Advent is a quarantine

The Lord is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe-4 for the Soul
by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Advent Week III, 19 December 2020
Judges 13:2-7, 24-25     <*(((><<   +   >><)))*>     Luke 1:5-25
Photo by author of our altar after a “private Mass” at the height of the lockdown last summer when public Masses were suspended.

I just realized the other day how fast really time flies after seeing photos of some of the couples I have married early this year now happily cuddling their babies… It did hit me hard that we have been in quarantine for nine months already, enough time to conceive and deliver a baby!

It sounds funny but it is the reality showing us how the birth of every child is a milestone not only to the parents but even to everyone and to history in general. We shall wait until next year to find out if there was a big increase in babies born this 2020 due to the long imposition of lockdowns and the quarantine we are into.

It is interesting to know that “quarantine” was actually borrowed from our Catholic practice of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for Easter called Quadragesima or Quaresma, from the Spanish word for forty.

When plagues became so common in Europe with devastating effects even before the middle ages, officials in the port of Venice in Italy ordered all incoming ships to spend “quaranta giorni” or 40 days of being moored first before entry to ensure they carry no plagues. Quarantine had always meant a period of time until lately it had also referred to a place or holding area as in “quaratnine area” to cleanse and disinfect people, animals, plants and things.

Advent 2019.

Its concept of spending days for purification had always been in our Judaeo-Christian traditions dating back to the Old Testament when the prophets of God would go to mountains and desert to meet Him who were later emulated by holy people including John the Baptist, Jesus, monks and hermits.

The Church imitated that practice that led to our Seasons of Lent and Advent. In fact, Advent used to be as long as Lent in duration, starting a day after the Martin Mass, the feast of St. Martin of Tours on November 11 but was later reduced to four Sundays to distinguish it from Lent that is meant to be more serious in preparation for Holy Week and Easter.

Now you see, my dear Reader, how interesting it is this year 2020 when we actually went back to our old practices of Lent, and now Advent in truly preparing for the Lord’s coming going through the quarantine.

Going back now to our gospel which is from Luke, we have heard how Zechariah doubted the good news he and Elizabeth would finally have a son after so many years of praying to God. For that, the angel Gabriel chastised Zechariah and made him speechless that people waiting outside the temple were amazed when he emerged from the Holy of holies unable to speak.

Then, when his (Zechariah) days of ministry were completed, he went home. After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”

Luke 1:23-25
Photo by author, Church of the Visitation at Ein Karem (2017) where Elizabeth and Zechariah had a summer residence where they stayed when Elizabeth went into seclusion after getting pregnant with John.

Opening our selves to God and others

I find our gospel today so timely: Zechariah went home while his wife Elizabeth went into seclusion. They went into an Advent preparation for their son John the Baptist. They both went into a quarantine but not for the same reason: it was imposed on Zechariah while Elizabeth went into it voluntarily.

To lose one’s voice is to lose power and ability to lead. Zechariah was forced into silence in order to meditate and reflect more on the good news he had received from the angel. He was forced to go into silence to listen more to his true self, to others and to God to find new perspectives in life. As a priest, he must have been much sought after in their town for his wisdom and intelligence. Now that he is speechless, Zechariah was confined inside his home, to his very self to listen and most of all, to renew himself in God.

On the other hand, Luke shows us how Elizabeth seem to know better than her husband in dealing with their unusual situation by going into seclusion for five months. Observe how Elizabeth right away prayed to thank God as she meditated His mystery in “taking away her disgrace before others”. Remember that during that time, the only reason why a woman marries was to bear a child; failure to have a baby was seen as an embarrassment, almost like a curse or punishment from God.

In the first reading, we have seen this reality too but unlike Zechariah, the wife of Manoah believed the angel from God who told her she would bear a child despite her old age and being a barren. She was also instructed to go through a quarantine during her pregnancy when she was instructed to “be careful to take no wine or strong drink and to eat nothing unclean” (Judges 13:4). Furthermore, she was told not to cut the hair of her son to be born and named Samson “for this boy is to be consecrated to God… who will begin the deliverance of Israel from the power of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5).

Here we find the concept of quarantine, of separation from the usual things and people because of a special mission from God. If we can just truly appreciate the rich lessons we can learn from this pandemic, how wonderful to see that we are being quarantined like Elizabeth and wife of Manoah because God is preparing us for something greater.

From these stories of two old, barren women bearing a child we find Advent as the season that reminds us God comes to us hidden in our very time and space when we need to go to quarantine to create a space within us where we can be silent and be transformed as we listen more to ourselves, to others, and to God.

How sad that in our 24/7 world where we have made nighttime like daytime earning money to have everything, we have become more empty, more alienated, more sad and incomplete. Quarantine is essentially a sabbath when we are supposed to rest and be breathed on by the Lord with His Spirit, exactly what we like Zechariah needed so much

Photo by Ms. Jonna S. De Guzman, 06 December 2020.

Christmas negativity or Nativity?

One of the blogs I have been following for the past one and a half years is by a young Catholic lady in New York who is so full of enthusiasm in sharing Jesus in her writings as well as in the tasty recipes she dishes out weekly. Last week I found her blog so interesting, titled: “Christmas — negativity or Nativity?” (https://beautybeyondbones.com/2020/12/10/christmas-negativity-or-nativity/).

How sad that we are missing a very rare opportunity today during this pandemic not only to spiritually prepare for Christmas but to truly understand the things going on around us and in our very lives amid this pandemic. I have always believed COVID-19 has a spiritual dimension that we must face and address lest it happens all over again despite the discovery of a vaccine.

And what is that spiritual ailment? Too much negativities like Zechariah!

Imagine the very rare opportunity to incense the Holy of holies of the Jerusalem temple once a year with many other priests present and Zechariah was “chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense” (Lk.1:9)? That in itself could have been a great sign for him that something good may be happening.

Then, while inside the sanctuary of the Lord, an angel appeared to him with the good news, his news of a lifetime, something he and Elizabeth must have been praying all their lives: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall name him John (Lk.1:13).”

And we really wonder why did he doubt the angel’s good news? Did he not see it coming or at least, was it not the only thing he was always wishing for?

It is really so unthinkable. “Wow, ang labo naman” as teenagers would say.

What happened to Zechariah could also be going on to many among us these days that even if we have been praying and celebrating the Mass weekly or even daily with all of our professed faith, hope and love in God, we have also grown accustomed to the darkness of this pandemic with all its fears that unconsciously, we sully ourselves with many negativities, even cynicism and pessimism as if we would never make into better days.

Photo by Ms. Jonna S. De Guzman, 06 December 2020.

Sometimes it happens in our lives that our prayers have become mechanical and worst, our hearts have grown apart from God that we have become so resigned to our plight or predicament that we just pray and believe in God because we have to.

Here we need the creative courage of St. Joseph we reflected yesterday by keeping our love alive.

In telling us the story of the coming of John first before Jesus Christ, Luke is telling us to be ready for greater things about to happen with us if we become silent, take a few steps backwards and rest in the Lord to experience his presence in us and among us.

Whenever I feel low with my life, I just think of my other brother priests striving in the Lord’s vineyard or think of the cops and soldiers and simple folks who work so hard because they believe there is meaning in this life.

Let us drive away all negativities and focus more on the Nativity! Believe always in God and most of all, remain in love with Him, that He has plans for us and mission to make Him known into the world that has forgotten Him.

The fact that after almost a year of pandemic there are still so many women anywhere in the world delivering a baby every second, every minute means this planet is filled with life, is suffused in life that comes only from Life Himself, Jesus Christ.

Each one of us is a “John” – a grace of God, a reminder that Jesus Christ had come, will come again, most of all, is come! Cheer up, energize the sagging spirits of our many brothers and sisters who have become so negative this Christmas. Let them see the Nativity in our enthusiasm to live and to celebrate Christmas meaningfully despite the pandemic.

A blessed Saturday to everyone! Amen.

Every birthday is a small Christmas

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 08 September 2020
Romans 8:28-30   >><)))*> + <*(((><<   Matthew 1:18-23
Photo by author, Christmas 2018.

Praise and glory to you our great and loving God the Father! In sending us your beloved Son Jesus Christ, you have truly blessed us all in his coming. First among us is his Blessed Mother, Virgin Mary who has become our Mother too through Jesus Christ!

You never fail to surprise us, O God our Father, with your plans not only with the Virgin Mary and the Saints but most especially with each one of us in the coming of your Son Jesus Christ.

St. Andrew of Crete beautifully explained in his discourse the meaning of this Feast of Mary’s Birth:

The present festival, the birth of the Mother of God is the prelude, while the final act is the foreordained union of the Word with flesh. Today the Virgin is born, tended and formed, and prepared for her role as Mother of God, who is the universal King of the ages.

Office of Readings, 08 September, Volume IV

How lovely that on this Feast of Mary’s nativity, the story we were told “is how the birth of Jesus came about” through her and St. Joseph her spouse with of a lot of working by the Holy Spirit.

Give us, O God, the faith and the strength to heed St. Paul’s teaching so that your plans are fulfilled in us like with Mother Mary:

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Help us realize this great honor you have given us in sharing with the Motherhood of Mary by reflecting on St. John Paul the Second’s teaching that “Every birthday is a small Christmas because with the birth of every person comes Jesus Christ.” (Evangelium Vitae)

Like Mary, make us share Jesus Christ with everyone and in this world that has turned its back from you.

Like Mary, may we remain standing at the foot of Jesus Christ’s Cross when everything is dark and uncertain for that is when his light shines brightest leading to Easter.

And still like Mary, may we be faithful in our prayer life, always waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit to fill us with fire and strength to proclaim the gospel not only in words but most of all in deeds like her.

O most blessed Virgin Mary our Mother, pray for us to grow closer with your Son Jesus Christ! Amen.

Photo by author, National Shrine of Mt. Carmel, QC, 2019.

Panalangin sa karangalan ng kaarawan ng Mahal na Birheng Maria (at nating lahat!)

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-08 ng Setyembre 2020
Kapistahan ng Pagsilang ng Mahal na Birheng Maria
Roma 8:28-30   >><)))*> + <*(((><<   Mateo 1:18-23
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa aming Parokya, Pasko 2018.
O Diyos Amang mapagmahal sa amin, 
kay sarap isipin at namnamin pagdiriwang 
ng pagsilang ng Mahal na Birheng Maria
na Ina ni Hesus at Ina din namin.
Sa unang tingin marahil tatanungin
bakit ang kuwento sa ebanghelyo ay pagsilang ng Kristo?
Ngunit sa dakilang karunungan po Ninyo, O Diyos Ama
dito Mo ibinalot kagandahan at kabutihan
hindi lamang ng kapistahan 
kungdi ng katotohanang hatid nito:
Dumating si Hesus na Anak Mo sa pamamagitan 
ng dalawang mabubuting tao ayon sa plano at kalooban Mo: 
si Jose na mula sa angkan ni David 
na lahi ni Abraham
naging esposo ni Maria
na siyang Ina ng tinatawag naming Kristo.
Dahil dito, hinatian Mo kami O Diyos 
ng karangalan katulad ni Maria 
maging tagapaghatid ni Hesus sa mundong gulung-gulo.
Hayaan po ninyo na aming mapagtanto at mapagyaman
turo sa amin ng Iyong lingkod sa San Papa Juan Pablo Ikalawa:
bawat kaarawan ay munting Pasko
dahil sa pagsilang ng bawat tao
si Jesu-Kristo ang naparito!
Huwag nawa naming malimutan karangalang ito
kaya aming hiling sa aming masintahing Ina 
kami ay palaging ipanalangin,
ilapit kay Hesus na ating Panginoon
upang Siya ring maibahagi sa kapwa natin.
Amen.

Every birthday is a small Christmas

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist, 24 June 2020
Isaiah 49:1-6 ><)))*> Acts of the Apostle 13:22-26 ><)))*> Luke 1:57-66, 80
Photo by author, chapel beneath the Church of St. John the Baptist in Eim Karen, birthplace of our saint.

Every birthday is a small Christmas because with the birth of every person comes Jesus Christ.

St. John Paul II, “Evangelium Vitae” (1995)

Thank you very much, O God our loving Father for the gift of sharing in your life, for the grace of being alive. As we celebrate today the birth of the your Son’s precursor, St. John the Baptist, we remember with joy our own birthdays, our giftedness, your graciousness.

Birthday is always special because of the gift of life, and the gift of direction and purpose that everybody looks forward into the future, of what is in store for us here on earth like in the birth of St. John the Baptist.

All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.

Luke 1:66

With the coming of St. John the Baptist, you have taught us Lord that in life, what we must look forward to is to be one with your Son Jesus Christ.

May our lives be like of John, a precursor of Jesus, always pointing people to Jesus, leading people to him who is the Christ who takes away the sins of the world.

Photo by author, marker at Eim Karen, 2019.

Teach us to be strong in spirit, always creating a space for silence and hiddenness where we can meet you often, Lord, so that at the end of our life journey, you remain our reward like the prophets of old.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God.

Isaiah 49:4

That is the meaning of John – grace of God and graciousness of God.

It is a grace for us all to be alive, to share Jesus with others, to be a glimpse of himself and of his truth and kindness.

But, ultimately, your greatest grace for us all is to share in the Cross of Christ like John the Baptist for that is only when people realize you have come indeed in us. Amen.

Kaarawan sa gitna ng COVID-19 lockdown

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-23 ng Marso 2020
Larawan kuha ni Bb. Ria De Vera, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan (22 Marso 2020).
Kahapon aking ipinagdiwang
ika-limamput-limang taon
ng kapanganakan sa 
gitna nitong lockdown.
Wala akong inaasahang pagdiriwang
o ano mang kasiyahan maski walang lockdown
dahil hindi ko naman nakagisnan 
mga gayong handaan sa aking kaarawan.
Mula kabataan lagi akong nagka-countdown
kinagabihan ng bisperas ng aking kaarawan
at saka mananalangin, magpapasalamat
sa Poong Maykapal sa buhay niyang kaloob.
Subalit aaminin ko rin
napakalungkot sa akin 
na dahil sa COVID-19 
walang nakapiling sa misa at pananalangin.
Larawan kuha ni Bb. Ria De Vera, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan (22 Marso 2020).
Matapos Banal na Oras namin
Banal na Sakramento inilibot sa parokya namin
noon ko nadama lambing at pagmamahal
ng Panginoon Hesus tumawag sa akin.
Habang tangan kanyang sisidlan
aking binubulong mga panalangin
sa kawan kanyang pinagkatiwala sa akin
nawa maligtas sa sakit sanhi nitong COVID-19.
Pagkagaling Purok ng Fatima
ibig ko sanang maglakad sa Balutan
ngunit biglang pumatak mga ulan
anong ganda ng aking nasilayan!
Mahiwagang bahag-hari
tumambad sa aming harapan
busilak ng magagandang kulay
naghatid ng aliw at katuwaan.
Larawan kuha ni Bb. Anne Ramos, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan (22 Marso 2020).
Sa aking pagyuko, 
bumukal sa aking puso 
kakaibang katuwaan naramdaman 
sadyang napaka hirap ilarawan. 
Alam ninyo yung karanasan
minsan-minsan wala tayong alinlangan 
sa isang iglap ating nalalaman katotohanan
ngunit kulang, walang sasapat na salita man lamang?  
Tila baga sa aki'y nawika
waring nagpapaalala Panginoong Maylikha
tipan kanyang iniwan pagkaraan
ng delubyo at ulan:
Higit pa sa makulay na bahag-hari sa kalangitan
kahawig na larawan iniwan, katiyakang hindi tayo pababayaan
ating mamamasdan sa simbahan at tahanan 
Krus pinagpakuan ni Hesus, sa atin nagtawid sa kaligtasan!
Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, 2019.

Continuing the Christmas story

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul

Baptism of the Lord, 12 January 2020

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ><}}}*> Acts 10:34-38 ><}}}*> Matthew 3:13-17

From Google.

Today is our “holy birthday” as children of God, the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. That explains the sprinkling of Holy Water at the start of our Mass to remind us of continuing the Christmas story the whole year through as sons and daughters of God.

With this feast, we close the Christmas Season by celebrating the great mystery of Christ’s Nativity when he became human like us so that we can become divine like him as children of the Father in heaven.

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:13-17

We are the children of God

Sunrise at Atok, Benguet. Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, September 2019.

Every morning when we wake up, the same thing happens with us with Jesus at Jordan: as we arise whether filled with joy or saddled with so many pains and worries from the previous day or night, Christ joins us in every brand new day as his brother and sister in the Father.

Despite all our anxieties and fears with every new day of work and school, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit comes down to us with our Father in heaven declaring to all his creation, “This is my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.”

That is the mystery of Christmas we must celebrate daily when Jesus became human like us in everything except sin. In Baptism, we have become sons and daughters of the Father in his Son Jesus Christ our Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit.

That coming down of Jesus to John to be baptized in Jordan is the message of Christmas, of how God became human like us to be one with us in our dirt and stain so he may cleanse us in his Passion and Death in order to share in the glory of his Resurrection .

That is why Christmas is a continuing story we have to keep on telling and sharing with our life of holiness with others.

As children of God, we are called to holiness

Please don’t be scared with the call to “holiness”, my dear reader and follower.

Holiness is not being sinless.

Holiness is being filled with God.

Holiness is following Jesus who calls us to be holy like the Father in heaven with all of our imperfections and sinfulness.

Morning in our Parish. Photo by author, 2019.

So many times in our lives, as we strive to lead holy lives by being good individuals, we also feel so tired and exhausted that we question or wonder if we are still doing the right things in life especially when we try to be faithful to God and with others.

There are times we just cry and suffer in silence in order not to hurt with our words and actions those people dearest to us who are oblivious or even do not care at all to the pains and difficulties they cause us.

Like a slave driver boss, demanding and exacting parents, a perfectionist husband or wife or partner, a naive sibling.

It is very difficult to be holy, to be like Jesus who is so loving and merciful, kind and understanding.

And that is why he chose to come to us, to be with us, to help us, to assure us that “the Father is so well pleased with us”!

Flowers at our Altar, Epiphany Sunday 2020. Photo by author.

God is well pleased with us

Three things I wish to share with you this lovely Sunday, especially for some of us feeling tired and exhausted this early with our many tasks and responsibilities at home, the school, the office, and even the church and community.

First is get it done. We all have roles to play in life. Remain faithful and stay focused with the mission not with the person. Yes, it is easier said than done but like Jesus instructing John for his baptism, he said, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt.3:15). It must have been so difficult for John to baptize Jesus the Son of God but the Lord told him anyway, get it done! And just as John did his role, everything happened according to God’s plan.

Second is give others the chance to do the will of God. Sometimes many of us have that “messianic complex” as if we are the saviour of the world. No! That is Jesus alone and he has tasked all us with specific roles in doing his mission. Let others do their part. Stop monopolizing all good deeds because when there is a monopoly of holiness, certainly there is already a pervading evil. Jesus as the Christ is the definitely the holy one but he told John to baptize him and he in turn “allowed” the baptism to take place.

Third is do whatever is good. Always. That’s what Jesus told John, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt.3:15). Doing what is righteous is doing what is good, what is holy, what is just. But, it is not that easy. I know.

“Minsan nakakapikon na magpakabuti lalo na kapag tila walang pakialam yung mga ginagawan mo ng kabutihan.”

We have felt so many times that being good, doing what is right can take its toll. We always wonder “when is enough really enough” with people who have made it their way of life of hurting us, of stressing us, of being pain in the ass.

We want to scream, to spill the beans, to unmask them to reveal them as fakes and hypocrites!

But, don’t!

Do not be like them.

Be good like Jesus, the one prophesied by Isaiah in the first reading.

Thus says the Lord: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench…

Isaiah 42:1-3
Baby Jesus on a bed of white roses in our Sanctuary area, Epiphany 2020. Photo by author.

In the second reading, we heard St. Peter preaching after the Pentecost of how “Jesus went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).

Whatever difficulty you are going through at this very moment, you are still God’s beloved child with whom he is well pleased. God is always with you. Continue the beautiful Christmas story with your life of loving service, even to people who hurt you.

A blessed Sunday to you!

Lessons I have learned living half a century

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 22 March 2019

Moss on a pathway in Malagos Garden Resort, Davao, August 2018. Photo by author.

Last midnight I waited for my 54th birthday in our church to thank God for another year in my life. I just wanted to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and all I could tell Him was, “Lord, you have given me with so much and I have given you with so little. Teach me to give more of myself and most especially of YOU with others. Amen.”

As I sat alone in darkness, I thought of the many blessings and its lessons I have learned lately.

  1. Everything indeed is grace. Whatever we get in life is always a blessing from God like love, patience, kindness, joy, mercy, knowledge and understanding as well every material thing we have. They are all from God. Share them, or better give them away to make life easier.
  2. We only have two choices in life, either we become better or bitter.
  3. Life is not about destinations but directions. Destinations are just points in life you reach or achieve, often connected with lines. And that’s it. So structured. But directions are about persons we journey with in life, something like your favorite pen or crayon that you pick to write or draw anything. It is always there, either following you or leading you wherever your writing or drawing flows into without any definite pattern, often in curves and circular motions. Always funny and enjoyable. Even crazy.
  4. We do not find God, He finds us. Sooner or later in life and that is for sure.
  5. In every situation in life, always look for Jesus Christ. Without Him, there’s no meaning in life or anything. And we find Jesus always on the cross.
  6. Liars know very well the truth and that is why they lie. So, do not worry about gossips and lies they spread even if some people would believe them. Don’t waste time convincing them of the truth. They know it but refuse to accept it.
  7. Anyone who is afraid to make enemies will never be able to stand for what is true and good.
  8. Sad to say, life is not about intelligence. That is why we have so many stupid leaders everywhere – government, society, and even the Church! No one is gifted with everything in life because we are meant to relate and help each other. Like liars, stupids are not good company. Remember, only intelligent people go to heaven because St. Thomas said, the more we know things, the more we avoid sins and become holy. Idiots and liars are the most evil as they refuse to accept their sinfulness. Pray for them.
  9. Enjoy life. Stop pleasing everybody except God alone.
  10. Always handle life with prayers. No matter what happens with us, prayer is the final straw we are always left with to start anew in life.