Jesuit retreat center high on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, MO.  Since 1922, thousands of people from around the world make annual three-day silent, guided retreats here to relax, reconnect with God and strengthen their spirituality.  A true gem in the Midwest!  Call 314-416-6400 or 1-800-643-1003.  Email reservations@whretreat.org  7400 Christopher Rd.  St. Louis, MO 63129

Both men's and women's retreats are offered as well as recovery retreats.

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Weekend Reflections for 1/19/18

We ARE a fishy mission.

Pope Francis often reminds us that we Christians don’t have a mission, we are a mission. This is what he is doing right now in his journey to South America. And this weekend’s bible readings are about mission.

The prophet Jonah thought that God could not possibly care for Ninevite Gentiles. He ran from his mission, but the story of Jonah in the belly of the great fish represents Yahweh’s refusal to let the prophet run away from mission. He was rescued at sea to fulfill his mission. Jesus used Jonah’s mission as a type of his own, but claimed that with him something greater was present, namely, the fulfillment of the kingdom mission by repentance and belief in the gospel (Mk 1:15).


Just as Jonah had to drop his aversion to the stranger gentile, Jesus’s call to his first disciples, and to us, challenges us to drop our entangling nets and simply let his mission become our own.

During our spiritual exercises such as the examen, can we ask for the grace to deepen our mission awareness, fishy as it may be? How are we to care for the strangers among us? Where we are called to conversion? What nets of entanglement do we have to drop to be the kingdom mission?

Just as in the case of Jonah, such conversion is more God's doing than our own. It is a matter of grace, to be changed into God's mission present in this world, to be changed into God's good news, welcoming the stranger, even our enemies, and inviting all to drop their nets and participate in the building of the kingdom.

May the grace of God’s call drag us along in our fishy mission!

Edward B. “Ted” Arroyo, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 1/12/18

Have a Divine New Year!

As the New Year sinks in, or we may seem to sink into it, it is good to follow the Ignatian practice of reflecting back on what we have celebrated in this past Christmas season. While in Lent and the Easter season we usually focus on God’s self emptying “kenosis” into this world and our humanity (Phil 2: 6-11), this current season focuses on the divinizing of humanity in the Incarnation.

This divinization of humanity is not, however, an erasing of or escaping from our human nature, as if we are to empty ourselves of humanity to let the divine in. No, it is a New Year’s celebration of the divine incarnate within each and every one of us.

The theological implications of this doctrine of divinization have been speculated upon since at least the second century, when St. Athanasius (150-215) taught “God became human so that humans might become God.” This is not some bizarre, minority opinion held by heretics. This doctrine is also central to the Second Vatican Council’s teaching and the theology of 20th Century Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner.[i] 

What does this mean for us? Beyond the subtleties of theological speculation in this new year it invites us to:

•          Praise of God become one of us within our very selves.

•          Reverence and service for God in all of creation, especially those “least” whom Jesus went out to at the margins of society.

•          A commitment to seeking the Ignatian grace of finding God in All things, as we again and again let his Spiritual Exercises invite us to participate in the divine.


Have a Divine New Year!

-Edward B. “Ted” Arroyo, S.J.


[i] For a series of essays tracing this theology of divinization from its roots to the present, see the book “Called to be the Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification,” edited in 2016 by SLU theologian and White House Retreat director David Meconi, S.J. and Carl E. Olson.

[1] For a series of essays tracing this theology of divinization from its roots to the present, see the book “Called to be the Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification,” edited in 2016 by SLU theologian and White House Retreat director David Meconi, S.J. and Carl E. Olson.

Weekend Reflections for 1/5/18

New Years Choosing to be Chosen

Once again we enter the season of New Years Resolutions. Or have you already forgotten, given up, on those choices you made on New Year’s Eve? One of the fundamental graces of our faith is that we are not the ultimate choice makers, God is. And the Christmas season is full of examples of God’s choosing in quite surprising ways, for example, in choosing Mary to be the Mother of God, the feast we celebrate at the start of the New Year.

We busy people like to think that with rational planning, gathering all the facts, projecting out to the future, we can make the right choices in our secular lives. But our Christian faith history shows us again and again that we aren’t the ultimate choosers, God is. Our role is less rational in many ways, not to be the master planners we would like to be in controlling our lives and our world. No, our role, as Ignatius shows us again and again in the Spiritual Exercises, is to ask for the gift, the grace, not so much to choose, but to be chosen. That grace is exemplified over and over again in the scriptures, the faith history of the “chosen” Mother of God, the faith history of the chosen People of God.

Our mentor St. Ignatius gives us a model of how we can move along in this New Year beyond our broken or forgotten “resolutions,” move along in our daily lives, choosing to be chosen. This he does inviting us to the regular prayer of the Awareness Examen. Perhaps this can be the most important “resolution” for all our coming years. You will find a version of this in pages 43 and following of our White House prayer booklet; or by searching the internet for “Awareness Examen” you can find many, many examples of how busy people can grow in finding God in all the things awaiting us in the coming New Year. As Jesus grew older he grew in wisdom and stature, and in grace before God and people (Luke 2:52), daily in discerning God’s gracious calling, choosing to be chosen. He calls us now to choose to be chosen in our daily lives.

Edward B. “Ted” Arroyo, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 12/29/17

Jesus Ordinary Life

In the last sentence of today's gospel, 17 words in all, we have an incredibly vague synopsis of what we know about Jesus life after his birth:  he lives with his family in Nazareth where he grew and increased in grace, wisdom, and knowledge. 

But it was growing up and living in Nazareth that He learned what human living, our life, was all about.  He shared in the joys, sorrows, travails and triumph of family life and love in a small, remote village.  He came to know his people, their traditions their heritage, their customs, their hopes and expectations, their dreams of a messiah.  He learned of the suffering and oppression of his people, their hatred of the Romans; their prejudice against foreigners, or non-Jews, especially the Samaritans.  And we should remember that it was a genuine family life in which Jesus grew up with brothers and sisters. Both the Gospels of Mark and Matthew indicate this and even give us his brothers' names: James, Joses (or Joseph), Jude and Simon. The sisters go unnamed.  

He learned almost all of this from Mary and Joseph, and also his relatives and friends and perhaps a local rabbi or priest. From Joseph he acquired a trade and worked at it quietly and unobtrusively most of his teenage and adult life. It seems that he suffered the loss and sorrow of Joseph's death, then he along with his brothers and sisters and Mary they took care of each other.

So this is the manner in which God brings Christ to the work of the Kingdom, living, learning and working with his family and villagers in Nazareth.  It is through his living and learning here that he comes to know of our joys and celebrations but also our human suffering and injustices, the strengths and weaknesses of his Jewish political and religious leaders.

I have had the privilege of talking with many people about their faith journey.  Some at times protest that they are just too ordinary to be holy.  They see the journey of their life far from the extraordinary life of Jesus. And so they sadly speak of what they called their "just" lives.  I'm just a mom.  I'm just an aunt. I'm just a business person. I am just a grandparent.  But for most of his life Jesus was "just" a carpenter in a little backwater town of Nazareth.  One scripture scholar describes his life up to now as "insufferably ordinary."

That is why his townspeople, family and friends were so shocked when he began his public ministry. And so they exclaimed, "Is this not the son of the carpenter?"

But in living his life in this manner Jesus reveals to us the inestimable value of ordinary time. During his time in Nazareth God fashioned him into "the instrument needed for the salvation of the world." In Nazareth Jesus speaks to the meaning and worth of our ordinary lives.

May we fully appreciate the importance and value of the ordinary lives God has given us.

-Fr. Jim Blumeyer, S.J.




Weekend Reflections for 11/24/17

On Sunday, we mark the end of the Church's liturgical year with the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King. (The new Church year begins with the start of Advent.) We end the year, appropriately enough, pondering the end times, reflecting on the Last Judgment. If you google paintings of "Christ the King," you'll find what you'd expect: Jesus looking very kingly, seated on a throne and adorned in ornate robes and gold crown, scepter in hand, ready to exercise judgment upon the world and upon us.

But there's another artistic representation of Christ the King I can't get out of my head. It's a statue that was supposed to be installed outside St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, Canada, but never was. Some parishioners and clergy apparently deemed the work just too scandalous or inappropriate for the cathedral. And what did this statue depict? A homeless man asleep on a park bench, huddled in a blanket, his face barely visible, cast in bronze.

This statue of a homeless King Jesus was directly inspired by the gospel passage we'll hear at Mass on this Sunday's feast. It's the famous passage from Matthew 25, in which the Lord separates sheeps from goats at the end of the world: "When I was hungry, you fed me... a stranger, you welcomed me... naked, you clothed me... whatsoever you did for the least, you did for me."

Notably, this passage is the only place in the entire New Testament where we find a depiction of the Last Judgment. And what does the passage tell us Christ the King judges us on? our ability to recognize and serve Him in the faces of those who really need our love, care, and support.

When the Toronto cathedral declined the statue, the Jesuit-run Regis College in Toronto agreed to install it on its campus. Then, last year, Pope Francis had a copy of the statue erected at the Vatican. (Those pesky Jesuits!)  If you happen to be at the Vatican or in Toronto, go have a look. It's a powerful visual reminder of who God is, and who God calls us to be. "Christ plays in ten thousand places/Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his/To the Father through the features of men's faces," wrote the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. If we pay attention, we encounter Christ in unexpected places, very often in the faces of those who visit us in need.

-Fr. Jeremy Zipple, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 11/17/17

Back in December 2013, just a few months after Pope Francis had become pope, a famous politician said "The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me, which probably explains why I like him so much!" Well, I'll leave it to your judgement whether you think a politician is a humble person! But unquestionably, humility is an important quality for Christians to possess ("Blessed are the meek and humble," says Jesus in the Beatitudes, Mt 5:5)

But what exactly is humility? This Sunday's gospel explores the question.

We often think of humility as considering ourselves as unworthy, as small, as incapable of doing very much at all. The parable in Sunday's gospel rejects that notion. The servant who undervalues himself and his talents, who thinks he can't do much with the little talent he's been given, is not praised. Instead, he's dismissed as wicked and useless.

The parable suggests that true humility consists not in wallowing in unworthiness, but in recognizing our gifts and talents, whatever they are, and trying to use them to the best of our abilities. St. Ignatius Loyola reminds us that everything - all of life - is gift. God made us exactly as we are, and "God don't make no junk!" as my high school youth minister liked to joke. God created each of us in his "image and likeness," and that means each of us possesses infinite worth. It also means we each have been endowed with unique, God-given gifts to share with the world - gifts that God really NEEDS us to share with the world. In other words, our talents aren't ours. We didn't create them so we can't cling on to them as if they're our possession.

True humility, then, means "shooting for the moon," using the gifts we've been given as best we can, remembering that they come God and are meant to be given back to him in loving service.

-Fr. Jeremy Zipple, S.J.



Weekend Reflection for 11/10/17

“Stay woke!” If you have any 20-something Millennials in your life, you’ve probably heard this expression. If not, Urban Dictionary, a website that provides definitions of youthful slang, defines “stay woke” as: “Being aware. Knowing what’s going on in your community, especially as it relates to social injustices.” Urban Dictionary also provides an example of “stay woke” used in a sentence: ”While you are obsessing with the Kardashians, there are millions of homeless in the world. STAY WOKE.”

Well, the message of this Sunday’s Gospel is precisely that: STAY WOKE! Jesus warns us not to be like those complacent and distracted virgins who are caught off-guard when the bridegroom returns. “Stay awake,” Jesus declares, “for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

There are plenty of preachers on radio and TV who provide exact predictions of Jesus’ Second Coming. They confidently pinpoint the end of the world down to the millisecond. But that’s nonsense. Jesus says emphatically in today’s gospel and elsewhere in scripture,“You know neither the dar or the hour.” Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for the Lord’s coming, and may very well wait another 2,000 or even more.

So today’s gospel is not about fretting over the date of Christ’s return, it’s about cultivating a particular attitude of waiting each day of our lives. That attitude is one of “staying woke,” or to put it in more Christian language, of “waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior,” as the priest prays at every Mass just after the Our Father.

Waiting in joyful hope. The famous spiritual writer Fr. Henri Nouwen elaborates on this attitude:

“The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”

So waiting in joyful hope means trusting more deeply that God’s promises are real, that does God has great things in store for us. It also means trying to surrender a bit more control to God, knowing that He always has our back. It means letting our Christian joy radiate to others. It means not “obsessing with the Kardashians” — or any of those not-so-important things in life — but instead focusing on the big stuff: Trying to live lives that resemble Jesus’ own: lives of abiding trust in the Father, lives of tender mercy, of compassionate forgiveness, of care and concern for those who are struggling. STAY WOKE.

-Fr. Jeremy Zipple, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 11/3/17

It’s easy to forget that there are actually four readings from scripture proclaimed at every Sunday Mass. The first reading, second reading, and Gospel are obvious enough, but if we’re not careful, we can skip right over the passage from Book of Psalms that’s read or sung between the first and second readings.

The Psalms are often referred to as ancient Israel’s “prayer book.” Their authorship is traditionally ascribed to King David, but in fact, they were composed over the course of five centuries or so, likely by several authors who will forever remain anonymous. This was a historical period in which the ancient Israelite people experienced both astounding highs and also devastating lows, a period in which David danced in the presence of the Arc of the Covenant, and must have felt so close to God, but also, latter, a period when the Israelites were totally defeated and exiled from their homeland by the Babylonians -- and nauseating despair.

Thus, the psalms poetically express a wide range of very raw human emotions, and I find them a great resource for prayer. Whatever you’re feeling -- joy or delight, failure, dejection or anger -- chances are there’s a psalm to help you express it or help you deal with it. Pick up a Bible sometime and just randomly page through a few of them. You’ll find some hidden gems, including the psalm we hear proclaimed at Mass this very Sunday, Psalm 131. It’s one of my favorites, and depending on the translation you’re using, it reads like this:

In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.

Truly I have set my soul

in silence and peace.

As a child has rest in its mother’s arms

even so my soul (rests in You.)

This Psalm fits perfectly the mission of the White House. We live in a world of such busyness and information overload, a world in which it’s increasingly difficult to slow down and unplug, to just sit still and be in God’s presence. But if we’re going to be people of faith (and keep ourselves from going insane!) we have to do that sometimes. That’s what retreats are made for, but we can also carve out times for it in our daily lives. So maybe find a quiet church or even a comfortable chair in a corner of your house, and just read slowly the lines of Psalm 131. In the stillness let your mind be calmed and your heart be reminded that your God holds you like a mother holding her baby. In God’s loving embrace, you’ll find love, comfort, and peace.

Fr. Jeremy Zipple, S.J.



Weekend Reflections for 10/27/17

The Law of Love

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.

The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Mt 22: 37-39)

Once again the Pharisees try to trap Jesus with a trick question. They were legalists, desperately trying to achieve salvation by strictly following the 613 laws of the code of Moses and arguing about which law had priority. Jesus sums it all up in his two commands of love for God and neighbor.  In the Spiritual Exercises

St. Ignatius tells us that love shows itself in deeds, in spending time and attention with the loved one and sharing ourselves and our goods with them. We call that prayer. That’s what Jesus always did with our Father and taught us to do.

When it comes to love of others, I prefer the definition of love as always wanting the best for the other person and putting that desire into actions, showing it in deeds. We may not agree on what is the best and the best may not include me but I try to show love by treating the other with care, compassion, generosity and understanding. That’s how we all want to be treated. Love often takes sacrifice as every spouse and parent knows, putting the other first, meeting their needs rather than our own. Let us ask the Lord to help us choose the most loving response in all of our relationships.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 10/20/17

Christian Responsibilities

“At that Jesus said to them, ‘Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.’” (Mt 22:21)

In Sunday’s Gospel two different groups join together to try to trap Jesus. There are the Pharisees who hate the Roman occupiers and refuse to pay the Roman taxes and the Herodians who favor King Herod and his family who are puppets of the Romans and follow their laws. They begin by sarcastically flattering Jesus to try to catch him off guard, but he recognizes their “malice” and calls them “hypocrites”. He asks for a Roman coin and then gives his answer, one that neither group can refute or criticize.

As citizens we have a number of civic duties and responsibilities. We have to take our turn on jury duty, pay our taxes and parking tickets and vote our consciences in the elections. We try to be well informed about national and local issues.

What of us belongs to God? EVERYTHING! All we are and all we have comes from the hand of our loving Father.  It is our God in whom we live and move and have our being. Our response can be Ignatius’ daunting prayer, The Suscipe.

“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will. All that I am and all that I have You have given to me. I return it all to you. Dispose of it wholly according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace and that will be enough for me. Amen.”

Weekend Reflections for 10/13/17

God’s Invitation

In both the Old and New Testaments we find the action of “breaking bread together”, sharing a meal, as a sign of intimate, loving union. Jesus is judged and criticized for eating with sinners, for sharing life with them. In today’s Gospel passage Jesus tells the parable of the king who invites people to the wedding feast for his son. Those invited refused to come so the king had his servants bring in whoever was passing by on the road. Now the hall was filled with guests and the feast could begin. The invited guests are the chosen who reject Jesus and refuse to believe him and his message. The feast is the fullness of the kingdom of God, heaven where all enjoy loving union with God and one another.

In our baptism God gave us a standing invitation to His banquet, to share a meal at the Eucharist and enjoy the feast of His kingdom. Let us not be deaf to His call but quick to respond in making loving choices, in putting our priorities in order, in knowing what is truly important and worthwhile. Then we will be able to sit down and enjoy the meal and the companionship.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 10/6/17

God's Expectations

"Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking 'They will respect my son.'" (Mt 21:37) 

God expected the leaders of His chosen people to recognize and welcome His son, but their hearts were hardened and their eyes blinded. They rejected, condemned and executed Jesus. But "the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone." God raised His son from death to glory. 

What does God expect of you and me? Like any good parent He wants His love for us to be acknowledged and gratefully received. He wants to be thanked for His care for us, the many blessings He showers on us. He wants to be at least a part of our lives. St. Ignatius wrote that we can speak to our Lord "as one friend speaks to another." Do I trust God and myself enough to consider Him my best friend who is always close by and eager to hear from me and about me? Can I both speak and listen as I acknowledge my Lord and my God?

-Ralph Huse, S.J.




Weekend Reflections for 9/29/17

Second Chances

“Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: …’Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.’”  (Mt 21:31)

In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus is very stern with the religious authorities of his day because they are justifying themselves by using the law to their advantage, to excuse themselves. He uses the parable of the two sons to confront their behavior. They are giving lip service but not following through with their choices and actions. He contrasts them with the public sinners whose life choices have said No to God but then acknowledged and owned their sins and repented, began living a Yes to God.

We’ve all had the experience of turning down someone’s request of us and then having second thoughts. Maybe it was the look of disappointment on their face or our habit of trying to please others or guilt. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit giving us another second chance to get it right, letting us know that we actually can be that generous with our time and talents. Our loving God is always at work in and through us, nudging us to be more loving, more forgiving, more generous than we can be by ourselves. God always gives us another chance, a second or third or fourth, however many we need.

Ralph Huse, S.J.


Weekend Reflections for 9/22/17

This Sunday's Gospel (about the laborers who work from dawn to dusk receiving the same payment as those who work for only one hour) certainly offends our sensibilities regarding justice--until we take a closer look.

What we often forget are the families dependent upon the men looking for work all day.  The owner asks the men why they have not been working and they explain that they have tried everything possible but have been unsuccessful.  They would love to work!

This situation repeats itself daily in our country.  I've witnessed it many times outside of Home Depot in Houston.  Men wait for a truck to drive up and run to be the first to offer their services to the farmer or employer who drives up.  What if that employer kept the man's family in mind?  Might he or she, in mercy, offer a full day's wage for the sake of the man's hungry family members at home?  

Perhaps we gain here a new sense of what Scripture means when it says Mercy triumphs over Justice/Judgment.  Correspondingly, Pope Benedict reminds us that employers ought to help ensure "the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family" (Caritas in Veritate, 63).

Fr. Anthony Wieck, S.J.



Upcoming Retreats:

Men: 9/25, 9/28, 10/9, 10/12

Our 2018 Retreat Schedule is now posted at www.whretreat.org

Weekend Reflections for 9/15/17

Forgiveness is not a duty.  It is a gift.  A duty is regularly performed by our own strength.  We don't have the strength to forgive.  The sooner we admit that the better.  

Peter approaches Jesus in this Sunday's Gospel and asks how often must he forgive the offense of his brother (poor Andrew :)  Even seven times, a number of fullness?   Jesus overwhelms him with his answer:  "Not seven times but seventy-seven times" [or seventy times seven, as some translations have it].  Peter is rather deflated with the answer.  He doesn't have that kind of forgiveness in him.  Nor do we.

So Jesus proceeds to tell a parable outlining where one receives the ability to let go of the offenses of our brother/sister early and often.  "A king decided to settle accounts with his servants...[and] a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount."  That debtor would be you and I, perfectly described here, before the King of kings.

The king, upon seeing our homage and our prayer for mercy, "...moved with compassion let him go...and forgave him the loan."  THERE is the source of our mercy towards others!  We have to receive it from God.  We have to beg for it first.   Then we will see our offending sister or brother with the eyes of God.  Then we will experience God forgiving them through us.

Our obligation then is not to forgive others "seventy-seven times" by our own strength, but rather to beg God regularly for his forgiving strength to work in and through us toward the one who has offended us over and over.  "Whatever you ask the Father in my name will be given you."

Weekend Reflections for 9/8/17

Perhaps one of the hardest things we have to do in this life is "fraternal correction."  Scripture speaks of its importance.  Jesus exhorts us to it in this Sunday's Gospel.  Certainly we would prefer to follow the world's mantras: "Don't judge the actions of another" and "Live and let live", for there is no possible conflict that way...  But Jesus instructs us otherwise, "Go and tell [your brother] his fault." (Mt 18:15)

St. Ignatius, at the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises, adds some important qualifiers to balanced fraternal correction.  In what he calls the Presupposition, he writes,

"...Let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor's proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself."

Correction does need to happen, for the love we have toward others.  But we must avoid a simple condemnation of the words or opinions of others.  Instead we should search carefully for the inner truth of their statement or expression, and hold on to that truth, and help them discard the rest.  If we can't find some truth to hold on to, we are to ask what they intend by it.  Give them an explanatory chance!  And if they are still holding on to something in error, we are to correct them, but always and only in charity.  This will lead them gently towards the truth that we ourselves are trying to follow.

Why all these qualifiers?  Perhaps St. Ignatius realized, as Our Lord did long before him, that we tend to want to put people on the defensive when we don't agree with them, to "win a battle".  This is not living charity on our part.  Truth, however, is never something we contain or control or can use as a club to "win a battle", but rather something we reverence, something beyond us, that we point to. Indeed truth is a person, the Second Person of the Trinity.  

May we always point beyond ourselves to the Truth.  And may these be the distinguishing marks of our fraternal correction: charity and humility.

Fr. Anthony Wieck, S.J.



Upcoming Retreats:

Women: 10/2,11/13

Men: 9/14, 9/18, 9/21, 9/25, 9/28