, since the Spirit is the source of such power. Therefore any 'renewal' that comes upon the Church, or upon the Christian person, must be a renewal grounded in a new life of the Spirit.

Thirdly, John links renewal in the Spirit with the person of Christ, which he then connects to a wholly trinitarian confession. This means, in essence, that 'Spiritual renewal' is always trinitarian renewal; and unless an engagement with the Spirit is also an engagement with the Holy Trinity entiere, it is not authentically even with the Spirit at all.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#11 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 11:40 PM

The recent posts of Fr Dcn Matthew and Effie prompted me to think further about the connection between poverty of spirit and renewal in and by the Holy Spirit. Fr Dcn Matthew's last post struck a particular chord in me since I went for confession this afternoon (yesterday, Sunday, now) and I reminded myself that in this, as in all the sacraments, the Holy Spirit is doing His work through the bishop, successor to the apostles, and through the priest as his bishop's delegate.

St John Chrysostom explains what is meant by 'poverty of spirit' in Homily XV of his Homily on St Matthew's Gospel. What St John says is summed up in the penultimate paragraph of my first post. Renewal in the Holy Spirit is contingent, as I understand the Fathers, on disposing ourselves to receive Him by knowing our spiritual poverty. Indeed, Elder Sophrony links the first Beatitude with that utter poverty of spirit which he calls despair and St Silouan's vision of Christ (see, 'We shall see Him as He is', pp. 126-134). The Beatitudes are, Archimandrite Zacharias once said to me, 'the manifesto of the Christian life'. Commentators note that they begin with the word, 'makarioi' just as Psalm 1 begins with the word, 'makarios'. Christ is thus setting His teaching in the tradition of the Wisdom literature. It is also said that the Beatitudes are not statements but exclamations, and might be read as saying, 'O, the blessedness of . . . ', and so indicate a reality which can be achieved, through the Holy Spirit, in the here and now, not merely in the 'there and later'. This blessedness is the joy that no one can take from us (John 16:22). As Barclay notes, the English word, 'happiness' is entirely wrong here because its root means that earthly joy that comes by chance. This blessedness comes from ascetic effort, often through pain, but is 'completely independent of all chances and the changes of life' and is 'untouchable and unassailable'.

In Matthew 5:3, the Greek word which is translated as 'poor' is 'ptochoi'. It is said that the Hebrew/Aramaic equivalent is 'ani'. The poor person here is not merely one who is materially poor: he is destitute and yet puts all his trust in God. In the LXX, the Greek word, 'ptochos' is used in many places in the Palms, e.g. 33:7 ('This poor man cried'), 9:19, 34:10, and 131:15.

If a person, by the help of the Holy Spirit, knows his spiritual poverty and so understands that, as a slave of God, he is utterly dependent on Him, he will become detached from things which cannot bring blessedness or security, and become attached to God in Whom true blessedness and joy are to be found. This is renewal by the Holy Spirit. Since this spiritual poverty is to be understood through ascetic effort, including repentance and 'penthos', the first Beatitude is inseparable from the second, 'Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted', i.e. those who grieve over their sins.

It occurs to me that a profound poverty of spirit as well as material poverty (which anyway is surely symbolic of spiritual poverty) was experienced by the Prodigal Son who speaks of his 'heart in its poverty' (Sunday of the Prodigal Son, the canon, canticle three), and this is superbly visualised by Rembrandt in his last painting which is an expression of that parable (see my album).

Edited by Andreas Moran, 22 June 2008 - 11:59 PM.


#12 Ken McRae

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 11:42 PM

St John links the reception of the Spirit with all the 'powers' of the Church. First and foremost here is the power to remit sins, as this is the subject of the Gospel text itself; ...


Dear Fr. Dcn. Matthew,

Is it possible to discuss, within this particular context, St. Symeon the New Theologian's controversial Epistle on Confession, in which he asserts that grace-bearing lay-elders, who have acquired the Holy Spirit, through much ascetic labour and suffering, (such as his own venerable spiritual father, St. Symeon the Pious,) are divinely annointed to hear confessions of sin, and not only, but also to pronounce forgiveness for such sins, over such confessors, despite their having never received 'holy orders' from their bishop to do so.

This controversial Letter is currently available from the Synaxis Press, in Canada. It is also included in the Greek edition of his Complete Works. In this particularly small booklet, the following Patristic citations are offered, along with St. Symeon's Epistle:

1) St. Symeon the New Theologian: "Look here I beg you. Do not by any chance assume the debts of others at all while you are indebted yourself in the same way. Do not dare to give remission of sins if you have not acquired in your heart Him Who lifts the sin of the world." (Moral Homily 6)

2) St. Basil the Great: "Confession of sins is to be made to those who are able to heal ... From old times, the repenters confessed to saints." (Quoted from his Ascetical Works)

3) St. Thalassius: "Forgiveness of sins is freedom from the passions. He who has not been freed from them, by grace, has not been forgiven."

4) St. Barsanuphius: "Our death and our life are in our hands. Therefore, if we do not repeat our previous sins, we shall already have forgiveness from God."

Immediately following this quote, a Mr. George S. Gabriel offers the following comment: "Even though he was not a priest, St. Barsanuphius imparted remission of sins and became sought after by all the abbots of monasteries." Mr. Gabriel appears to base this fact upon the Prologue of St. Barsanuphius' treatise of 'Questions and Answers'. Several other more lengthy Patristic citations are given, which merit posting, but time (and perhaps the thread itself) does not permit it.

Humbly,
Ken




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