Praying for enlightenment

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, 17 June 2022
2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-18, 20   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Matthew 6:19-23
Photo by Fr. Pop dela Cruz in San Miguel, Bulacan, 15 June 2022.
God our loving Father,
today I pray for the grace of
enlightenment of my mind
and of my heart to fill my life
with the light of your Son 
Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to his disciples: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

Matthew 6:22-23
So true are your words, 
Lord Jesus:  when we live in
darkness, then we value the
wrong things that have no value 
at all; and worst, the basis of our
security becomes so precarious,
so uncertain.
Enlighten us with your Holy Spirit,
Lord, that our security is based solely
in God alone who is everlasting love;
many times, we think and feel our basis
of security are our money and property,
success and popularity, as well as loved
ones and friends; but, slowly when we
lose these and them one by one, 
we feel so anxious, we lose our peace, 
we lose even our very selves because we 
find our security are not secured at all.
Likewise, sooner or later, we find what we 
treasure are not treasures at all but simply 
passing.
Teach us, Jesus, to store up treasures 
in heaven like good deeds, fidelity, kindness,
charity and mercy for others.
Teach us, Jesus, to learn contentment,
to know our places in life and not to desire
anything not meant for us by God.
Teach us, Jesus, to be detached from all other
people and created things, though important,
so that we may only value God above all always
and find true peace and 
security only in him alone.  
Amen.

Life after life after life

Today, June 17, 2022, we celebrate my mother’s 63rd birthday and my father’s 22nd birth to eternity. Sharing with you my thoughts in June 17, 2020 about my dad’s death coinciding with my mom’s birthday.

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 17 June 2020

Today is my mother’s 81st birthday and my father’s 20th year of death.

Since June 17, 2000, we have “stopped” celebrating my mother’s birthday as she ordered that date to be remembered more as my father’s birth into heaven.

So many things have happened in our lives as a family, most especially with me as a man and a priest being the eldest.

Yes, I always dread this date, feeling at a loss until now at how to behave or what to say when I come home. There is always a “drama” we have to go through when we get together, with a lot of “dead air” moments during Mass and later at the dinner table.

Though somehow they have lessened in these past 20 years, the sadness is still there.

I thought time heals.

True.

But the pain…

View original post 938 more words

Praying for a holy attitude

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time, 16 June 2022
Sirach 48:1-14   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 6:7-15
Photo by author, October 2020.
God our loving Father,
today I pray for the grace of
having not just the right or 
positive attitude in life but 
most of all, an attitude
that is is holy and blessed.
It is not enough, Lord,
that we have a positive attitude
in life; that attitude or disposition
must always be holy and blessed,
inclined into your heart and will,
dear Father because so often,
the right attitudes of the world do
not agree with your ways, O Lord.
It is not enough we are happy and 
positive; there are times we have
to stand for what is right and true,
just and fair like Elija and Elisha.

Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace. How awesome are you, Elijah! Whose glory is equal to yours? You sent kings down to destruction, and nobles, from their beds of sickness. You heard threats at Sinai, at Horeb avenging judgments. You anointed kings who should inflict vengeance, and a prophet as your successor… O Elijah, enveloped in the whirlwind! Then Elisha, filled with a twofold portion of his spirit, wrought many marvels by his mere word. During his lifetime he feared no one, nor was any man able to intimidate his will. In life he performed wonders, after death, many marvelous deeds.

Sirach 48:1, 4, 6-8, 12, 14
What a blessed attitude you
have bestowed on Elijah and
Elisha you have bestowed upon us
too in Jesus Christ's coming
and sending of the Holy Spirit.
In Jesus Christ, we have
become your beloved children,
dear God our Father but too 
often, we lack the blessed attitude
we must have before you as shown
to us in the Our Father, our most
common prayer recited but taken
for granted.  Help us, dear Jesus, 
to acquire and imitate this holy
attitude you have taught us in how
to pray by always addressing God
"our Father", recognizing his holiness,
praying to make his kingdom come
by doing his will always and 
forgiving those who have sinned
against us.
Amen.

It is after the storm when leaves are greenest…

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 15 June 2022
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, Benguet, September 2019.
God our loving Father:
It has been three weeks
since June started and 
I was so happy we are already
halfway through the year
when suddenly the thermostat
went crazy, going as high as 34
and 36 in some places; but,
the most weird of all is after 
the searing heat of the day are
the evening thunderstorms that
cause floods in some areas 
due to heavy rains that poured.
It has been going on like that, Lord,
with Mother Nature reminding us
to really change our lifestyles and
way of thinking before we totally
destroy our only home, planet Earth;
what a playful way, Lord, 
for you to remind us of how things
are not going well with thunderstorms
especially for some people.
When I was younger,
you have always heard my prayers,
Lord, during thunderstorms;
thank you for keeping us all safe.
As I got older,
every thunderstorm has become
a reminder for me to pray
not only for my safety but
most especially for people
going through many storms in life. 
Photo by Greg on Pexels.com
Bless, dear God our Father,
the many people staying indoors
due to the heavy rains 
coming their way these days:  
those who are battling loneliness
and old age amid the emptiness
 in their empty nests and retirement. 
Bless, dear God our Father,
those devastated by heavy storms in life:
those diagnosed with cancer,
those immobilized by stroke,
those who have to go on dialysis
and delicate surgeries
along with their loved ones
who have to take care of them
or worst, with caregivers
because no one in their family
can be present for them.
Bless, dear God our Father,
those living under dark gloomy skies
of grief after losing their loved ones
especially during this pandemic;
many of them have not taken any
respite yet and death has come
knocking at them twice or thrice lately.
Photo by Peter Fazekas on Pexels.com
Bless, dear God our Father,
the many others being pummeled 
by so many typhoons in life:
those having problems in their 
family and relationships, those
who have lost their jobs,
those trying so hard to make
ends meet, those who wish 
to give up on life due to so many
problems that beset them.
I pray for them all, Father.
In the name of Jesus Christ your Son
our Lord, keep them strong,
enlighten their minds and hearts 
with your Holy Spirit so they may
keep on seeking and standing by
your truth; fill them with courage 
and perseverance, keep them faithful 
and hopeful even if things get worst
BECAUSE IT IS ALWAYS AFTER
THE STORMS,  AFTER THE RAINS 
WHEN THE LEAVES ARE GREENEST; 
IT IS AFTER THE FLOODS WHEN RICH TOP SOIL
ARE DEPOSITED ON THE FIELDS.
Let us hold on to you, loving Father,
to lead us to abundant life 
and fulfillment in Jesus Christ
with the Holy Spirit.  
Amen.
Photo by Fr. Pop dela Cruz, San Miguel, Bulacan, 15 June 2022.

Awakening the Elisha in us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time, 15 June 2022
2 Kings 2:1, 6-14   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Photo by author, Singapore 2018.
Today we heard, dear God,
the beautiful story of your two
great prophets, Elijah and his
successor Elisha; but what is 
most wondrous is the loyalty
of Elisha's discipleship which is
a beautiful imagery of our relationship
with your Son Jesus Christ.

When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, he and Elisha were on their way to Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here; the Lord has sent me on to the Jordan.” “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you,” Elisha replied. And so the two went together.

2 Kings 1, 6
Our loyalty and fidelity are only
to you, heavenly Father but expressed
through prophets and leaders and mentors
you sent us to prepare us too for your 
mission; like Elisha, keep us faithful to you,
may we receive your call gladly through
them, and most of all, like Elisha,
may we submit to you, O God, to become
like Elijah your prophet to your people, 
speaking to them only your words,
and doing to them only your will.
Let us be more focused on you,
loving Father, not on us and our work;
may we heed the calls of your Son
Jesus Christ for us to lead prophetic lives
amid this age of too much self-promotion:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.”

Matthew 6:1
Lord Jesus Christ,
let me decrease so that
you will increase in me
like all your prophets.
Amen.

The wages of sin

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time, 14 June 2022
1 Kings 21:17-29   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 5:43-48
Photo by author, Ubihan Island, Meycauayan, Bulacan, 31 December 2021.
"For the wages of sin
is death;but the gift of God
is eternal life through 
Jesus Christ " (Romans 6:23).
Although your words today,
dear God are not from St. Paul,
his words to the Romans immediately
came to me as I prayed on the sins of
King Ahab and his queen Jezebel
in the first reading.
Though you have forgiven Ahab for
his sins after he had confessed 
having caused the death of Naboth
to have his vineyard, you never took back'
his punishments which fell upon his whole
family line.
Although I feel it a bit unfair,
your Son's teachings in the gospel
cleared all questions in me. 

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that is was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”

Matthew 5:43-45
Yes, your words O God are so
difficult to comprehend, even insane
when we come to think about them;
but the more I dwell on your words,
the more I try to follow you in Jesus Christ,
the more I realize you are not only holy but
also practical.
Holiness is being practical.
Staying holy, being good, being loving
and forgiving are the most practical
and sanest things to do:  so often, life
becomes miserable for us because of 
our own making, of our wrong choices 
to do what is sinful, what is unjust,
what is wrong.
In the case of Ahab and Jezebel, there were
the clear results of death due to sin
because sin begets sin; unless a sin is
rectified, it will destroy every person
perpetuating it.
And that is why we have to love our enemies;
it is for practical reasons too because to return evil
for evil increases evil and sin.
Only love can stop sin and all the follies
of mankind.
Today, dear God, help me to bring more
love in this world, to bring more peace
and mercy to stop the spread of evil and
sin further.  Amen.

Praying to recover “lost humanity”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church, 13 June 2022
1 Kings 21:1-16   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 5:38-42   
The Church of St. Anthony called Igreja de Santo António de Lisboa built at the site of his birthplace in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Mr. Jilson Tio taken in his 2018 pilgrimage.
Today as we celebrate the
Memorial of your beloved Saint
Anthony of Padua famous for
interceding in the recovery of 
things lost, we pray to you O God
our loving Father also for the recovery
of something so precious becoming
so rare these days - decency and honor,
love and kindness, respect and justice.
Through the intercession of St. Anthony,
Lord, please help us recover our 
"lost humanity" so vividly exposed
last week in that viral video of an
SUV hitting and running over a traffic
aide in Mandaluyong City.
How sad, even tragic, dear God
in this modern time of too much
sophistication in science and technology,
we have lagged behind in our humanity;
aside from the war at Ukraine, how could
violent shootings continue in the States
at the loss of so many children?
What is so tragic is how politicians there
talk about protecting children when the
same politicians push so hard for abortions,
in killing the most innocent persons of all!
Have we become like Jezebel, the pagan wife
and queen of Ahab who have no regard at all
for humans, creating fake news and gossips
against people, promoting corruption among
people for material gains?

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and, having sealed them with his seal, sent them to the elders and to the nobles who lived in the same city with Naboth. This is what she wrote in the letters: “Proclaim a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. Next, get two scoundrels to face him and accuse him of having cursed God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.” On hearing Naboth was dead, Ahab started off on his way down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

1 Kings 21:8-10, 16
Your Son Jesus Christ
taught us the ways to recover our
lost humanity more than 2000 years
ago but until now, we have not recovered
it yet because of our refusal to let go 
of our pride and attachment with wealth
and other things of the world.
Like St. Anthony, help us to let go of
our possessions and comforts, "to give
to the one who asks of us, and to not
turn our back on one who wants 
to borrow" (Matthew 5:42).
St. Anthony of the World, 
Pray for us!
The room where St. Anthony was born in the year 1195 preserved in the church built at the former site of their home in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Mr. Jilson Tio, 2018.
The Portuguese people have always referred to St. Anthony of Lisbon than of Padua where his body is buried in Italy; in 1982, St. John Paul II visited his birthplace, and told the crowd their native saint was not St. Anthony of Padua to which the crowd cheered. Then, the Pope said he is neither St. Anthony of Lisbon and the people fell silent. But when the great Pope said their native saint is St. Anthony of the World, they cheered loudly! (Anecdote and photo courtesy of Mr. Jilson Tio)
Praying at the birthplace of St. Anthony protected by iron grills. Photo by Mr. Jilson Tio, 2018.
Mr. Jilson Tio (third from left) with fellow pilgrims outside the room where St. Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 2018.

The Holy Trinity, our Life and Love

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, 12 June 2022
Proverbs 8:22-31 ><}}}}*> Romans 5:1-5 ><}}}}*> John 16:12-15
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2021.

Surveys worldwide say that for most Christians, to speak of God as the Blessed Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit does not matter that much at all. They simply believe in God, period.

But sad to say, the same surveys say that many Christians are turning away from the Church, imitating those who refused to belong to any religion at all but simply profess they believe in God or that there is God. Their anthem is John Lennon’s 1971 hit “Imagine” that says, “Imagine there’s no heaven… No hell below us… And no religion too.”

Worst, there are some who regard Jesus Christ as just another great prophet who had lived in the past with unusual wisdom and teachings, not realizing that without the Trinity, Jesus would not be Jesus whom we believe.

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

John 16:12-15
Photo by author, St. John the Baptist Parish, Calumpit, Bulacan, 02 May 2022.

Mystery of Trinity as gift of God

For most Catholics including priests, discussion of the Blessed Trinity is shunned because it is a “mystery”, the most difficult to explain and understand of all our teachings that many find so apart from daily life. And that is totally wrong and untrue as we fail to realize that the more we understand or have some grasp of something or someone, the more we find their meaning and relation with our very selves, the more we appreciate life!

That is why on this first Sunday as we resume Ordinary Time, we celebrate this Solemnity of the Holy Trinity so we would have some understanding of this highest truth in our faith and thereby appreciate its meaning and relation with our daily living.

First of all, the Blessed Trinity as a mystery can be explained and understood but not fully. Mystery means something hidden that has been revealed. The Trinity was totally unknown among the Israelites in the Old Testament but its concept have been there in its many books beginning with Genesis and today as we have heard from the Book of Proverbs. It was revealed in and by Jesus Christ who cautioned his disciples then and now that indeed, many of his words cannot be fully grasped right away.

A mystery can be explained and understood because it is something that continues to unfold, revealing its many aspects to us in the light and guidance of the Holy Spirit. And the more we become aware of its nature, the more we realize how the Trinity can concretely evoke the unity and beauty of our lives in God!

Let us take our cue from the Lord himself who tells us today that “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” Jesus is not insulting us but simply telling us today that learning and understanding the mystery of God is concretely an action of the Holy Spirit and not simply an effort of human intellect. There has to be a lot of praying and studying at the same time. And the most traditional Catholic gesture and prayer we can use in learning more about the mystery of the Blessed Trinity is the sign of the cross which we sadly take for granted.

Our sign of the cross, mystery life and love of the Trinity

Since becoming a priest, I have always insisted to people especially children and youth to make the sign of the cross properly because it is the very mystery of the Trinity. We sign ourselves in the form of a cross to remind us we are the indwelling of God as Jesus told to us last Sunday that “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn.14:23).

Photo by Sis. Mira Mandal Sibal, August 2021.

What a beautiful image, of being the “indwelling” of God who is a person, not just a being who relates with us as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

In the sign of the cross we find and experience the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. It was Jesus Christ who revealed to us, slowly but surely, the mystery of the Triune God in his very life and teachings with its summit on the Cross and later in his sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Notice how every time we are in a tight situation, when we are shocked or surprised at something, we instinctively make the sign of the cross to praise and thank God we are still alive, that we are loved. There is always the unconscious realization of life and love after pulling through a difficult situation and making the sign of the cross.

Life and love are the most common yet most profound and deep mysteries we have as persons. And the more we dwell into its beauty and majesty, the more we are absorbed into the mystery of God as a community of persons relating to us. It is a mystery we are able to grasp little by little of how God fills us with his life and love.

Both the first and second readings show us how God poured out his life (first reading) and his love (second reading) for us. In the Book of Proverbs, we are shown how “at the beginning” God “poured forth” wisdom on his creation and was so “delighted” with man. This wisdom according to Jesus in his teachings is the Holy Spirit, the very breath of God who enlivens us. On the other hand, St. Paul reminds us in the second reading how God’s love was “poured out to us by the Holy Spirit” to be saved in Christ who also promised us with eternal life we all hoper and aspire for.

Like the very mystery of how and why we are alive, why we are loved, these are the very same feelings we have with God as a person we feel and experience as the Father loves us and gives us life, how Jesus our brother forgives us and accepts us, and how the Holy Spirit enlightens and comforts us.

See how these feelings and experience of being alive, of being loved and so in love are difficult to explain and even understand but so very true that we dwell in them and even keep them to relish and enjoy often. If we could just do the same with God as Father and Son and Holy Spirit then we can find our own beauty and unity as a person too. Then we learn to value more our lives, accepting everything good and bad in us as we reach out to others too in kindness and mercy.

Celebrating the mystery of the Trinity

See how we begin and end each Mass with the sign of the cross, a sign of how we entrust in God everything we are and we have not only in the celebration but in our very lives itself.

Photo by author, September 2021.

When we start the Mass with the sign of the cross with the priest greeting us, “May the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”, we are reminded that every Mass is a celebration of God’s invitation for us to be in his presence as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This becomes clearer when we realize that every Mass is not just our celebration but a celebration of God’s gift of Self to us in Jesus Christ whom we receive in Body and Blood so that we may become more perfect members of his Body, the Church, animated by the Holy Spirit.

That is why we have to make the sign of the cross slowly and deliberately at the start of the Mass to get the feel of God in person and ask his help that we be able to surrender our very persons to him in the celebration.

At the end of the Mass, we again close it with a blessing by the priest with the sign of the cross again as we are dismissed and sent forth as God’s presence to the world and people we meet. By making the sign of the cross at the end of the Mass, we commit ourselves to continue in our daily life the love and kindness, the mercy and forgiveness we have celebrated. We promise to go forth and share the peace of Christ to everyone by remaining rooted in God who is Life himself, recreating the world in his Love Jesus Christ by fighting the evil and sins that beset us so that we make God’s glory and holiness present in this fractured world in the Holy Spirit.

As we make the sign of the cross especially at the start and end of the Holy Mass, may we realize this mystery of the Blessed Trinity that we are God’s indwelling and presence, his beauty and unity in the world. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead!

Photo by author, St. John the Baptist Parish, Calumpit, Bulacan, 02 May 2022.

Meeting God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time, 10 June 2022
1 Kings 19:9, 11-16   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 5:27-32
Photo by author, Los Baños, Laguna, 14 May 2022.
I do not want to say
that we find you, God because
the truth is it is you who find us
always; that is why, I prefer saying
meeting you.

So often, you find us but we do 
not meet you at all because we
look for you, always expecting you
in great things and spectacular sights
and happenings, in shows where we are
the focus not you, where we are heard
and you are disregarded.

Teach us to be patient and silent
like Elijah, awaiting for your passing
in the most simple and ordinary things
like the tiny whispering sound.

O dearest Lord, forgive us in our
many inanities of trying to meet you in 
great things while we indulge in little
things we consider as harmless and 
nothing at all like a simple look at women
filled with lust that reveal great tendencies of 
corruption within us.

May we learn to take care of the little
things in our lives that truly matter most
when aggregated into a whole.  Amen.

Praying to fulfill Christ’s prayer for us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday After Pentecost, Feast of Jesus Christ, Our Eternal Priest, 09 June 2022
Hebrews 2:10-18   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   John 17:1-2, 9, 14-26
Photo by author, Garden of Gethsemane, Israel, May 2017.
O dearest Lord Jesus Christ,
our Eternal Priest and Savior,
thank you so much for praying 
for us your disciples, 
thank you for consecrating us
to the Father in truth, most of all,
thank you for praying for our
protection against the evil one
(John 17:14-19).
How lovely it is that you, 
O Lord, personally prayed for us!
It is so touching, so humbling.
But most blessed of all, 
dear Jesus, is how you have
fulfilled yourself your prayer
said at the Last Supper right
away the following day on the Cross.

Therefore, he had to become like his brothers in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Hebrews 2:17-18
Forgive us, Jesus
when we especially your ordained
priests live so detached from you,
when we have forgotten your priesthood
is for others, not for us; when we think
more of our comfort and well-being,
enslaved by the lures of the world,
from flesh to the latest gadgets and 
even way of life.
Forgive us, Jesus
when we especially your ordained
priests forget the very essence of
your victimhood as Priest, 
offering your very self, flesh and blood,
to nourish the people when we escape
and deny all kinds of pains and sufferings,
or the Cross itself.
Continue to pray for us, 
Lord Jesus Christ, 
our Eternal Priest that like you,
we your disciples especially us
your ordained priests may 
imitate you, live like you,
suffer like you so that we may rise
to new life like you.
Pray that we may fulfill your prayers
for us in words and in deeds.
Amen.
Photo from gettyimages.com.