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Noveen in ere van de Zalige Gťrard

NIHIL OBSTAT

Rome, 26 March 2001

Ü DONATO DE BONIS

Titular Bishop of Castello di Numidia

Prelate of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

   

NOVENA IN HONOUR

OF THE BLESSED GERARD, FOUNDER

OF THE ORDER OF SAINT JOHN OF JERUSALEM

Specific rules and forms are helpful and indeed indispensable

for the spiritual life of man. This principle applies

in a particular way to the celebration of the liturgical year

but also to prayer formulas which can be repeated to assist

us in living our baptismal faith even when our hearts may

not be filled with the spirit of Easter.

The novena is a very ancient and most human form of devotion.

In classical Roman times, there were the novendialia,

nine days of diverse sacrifices or nine days of preparation

for a feast. The term novendialia is still used today with

reference to the nine days of solemn liturgies following the

death of a Pope and the nine days between the feast of the

Ascension and the feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit at

Pentecost which were always days of particular prayer (once

called Expectation Week) for the Church.

The present form of the novena appeared in the 17th century.

As a series of prayers to be completed in nine days, either privately

or in common, its object was to ask a particular favour

of God in conformity with Jesusí teaching: I will do whatever

you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the

Son (Jn 14:13). It is a good exercise in oneís prayer life to pray

a novena individually while being spiritually united with others

who are praying the same prayer at the same time.

Novenas are frequently made for a particular need. The novena

here presented in honour of Blessed Gerard is offered

in a specific way for the Order and all its works with a particularly

urgent prayer for vocations to the consecrated life.

In this way, we pray to be like the first Apostles at Pentecost:

All these with one accord were constantly at prayer, together

with a group of women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and

his brothers (Acts 1:14), that is to say, his next of kin (his

"brothers", according the language of the time) in company

with all those who, through baptism, have become sisters and

brothers of the Kyrios, the Lord, Emmanuel, the Saviour, the

Redeemer, the Risen Christ.

The theme of the novena from day one to seven is a contemporary

interpretation of the life of Blessed Gerard, the

historical information being based primarily on Alain Beltjens,

Aux origines de líOrdre de Malte, Brussels, 1995.

THE LIFE OF BLESSED GERARD

Gerard was born between 1035 and 1040, some say to

a noble Provençal family, or more probably, in the city of

Scala (Amalfi) where the powerful patrician families maintained

particularly close ties with the Holy Land and had

seen to the foundation of monasteries and small houses

for the reception of pilgrims in Jerusalem.

It is possible that the terrible menace of Norman invasions

started the young Gerard on his journey toward his

future vocation, but it is more likely that he went to Jerusalem

in order to be of assistance to pilgrims thanks to

the influence of a merchant named Mauro.

This charitable mission could be carried out easily under

the role of the caliphate of Egypt. However, in the battle

of Manzikert (1071) the Byzantines were heavily defeated

by the Seljuk Turks and 30,000 churches (among which

the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem) were destroyed

during the reign of the insane Caliph Hakim.

The ensuing persecution of Christians and obstruction of

pilgrims provided Godfrey de Bouillon with the motive

for taking Jerusalem on the 15 July 1099. Help was provided

to the crusaders by Gerard in the form of information

and foodstuffs.

Legend has it that he threw down bread from the walls of

the city to the Christians who were besieging Jerusalem

but that the bread turned into stones when he was discovered.

Gerard thereafter undertook the construction of a

large hospital with the result that the name "Hospital" came

to be the very name of his confraternity.

Possessed of a remarkable talent for organization, building

a hostel for pilgrims and a church in honour of St

John the Baptist, handling administration, reception,

boarding and pastoral assistance for numerous wayfarers,

caring for the wounded and infirm, Gerard was known

even then as the "Master of the sick".

Gerard also appears to have organized pilgrimages the

Holy Land personally.

The starting point was probably the Orderís branches in

Italy and southern France by means of which Gerard had

already given his community a European base.

Pope Paschal II placed the "Jerusalem Hospital" under the

protection of the Holy See on the 15 February 1113, and the

Kings of Jerusalem, Portugal, Castille and Leon along with

many other princes and Bishops lent Gerard their support.

Gerard died on the 3 September 1120. It is clear that his

directives and his own example were the inspiration behind

what is, by tradition, the first written Rule of the Order

"of the Hospital of Jerusalem" enacted by Raymond de

Puy between 1145 and 1153.

Day One

FOUNDER AND SUPERIOR

OF THE PILGRIMSí HOUSE

With the Bull Pie postulatio voluntatis of 15 February

1113, Pope Paschal II placed the newly founded Hospice

under the protection of the Holy See.

In it, he described Gerard as the "Founder and Superior

of the Jerusalem Hospital" (Institutor ac praepositus Hierosolymitani Xenodochi).

The word "xenodochium" stood for much more than "hotel"

means today. It was a shelter for strangers, for visitors,

and for pilgrims. Assistance to pilgrims in the Holy

Land thereby became a responsibility of the Knights of

Saint John at that time, as it later became along the "Way

of Saint James" to Compostela or during the Holy Year

2000 in the Roman Basilicas of Saint Peter, Saint John

Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore and Saint Peter outside

the Walls.

In Gerardís shelter, pilgrims were cared for in both body

and spirit. So that their journey might be without incident,

both the House and several of the roads used by pilgrims

were watched and protected from the very beginning by

armed men under the command of Gerard; but the fundamental

element was spiritual fortification.

In this, Gerard was the model - a man of action and a man

of prayer.

Prayer

Jesus Christ, Lord of time and of eternity,

grant that all people may recognize the light of your truth.

Lord hear our prayer.

grant that we may understand events in the light of the

Holy Spirit and with your help persevere in goodness

and compassion.

Lord hear our prayer.

grant that we may recognize peopleís needs in our own

day and come to their aid.

Lord hear our prayer.

send helpers to our side and do not abandon us in our

earthly pilgrimage.

Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in

heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our

trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil .

Hail, Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee:

blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit

of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us

sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,

world without end. Amen.

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard,

that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Direct our actions, O Lord, with your inspiration and

accompany them with your aid, that all our works may

at all times begin in you and through you reach their

end. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one

God, for ever and ever.

(Collect for Thursday after Ash Wednesday)

Day Two

PROVIDER AND ALMONER

The term "provider" (provisor: Paschal II, 1113) describes

Gerard as a man capable of planning and foreseeing

what the pilgrims, the poor and the sick would need

and where help was required. Prudent organization put

Gerard in the best possible position to fulfill his duties as

an "almsgiver" (elemosinarius: in a document of Count

Adalbert de Perigord, 17 September 1116).

In todayís world, we stand in need of efficient organization

of the Order and its aid services which are active throughout

the world. But organization must not become

an end in itself or be smothered in paperwork. Its objective

must be to act to bring assistance promptly and effectively.

We must never forget what the Lord says to us: whenever

you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you ... let

your alms be done in secret; and your Father who sees in

secret will reward you (cf. Mt 6:2).

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, friend of the poor and of the sick,

grant to all people in this world an increase of peace

and freedom.

Lord hear our prayer.

give us a ready ear and open hand for those in want.

Lord hear our prayer.

grant that we may never be entangled in worldly considerations,

techniques, and statistics.

Lord hear our prayer.

grant that all our projects and planning may be for the

love of our neighbour.

Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father...

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard,

that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God, let not the concerns of this

world keep us from hastening toward your Son but let

the guidance of heavenly wisdom make us into his

companions, who lives and reigns with you and the

Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

(Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent)

Day Three

FATHER OF THE HOSPITAL

In the year 1120, King Baldwin of Jerusalem described

Gerard as the "father" (pater) of the Jerusalem Hospital.

A good father watches over his children with love and also

with strictness when required. He is present when his

family needs him. Gerard directed his foundation and regarded

his paternal responsibility as a gift from God, as

a talent to be used. In our day we must never presume to

set ourselves up as fathers, teachers, or instructors on our

own account (cf. Mt 23: 9-11), but rather see our duties as

parents, as superiors, or as academics as a responsibility

before God and man: All who exalt themselves will be

humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted

(Mt 23:12).

Prayer

Jesus Christ, God and man, Son of the Father,

help our families to see ever more clearly their duties

as the domestic Church.

Lord hear our prayer.

help couples to remain united in fidelity in a world

hostile to marriage.

Lord hear our prayer.

help parents and children to understand one another.

Lord hear our prayer.

help academics, researchers and teachers to fulfil their

duties responsibly in your sight.

Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father...

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard,

that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, in love of you and of our neighbour you have

established everything that the sacred laws decree;

grant unto us that, in keeping your commandments,

we may enter into eternal life. We ask this through our

Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

(Collect for Sunday XXV of the Year)

Day Four

GUARDIAN OF CHRISTíS POOR

Gerard was called the "guardian of Christís poor" ("procurator

pauperum Christi", in a document of Bishop Ademar

di Rodez, 1120). Procurator can mean administrator

or governor, but also representative who acts on someoneís

behalf in court. Through his works, Gerard was the

defender of the poor, the weak, the abandoned. The term

"Christís poor" shows us that "obsequium pauperum" is

a service rendered not only to the poor but also to Christ

himself: "for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was

thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger

and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me

clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison

and you visited me" (Mt 25: 35-37).

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour, Redeemer, let us recognize

you in the poor, the sick and the stranger.

Lord hear our prayer.

bless and protect all the goods of the earth and give to

all their daily bread.

Lord hear our prayer.

call forth vocations for your service alone.

Lord hear our prayer.

grant unto us the strength of the Holy Spirit to give of

ourselves for the persecuted and oppressed whether it

suits us or not.

Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father...

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard,

that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, you show to those in error the light of your

truth that they may return to the right path; grant that

all who profess the Christian faith may reject those

things which are contrary to that name and follow

such things that are appropriate to it. We ask this

through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives

and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,

for ever and ever.

(Collect for Sunday XV of the Year)

Day Five

SERVANT OF GOD

"Dei servus", helper, servant of God (in a document of

the Bishop Ademar di Rodez, 1120): this description of

Blessed Gerard is a description often used by the Church

for her members, the baptized. During the beatification

process, as a declaration of heroic virtue, of an exemplary

life, the candidate is accorded the title of "Servant of God".

The servant of the servants of God, "servus servorum Dei",

is also one of the titles of the Holy Father. We are all therefore

servants of God; by his actions, Gerard demonstrated

this fact to us in an exemplary fashion.

Prayer

Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, Messiah, preserve us

from arrogance and selfishness.

Lord hear our prayer.

keep us in your service.

Lord hear our prayer.

grant that we may know our duty in the Church and in

the world and to fulfill it.

Lord hear our prayer.

direct our hearts and minds toward the things of

heaven.

Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father...

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard,

that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, you dispose the hearts of the faithful as one in

their desire; grant that your people may love what you

command and desire what you promise, that amid the

varied changes of this world, our hearts may be fixed

where true joys may be found. We ask this through our

Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

(Collect for Sunday XXI of the Year)

Day Six

SERVANT AND HELPER OF THE HOSPITAL

Gerard described himself in 1101 as "servant (servus)

of the Hospital of Holy Jerusalem" in a document given

to Pope Paschal II and the Patriarch Daimbertus; and

again, in 1110, to the Abbots of Cluny and of Moissac as

"servant and minister of the Hospital". "Servus" means

not only "helper" or "servant", but also "slave", although

we should keep in mind that even though slaves were not

freemen, they were not, according to Roman Law, entirely

without rights. "Minister" is not a term of authority,

as we might be led to think; minister in this context is to

be understood much more as one who carries out the

Lordís will. Helper, servant, slave, assistant, executor of

the Lordís will: who would be that today? Gerard was and

is thereby a call upon our obedience to God, to the Church,

and the Superiors in our Order.

Prayer

Jesus Christ, obedient unto death, even death on a

cross, strengthen and sustain us as your followers.

Lord hear our prayer.

grant that we may recognize our responsibility for

human life from its beginning.

Lord hear our prayer.

bless all those who provide service in hospitals, homes

for the aged, and hospices.

Lord hear our prayer.

help all people to serve you and their neighbour in the

strength of the Holy Spirit.

Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father...

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard,

that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the paschal

mystery established the covenant of reconciliation with

all mankind, grant that we may show forth in our live s

what we solemnly pro fess. We ask this through our Lord

Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

(Collect for Friday in the Octave of Easter)

Day Seven

LORD

In Blessed Gerardís time, the title "Lord" (Dominus)

was used only for popes, bishops, emperors, kings and

other distinguished persons; and yet Gerard was also

called Dominus (in a document of 1112 regarding a foundation

established for the honour of God by several bishops

which was dedicated to the Holy Sepulchre and the

Hospital). The title "Lord", as a term of honour, can only

be justified if we recognize that all power and glory and

honour belong to God alone, as we sing in the Gloria of

the Mass: "You alone are the holy one, you alone are Lord,

you alone are the most high, Jesus Christ" (Tu solus

Sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus altissimus Iesu Christe).

Perhaps it is time to reflect upon these words and

our own relationship with the one Lord, Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Jesus Christ, holy one, Lord, most high,may we

recognize you in our lords the sick.

Lord hear our prayer.

grant that we may see our responsibility

as you would see it.

Lord hear our prayer.

grant that all who hold office and authority in politics

and business may contribute to the good of all.

Lord hear our prayer.

send your Holy Spirit that we may rightly judge our

strengths and our weaknesses.

Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father...

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard,

that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Grant, we beseech you, almighty God, that we who

have received the grace to know the Lord is risen, may,

through your Spiritís love, rise to newness of life. We

ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who

lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,

for ever and ever.

(Collect for Friday of the ThirdWeek of Easter)

Day Eight

CHRIST HAS DIED; CHRIST IS RISEN

With the reform of the liturgy in years following the Second

Vatican Council, the acclamation "mortem tuam annuntiamus,

Domine, et tuam resurrectionem confitemur",

rendered as "Christ has died; Christ is risen", became our

profession of faith after the consecration.

This phrase repeats the original credo of the Church, the

confession of the death and resurrection of the Lord. It was

with this faith too that Blessed Gerard worked in Jerusalem

near to the place where the death and resurrection of

Jesus Christ occurred, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of

Jerusalem that embraced the traditional sites of the death,

burial and resurrection of the Lord: "... and if Christ has not

been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and

your faith has been in vain..." (1 Cor 15:14).

In our own day we must again become aware of this Easter

faith that Gerard lived.

During Easter, we the baptized are most intimately joined

with Christ. "God raised us up with Him and seated

us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph

2:6); "so if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things

that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand

of God" (Col. 3:1-2).

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ risen from the dead, strengthen us in

faith, in trust and in love.

Lord hear our prayer.

make the Holy Land a land of peace between peoples

where your praises may sound.

Lord hear our prayer.

send us your Spirit that we may proclaim your death

and profess your resurrection until you come in glory.

Lord hear our prayer.

welcome our dead in your heavenly Jerusalem.

Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father...

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard,

that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Let your people, renewed in youth of spirit, O God,

rejoice always that those who now take delight in the

glory of being your adopted children, may look

forward with certain hope to the day of resurrection.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one

God, for ever and ever.

(Collect for the Third Sunday of Easter)

Day Nine

BLESSED GERARD, PRAY FOR US

We know little about Blessed Gerard. We revere him

as the founder of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. There

are documents which testify to Gerardís activity and legends

that sought to embellish it.

Through Gerard, "the Jerusalem Hospital" has been for

900 years the basis for defence of the faith and service of

the sick ("tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum").

More than in life, Gerard has, like many saints, perhaps

had greater effect after his death, after his "heavenly birthday"

as the Church was accustomed to call the day of oneís

death. The Order of Saint John has given witness to this

with its traditions, its international potential, its new initiatives

and with the noble character of its particular spirituality.

"Our confraternity will be everlasting since the ground in

which this flower has taken root is the misery of the world

and since there will always be people, please God, who

will give of themselves to lessen suffering and make this

misery more bearable." These are likely not the words of

Gerard, but they have been attributed to him. It falls to

us here and now, as it did to Gerard, to reduce the suffering

in our time, to make misery more bearable, so that

Jesus Christ may be glorified in all.

Prayer

Jesus Christ, "my Lord and my God" (Jn 20:28),

strengthen in your service our Holy Father N., all bishops,

priests, deacons and all members of the Order.

Lord hear our prayer.

assist our Grand Master Frà N. and all those in authority

in the Order to live out their calling and their mission

in the present day.

Lord hear our prayer.

raise up suitable and devout vocations for the Hospitaller

Order of Saint John .

Lord hear our prayer.

let us be faithful and joyful in your service and once

our earthly life is ended, lead us to your Easter glory.

Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father...

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard,

that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

(Prayer after the seventh reading of the Easter Vigil).

God of unchanging power and everlasting light, look

with favour upon the mystery of the entire Church, and

bring to fulfilment your eternal plan of redemption;

then may the whole world observe and know that the

fallen have been lifted up, what has grown old is made

new and that all has been restored to wholeness

through Christ, the source of all things, who lives and

reigns for ever and ever.

Conclusion

Let us pray.

( Collect for the Feast of Blessed Gerard, Founder of our Order)

O God, who exalted blessed Gerard because of his care

for the poor and the sick, and through him founded in

Jerusalem the Order of St John the Baptist, give us the

grace of seeing, as he did, the image of your Son in our

brothers and sisters. We ask this through our Lord

Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer of the Order

Lo rd Jesus, thou has seen fit to enlist me for thy service

among the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem.

I humbly enter at thee through the intercession of the

most holy virgin of Philerme, of St John the Baptist, the

Blessed Gerard and all the saint s, to keep me faithful to

the traditions of our Order. Be it mine to practise and

defend the catholic, the apostolic, the Roman faith

against the enemies of religion; be it mine to practise

charity towards my neighbours, especially the poor and

sick. Give me the strength I need to carry out this my

resolve, forgetful of myself, learning ever from thy holy

Gospel a spirit of deep and generous Christian devotion,

striving ever to promote Godís glory, the worldís

peace, and all that may benefit the Order of St John of

Jerusalem.

NOVENA FOR NEW VOCATIONS
IN THE ORDER OF MALTA

Since the days of the Blessed Gerard God has continued to

call members of the Church to his service in the Order of

St. John of the Hospital in Jerusalem. In observance of the

evangelical counsels, poverty, chastity and obedience for

the Kingdom of God, they have tried to live the charisma

of the Order of Malta. If the Order is to fulfil its many tasks

concerning tuitio fidei and obsequium pauperum even

in present times, it needs a sufficient number of professed

vocations as knights and chaplains. So let us pray:

Prayer

Almighty God and Father:

grant the gift of your Holy Spirit to the Grand Master

and all professed knights of our Order, so that they

may live the evangelical counsels with faith, joy and

conviction.

Lord hear us,

Lord graciously hear us.

Let the families of the knights and dames in obedience

and all families of our Order be genuine domestic churches,

in which vocations to priesthood, to consecrated

life and to personal witness before the world are encouraged.

Lord hear us,

Lord graciously hear us.

Strengthen the desire of youth to place themselves

totally at your service, and call young men to the priesthood

so that they may celebrate the Eucharist for the

members of the Order and its charitable organisations,

administer the Sacraments and proclaim your word.

Lord hear us,

Lord graciously hear us.

Continue to call people to your service in the professed

life and the ranks in obedience of the Order of

Malta, so that they may serve you in the pilgrims, the

poor and the sick.

Lord hear us,

Lord graciously hear us.

Grant that all members of the Order of Malta and of its

charitable organisations may carry out the duties in a

spirit of loyalty to the Pope and the Church, with deep

faith, joyful hope and great love.

Lord hear us,

Lord graciously hear us.

Receive all the members of the Order of Malta, whose

earthly pilgrimage has ended into the heavenly

Jerusalem.

Lord hear us,

Lord graciously hear us.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father...

Let us pray:

O God, who sent the power of the Gospel like a leaven

into the world, rouse up new recruits in your Church in

the spirit of the Order of Jerusalem to serve you by

charity towards the sick and the poor and to proclaim

without flinching your holy name. We ask this through

our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and

ever. Amen.

Angelus

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.

And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary ...

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

Be it done unto me according to thy word.

Hail Mary ...

And the word was made flesh.

And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary ...

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our

hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, thy

Son, was made known by the message of an angel,

may by his passion and cross be brought to the glory

of his resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord.

(in Eastertide)

Regina Caeli

O Queen of heaven rejoice! alleluia.

For he, whom it was your merit to bear, alleluia.

Has risen as he said, alleluia.

Pray for us to God, alleluia.

Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.

For the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray

O God, who gave joy to the world through the

resurrection of thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ;

grant, we beseech thee, that through his mother,

the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting

life. Through the same Christ our Lord.

 
 

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