Bp. Morlino: “There is no place in the priesthood today for ‘wimpish-ness.’”

From the diocesan paper of the Diocese of Madison, comes some reflections from His Excellency Most Reverend Robert Morlino about the priesthood and last week’s “Good Shepherd Sunday”.

Excerpts and with my emphases.

It takes bravery to follow Christ as priests
Bishop’s Column
Thursday, May. 03, 2012

This past Sunday is often called, “Good Shepherd Sunday.” The word the Scriptures use is really not adequately translated in English as simply, “good.” The word really means, “honorable, worthy, noble,” or, “so excellent in every way that its goodness is itself beautiful.”

And, in particular, our Gospel for this past Sunday (Jn 10:11-18) points out that the shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep; he is honorable, worthy, and noble in his bravery — even laying down his own life for the sheep. And toward the end of that Gospel passage, Jesus says, “No one takes my life from me, I lay down my life, and I take it up again.”

The shepherd is indeed a brave shepherd. And so, in some ways, as the years go by, I hope that we start to call this, “Brave Shepherd Sunday,” for the bravery of the shepherd is one of the key virtues focused upon that help us to call him, “good.”

This past Sunday was also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations — it always falls on Brave Shepherd Sunday. And it is a day of prayer, in particular, for vocations to the priesthood. Of course we pray that everyone can be faithfully successful in finding his or her vocation, but we pray especially for an increase in vocations to the priesthood. The priesthood is not one vocation amid many. The vocation to be a priest is the vocation to coordinate the other vocations in the Church, to recognize, to call them forth, to help discern them, and to serve them.

The priest’s vocation is all about the fullness of the vocation of everyone else. The priest has a special call to discern and to direct those other vocations, so that the Church might be one, so that there might be one flock and one shepherd. So, the priest is as concerned about everybody else’s reception of the Grace of Christ, as his own. And, the priest has a very good motive for his concern about everyone else’s reception of God’s Grace, for Jesus Christ will hold him to account for that on Judgment Day.

The priest must do what is necessary to build unity in the flock and to call the flock to holiness, so that he himself might receive a “good account before the fearsome judgment seat of Christ,” when the time comes. It is only in doing his best for everybody else’s holiness that the priest can do the best for himself. And to do that today it takes bravery.

When we look for candidates to the priesthood and as we pray for vocations, we are looking for men who are brave in their willingness to seek holiness, to speak the truth, to lay down their lives. There is no place in the priesthood today for “wimpish-ness.” There is no place for an attitude that just wants to please people, no matter what they think and no matter what they want. Today the priest has to stand up and be brave, preaching the Truth with love. He has to be willing to be unpopular. And if it comes to it, he has to be open to martyrdom.

[…]

Our world is in such a state that even the government wants to make sure that everybody — perhaps even little girls — have access, free of charge, to artificial contraception and they call it “preventive services.” Preventive medicine is medicine that protects someone from an illness (like a vaccination against the flu). What disease does artificial contraception protect a woman from? Pregnancy? Our government would have us think that pregnancy is a disease, and that instead of finding fulfillment in her motherhood, a woman must have the absolute freedom to turn against her motherhood — as if the fruits of being a mother were a disease.

Bravery means standing up for moral truth
It’s time for all of us to be brave in admitting what the moral truth is about artificial contraception. It’s not a time to by shy, retiring, and politically correct. Sometimes people come up to me and say, “in my parish it’s not permitted to talk about that.” How sad. Where is the sign of the brave shepherd?

[…]

Read the rest there.

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37 Responses to Bp. Morlino: “There is no place in the priesthood today for ‘wimpish-ness.’”

  1. Maltese says:

    Pregnancy as “disease”, where even the born-alive act is scuttled.

    Fair is foul and foul is fair.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Bravo, Bishop Morlino. Many years ago, when I was teaching religion, I told my students they were the generation of the martyrs. And, I think that any young man following a vocation today must face that prospect in his heart as he follows this dangerous path, which is also the path to glory. However, these times do mean that priests must be perfect, not merely holy, and here is a great quotation from Fr. Jordan Aumann referring to Pope Pius XI’s letter to priests, underlining what the good bishop has said above. “The diocesan priest, although not in the canonical ‘state of perfection,’ is obliged, in virtue of his priestly ordination and his ministerial office, to tend to perfection and to surpass in perfection the nonclerical or lay religious.” Only those who pursue perfection will be able to lead their people in their hard times.

  3. Perhaps Bishop Morlino suggests what think: That in today’s post-mandates Church, it is unrealistic for priests to expect to be “covered” or taken off the hook by episcopal and papal decisions and rubrics. I suspect the Church, and specifically its liturgy, will be only restored one priest at a time– by the priest who takes his role in persona Christi seriously, and is willing to stand up and pastorally lead his people to what tradition tells him is right. For instance, what he knows what is right liturgically when (thanks to Summorum Pontificum) he has learned to celebrate the EF and understands his role as priest. Is this not what “mutual enrichment” really implies?

    And is not Pope Benedict is calling on individual priests to follow his example, not his rules? He is counting on young priests who are real men and not wimps, to man up one by one until the Church is reclaimed. Once a sense of tradition has been restored in the ars celebranda of the Mass, perhaps binding norms and rubrics will follow in due course.

    All this is easy enough for a layman to say. But what alternative for the restoration does any one foresee? Who really anticipates mandates for ad orientem OF celebrations, or requirement Holy Communion on the tongue, or for provision of the EF in every parish, and so forth? Aren’t all these things that will come only by pastoral leadership at the parish level?

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    I was at his Mass at St Paul’s on the UW campus, on Brave Shepherd Sunday, and it was a thing of beauty, just a really good homily and made me really happy.

    I love his defense of celibacy in the article, “It is precisely the gift from God of celibacy that holds the priest so tightly to Christ. The priest is bravely laying down his life, and living completely for the next world, in which there is “no marrying or giving in marriage (Mt 22:30),” no matter what consequences might befall him in this world.”

  5. leonugent2005 says:

    It appears to me that we have replaced “”say the black and do the red with “”Pope Benedict is calling on individual priests to follow his example, not his rules. Well in Judges 21:25 we read ‘In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” This to me is a great example of “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” As for me and my house we will say the black and do the red

    [I think that you have misunderstood the sense of the statement “follow his example, not his rules”. The point Bp. Morlino is making here is that Pope Benedict teaches by example, and he does not impose through rules.]

  6. DisturbedMary says:

    This video is called the Priest condemned to hell by Jesus. It brings home Bishop Morlino’s message about the priesthood with a surprise ending.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1xFfFy0PlM

  7. frjim4321 says:

    Seems like a big part of the shepherd theme going back to Ezekiel in the OT and the NT synoptic accounts is a tension between good shepherds and bad shepherds. For example, Jesus told the story in the hearing of religious leaders of his day drawing a contrast between the good shepherd who knows his sheep and the hired hand who is not a good shepherd and is in effect concerned only for his paycheck.

    Contextually this ordinary is using the shepherd theme seemingly [!] to suggest that the foreign priests [There are Americans in that group, you know.] that he imposed on the a parish community that was more attuned to indigenous priests are somehow “heroic” because they are imposing an eccentric clericalist style [So, you’ve been there? You’ve gotten to know the priests there?] on a parish that has been formed in a more communitarian style.

    Part of the shepherd motif is “I know mine and mine know me;” but with this parish situation it seems that a group of foreigners descended on a parish and imposed a rigid style with no pastoral concern for the people. Thus, going back to the “good shepherd/bad shepherd” dichotomy I’d be less incline to associate the foreigners with the good shepherd. Elsewhere it’s been reported [Reported or is this gossip?] that this order visited the U.S. a while back canvasing for bishops who would provide monetary support and Madison was one of a couple places that gave them a hearing.

    [Do you have any experience of being a priest in another country?]

  8. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    Contextually this ordinary is using the shepherd theme seemingly to suggest that the foreign priests that he imposed on the a parish community that was more attuned to indigenous priests are somehow “heroic” because they are imposing an eccentric clericalist style on a parish that has been formed in a more communitarian style.

    IMHO, this is a great example of the narrow mindedness that is often found in the vernacular church–the sense of the transcendence of the universal church has been deadened. It’s not the Church of Christ but the Church of Us.

  9. heway says:

    Agree with Fr. Jim

  10. frjim4321 says:

    Actually not, Robert. As Mystici Corporis sets forth clearly and as was fleshed out in Lumen Gentium this is not a matter of “either/or” but rather of “both/and.”

  11. pm125 says:

    Please keep knowing, loving and serving our Lord Who knows and loves us as the point of parables about shepherds. Shepherds were the way people understood teaching about this relationship to the Lord God and the teaching doesn’t stop at good/bad shepherds. Jesus didn’t teach with parables about carpentry because it wasn’t part of common experience as were the branches of the vine producing fruit for quenching thirst – wine was a safer drink than water so more common. God’s people are His – He shows us how to live so that we can hope for eternity with Him and avoid the perils of being dried up branches burnt because we cut ourselves off from the vine. Thankfully, He gives us a lifetime to learn well through whatever tribulation that His law is the answer – work to love God and neighbor. (Also, He sent His disciples out to all the world.)
    The part of the prayer – For Thine is the kingdom, power, and glory forever.

  12. Clinton R. says:

    “Today the priest has to stand up and be brave, preaching the Truth with love. He has to be willing to be unpopular.” Isn’t that the truth? Did the Apostles say things that were hard to hear? Yes, of course! Jesus had teachings that were hard to hear. But the Apostles were filled with zeal to preach the Gospel and to shepherd man away from his proclivity to sin and toward Christ and His Church. Today’s Catholics have become so conditioned to getting their way like spoiled children, that when they actually are confronted with sound Catholic teaching, they start stomping their feet and crying like someone stole their bottle of milk. And it doesn’t help when a orthodox priest upholds Catholic teaching and gets a stern scolding from his bishop. Priests should have, and be encouraged to pursue the Apostolic zeal to preach the Gospel and uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church. Sometimes (if not often times) our feelings have to be hurt to be put on the right track towards salvation. May Our Lord bless the Church Militant with bishops such as Bp. Morlino and faithful men to heed the call to the prieshood.

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  14. Elizabeth D says:

    FrJim4321, the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest is not an “Order” exactly, but a Secular Institute, they are diocesan priests, and some of them were ordained by Bishop Morlino. I asked one of them one time when he was substituting at St Paul’s and he emphasized that he is a diocesan priest.

    The Cathedral Parish and St Paul’s on the university campus do not have girl altar boys nor EMHCs at Mass so the practices at the SJCP parishes are not eccentric. They are normal Catholic practice, and normal within our area.

  15. MPSchneiderLC says:

    A bishop decides who the pastor is at every parish. Some have one liturgical style, some have another. Beyond one style or another, the first question regarding this particural parish is OBEDIENCE TO THE BISHOP. Parishes do not have the right to veto the bishop’s assignment of any priest – diosecan, societal or religious – and that is what this parish seems to want to do. Most of the readers here probably prefer the style of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, but even if they were replaced by a priest with a “freer” style, and the parishioners complained I would say the same thing (assuming he didn’t do anything explicitly outside the norms like give the homily over to a lay person).

    On the article itself, pray for us who are studying to be priests so we have the strength for the mission God is giving us.

  16. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    Actually not, Robert. As Mystici Corporis sets forth clearly and as was fleshed out in Lumen Gentium this is not a matter of “either/or” but rather of “both/and.

    Of course, the Universal Church includes particular Churches, but the point is for the vernacular Church by definition it is either/or. That’s why in parishes like yours there are many who wink (or spit) at the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, favor women’s ordination, and have no qualms about supporting pro abortion political candidates. That’s also why there are priests who are sympathetic with people with those inclinations–but steadfastly oppose Latin mass.

    It’s also why, as I wrote here a few days ago, NO parishes have a surprising number of people who hate Latin liturgy.

  17. ContraMundum says:

    It’s also why, as I wrote here a few days ago, NO parishes have a surprising number of people who hate Latin liturgy.

    That may be one reason, but there are others. For one thing, many fans of the EF seem to think not only that the EF is clearly better than the OF, but that anyone who attends the EF liturgy is clearly better than anyone who attends the OF liturgy. That kind of attitude never makes friends. So, for example, I am a graduate of the University of Alabama, which has won 2 national championships in football over the past 3 years. Two of my co-workers are graduates of Ohio State and Michigan, and they are also college football fans. If I were to take every opportunity to bash the Big Ten as the most over-rated conference in the history of football, mock Ohio State for having finally beaten an SEC team in a bowl game only to have to vacate the win, blah blah blah, they would rapidly get pretty ticked at me, and it would serve me right. They would also develop a hatred of Alabama because of me.

    Another thing to consider is that resistance to change may only be an instinct, not reason, but it’s not bad as instincts go. I was involved with a Newman Club several years ago at a different university than the one where I currently work when we got a new priest. Our previous priest had established the habit of closing each meeting with the Rosary. The new priest said that no, we should not do that(!), but that we should instead close with part of the Liturgy of the Hours. I think he ended up using the short night prayer from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but the last time I was there, that had not become regular, let alone habitual. Now maybe it is better to pray a part of the Liturgy of the Hours than to pray the Rosary, but it is definitely better to say the Rosary every time than to say the Compline ever now and then.

  18. robtbrown says:

    ContraMundum says:


    It’s also why, as I wrote here a few days ago, NO parishes have a surprising number of people who hate Latin liturgy.

    That may be one reason, but there are others. For one thing, many fans of the EF seem to think not only that the EF is clearly better than the OF, but that anyone who attends the EF liturgy is clearly better than anyone who attends the OF liturgy. That kind of attitude never makes friends.

    You seem to be saying that Latin mass tends to attract right wingers. To a certain extent, that is true. That’s why it needs to be in every parish so that it will be available to Catholics of every temperament and political persuasion.

    BTW, the phenomenon of which you speak is a consequence of policies that began in the Montini papacy that ostracized those who wanted Latin mass.

    So, for example, I am a graduate of the University of Alabama, which has won 2 national championships in football over the past 3 years. Two of my co-workers are graduates of Ohio State and Michigan, and they are also college football fans. If I were to take every opportunity to bash the Big Ten as the most over-rated conference in the history of football, mock Ohio State for having finally beaten an SEC team in a bowl game only to have to vacate the win, blah blah blah, they would rapidly get pretty ticked at me, and it would serve me right. They would also develop a hatred of Alabama because of me.

    I agree that Big 10+2 football is overrated, and SEC football is superior. I also think that academically that relationship is inverse.

    BTW, I am an Alabama fan of many years, dating back to the Bear. I don’t think, however, that the Tide should have been in the BCS championship game. They already had their chance against LSU and lost at home. Okla State should have played LSU.

    BTW2, if you haven’t read the Bryant memoirs (The Hard Times and Good Life), I recommend them.

    And I’m not sure what you mean by resistance to change. As we both know, it is now those who like vernacular liturgy that are resisting change.

  19. ContraMundum says:

    You seem to be saying that Latin mass tends to attract right wingers.

    I don’t know where you get that from what I’ve written. I was talking about a smug sense of superiority, and that doesn’t seem to be a left/right issue. Dick Cheney gave off those vibes, but so does Obama. SSPX Bishop Williamson gives off those vibes, but so does the LCWR.

    I don’t want to get distracted into a comparison between conferences, so I’ll say just this much. Yes, the SEC has a much better record lately, but that’s in part due to the Big Ten going through a temporary slump. I think most SEC fans prefer the Big Ten’s tradition of power football to the trickery favored in some other parts, but they think (with good reason) that the Big Ten has to add speed to the power to enjoy success.

    As for academic comparisons, I’ve never thought it made sense to use academics as an excuse for poor performance in athletics, or vice versa. Secondly, at the undergraduate level, all major universities tend to be about the same. They use the same or equivalent textbooks, cover similar material in similarly-named courses, etc. An intro calculus class at Troy State University – Dothan will be pretty darn equivalent to an intro calculus class at the University of Michigan. What a student gets out of the intro calculus class depends less on the university and more on how much he puts into the class and how well prepared for it he was (a function of the K-12 school system and the university’s admissions policies). Finally, what a university should really be interested in is making positive changes in the students. Whenever I hear a university boast that their graduates are in the top 2% academically nationwide, I immediately wonder if they were in the top 1% when they were admitted and have lost ground. A junior college which admits students in the bottom 10% and graduates them in the bottom 40% would have done a much better job.

    As for the BCS game, well, we don’t make the rules. I agree that we lost our right to be in the championship game, but then so did every other team in succession. And I’ve liked Oklahoma State for years because they always put up a good fight, even when it looks like a total mismatch. But at the end of the year, Alabama was better by the numbers, and that’s what people wanted when they set the system up. And to be honest, I don’t think Oklahoma State had the defense to beat LSU.

    As we both know, it is now those who like vernacular liturgy that are resisting change.

    Exactly. And it would be better for them to be every-Sunday-and-Holy-Day participants in the OF than Christmas-and-Easter participants of the EF.

  20. brotherfee says:

    I can see where frjim4321 is coming from, although I would not use the term “foreign” priests. If I had a daughter and was trying to raise her correctly, and she agreed to be an altar server, I would be extremely pleased. But then to be told that this was suddenly going to be stopped, only boys for altar servers; I can see where the parents would feel excluded and be upset. I am not going to use the word “insensitive”, which I hate,; but say instead an unwise move. Why alienate a large number of the parish and have them leave? These are the people going to mass and trying to live the sacramental life, as opposed to many “Catholics” who never go to mass, give no thought to their salvation, and don’t really care.

  21. leonugent2005 says:

    Since the liturgical reforms of the second Vatican council no one once has ever wanted to offer the mass the way the church decreed that it be offered. I see no change in this additude for the next 50 years [“No one once”? Wrong.]

  22. ContraMundum says:

    I am not going to use the word “insensitive”, which I hate,; but say instead an unwise move.

    How about organizing an all-girl choir, no boys allowed? That might help to soothe hurt feelings.

  23. poohbear says:

    If I had a daughter and was trying to raise her correctly, and she agreed to be an altar server, I would be extremely pleased

    If you were raising her correctly, she would never want to be an altar server.

    I can see where the parents would feel excluded and be upset

    People need to get their ‘feelings’ out of the way and get back to worshiping God in Mass and not ourselves. Only then will the Church return to where it should be.

  24. AnAmericanMother says:

    People continue to mix the pernicious poison of ‘identity politics’ with church issues.
    It is NOT about how YOU feel, it is not about what you want, it is not about demanding your “rights”.
    When it comes to Almighty God, you haven’t any “rights”, and if you demand your “just reward” it would be high temperatures and sulfur, mostly.

    “But I got to have my rights same as you, see?”

    “Oh no. It’s not so bad as that. I haven’t got my rights, or I should not be here. You will not get yours either. You’ll get something far better. Never fear.”

    “What do you keep on arguing for? I’m only telling you the sort of chap I am. I only want my rights. I’m not asking for anybody’s bleeding charity.”

    “Then do. At once. Ask for the Bleeding Charity. Everything is here for the asking and nothing can be bought.”

    – C.S. Lewis, “The Great Divorce”

  25. wmeyer says:

    An American Mother: The Church is not a democracy, despite the odd views of some. Thanks be to God!

  26. ContraMundum says:

    I agree with your points, American Mother and wmeyer, but C.S. Lewis was not really talking about “church issues” or church governance in The Great Divorce. In fact, he had the sad, confused ideas of an Anglican, as is clear from the conversation when Merlin first met Ransom in That Hideous Strength.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    After a lovely Midnight Mass with Latin last year, many, not several, members of my congregation phoned the parish priest and complained, saying they did not know Latin and did not want to hear it. And, this is in England, where people are supposed to be educated and sympathetic to culture and art. The point is that a mindless “hatred” of the official language of the Church has crept into some people’s psyches because of the ideas of “democracy” and the dumbing down of worship. The wimpyness of priests has not helped, as some have caved into this pressure from parishioners, a fact I had to deal with last week regarding abuses in the Mass. “What the people want” is now the hue and cry of too many pastors, which is one reason why some priests will not talk against contraception, and even abortion. The wimpyness is connected to a popularity contest among some priests and a numbers game–“How big is your parish?” “Are numbers up in your parish?” and so on…

  28. AnAmericanMother says:

    ContraMundum,
    It’s really a rabbit hole, but don’t make the mistake of requiring doctrinal purity in fiction. How a conversation between a (real, not modern) pagan and a Christian hero develops is in large part a function of imagination and plot requirements — and as George MacDonald told the narrator in “The Great Divorce” (in reference to Keats), sometimes poets don’t fully understand what it is they are saying.
    And remember always that Lewis was heavily influenced by his Belfast upbringing in which Catholics were the bogeyman (read The Pilgrim’s Regress if you doubt that – it’s flawed and somewhat confused but it’s an honest account). Although many of his beliefs are very Catholic, he was culturally incapable of fully acknowledging that, and he is always walking almost up to it and then backing away while telling himself, “No, I didn’t really mean that.” But he’s honest and doesn’t hide his thought process.
    The conversation between the Bright Spirit and the Big Man is not about church governance, but that’s really not the issue here either — in both cases it’s about pride and the claims of ‘entitlement’ that grow out of applying the skewed values of ‘identity politics’ to our faith.

  29. AnAmericanMother says:

    Supertradmum,
    That is so sad. What a terrible vicious cycle. Maybe you can get as many people as possible to write/call the priest and thank him for the beautiful Mass? The only way to counteract the vocal complainers is to marshal the “attaboys” — but it seems like so many people who are pleased don’t bother to let one know, while the bitter complainers always do.

  30. Supertradmum says:

    AnAmericanMother, bravo and Anglicanism is exactly about “identity politics”.

  31. Supertradmum says:

    AnAmericanMother, our comments crossed in the air. My comment above is to your other one. As to the Latin complaints, I am trying to put out much bigger fires. Too many abuses and too many individuals doing their own thing…sigh. The atmosphere of disobedience in the Church is growing in Ireland and England, not lessening.

  32. AnAmericanMother says:

    Supertradmum,
    I always tell folks that they are mistaken in thinking that the Episcopal/Anglican Church is a religion. It isn’t — it was originally a political solution to a political problem, and it remains au fond a political association, not a faith.
    That’s not to say that there aren’t some faithful individuals and groups trying to operate within the larger political system. Hopefully as the system crashes and burns they will be able to find their way to the Church via Anglicanorum coetibus — at least those on the “high” end.

  33. Supertradmum says:

    AnAmericanMother, crash and burn is happening and will continue to happen as I can see where I am sitting. There have even been articles in the secular press here in England about the demise of Anglicanism. Can you imagine? The Queen several years ago stopped some Jesuits from saying Mass in St. Thomas More’s cell, which was happening sub rosa. I think such a response was a knee-jerk reaction in face of the inevitable-the Truth will set you free.

  34. ContraMundum says:

    AnAmericanMother

    I don’t demand doctrinal purity in fiction, but like I say, the passage from The Great Divorce was talking about something else.

    Also, C.S. Lewis enjoys a somewhat dangerously exaggerated reputation. I’ve read Pilgrim’s Regress, but his Reflections on the Psalms were much more disturbing — especially his casual dismissal of Psalm 137, with no interest in hearing an explanation.

    I’m afraid all his writings betray a greater respect for Greco-Roman paganism than for the Old Testament.

  35. PA mom says:

    No wimpish-ness, indeed. This weekend at my nephew’s 1st Holy Communion, the Mnsgr. tossed in two cracks directed at the young priests serving with him (infact, present and concelebrating with him) both ordained in the last five years.

    One of the jokes was leveled at their homilies. Firstly, having been a young person in a position of authority over people significantly older than myself, every bit of support from those above helps. And a little bit of undermining goes a long way too. Whether he meant to or not, he definately reduced their status in front of all of those people to one of “still wet behind the ears…” Not helpful, if you are trying to develop them into effective and self assured priests ready to take on their own parishes.

    Secondly, thinking on it later it seemed to say to the congregation, “It’s ok if you hear things during their homilies that you don’t agree with. They will grow up and come around to our way.”

    Maybe I am reading too much into it, but I don’t think it is encouraging to new vocations to see stuff like that.

  36. Alan Aversa says:

    @Elizabeth D.: Yes, celibacy makes men masculine, vita, virial, even from a purely physiological standpoint.

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