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Author Topic: How often do you go to Confession?  (Read 5749 times) Average Rating: 0
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David
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« on: August 10, 2003, 02:55:59 PM »

Just curious.  You don't have to tell us in detail, but I'm interested in seeing a poll of how often each of us goes on average.  

Recently at my diocesan assembly(Archdiocese of the South, OCA), Abp DMITRI stated that all priests should hold their flock to coming once a month, and absolutely no less than once per fasting season.  

Many of the parioshoners at my mission already go monthly, as the importance of confession is well understood here.  At times I may go almost two months, but on average I go every three weeks or so.
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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2003, 08:42:03 PM »

Dear David:

Which of the Desert Fathers stated, "We must die before we die, so that we don't die when we die."

My confessor also wants me to go to confession at least once a month. He feels that going once a week can lead to complacency and a lack of preparation, whereas once per month is just right. I agree. Of course, he will always allow us to go more often if we need it.
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2003, 10:31:41 PM »

Be aware that confession was originally intended to reconcile the lapsi (Christians who denied Christ) and other classes (adulterers, e.g.).  The use of confession as a routine for less than heinous sins is a modern development originating partly in the monastic revelation of thoughts and partly under the influence of the Roman Catholic church, which started wrapping its doctrinal tentacles about the Orthodox in early modern Russia (Cath. & Peter) and early modern Greece (during the Ottoman centuries).  Check Erickson's Challenge of Our Past and Schmemann's Great Lent.  If you read the pre-Communion prayers, you may note that the claimed effects of crypto-Catholic confession are regarded as owing to Holy Communion.  Cheers, Daniel
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2003, 12:00:48 AM »

Dear David:

Which of the Desert Fathers stated, "We must die before we die, so that we don't die when we die."


Maria,

To tell you the truth, I am not certain which of the Fathers coined that phrase.  I initially read The Sayings of the Desert Fathers during my catechumenate five years ago and at the time that was one of my favorite sayings.  Recently, while reading Youth of the Apocalypse by John Marler, I was reintroduced to this quote(Marler doesn't attribute the quote to any specific desert father).  

Perhaps it was St. Pambo...I'm really not sure about that, and might be completely wrong.  If you check a collection of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, you might be able to find a better answer.  

Idea - it would be nice to have an online version of the Sayings so that we can search by keyword.  I wonder how old the english translations are and if they will become public domain soon.
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2003, 12:40:47 AM »

Daniel,

What are you getting at? Should we not attend confession?

Bobby
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2003, 01:17:20 AM »

If we judge routine confession by church history, that would appear to be the logical conclusion.  There certainly is nothing about routine confession in the conciliar documents.  You might want to discuss the matter with your priest.  However, the issue is touchy, as it is doubtful that most priests have read Schmemann and Erickson or have reflected on what they have pointed out.  You will need to have a good relationship, since you are in effect questioning their ability to do their job.  I encourage you to do your own homework so that you can come to your own conclusions and not make any decisions on hearsay.  Cheers, Dan
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2003, 02:13:03 AM »

Schmemann and Erickson, as intelligent as they be, are not infallible entities. They represent an opinion, but certainly aren't the voice of all Christianity. My perception is that obedience to a bishop or spiritual father is paramount over "my own conclusions" or research in the matter.  With that being said, I am almost positive that 100% of priests and bishops would recommend monthy confession. Why? Confession is an ultimate necessity for the spiritual life.  Forgiveness and reconciliation are the building blocks of Christianity.  If Confession shouldn't be utilized, then what is the point of it?

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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2003, 08:34:05 AM »

Daniel,

I'm not well read on this subject at all, but a thought occurs to me.  Could the understanding of confession you've introduced to us refer to the practice in the early church of not becoming baptised until later in life.  It was taught that if one sinned after baptism that their sins could not be forgiven.  Among others, Constantine held this belief and was only baptised on his deathbed.  It would seem consistent sacramentally, that is, if one was not yet baptised into The Church, they would not partake of the sacraments.

Once again I must profess my ignorance on this subject.  I  look forward to hearing more from you.  Thank you for your time.
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2003, 10:06:42 AM »

I try to do confession once a month when a priest comes here for vespers and liturgy.  However, sometimes a priest can't get up here to hold services, so we can't have confession either.  The last time, I had 3 months between confessions (since it's hard for a priest do to all the lenten services plus travel up here to hold monthly services), and I hate to wait that long.  I really much prefer to do it every month.  Our bishop says it should be done 4 times a year *minimum*.  One reason that I like to do confession once a month is that the longer between confessions, the more likely you are to forget something, especially when you are literally *cheif* among sinners, like I am (let's not get into an argument about who is the most *chief* among sinners on this list! Roll Eyes
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2003, 10:50:27 AM »

David,

The question seems hard to me. ROCOR (generally) says that you should go to confession before every time you go to communion. I personally don't have a problem with this (I'm sinful enough during the week that each week I really do have a lot that needs genuinely repented of), but I can't imagine how difficult this would be on the priest if most people in the parish also held to the belief that frequent communion was a good thing. If most of the people partook every time they were able to, and they went to confession before every time, the priest wouldn't have a second of time to do anything else but hear confessions in some churches! Sad If this happens, the priest might just be tempted to "get you in and out" so that he can "get to everyone," which would also not be a good situation. I sometimes wonder if any ROCOR parishes actually have this problem. Ah well... at the parish close to us, confession doesn't seem to be required (though it is suggested)... but then again the normal rule of prayer isn't required either, but the priest settles for attending Vigil or saying a canon (the normal rule is: pre-communion prayers, 3 canons, and 1 akathist, which I must admit I've unfortunately not done once yet since it's never been required anywhere I attended). I voted once a week... since that's what my answer would be, though I'll admit that my current practice doesn't reflect that answer.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2003, 10:52:12 AM by Paradosis » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2003, 12:22:45 PM »

In my (OCA) parish, *personal* Confession is required at a minimum of once a month for those who commune every Sunday.  Twice a month (except during the 50 days from Pascha to Pentecost), General Confession is available in addition to personal Confessions after Saturday evening Vespers for those who partake of monthly private, personal Confessions.  For all others, personal Confession is required before each Eucharist.  In addition, all communicants, being at peace with everyone, are expected to prepare with prayer and fasting from the evening before and are encouraged to attend the Vespers or Vigil as well (unless excused because of distance, necessary work, care-giving, etc).  Please note that the General Confessions are only for weekly communicants *IN ADDITION TO* their regular monthly (or more often) personal, private Confessions.

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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2003, 12:51:26 PM »

I try to go monthly, but I live so far from my church, it is difficult.

I have no problem with the Russian practice of confession before each communion, but from what I have seen it results in infrequent communion.

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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2003, 03:32:54 PM »

St. Moses the Black lived in the late 300's, and he went to confession 17 times in one night while he was struggling to overcome his past life of fornication and murder, so I don't think that frequent confession is a new thing.  It would probably be better if I could go to confession less often and prepair more before each one... but the thing is that I'm usually going to confession because I need to :-(
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2003, 03:36:21 PM »


I was talking wiith Tony about this last night.

I have never been to confession because my GOA parish does not really do it. Just once a year before Lent.

And as I said to Tony, I have thought about it -- but I don't feel that I know HOW to do it (confess to a priest). What should I confess to? If it's the normal stuff that every man/woman goes through every week, then I confess those shortcoming in my prayers in the morning.

I am not sure how to begin.

 Huh
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« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2003, 03:45:12 PM »


I was talking wiith Tony about this last night.

I have never been to confession because my GOA parish does not really do it. Just once a year before Lent.

And as I said to Tony, I have thought about it -- but I don't feel that I know HOW to do it (confess to a priest). What should I confess to? If it's the normal stuff that every man/woman goes through every week, then I confess those shortcoming in my prayers in the morning.

I am not sure how to begin.

 Huh


My priest says he's found that most people find it easiest to divide it into the 4 categories: God, Others, Senses, thoughts..

First to talk about your relationship with God, how is prayer going, is reading the Bible going ok, have you been negligent, do you need guidance, etc.  Then talk about sins involving others, say stuff like I was angry, I got in a fight, I comitted fornication, I engaged in idle chatter, whatever... then under senses say stuff like I wasn't careful enough with my eyes, I took second glances at woman, I age too much, I listened to gossip, etc... then under thoughts all the sins you've comitted in thought, I kept thinking about food during the fasts, I thought about fornication, I carried on arguments in my head, I daydreamed, I had prideful fantacies.  Just say everything.  First say what you did, and then what you neglected to do if that's easier.

Others find it easier to use an examination of concience, here's a ROCOR one I occasionally consult to see if I've been neglecting an area: http://www.orthodox.net/confess/confession-20-torments.html

The best thing to do is confess being nervous about confessing, say that you're not sure how to do it, and ask for your preist's guidance, ask him how often you should go after you've confessed & he's gotten a sense of where you are, etc.  My priest always says it's like riding a bike, you get better at it with practice but it's hard at first.
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« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2003, 05:14:33 PM »

I am sure that Schmemann would not have and Erickson does not claim infallibility or authority as the voice of all Christianity.  I stumbled across them in my own effort to answer the question posed by a Protestant:  whether confession is mandated in the Orthodox church.  The conciliar documents made no such claim, so if we claim to be the church of the seven councils, it is curious that we mimic the Catholics on this point.  But of course it is no curiosity at all, just history.  The point of confession was to reconcile enormous sinners.  (I believe that Moses was actually revealing his thoughts.)  It is possible to examine the claims made for confession and Communion instructively.  For example, if we receive Communion for forgiveness of sins, why do we go to confession first?  To be forgiven before we are forgiven?  If as the pre-Communion prayers say we go to Communion to receive pardon and reconciliation, why do we go to confession, unless to receive pardon and reconciliation in anticipation of pardon and reconciliation?  Theologically, I believe that by mandating confession, we may risk misunderstanding certain aspects of  Communion.  As far as presumption goes, there is a rut on either side of the road:  presumption is one and pseudo-piety is the other.  I happen to be in the GOA, so my bishop is "soft" on confession.  However, there is a danger in leaving one's brain in the vestibule, since it has the appearance of virtue but allows exaggerations and even heresies to creep in under the guise of piety.  One thinks of whether pious Constantinopolitans felt obliged to support Nestorius (my bishop, right or wrong).  I would of course be shocked to discover that anyone would accept the opinions of a man whom they had never met, so if you plan on heresying, leave my name out of it.  Cheers, Dan
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« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2003, 06:14:24 PM »


I was talking wiith Tony about this last night.

I have never been to confession because my GOA parish does not really do it. Just once a year before Lent.

And as I said to Tony, I have thought about it -- but I don't feel that I know HOW to do it (confess to a priest). What should I confess to? If it's the normal stuff that every man/woman goes through every week, then I confess those shortcoming in my prayers in the morning.

I am not sure how to begin.

 Huh



Hi Tom,

I'm in the GOA as well. So maybe I can help a little. (then again maybe not..lol)

I was nervous before my first confession too. Mainly because I feared what would my priest think of me afterwards after hearing all these sins I had commited. But you know what, that part doesn't bother me now. Its truly amazing how God gives His priests the grace to leave what is said in Confession in Confession. Literally 1 minute afterwards he was talking to me like normal.

As for the Greek practice, I personally think its the best of all the ones I've read about. (though they are all similar as they are all derived from the same source, Christ Himself)

In the GOA, Confession is like a service. You go in, and stand before the Icon of Christ which is on the Iconostasion. The priest will stand next to you, on your left and you'll go through the service part of it, which has a few litanies where YOU respond 'Lord have mercy'...then you will read Psalm 50 (51), then the priest will tell you something to the effect to 'now confess your sins. You are not confessing them to me, but to God, I am but an unworthy witness'...you then confess your sins just as you would in your private prayers.

The priest will just stand silently...you wont even notice he's there unless you look. After you confess the priest prays the absolution, will bless you with the hand cross that sits on the altar and thats about it.

The way my priest explains it is to not go into every detail. You dont have to say, "I lied 73 times" and then state all 73 times you lied going into long dialogues on how you lied and why. (not that you would lie 73 times but you get the idea..lol!)

Same with all sins...I mean if I lust I dont go into the sordid details of who I lusted after, what thoughts I had, what images I thought of while lusting etc. I just say "I have lusted, and I've had impure thoughts and sinful images in my mind about women"....

Definitely confess your sins in your private prayers every night. Even immediately after you commit them if possible. But this private confession is still not the Mystery. It may impart grace but not the same way the Holy Mystery does.

The Mystery of Holy Confession will give you a different kind of grace to overcome your sins unlike private confession can. There were certain sins (on in particular) that I could not overcome before my first Confession. And after my first Confession I didn't notice a difference...at first. But after a couple months, I looked back and say tha I no longer was controlled by this sin. (it was lust) I still struggle with it, but it doesn't haunt me on a moment to moment basis like it once did. I dont know HOW this works..all I know is that it does work. And thank God it does...because it's liberating and freeing. I guess thats what Christ meant by saying when He sets us free we are free indeed.

Protestants see Confession as a work, but its not. It as GIFT. An awesome gift.

As for preparing, you could just start with the 10 Commandments and review them, the night, or the week before Confession. The site Jonathan posted is good. The www.goarch.org site has one too.

http://www.goarch.org/print/en/ourfaith/article8476.asp


The Russian one is probably the more complete, but the Greek one may be best for your first Confession. And since your in the GOA it's a good 'fit'..Smiley

I hope this helps some..and I hope it wasn't to lengthy...Wink

Oh BTW, at first I wanted to go to Confession every week, but my priest, silently discouraged me from doing so. A first I didn't understand why...but now I see that I tend to try and fight against sin harder than if I was going on a weekly basis, where I could just "get forgiven" and not really try to struggle with sin.

By the time I get in the groove I will probably end up going 4 times per year. Though I could go more often.! Smiley

Of course thats what works for me, everyone of course is different.
In Christ, Chuck
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« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2003, 06:37:49 PM »

The priest will just stand silently...you wont even notice he's there unless you look. After you confess the priest prays the absolution, will bless you with the hand cross that sits on the altar and thats about it.

Chuck,

He does not place the epitrachelion (stole) on your head as he pronounces the prayer of absolution?

I have seen "general confesion" done something like that but not private confession but I have not been to confesion in the Greek church.

Tony

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« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2003, 07:06:57 PM »

Daniel S:

The Orthodox Church doesn't run like the RC Church.  You don't go looking for proof of something in conciliar documents.

The fact that confession exists in every Orthodox Church is proof that it is our tradition.  The fact that the Holy Fathers right about it as saving and grace-giving is proof.

If you don't go to confession regularly you are really missing out on a lot!

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« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2003, 09:25:23 PM »

Anastasios dixit:  The Orthodox Church doesn't run like the RC Church.  You don't go looking for proof of something in conciliar documents.
Daniel dicit:  The RCC is run more efficiently, since Roma locuta est (Rome has spoken) suffices, except for when someone else has spoken in an ecumenical council, in which case the RCC rewrites church history by pretending that the council's validity is guaranteed by the pope's approval.  In the Orthodox church, things are much less tidy; it helps to rummage through the ancient councils, as we claim to play by the same rules as our ancestors in the faith.  

Anastasios dixit:  The fact that confession exists in every Orthodox Church is proof that it is our tradition.  
Daniel dicit:  It might also prove that prestigious churches can set even bad fashions.

Anastasios dixit:  The fact that the Holy Fathers right about it as saving and grace-giving is proof.
Daniel dicit:  What they write about exactly is a point to consider.  The elders of Optina were big on confession as a requirement for Communion, but even if they were all of them saints to the man (as I believe), sanctity does not guarantee infallibility.

Comments
1.  Is "what the church has at all times and everywhere etc." an absolute rule?  The Jesus prayer is not mentioned until fairly late in the game, but no one doubts that it is part of our faith.  (Although whether it is essential is a good question, since it was not apparently essential to the Christians of the first several centuries.)
2.  How does one establish what is really Orthodox?  I have often thought something was anciently Orthodox, only to discover it was a relatively late innovation.
3.  Have there ever been innovations in Orthodox history?
4.  Can  we verify something as Orthodox without recourse to the ecumenical councils?
5.  Has there ever been a saint who preached our practiced an error in whole or in part?
6.  If someone is a saint, how can he be misled about anything important?  
7.  Are the Holy Fathers infallible, inerrant or otherwise unquestionable?  
Cheers, Dan
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« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2003, 10:27:38 PM »

For example, if we receive Communion for forgiveness of sins, why do we go to confession first?  To be forgiven before we are forgiven?  If as the pre-Communion prayers say we go to Communion to receive pardon and reconciliation, why do we go to confession, unless to receive pardon and reconciliation in anticipation of pardon and reconciliation?  Theologically, I believe that by mandating confession, we may risk misunderstanding certain aspects of  Communion.  

The Sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion are closely related in the process of forgiving sins.  In the Old Testament the sinner would place his hand on the animal's head and confess his sins before the priest.  His sins would be transferred to the animal which was then slaughtered, receiving the consequence of sin, death, in the place of the person.  In the New Testament we confess our sins to God before the priest, and it is as though our sins are transferred to him.  At the beginning of the Liturgy, before the burial procession, the priest rubs his hands over the lamb (loaf) and says a prayer asking God to forgive his sins and the sins of the people.  It is as though he's transfering the sins he's taken in confession to the lamb which becomes the Body and Blood, so that our sins which we confess are put on the Lamb of God, as we participate in the Sacrifice of Calvery.  Just as in the OT the person offering the sacrifice had to eat of it and have it's blood placed on him to be forgiven, we also must partake of It in the New Testament to have the forgiveness of ours sins and eternal life.  So the fact that both Reconciliation and Eucharist are for the forgiveness of sins is not a contradiction, any more than the fact that Baptism and Eucharist are both for the forgiveness of sins, and yet are both received one before the other (well, will Chrismation in between, but you know what I mean).  Christ washed the disciples feet, and told them to likewise wash each other's feet, teaching them about confession.  He said that they didn't need to wash again since they were clean (Baptism), but had to have their feet washed or they'd have no part in Him.  That seems like a regular thing, not something that's only done for the worst sinners who need to return, but everyone.

As for the pre-Communion prayers asking for the forgiveness of sins, most of the prayers before confession that I've seen also ask for the forgivness of sins, but that doesn't mean that the confession which the prayers are a perparation for isn't needed to be forgiven, just like the prayers asking for forgiveness before Communion don't make the Eucharist unesessary for the forgivness of sins.

Also, we don't need a council to define something for it to be true, or there'd have been no Church or practices before the councils.  The councils expressed the faith, they came up with new doctrines to explain more clearly the faith that was already held.  They laid down cannons for pastorial reasons and to correct incorrect practices and beliefs.  They did not add to the faith or create the faith, the faith was given to the Apostles by Christ, and it has been passed down from generation to generation since then, it was complete before Nicea.
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« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2003, 11:59:21 PM »

I go to confession once a month.  I have found it very helpful, freeing, unburdening, and a joy.  However, I get out of confession what I put into it.  If I don't prepare beforehand, I just mumble, overlook a lot of my sins, and the confession becomes a kind of formality.  However, if I prepare with prayer and an examination of conscience, I find confession to be (as the Euchologion says) "a second Baptism.  There are some sins I could never put behind me before I became Orthodox that I now have mastered because of the Grace of the Mystery of Confession.  I find Confession eases my conscience, strengthens me to continue in what is right and gives peace to my soul.  Its also a wonderful way to establish a relationship with one's priest too.  The priest who heard my very first confession was fond of a saying by Saint John Cassian "He who has himself for a spiritual guide is guided by a fool."  Often I am quite the fool, and I am thankful for a sober minded priest who can set me on the straight and narrow, and to whom I can be accountable.
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« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2003, 07:28:07 PM »


Hi Tony,

Sorry it took me so long to respond.

YES! The priest DOES place the stole on your head as he prays the absolution. Sorry I forgot to mention that. I thought about it when I was typing my first message, but for some reason didn't actually type it...lol!

I'm sure I left alot of other things out too as I was hitting on just the major points.

I personally like the Litanies, and reading Psalm 50 before I actually confess, because it sort of eases em into, and prepares me to confess my sins.

Its definitely not an in and out kinda thing...as it takes probably at least a half hour. Though I suppose it could be much longer depending on how many sins one confesses, and if there was need of counciling on certain sins and addictions. its definitely not like a 'general confession' as the litanies and stuff are only preperatory to the personal Confession that follows.

Like I said, I'm sure I left out some things...but these are the major points as I remember them.


In Christ, Chuck


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« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2003, 09:48:58 PM »

I've just been Orthodox for a few months.  I go to confession about every 6 weeks or so.  The priest at my parish says 4-6 weeks is "required" to partake of communion weekly -- unless, of course, there is some pressing reason to come more frequently.  

Confession was the most frightening part of becoming Orthodox for me; I was terrified of making my lifelong confession!  But I realized it was all pride.  I just didn't want my priest to know what a wretch I really have been!  It was a big relief to get it over with and to see that my worst fears were unfounded.
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Benedict
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« Reply #24 on: August 18, 2003, 06:57:08 PM »

Quote from: Jonathan
Others find it easier to use an examination of concience, here's a ROCOR one I occasionally consult to see if I've been neglecting an area: http://www.orthodox.net/confess/confession-20-torments.html
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Jonathan, I found this link to be very helpful! Thank you.
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