Why You Don’t Genuflect After Receiving Communion

Some people are confused about whether to genuflect after receiving Holy Communion.

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When you enter or leave your pew, you genuflect (bend the right knee all the way to touching the ground) to show your adoration for the Son of God who is present in the tabernacle.

Even if the tabernacle is in another place or room, I genuflect toward the crucifix at or on the altar since the Second Council of Nicea II of AD 787 (7th Ecumenical Council) teaches that the devotion we show to sacred images passes beyond the images to their prototypes (in this case from the crucifix to Christ Himself). It is perfectly orthodox to genuflect before a cross, crucifix, or image of Christ.

There is some confusion about whether to genuflect upon returning to your pew. The general custom is not to genuflect after receiving Holy Communion for devotional purposes. By not genuflecting you are confessing that you have become a filled tabernacle. The Holy Eucharist is in you. It’s not appropriate to genuflect in any direction because the Holy Eucharist is literally in your core. The orientation of worship is now interior.

There are stories of children genuflecting before their mothers coming back from the altar after just having received Holy Communion – which is beautiful and orthodox.

There is no official teaching, rule, or law (that I know of) about not genuflecting in the aisle after receiving Holy Communion, but the custom is not to genuflect – because Jesus the Lord is now inside you. You are a walking tabernacle.

Question: What do you do after Communion? Do you genuflect. Please share your thoughts or customs after Holy Communion. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

PS: A double genuflection (both knees) is called for when the Holy Eucharist is exposed for adoration.

PPS: It’s traditional custom to genuflect on the left knee for a bishop or dignitary.

PPPS: If you have a bad knee, do whatever you can. It’s the heart that matters.

Elijah as a Type of Triple Baptism and Pentecost

Triple baptism and Pentecost’s baptism of fire are prefigured in Elijah’s challenge by fire to the 450 prophets of Baal. Here’s the account from 1 King 18 and I’ll note the important features as you read through it:

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30 Then Eli′jah said to all the people, “Come near to me”; and all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; 31 Eli′jah took twelve stones [prefigures the 12 Apostles], according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed [2 measures of seed comes again with Elisha as a prophetic sign in 2 Kings 7]. 33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering, and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time [triple pouring on the sacrifice with water – as a kind of baptism]. 35 And the water ran round about the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O Lord, art God, and that thou hast turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. [here we have a prefigurement of Pentecost with the fire coming down from Heaven upon the “baptized sacrifice”] 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Ba′al; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and killed them there.

The Church East and West conforms to a triple affusion (pouring) or triple immersion (dunking) with the recognition of the three Divine Persons of the Trinity. Prophetically, Elijah has the attendants pour water on the slaughtered sacrifice three times. It’s also no accident that Saint John the Baptist was the “new Elijah” teaching a new baptism.

Elijah poured water on the sacrifice to show that God’s fire is so hot and powerful that water cannot prevent it from burning the sacrifice.

I recently spoke of the life of the follower of Jesus as “being on sacrificial fire” (click here to read “Do you have fire in your soul?”). You may also want to listen to my presentation on on the apocryphal 1 Enoch and Tongues of fire here.

There is a connection between the mystery of water (baptism in Christ) and the mystery of fire (confirmation or chrismation in Christ), as Saint John the Baptist relates in his speaking of baptism by water and fire.

We do this every day. We wash our food and then we place it in the fire. When you slaughter animals, you wash the meat and then cook it. The many mikvehs of the Old Covenant were washings to prepare the believer for becoming a burnt sacrifice for God.

Hence, Christ’s baptism is a preparation for His burnt sacrifice (crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, pentecost).

The priest washes his hands ceremonially because his hands are about to hold the burning coal of the sacrificial body of Christ.

In the Solemn High Mass (pre 1970), the priest sprinkled the faithful in the pews – to prepare them to become a burning sacrifice.

And of course, we will all be “salted with fire” when we die. It’s just a matter of whether we burn in this life (as sacrificial love) or burn some in the next age (in the purgatorial fires of 1 Cor 3:15).

Make your life into a bonfire.

Godspeed,

Taylor

PS: If you want to learn more about Old Testament and Jewish origins of Catholic sacraments and Catholic theology, check out my book The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholicism.

111: 10 Tips for Visiting Rome [Podcast]

Today my goal is to quickly share with you 10 tips to visiting Rome as a Catholic.

If you’d like to learn more about the history and theology of Rome, please see my book The Eternal City: Rome and the Origins of Catholicism.

You can also come on pilgrimage with me. To learn more visit: pilgrimages.com/taylormarshall

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111: 10 Tips for Visiting Rome [Podcast]

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  •  Announcements:
    • sword and serpent look insideThe podcast is now on Youtube.com
    • Sword and Serpent 2 will be released in 2016.
    • Download the Study Guide at: http://swordandserpent.com
    • New classes at New Saint Thomas Institute. We have just begun our Catholic Church History curriculum. Please visit: newsaintthomas.com for more details.

I’d love to read your feedback: While you listen to today’s podcast, would you please take 30 seconds to write a review? Please click here to Rate this Podcast!

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110: The Humility of Mary [Podcast]

My goal this week is to talk with you about our need for humility and how the Blessed Virgin Mary is the model of human humility. I include 3 action items to help you cultivate humility in your soul.

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110: The Humility of Mary [Podcast]

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  • Proverb of the Week: Proverbs 29:23
  • Featured Segment: 110: The Humility of Mary
  • Latin Word of the Week: Humilis
  • Tip of the Week: Celebrate Victories
  •  Announcements:
    • sword and serpent look insideThe podcast is now on Youtube.com
    • Sword and Serpent 2 will be released in 2016.
    • Download the Study Guide at: http://swordandserpent.com
    • New classes at New Saint Thomas Institute. We have just begun our Catholic Church History curriculum. Please visit: newsaintthomas.com for more details.

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Video Class: St Justin Martyr and Tatian the Heretic

Today is the feast day of the Saint Justin Martyr of Rome. Below is a sample lesson video from the New Saint Thomas Institute featuring a brief bio of Saint Justin Martyr, an analysis of his contribution to Catholic Theology and a brief intro to one of his students named Tatian who became a heretic. Saint Justin Martyr, pray for us!

Question: Do you have questions about Saint Justin Martyr? If so leave a comment. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Could Adultery and Fornication be Forgiven in the Early Catholic Church?

Could adultery and fornication be forgiven in the early Catholic Church? In the 200s, Christians were deeply divided over this question of mercy and forgiveness.

A major theological controversy broke out in in the Catholic Church around the year AD 217 regarding adultery and fornication.

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In 217, Pope Saint Callixtus I of Rome issued a decree that the sins of adultery and fornication could be remitted by the Catholic Church through the office of the bishop.

Tertullian, who rejected the Pope for this reason, directly quotes and preserves Pope Callixtus’s decree:

I hear that there has even been an edict set forth, and a peremptory one too. The Pontifex Maximus, that is, the bishop of bishops, issues an edict:

“I remit, to such as have discharged the requirements of repentance, the sins both of adultery and of fornication.”

It’s notable that Tertullian refers to the Bishop of Rome as the “bishop of bishops” and “Pontifiex Maximus.” Tertullian scholars believe that he was saying this tongue in cheek, because Tertullian held the lowest esteem for Bishop of Rome and Pope Callixtus in particular.

This merciful papal decree of 217 led to general scandal because it was generally believed that certain sins could not be absolved by the visible church. According to Tertullian (a great theological enemy of Pope Callixtus), once a baptized person committed any of the seven sins on the list below, he or she could not be absolved by the visible church:

  1. murder
  2. idolatry
  3. fraud
  4. apostasy (publicly renouncing Jesus Christ)
  5. blasphemy
  6. adultery (sex with someone besides your spouse)
  7. fornication (sex outside marriage)
    (this list is found in Tertullian’s De Pudicitia*, Ch 19).

Tertullian vs. Pope Calixtus

Tertullian, citing ancient custom, claimed that a sinner could be forgiven directly by Jesus Christ for these seven sins; however, the Catholic Church on earth could not absolve these seven sins and those that committed them would and should remain excommunicated and outside the Catholic Church until death. If you were baptized and committed one of these seven sins, you could never in your life receive the Holy Eucharist. Period. End of story. Close the book.

Anti-Pope Hippolytus vs. Pope Callixtus

The Catholic Church’s first Anti-Pope (a man falsely claiming to be Pope against a valid Pope) arose in response to the 217 decree of Pope Callixtus allowing the absolution of fornication and adultery. While Tertullian was railing against Pope Callixtus’s laxity, some traditions say that a priest in Rome named Hippolytus rebelled against his Pope Callixtus and set himself up as a rival Bishop of Rome against Callixtus on the issue of absolution for adulterers and fornicators. It is unclear if Hippolytus claimed to be a full blown “Bishop of Rome” or merely a reformer set against the laxity of Callixtus. Either way we can see that even the clergy of Rome were divided over this issue.

Hippolytus writes that during the pontificate of Pope Callixtus, men in holy orders began taking wives and Callixtus did not censure them for sin or depose them (Refutation of All Heresies 9, 7). Hippolytus claims that clergy were even being married two to three times after ordination. Divorce and remarriage among the clergy!

Concerning Pope Callixtus, Hippolytus writes:

And in justification, [Callixtus] alleges that what has been spoken by the Apostle has been declared in reference to this person: “Who are you that judges another man’s servant?”

Hippolytus goes on to lament that Catholic women in Rome began to engage in contraception and abortion:

Whence women, reputed believers, began to resort to drugs for producing sterility, and to gird themselves round [their belly], so to expel what was being conceived on account of their not wishing to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time! And withal, after such audacious acts, they, lost to all shame, attempt to call themselves a Catholic Church!

And so there was great scandal in Rome concerning Pope Callixtus (who is a canonized Catholic saint).

Can Mortal Sins Be Forgiven? Callixtus says Yes

Center to the debate between Pope Calixtus and Tertullian/Hippolytus was the passage in 1 John concerning “mortal sins”:

And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. (1 Jn 5:15-16)

Both Tertullian and Hippolytus claimed that the Apostle John taught the Catholic Church that prayer should not be made for those whose sin is mortal. Saint John explicitly says: “I do not say that one is to pray for that.” So for them, there was Apostolic teaching that mortal sins should not receive the intercession of the public and visible Church. According to Tertullian and Hippolytus, if you committed apostasy or adultery or fornication, then the Church had nothing for you. No prayer. No Eucharist. Nothing. After all, didn’t Saint John teach the same thing?

Binding and Loosing in Saint Peter’s Rome

We don’t have the exegetical response of Pope Saint Callixtus but I can make a conjecture of his orthodox response: Saint John said that we are not obliged to pray for mortal sins. However, we find two truths in the Gospels that show us that the visible Catholic Church can and should absolve mortal sins (even the mortal sins on Tertullian’s list of seven):

  1. The power to bind and loose on earth as given by Christ to Peter in Matthew 16. Saint Peter and the bishops of Rome do have the power to bind and loose sins and to modify customs for the sake of Christ’s mercy and salvation for sinners. Pope Callixtus was using the power of the keys as the Successor of Saint Peter.
  2. Peter committed apostasy on Good Friday. He was reestablished visibly and publicly by Christ. Christ did not leave Peter without prayer and sacraments until death. He publicly raised Peter back to his rank with the question: “Simon do you love me” three times.

The Catholic Church, the Pope, and the Ministry of Mercy

Nowadays it seems unthinkable that the austere rigorism of Tertullian and Hippolytus was once normative in the Catholic Church of AD 217. Back then it was generally assumed that after baptism, Catholics did not commit adultery, fornication, murder, apostasy, idolatry, blasphemy, or fraud. It just wasn’t supposed to happen. Remember, this was the persecuted Catholic Church of the martyrs. If you were baptized, you were signing up for possible martyrdom!

Origen (who died in 254), it seems, was baptized as an infant, but 90% or more of Christians at this time were not baptized as children. They made a careful and prayerful decision to follow Christ and receive baptism. Most of them had friends or family who were actual martyrs for Christ. These were serious Christians and once we recognize this reality, we see how “mortal sins” were a real issue.

In the Catholic Church, we see a theological shift happening in AD 217. The reality of Romans 7 comes alive: “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” For this reason, the Church as the Body of Christ can visibly execute the mercy of Christ to mortal sinners.

Many Catholics began to report that the Rigorist position against absolving sin removed forgiveness and yet did not remove sin – because even the Rigorists had scandalous sins among them.

Repentance and Mercy

Pope Callixtus and the Catholic tradition afterward was not entirely lax, and she always required the act of ecclesial repentance for sin. “Going straight to Jesus” for the forgiveness of mortal sin has never been approved. If we commit a mortal sin, we must go and confess it to a priest in confession. We believe that forgiveness is tied to the Church and her powers that she received directly from Jesus Christ.

If a sin can be absolved through the bishop and the priests he appoints, then any sin can be absolved through the bishop and the priests. This is the great mercy and comfort of being a Catholic

Godspeed,

Taylor Marshall

PS: If you are interested in these types of topics, can get all three volumes of my Origins of Catholic Christianity at amazon.com.

* Of note, Tertullian in De Pudicitia claims that Saint Barnabas wrote the Epistle of Hebrews in union with Saint Paul. I claim that Tertullian is wrong on this point and Hebrews was written by Saint Luke and give my reasons in my book The Catholic Perspective on Paul.

 

109: Is Catholicism a Religion or Relationship with Christ? [Podcast]

My goal this week is to talk with you about whether Catholicism is a religion or a relationship or both:

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#109 Catholicism: Religion or Relationship with Christ [Podcast]

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  • Proverb of the Week: Proverbs 14:1
  • Featured Segment: Catholicism as Religion or as Relationship with Christ
  • Latin Word of the Week: Relatio
  • Tip of the Week: Read the Didache. Click here for electric version.
  •  Announcements:
    • sword and serpent look insideThe podcast is now on Youtube.com
    • Sword and Serpent 2 will be released in 2016.
    • Download the Study Guide at: http://swordandserpent.com
    • New classes at New Saint Thomas Institute. We have just begun our Catholic Church History curriculum. Please visit: newsaintthomas.com for more details.

I’d love to read your feedback: While you listen to today’s podcast, would you please take 30 seconds to write a review? Please click here to Rate this Podcast!

Please Share Your Feedback:

  • POPULARITY: 911,045 downloads on iTunes as of today.
  • SHOUT OUTS: A huge “shout out” to all 499 (!) of you who wrote amazing 5-star reviews at iTunes. Please rate this podcast by clicking here. From there you can leave a review. I appreciate you for this! Thank you!

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Today I am 10 Years a Catholic! It’s harder than I expected…

Today Joy and I turn “ten years old as Catholics.”

Prior to being a Catholic, I was an Episcopalian priest and becoming Catholic is the most important thing that I have done in my entire life.

Ten years later my thought is: “Wow, it’s a lot harder than I expected!” We are joyful, but don’t let this glossy photo fool you into thinking that we have everything together.

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Joy and I had breakfast this morning after Mass, and we celebrated and discussed our last ten years inside the Catholic Church. We are taking all the kids out for dinner tonight to explain to them how important our conversion was.

We have eight beautiful children and our marriage has been deeply blessed by Catholic teaching. The Eucharist and Confession stand out as the greatest blessings.

The hard parts?

What are the hard parts? Initially (for me) it was being a layman and not being a clergyman. This is a much younger Taylor as an Episcopalian priest with Fr Benedict just before I became a Catholic:

groeschel-marshall2

10 years later, that “priestly” feeling has faded to silence. I am very content and fulfilled as a Catholic layman. Through books, podcasts, NSTI, and speaking I thank God that I have been able to be used by Jesus for other people. On my podcast, we have reached over 900,000 downloads and we are heading to one million. It’s humbling and encouraging. Despite me being a sinner and unworthy of His favor, God had much bigger plans for me.

For Joy, the initial hard part was trying to navigate Catholicism and all the groups within the Church. When we converted there were some who wanted to use us for their cause (eg, married priesthood or whatever) and she didn’t like that.

Ten years later the hardest part of being Catholic is:

  1. Catholic politics and division
  2. Having a big family

I speak for Joy and me on these two points:

1) Catholic politics and division; I’m dizzy

When I was an Episcopalian, I wrongly believed (oh so wrongly) that the Catholic Church was a Shangri-La of doctrinal unity, devotion, and custom. I was not aware of all the movements, debates, liturgical abuses, and dissent within the Catholic Church. My exposure to Catholicism was reading books by Saints and Church Fathers. I assumed that every Catholic read, study, and agreed with the Catechism.

I received a number of shocks: “Wait, you mean that not all seminarians are taught Thomas Aquinas?”

I was shocked to learn that there are actual Catholic nuns that did not believe every jot and tittle of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

Since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, I feel dizzy as a Catholic. Like I’ve been spinning on that carousel at the park. I’m not falling down. I’m not sick to my stomach. But I’m dizzy.

Ten years ago, I would not have expected to feel this way. So I hunker down in my Catechism and in the magisterium of the Church. I’m spending more time reading theology and the Church Fathers especially. I’m going back to the roots. Of course, I recognize Pope Francis as Pope and I pray for him daily. I am now 10x more aware of my devotion to the papacy and to the Pope’s need for prayer.

As I read Church History, I realize that the Barque of Peter has always been a rocky boat (I have post on that coming out this Wednesday). So it was my own naivety that led to my misunderstanding of the Catholic Church that I was entering. My conclusion is that the Catholic Church is a giant family, and like a family, it’s complicated.

2) Having a Big Family

Speaking of family, Joy and I now have 8 kids. Joy was pregnant with number 4 when we entered the Church ten years ago. So 5 children have been born and baptized inside the Catholic Church.

We always wanted 8 kids, even before we were Catholic. Now we look at each other and say: “This is hard. Why didn’t anybody warn us how hard this would be? Everyone said big families were fun! They didn’t mention the unfun parts…”

You often hear me on my podcast celebrating marriage and family and talking about joy and peace. I’m speaking to myself more than I am to you. It is very hard. I would say it’s even a cross. But a cross is a joy. Each of those 8 children is a blessing – each is an everlasting soul. They are my heart.

After 10 years, I have to recommit myself to my vocation. My vocation is Joy and those 8 children. The screaming kids. The spilled drinks (every day). Joy sometimes being too tired to talk at night. The late nights. Housework. Dishes for 10 people. Laundry for 10 people! Studying for tests. Monitoring media, video, inputs. Teenagers. Teenagers. Lots of broken things. Budgets. Costs. Debates. It’s not easy.

But there are also the cooing babies, cuddles with a tired 2 year old, the joy of seeing a child learning to walk, the first words, the first day of school, the First Communions, the laughter at the dinner table, the gigantic birthday parties, and the rewarding “grown up talks” with a teenager. And we look forward to the graduations, the marriages, the future births, and whatever else God may have stored up.

And when I pray at Mass in the morning, I see their faces and pray their names. I can’t help but love Joy and those 8 babies and I want nothing more in the whole world than to spend eternity (millions x millions of years) with them in Heaven dancing with Jesus.

Now for the Good of Being Catholic:

The greatest joy of being a Catholic is the joy. Without the Faith, I would be a depressed wreck without hope and without peace. Maybe I’m crazy, but I have had visions. I’ve seen things in the supernatural. I know that Jesus is real. I have felt Him. I have been with Him.

I have knelt before the bones of Peter. I have cried before the miraculous image of Guadalupe. I’ve prayed before the Shroud of Turin. I’ve been to Mass with two Popes. Those things are great and edifying – but they aren’t the center of my Catholicism.

Rather, in the simple quiet of my daily Mass in Bedford, Texas and at night praying the complicated Rosary with my distracted children – I know that Jesus is burning in my heart. That’s where I find it. That’s what I searched for 10 years ago. And that is what I have found.

It’s a war. Even this past weekend, I wanted to give up. But Jesus keeps burning in me. The same Jesus of the Gospels. I know that he won’t give up on me. I need Him.

Here’s to another 10 years and in saecula saeculorum.

Godspeed,
Taylor Marshall

Question: In the comments below, please tell me how long you’ve been Catholic and tell me what is the best and the hardest thing about your journey as a Catholic. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Descended into Hell and Today you will be with me in Paradise: How does this fit?

Waiting in Limbo...

Renee, a student member of the New Saint Thomas Institute recently asked this question:

Ok, I am confused about something in regard to this subject.
As Jesus hung on the cross, one of the crucified thieves acknowledged Him as the Son of God, acknowledged Christ’s innocence, confessed his own sins, and asked to be remembered. The Bible says: (Luke 23:43) ‘Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” ‘
Since Jesus truly died, then descended into hell to preach, and then rose again on the third day, how is the construction of the sentence in Luke 23:43 possible? It makes sense to me if you move the comma like so: “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise”.

What is going on with this passage? How can the thief be with Jesus in paradise on THAT day when Jesus has descended (or will descend) into hell? Does the original Greek have a different context? Any help would be appreciated.

And here is my answer:

108: Early Female Mystics and Martyrs: Perpetua and Felicity [Podcast]

Saint Perpetua left us the first recorded first person account of early Christianity by a woman. Today we look at the unusual dreams and vision of the Acts of Saint Perpetua and Felicity and the theology involved in their conversions and martyrdom – especially as it relates to the salvation of the unbaptized:

felpep

#108: Early Female Mystics and Martyrs: Perpetua and Felicity [Podcast]

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  • Proverb of the Week: Proverbs 31:25
  • Featured Segment: Early Female Mystics and Martyrs: Perpetua and Felicity
  • Latin Word of the Week: Felicitas
  • Tip of the Week: A Fast from Social Media
  •  Announcements:

I’d love to read your feedback: While you listen to today’s podcast, would you please take 30 seconds to write a review? Please click here to Rate this Podcast!

Please Share Your Feedback:

  • POPULARITY: 896,786 downloads on iTunes as of today.
  • SHOUT OUTS: A huge “shout out” to all 499 (!) of you who wrote amazing 5-star reviews at iTunes. Please rate this podcast by clicking here. From there you can leave a review. I appreciate you for this! Thank you!

Subscribe to This Weekly Podcast:

  • Apple/Mac Users: Please subscribe via iTunes by clicking here and then clicking on “View in iTunes.”

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