Two songs for a rainy Sunday in August 2020

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 09 August 2020
Photo by Fr. Gener Garcia, “El camino de santiago de compostela” in Spain, 2019.

Don’t you feel it is like a Good Friday on this gloomy and rainy Sunday in August? Problems and trials continue to come our way this year 2020 that we are like the Apostles together in a boat in the middle of the sea caught in a violent storm at night with Jesus nowhere in sight!

But, we know the rest of the story, of how Jesus rescued the Twelve by walking on water, calmed the storm upon joining them in their boat until they reached the shore.

Sometimes in life, we need to get away from our “comfort zones” and cross to the other side of the lake or sea like in our gospel especially when life becomes so artificial that we need to experience it in its “rawness” from deep within our souls until we desire and meet God anew wherever we may be (https://lordmychef.com/2020/08/08/meeting-jesus/).

And because of the storms that continue to rage in us and among us in this ghost month of August, we offer you with inspiring songs from two lovely female artists that we hope will uplift you and soothe your tired body and soul.

First in our double header is Ms. Pauline Wilson’s 1997 solo version of their 1979 classic “Follow Your Road” when she was the lead singer of their Hawaii-based jazz fusion band called the Seawind.

So enticingly warm, Follow Your Road teems with a lot of Christian teachings that have strongly influenced Ms. Wilson and partners who are also into Gospel music. The song invites us to reflect on our lives in order to find its meaning and direction – exactly what Jesus has been telling us to follow him especially when we are into storms and darkness in our lives.

We are all but travelers living in a foreign land
Just trying to find our way – best as we can
Looking for an answer, trying to find some light
And though we have journeyed far, it’s not quite far enough.
Have you wondered where your road will lead you?
Maybe to a song that needs singing, or a summer rain
Or it might be you’re afraid to go, afraid to go
But you’ve got to follow your road, or you’ll never know
Uploaded by caddxprt, 17 September 2008.

Our second song on this rainy Sunday is from another Gospel singer Ms. Oleta Adams who was nominated to the Grammy Award as Best Female Pop Vocal Performance the following year after releasing “Get Here If You Can” in 1990.

Ms. Adams first caught the world’s attention in 1989 when she was invited by Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears to join them as singer and pianist for their 1989 “Seeds of Love” album from which came the hit single “Woman in Chains” with her singing a duet with Orzabal.

Get Here If You Can is a song putting to the test the love and fidelity of the song’s lover.

Faith, like love, is always an encounter, especially with the Lord Jesus Christ.

The experience of Peter sinking in water as he approached Jesus is a lesson in being focused with our love and faith in Christ despite the heavy storms and darkness that come into our lives.

There are hills and mountains between us
Always something to get over
If I had my way, surely you would be closer
I need you closer

Stay safe and have a blessed new week!

Uploaded by Official Oleta Adams, 2004.

Meeting Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XIX, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 09 August 2020
1 Kings 19:9, 11-13 >><}}}*> Romans 9:1-5 >><}}}*> Matthew 14:22-33
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, Batanes, 2018.

I have always loved the sea and lately my thoughts have always been about the beach as I miss it so much after COVID-19 had robbed us of our summer vacation.

In ancient time, the sea evoked fear because it was largely unknown that even in the bible, it is the symbol of evil and its powers over man. That is why our gospel today is very significant when Jesus walked on water to show God’s greater power over evil and sin.

And like our gospel last week, our story today tells us a lot more about Jesus walking on water in the midst of a storm to reveal himself and most of all, his desire to meet us his disciples.

Place and location as non-verbal communication of one’s presence

Every meeting and encounter presupposes locations or places, a locus; but, everything is “levelled up” or elevated in Jesus in whom things do not remain in the physical level.

Proxemics is the non-verbal communication that refers to places and location, its nearness and orientation. How we arrange our furnitures, designate the rooms and sections in our homes, offices, schools and every building we stay and gather communicate and reveal who we are.

For example, Catholic homes are easily identified in having a grotto at the garden, an altar of the Sacred Heart or any saint at the sala, and the Last Supper painting in the dining hall.

But for Jesus, a place or a location is more than the physical site because in him, proxemics takes on a deeper dimension and higher meaning when we meet him in situations and places. That is why after feeding the more than five thousand people last week, he ordered the Twelve to cross the Sea of Galilee (which is actually a lake) ahead of him while he dismissed the crowds.

After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. during the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Matthew 14:23-27
Photo by author, Sea of Galilee at Capernaum where Jesus used to preach, May 2019.

Crossing to Jesus, crossing with Jesus

I love that scene very much, of Jesus getting his disciples into the boat to precede him to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. Again, St. Matthew never bothered to tell us why Jesus sent the Twelve ahead of him as he stayed behind, dismissing the crowds and later praying alone at night atop the mountain.

Let us now reflect the proxemics or non-verbal communication of our gospel scene this Sunday.

We need to cross to the other side to meet Jesus.

To meet Jesus Christ, we always have to “cross to the other side” by leaving our “comfort zones”.

More than going to the other side of the lake physically, we have to move over to unchartered areas of life, be bold and daring to try new things, new situations in order to mature and find fulfillment by meeting Jesus Christ.

And sometimes, we really have to literally cross the sea or get to the other side of the country or the world to find our self and meet Christ.

Fifteen years ago I went on vacation to Toronto for some soul-searching as I went through a burn-out. While serving at St. Clement Parish, I met many Filipinos serving as lectors, choir members, catechists and volunteers.

Graph shared by sugarindustryfoundationinc.org.ph.

They would always confess to me with both a sense of pride and little shame that they never went to Mass regularly when in the Philippines and now in Canada, they were amazed at how God had brought them there to be involved in parish activities and be closer to Jesus than ever!

As I listened to their stories, I realized the many sacrifices and hardships they have to endure in that vast and cold country with no one to turn to except God. If given the chance, many of them admitted they would return to the Philippines for there is no place like home!

Though I have found so many things I have been searching for in my initial three months of stay there on top of other opportunities given me, I still felt empty. That raging storm within continued. As I prayed and reflected guided by an old, Polish priest who claimed to have been the student of St. John Paul II, I saw myself more, eventually leading me to God anew who refreshed my vocation that I finally decided to go back home after six months of my supposed to be one year leave.

Sometimes in life, we need to get away from our comfort zone, cross to the other side, especially when life becomes so artificial. Jesus invites us to go ahead and cross to the other side of the lake or sea to experience life at its “raw” so we can feel again our souls within and desire him anew until we finally meet him wherever we may be in the world.

It is when we are at the other side of the sea in the midst of a storm when Jesus comes, immediately answering our cries for help – At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage; it is I” – because when we are reduced to emptiness and nothingness, then our faith kickstarts again. Faith, like love, is always an encounter with God.

Try going to the other side, leave your comfort zone to meet Jesus and finally have meaning and direction in life!

Silence is the presence of God.

In the first reading we have heard that beautiful story of Elijah meeting God at the mouth of a cave — not in the strong and heavy wind nor earthquake nor fire like Moses before him.

After the fire, there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

1 Kings 19:12-13

Silence is the place of the presence of God because silence is his language too. Wherever there is silence, we can surely find and meet God there.

That is why Jesus wants us to cross to the other side, to be silent and listen to him.

Photo by author, crossing the Lake of Galilee, May 2019.

In his silence, God teaches us that except for sin, he never considers everything as being finished; everything is a “work-in-progress” even if he seems to be silent that some think he must be absent or even dead.

The world thrives in noise, loud talks, and screams with each voice trying to dominate another resulting in cacophony of sounds. Shakespeare’s Hamlet said it well when he told Polonius what he was reading were “Words, words, words” — nonsense!

Some people like those in power think that the more words they say, the more meaningful their thoughts and ideas become. Worst, they thought that using foul and filthy language make them so natural and credible, not realizing the more they look stupid with their crazy thoughts and ideas not even clowns and comedians would ever attempt to imitate.

But when our words come from deep silence, they come with power and meaning, touching everyone’s heart and inner core.

That is when silence becomes fullness, not emptiness or mere lack of noise and sound.

Like when our medical frontliners and medical experts spoke with one voice last week airing their thoughts about the pandemic — we were all moved and reawakened to realize how we have been going about with our lives almost forgetting them these past five months!

What a tragedy at how our officials in government and Congress reacted negatively, feeling hurt deep inside with the painful truth of how they have been irresponsible from the beginning. Sapul!

Pico Iyer wrote in a TIME magazine essay 30 years ago that “silence is the domain of trust”.

True. The most trustful people are the most silent; those who speak a lot trust no one and most likely, cannot be trusted too.

Jesus invites us to cross to the other side to be silent and learn to trust him. It is only then when we can meet him. In silence.

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, Manila Bay with Mt. Samat’s Cross at the background, April 2020.

Jesus meets us in darkness.

Jesus asks us to cross to the other side of the lake or sea like his disciples in order to meet us in darkness. This is a paradox because Jesus is the light of the world.

But, note the most notable moments in his life happened in darkness: he was born on the darkest night of the year, he died when darkness covered the whole city of Jerusalem, and he rose from the dead when it was still dark on the first day of the week.

Jesus had overcome darkness! So, what happened to Peter in this episode after being called by Jesus to walk on water too?

Jesus said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Matthew 14:29-30

Imagine how everything was going so well with Peter doing another crossing while crossing the lake! But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus calls us into the dark so that we only look for him and upon finding him, focus on him alone. Peter saw the strong wind, not the stronger and powerful Jesus walking on water, that fear overtook him.

That’s the whole point of St. Paul in our second reading today: he was telling the Romans how some people in Israel trusted more in their physical descent from Abraham than in God’s promise of salvation fulfilled in Jesus they have refused to see and recognize as the Christ (Rom.9:1-5).

When in the dark, be silent and still for Jesus is near! Keep your sights at him, not on anything else. Problem in darkness is not God but us who follow other lights or have become delusional.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

That is the tragedy we are into as a nation while crossing to the other side of the sea of pandemic in just one boat when our officials see only themselves as always being right. Worst, they all want to be on the stage with all the lights on them as they speak and sing in cacophony like psychopaths.

All the more we must hold on tight, trust and focus in Jesus who is “now here”, not “nowhere” for he will never allow us to perish.

Let us trust Jesus overcoming all these evil, leading us to the shore. Amen.

A blessed rainy Sunday to you and your loved ones!

Praying for discipline

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Memorial of St. Dominic De Guzman, Priest, 08 August 2020
Habakkuk 1:12-2:4 >><)))*> || + || >><)))*> || + || >><)))*> Matthew 17:14-20
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, Atok, Benguet, 2019.

As we close this very dismal week of soaring number of COVID-19 patients and plunging economy now officially in recession, we pray to you God our Father for the grace of discipline, of being your follower in the truest sense of the word.

Give us discipline… and discipline us, O God, to set our lives and our country back in order.

We have no one to turn to at this stage: our leaders are blaming us, blaming everyone except themselves for all the mess our country is into.

Like your prophet Habakkuk in the first reading, we also wonder at your silence over all these people leading us in government who seem to be more like clowns in a circus.

Too poor are your eyes to look upon evil, and the sight of misery you cannot endure. Why, then, do you gaze on the faithless in silence while the wicked man devours one more just than himself? You have made man like the fish of the sea, like creeping things without ruler.

Habakkuk 1:13-14

Thank you, O God, in sending us saints who are models of discipline in prayer and virtues like St. Dominic De Guzman whose Memorial we celebrate today.

St. Dominic by Fra Angelico from Google.com.

Before he could be the “hound of the Lord” (Domini canes) bringing onto the world that torch of light plunged into darkness, St. Dominic first nurtured in himself that unique discipline of waiting for you in prayers.

And after founding the Order of Preachers, he was so well-disciplined in life centered only in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior:

Dominic possessed such great integrity and was so strongly motivated by divine love, that without a doubt he proved to be a bearer of honor and grace. He was a man of great equanimity, except when moved to compassion and mercy… Wherever he went he showed himself in word and deed to be a man of the Gospel. During the day no one was more community-minded or pleasant toward his brothers and associates. During the night hours no one was more persistent in every kind of vigil and supplication.

From the Office of Readings on the Memorial of St. Dominic

So often, we ask or – complain to you – Lord Jesus like your disciples in the gospel today why we cannot imitate and do your works? And you readily said, it is because of our “little faith” (Mt.17:20).

Very true, Lord, because after gifting us with faith, we have failed to deepen and nurture it in prayer achieved in a life of discipline that makes us patient in waiting for you.

Then the Lord answered me and said: For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live.

Habakkuk 2:3-4

Please Lord Jesus, help us discipline our selves in this most trying crisis we have ever faced in recent history, that instead of fighting, we may truly follow your ways. Amen.

St. Dominic De Guzman, pray for us! Amen.

Photo by author, Dominican Hills, Baguio City, January 2019.

“Something’s gotta give”

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Friday, Week XVIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 07 August 2020
Nahum 2:1, 3, 3:1-3, 6-7 >><)))*> || + || <*(((><< Matthew 16:24-28
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima, Batanes, 2018.

While praying on your words today, O Lord, thoughts of the beach came through my mind. I do not know why; maybe this is the only year when I would have not gone to a beach that I miss so much.

But, as my former spiritual director during our 30-day retreat, the late Fr. Arthur Shea, SJ, used to assure me, “the most difficult prayer is always the most meritorious”.

Indeed, sweet Jesus!

Like your prophet Nahum in the first reading looking forward to the defeat of Nineveh, I remembered those days in the past when I felt so fearful on many occasions whether I can overcome the many trials and challenges that have come my way.

See, upon the mountains there advances the bearer of good news, announcing peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah, fulfill your vows! For nevermore shall you be invaded by the scoundrel; he is completely destroyed. The Lord will restore the vine of Jacob, the pride of Israel, though ravagers have ravaged them and ruined the tendrils.

Nahum 2:1, 3

Like Judah, I have won and prevailed in my many battles in life in your power, Lord, when I entrusted myself to you totally.

When I look back in my life, it is so true that it is in giving that we receive, it is in losing when we have, and it is dying when we truly live. That is the lesson of the waves at the beach that keep on coming to shore, as if trying to take it to the sea.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

How I wish I could be like the sea, always moving, always light without anything except water unlike the shore that is so adamant as if it would never budge in.

But in reality, it is the sea that always prevails because water is always willing to give up itself to follow the form of the shore, to take the shape of every container where it is poured while the shore through time, its sand and rocks eventually give into the waves to get lost in the sea.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25

Dearest Jesus Christ, teach me to give up myself to you completely. Teach me to learn to get lost to you in order to find myself, to find fulfillment in life.

This COVID-19 pandemic reminds us today in this age of abundance and affluence that still — the key to authentic living is in giving up, in having less.

As they always say, “something’s gotta to give”. Amen.

Aral sa atin ng COVID-19: ang dapat dasalin, pagbabago natin

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-06 ng Agosto 2020
Larawan kuha ni Ezra Acayan ng Getty Images, Marso 2020.
Sa ating pananalangin,
turo ng Panginoong Hesus sa atin,
bago pa man kayo humiling,
batid na ito ng Diyos nating mahabagin;
at kung kayo ay mananalangin, wika Niya,
inyong sabihin:  Ama namin...
Gayong batid pala ng Diyos kailangan natin,
tanong ng iba, bakit tayo mananalangin pa sa Kanya?
At ito ang hindi nalalaman ng karamihan
mahalagang katotohanang dapat tandaan:
sa pananalangin ang pinakamahalaga ay
mabatid natin ibig ng Diyos mula sa atin!
Kaya naman sa tagal nitong COVID-19
sa dami ng ating panalangin, tiyak noon pa man din
alam na ng Diyos kailangan upang wakasan
pandemyang malagim na bumabalot sa atin
kumitil at nagpatigil sa takbo ng buhay natin
dulot sa lahat ay hirap maging sa iba ay hilahil.
Marahil kailangan na nating baguhin
ating panalangin sa panahong ito ng COVID-19
sapagkat wala sa gamot at medisina
sa mga botelya at siringgilya ang sa atin magpapagaling
kungdi sa pagpapanibago nitong puso at kalooban natin
na siyang laging ibig naman ng Diyos mula sa atin.
Sa gitna nitong quarantine nabuking
masasamang pag-uugali maging mga gawi natin
na sa gitna ng kagipitan at kahirapan
marami pa rin ang nagsamantala
naging sakim at makasarili
ibig ang lahat ay kamkamin, kabigin at angkinin.
Pandaraya at panggugulang, hindi patas sa mga patakaran
marami sa pamahalaan at katungkulan naghari-harian
mga inaakalang kalaban hinigpitan
malayang pamamahayag pinigilan
mga karapatan at dangal ng mamamayan
niyurakan at tinapakan, lalo na mga walang pinanghahawakan.
Larawan kuha ni Bb. Anne Ramos, Marso 2020.
Kaya aking bayan 
ating pag-isipan at pagnilayan
batid ng Diyos ating pangangailangan
ngunit hindi Niya ito kaagad pagbibigyan
dahil tanging paraan sa pagsugpo sa salot na ito
naroroon sa ating mga puso, wala sa nguso.
Harapin natin hindi ang COVID-19
kungdi ating sarili at pag-uugali na dapat gamutin
sa mga sakit na naglalayo sa Diyos at kapwa natin;
karunungang kinakailangan ibinigay na ng Diyos
noon pa man upang solusyunan virus mula Wuhan
tangi Niyang kahilingan mamuhay tayo sa kabutihan at katuwiran.
Mahigit limang buwan na tayong nagdarasal
ugali at asal nati'y makapal pa rin sa kasamaan
kaya marahil lalo pang magtatagal 
pagdurusa sa pandemyang ito na nag-ugat 
 buhat sa puso ng tao na kung di magbabago
uulit at uulit sa iba't ibang anyo.

Our face mirrors our soul

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, 06 August 2020
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 >><}}}*> 2 Peter 1:16-19 >><}}}*> Matthew 17:1-9
Transfiguration of the Lord by Raphael (c.1520) from wikipedia

Thank you very much, Lord Jesus Christ for this wonderful feast of your Transfiguration happening today at more than half past this very difficult year of 2020.

Perfect at this time of the year in our Ordinary Time of the liturgy when everything seems too slow and laid-back as if nothing is happening or even changing in our lives.

Worst, with this pandemic, many of us are already tired, even losing enthusiasm with everything.

But, here you are, dear Jesus, giving us light and inspiration to keep on and be persistent disciples of yours, journeying with you and ascending with you every mountain of hardships and trials in life so that with you and in you, we may also be transformed from within.

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.

Matthew 17:1-2

In the midst of the darkness and gloom around us today, what a welcome break and relief are the visions of your prophet Daniel in the first reading of your eternal glory in heaven amid great display of lights and flames with your clothes “bright as snow” (Dn.7:9).

But, what I like best is how your “face shone like the sun” at your transfiguration, Lord.

I like that part because most of the time, the depths of the soul are reflected on the face.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

Dearest Lord, help us to remain faithful to you, patiently forgetting ourselves, carrying our crosses, and following you closely in this time of the corona virus.

Teach us to listen to your voice, to heed your words, always attentive to your presence even in the many darkness of our lives in this time of pandemic, reminding ourselves that “Lord, it is good we are here” (Mt.17:4) with you.

Every year, we hear this passage of your Transfiguration on the second week of Lent to remind us of your coming glory at Easter; but, even at this time, Lord, we already feel discouraged at how would Christmas 2020 be!

May this feast of your Transfiguration during Ordinary Time remind us to remain faithful in following you, be your persistent disciples rising above ourselves from the many challenges and trials during this pandemic.

Keep our face aglow with your light amid the many sufferings in this time of COVID-19.

Transform us within to change our countenance so that whenever those people crying in pain see us, they may see and experience you, Jesus, within us.

Keep us open to the workings of your Holy Spirit in these difficult weeks and months ahead so we may be cleansed and purified, and transformed within to become your presence and your joy among those with sagging spirits among us, hoping their face may also mirror you within them. Amen.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

Plan of God, our plan

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of the Dedication of St. Mary Major in Rome, 05 August 2020
Jeremiah 31:1-7 <*(((><< | + | >><)))*> Matthew 15:21-28
Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago, St. Mary Major in Rome, 2018.

O God our almighty Father, in all eternity you have planned what is best for each of us and we thank you so much for that for your great wisdom matched with your immense love for us.

Unfortunately, we always run away from you, discarding your plans for our own personal plans that most often do not work because these are based on what we want, what we like and not of what is really best for us.

Help us to seek your plans for us, Lord, by remaining in you, trusting you because you know what is best for us being our Maker.

Open our selves to you to redeem us from our disgrace and infirmities by seeking your plans in rebuilding our lives like your so-called “remnants of Israel” in the first reading – the few who have remained faithful to you despite the turning away from you of majority of Israelites who chose to worship false gods in the time of Jeremiah.

And ironically, to be like that Canaanite woman at the region of Tyre and Sidon – though a pagan – who remained faithful to you waiting for the Christ to come by holding on to your plans, hoping in your plans, and finally realizing your plans of healing and salvation in Jesus!

Grant us the perseverance and love to seek, believe in your plans for us like the Blessed Virgin Mary as we celebrate today the Memorial of the Dedication of St. Mary Major in Rome, one of our four Major Churches and first Marian shrine in the whole Christendom.

How lovely it is, O God, that you literally laid out your plans for this Basilica when the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream to a faithful Christian couple as well as Pope Liberius in the year 358 to build a church in her honor on the site where snow would fall on the night of August 4-5.

And you did make snow to fall on that night, forcing Pope Liberius to trace the outlines of the church on the snow where the first basilica was built!

But, it was only the beginning of the unfolding of your plans: the Basilica of St. Mary Major was completed a century later after the Council of Ephesus in 431 where Mary was declared the Mother of God, thus clarifying all doubts on the divinity of your Son Jesus Christ who had come to save us.

May we pause for some moments of silence today to pray and seek your plans for us specially in this time of the pandemic. We pray harder for our leaders in government for humility and honesty in seeking you, O God, to draw a specific plan that is clear and workable to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

This we ask in Jesus Christ’s name, in the power of the Holy Spirit with Mary our Mother. Amen.

Photo by author of a pilgrim writing a petition to the Blessed Mother in a Marian shrine in Madaba, Jordan, 2019.

Priest as reminder of life’s temporary pains and of God’s permanent love and mercy

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of St. John Baptiste Marie Vianney, Priest, 04 August 2020
Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22 >><)))*> || + || <*(((><< Matthew 15:1-2, 10-14
Photo by author, pandemic lockdown, March 2020.

Dearest Lord Jesus Christ:

Praise and glory to you, O Lord, and thank you very much for the gift of vocation to the priesthood.

Thank you very much for a wonderful patron Saint for us all whose feast we are celebrating today, St. John Baptiste Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars in France.

How wonderful that we celebrate his feast this year on the first day of our return to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) when public Masses are suspended in our province and other places due to the alarming spread of COVID-19 virus.

Yes, it is wonderful. Beautiful.

At first during last summer’s lockdown when we celebrated Mass without people, I felt sad; but today, I feel happy because I am totally yours, Lord Jesus. Somehow, this pandemic is teaching us priests most specially that life is a constant return to quarantine, to be alone with you always, dear Jesus!

Most specially, to remind us priests that the Holy Mass is never a show, never about us but always YOU, Jesus.

Like the prophet Jeremiah in the first reading, every priest like St. John Vianney is a reminder to the people that in life, there are always pains and sufferings. And most of the time, it is because of our sins and wrong choices in life, of turning away from God.

However, these sufferings like our pandemic and St. John’s French Revolution are all temporary.

Like Jeremiah, we priests are most of all reminders of God’s permanent love and mercy to everyone as exemplified by St. John in his life and ministry of hearing confessions for long hours each day!

Thus says the Lord: See! I will restore the tents of Jacob, his dwellings I will pity; city shall be rebuilt upon the hill, and palace restored as it was. From them will resound songs of praise, the laughter of happy men. I will make them not few, but many; they will not be tiny, for I will glorify them.

Jeremiah 30:18-19

As I reviewed anew the life of your humble and holy pastor St. John Vianney, I realized how our present situation is similar with his time: a period of sufferings after the French Revolution when priests were looked down upon, even maligned and hunted.

Yet, St. John persevered in his vocation, reminding us “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”

May we your priests be reminders of your love and mercy, courage and faith in the face of adversaries like when you boldly spoke against the Pharisees and scribes, reminding your disciples…

Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into the pit.

Matthew 15:14

St. John Baptiste Marie Vianney, pray for us your brother priests! Amen.

Photo from Primera Missa Solemne by Fr. RA Valmadrid, December 2019.

Value of hiddenness

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XVIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 03 August 2020
Jeremiah 28:1-17 >>><)))*> >><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 14:22-36
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News before a storm in Batanes, 2018.

God our Father, we come to you again fervently asking for your guidance and protection as the threats of COVID-19 infections are getting closer to home. More and more are getting sick and we could feel them so strongly for they are no longer statistics we read and see in news but persons we know very well in our home and community.

Thank you very much that finally, our government leaders have listened to the calls of medical experts to go on at least two weeks of quarantine to reassess our response to the pandemic.

In this quarantine period, we pray that we learn to value again silence and hiddenness that we have taken for granted in our 24-hour world of media and noise.

So many times, we have taken for granted things that are not seen, that are invisible and hidden, that we ourselves also hide in evil and sin, convincing ourselves nobody would know or “see” it.

And so, we try deceiving others with our false claims of knowledge and competencies like Hananiah and other false prophets among us who give false hopes to people who are eventually misled from you and from one another.

To the prophet Hananiah the prophet Jeremiah said: Hear this, Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, and you have raised false confidence in this people. For this, says the Lord, I will dispatch you from the face of the earth; this very year you shall die, because you have preached rebellion against the Lord.

Jeremiah 28:15-16

In this time of modified enhanced community quarantine again, teach us O Lord Jesus to deepen our faith in you so that we may remain focused on you alone in moments of storms when it is so difficult to recognize you, when it is easier to “see” and “believe” the powers of the unseen winds like Simon Peter in today’s gospel.

Let us befriend your holy silence and stillness again, sweet Jesus, because in you, the most significant are always the most hidden too. Amen.

“Keep This Love Alive” by Tom Scott (1991)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 02 August 2020
Photo from iStock/StudioAnnika

Our Sunday music for today is specially for all the doctors, nurses, and everyone serving in hospitals since this pandemic began. You are exactly like Jesus Christ in the gospel today who went to a deserted place to rest but upon seeing the crowds who have followed him, “his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick” (Mt.14:14).

Thank you, dearest doctors and nurses and everyone serving in our hospitals for keeping the love alive, forgetting your selves and loved ones just to answer the call of duty like our Lord who was also so tired preaching with a heart aching for the death of John the Baptist (https://lordmychef.com/2020/08/01/human-situation-divine-response-multiplying-our-blessings/).

And this is the reason we have jazz artist Tom Scott’s 1991 hit “Keeping This Love Alive” as our featured music this Sunday: with the excellent vocals by David Pack, the song tells us how amid so many trials and tests, a man keeps on coming back to the woman he loves so much.

I don't know why my faith gets so low
I'm helpless to control my fears
I turn to you and somehow I know
No matter how far I fall
You will answer my call, 
becauseI keep coming back to you

Heal me one more time
I keep coming back to you
You're the reason why (the reason why)
The reason I (the reason I)
I've got to keep this love alive (alive, alive, alive)
Oh, gotta keep this love alive (alive)

Ultimately, it is the love of Jesus Christ that we have experienced that we keep this love alive – in our family and circle of friends, in our community and nation. It is his love that sustains us, enabling us to believe more and hope more.

Thank you dearest doctors, nurses and everyone serving in our hospitals around the world to care for the sick.

And for keeping this love alive.

Have some break and enjoy the music.

Love and prayers,

fr. nick

Posted by riho2ryo