The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXXIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 19 November 2020
Revelation 5:1-10 >><)))*> + <*(((><< || >><)))*> + <*(((><< Luke 19:41-44
Thank you, dear Jesus, in joining me in my tears, in my crying. I have been crying a lot lately for so many reasons. And what a wonderful feeling to cry because so often, it has become my prayers too, even my food for the soul.
In the first reading, St. John “shed many tears because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to examine it” (Revelation 5:4); while in the gospel, you wept over Jerusalem as you drew near the city for refusing to recognize and accept you as the Messiah (Luke19:41).
In both instances, tears express the deep love within us for one another, an outpouring of love that have become like beads of prayers.
Thank you dear Jesus for enabling me to cry like you for it means that my heart is still beating, my heart is aching because it is loving.
Tears do come from ducts near the eyes but they come from the soul longing for you, Lord, forming in the heart, secreted from those many scars left open whenever we give away a part of ourselves to somebody else out of love.
Tears are always a grace from you as they cleanse us inside, clearing our eyes of the many blurs so we may see your face among the persons next to us.
Bless us as we cry, O Lord, that our tears may eventually pave the way for smiles and joys some other day when like your prayer for Jerusalem, we may recognize your visitation in the many trials and tests we endure for our loved ones. Amen.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 22 September 2020
Lately I have been watching old movies that I wonder why I still cry even if I have seen them more than twice before at the cinema and cable TV. It seems that my being born with “mababa ang luha” (easy to cry) is getting more “mababa” as I get old.
Tears are a gift from God, the most beautiful prayer we can ever express courtesy of the Holy Spirit because when we run out of words for our pains and sadness or when we are overjoyed, he makes us cry to heal and comfort us or complete our joys, assuring us of his loving presence.
That is the reason why we call “home” in Tagalog as “tahanan”: home is where we “stop crying”, that is, “tahan na” because that is where we find all the support we need in times of crisis. Indeed, home is where the heart is.
True to its function, tears cleanse us physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have read two decades ago that researchers at a university in the US have found the chemical composition of our tears differ if we cry because of pain and sadness or due to joy and laughter.
Is it not wonderful and amazing how we take for granted crying and tears without realizing its chemical process within that can transform our very selves?
Tears and crying mark our life's coming to full circle.
When I was five years old, I saw the picture of a newborn baby crying in the Book Section of the Reader’s Digest. I asked my mom why the baby was crying. In her usual motherly way of explaining things, she told me that if the baby cries upon birth, it means he/she is alive; if the baby does not cry, he/she is dead.
“Kapag umiyak, buhay; walang iyak, patay.“
My young mind easily absorbed her words that would remain to be one of the most profound lessons I had ever learned about life at a very young age. As I grew up watching TV and movies, I would always sigh with relief whenever I heard the sounds “uha-uha” because the story would surely be nice and not tragic.
Imagine the great inverse that happens with crying and tears to signal the coming to the outside world of life of another human, of how we have to cry to be alive from then on until we die when it becomes our family and friends’ turn to cry and shed tears for us when we are gone.
But there is something more deeper than this great inverse on crying in life and death I had learned only in 2013 through my best friend Gil, a classmate in our minor seminary.
It was late February of that year on the 40th day of the death of his youngest sister Claire when he was diagnosed with cancer. We could not believe the news because Gil was the most health conscious in our “band of brothers” from high school who never smoked, rarely ate meat, and was active in sports like golf and badminton. Unlike most of us, he was never overweight, looked so healthy in our mid-40’s.
Imagine the hurt within him that every time we would visit him, he would cry not really in pain but more on the why of getting cancer. We tried visiting him as often as we can to cheer him up and lift his spirits specially after his surgery when his chemotherapy sessions began.
By September on that same year, we all had to rush and visit him at Makati Med one Sunday afternoon when informed by his Ate Lily that doctors have given up on him. His cancer cells were “ferocious” and nothing could be done anymore except to wait for the inevitable.
That was when I noticed the greater inverse about crying when Gil had finally accepted his condition and life direction, that was when he was most joyous and peaceful too while we were the ones so sad and worried, crying. How our roles were reversed with Gil now telling us to stop crying – tahan na – which we used to tell him months earlier! (Gil died peacefully the following Sunday, 22 September 2013.)
I noticed it happening so many times with some friends and parishioners I have come to love in my ministry, those I have pastorally cared for some time after being diagnosed with serious conditions like cancer.
Yes, I have cried despite holding my tears for them while administering the Holy Viaticum and Anointing of Oil. The patients in turn would just glance at me, so dignified and calm like Mary our Lady of Sorrows as if trying to comfort me with their sweet thank you.
As I prayed on those experiences, I realized how life comes to full circle through our crying and tears.
I believe that patients cry when they start undergoing treatment of their sickness due to fears and uncertainty of what would happen next to them; later as they come to terms with their condition, they stop crying because they already knew where they were going, of what was coming next.
We who would be left behind cry and begin to shed tears at thoughts of their dying because admittedly, we are actually the ones more uncertain of where we are going to or how our lives would go through when our loved ones are gone.
That is the greatest pain we feel in the death of a beloved when we grapple with the realities of the many uncertainties of life without them.
And that is why we need to love as much as we can our family and friends while still alive. This quarantine period of the pandemic are grace-filled moments to shower them with our love and presence we have taken for granted for so long as we pursued many things in our lives.
Tears and crying lead us to heaven.
Death and sickness, like life, become a blessing if we are filled with gratitude not regrets because we have truly loved. When a beloved is gone and we begin to cry, the tears wash away our pains of losing them, cleansing us within to leave us with all the beautiful memories and love we have shared. Then, every remembering becomes truly a re-membering, making a lost loved one a member of the present again.
When we cry, tears polish the love we have shared with everybody until later when our time comes, our visions are also cleared of what is going to happen next, of where we are going. Crying becomes wonderful and truly a grace after all not only in sharing and being one with the grief and pain of another in the present but sooner or later, in having a glimpse of the life after.
In the Gospel of John (11:1-44), we find the story of the raising of Lazarus whom Jesus loved so much that he wept – not just cried – at his death. Jesus raised him up back to life, his final miracle – or “seventh sign” according to John – to show he is the Christ before his own Resurrection at Easter after his “final hour” of Crucifixion on Good Friday.
From then on, Christ sanctified crying and tears to enable us to see beyond pains and hurts, even death especially if you have truly loved.
Sometimes in life, it is always good to let those tears flow, like love even if it is painful, to have a good cry and real cleansing inside. A blessed day to you!
Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog IIPaggunita sa Pagpapakasakit ni San Juan Bautista, Ika-29 ng Agosto 2020
Ama naming mahabagin,
ngayong ginugunita namin
pagpapakasakit ni San Juan Bautista,
Inyo sanang dinggin aming panalangin
para sa maraming kapatid namin na ginigipit, iniipit;
ang iba sa kanila ay nakapiit
marami ang lugmok sa pait at sakit na sinapit
mula sa mga makabagong Herodes at Herodias
na prinsipyo at pagkatao, ipinagpalit sa ginto.
Inyong patatagin paninindigan sa katotohanan
katulad ni San Juan Bautista
upang ipagpatuloy pakikipaglaban
nasaid man ang kabuhayan
at tanging pinanghahawakan
dangal ng katauhan.
Ikaw lamang Panginoon
ang nakaaalam ng higit na mainam
kami ay Iyong turuan at tulungan
katulad ni San Juan loob mo ay masundan
kami ma'y maging palatandaan
ng Iyong kapanatilihan sa gitna ng mga
pag-uusig at kahirapan.
*Mga larawan sa itaas: una ang painting ni Caravaggio ng pagpupugot sa ulo ni Juan Bautista mula sa wikimedia.org; biktima ng tokhang mula sa Philippine Daily Inquirer; umiiyak na empleyado ng ABS-CBN mula sa Reuters.org; at mga locally stranded individuals sa ilalim ng flyover malapit sa NAIA kuha ni G. Raffy Tima ng GMA-7 News.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus, Martyrs, 13 August 2020
Ezekiel 12:1-12 >><)))*> |+| >><)))*> |+| >><)))*> Matthew 18:21-19:1
Praise and glory to you, our merciful Father always waiting for us to come home to you. Thank you for being patient with us who always rebel against you, turning away from you to be on our own.
Sadly, whenever we rebel, it is not you whom we hurt and inflict pain with but those dearest to us like our family and friends who truly love us. We are like the people of Jerusalem who have become callous and indifferent, cold and distant from you, O God, who truly cared for them.
The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house; they have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house.
So many times, loving Father, we have become like that debtor in Christ’s parable whose debts were written off by his master and yet could not do the same to a fellow debtor who owed him with a lesser amount.
Both that debtor in the gospel and the rebellious house of Israel in the first reading share the same sin and evil attitude of refusing to recognize your goodness and mercy you have given them that we are equally guilty of today.
So many times in our lives, Lord, this same attitude of being rebellious and unmerciful are the main reasons that destroy our many relationships because we have separated ourselves from others.
Teach us through Jesus Christ to always live grateful to your abounding love and kindness, mercy and forgiveness to us, Father, so we may always share these same blessings with others.
Touch our hearts like you have moved the first anti-pope, St. Hippolytus who sought forgiveness from the Pope he had earlier rebelled against, St. Pontian after they were both sent to hard labor on the island of Sardinia during the persecution by Maximus Thrax.
What a beautiful twist of fate that you still brought them together, Lord to share in witnessing to your truth and mercy.
We pray today for those who have rebelled against you, O God, uttering all kinds of blasphemies against your most Holy Name not realizing that the more they rebel against you, the more they have become distant from us the people they are supposed to serve.
Open their eyes and their ears so they may see and hear the sufferings of the people in this time of pandemic. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XVII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 28 July 2020
Jeremiah 14:17-22 >>><)))*> >><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 13:36-43
God our merciful Father, today we pray for our countrymen blinded by the many evils happening in our land today. For those who continue to defend the cycle of murders and killings to weed us out of criminals and addicts, for those who defend the blasphemies uttered against you and jokes against everyone, for those who continue to deny something is terribly wrong among our leaders.
We pray for them all, Lord. Open their eyes and their ears to the many sufferings around us: the cries of mothers losing a child, the pains of fathers losing their jobs, the frustrations of young people in finding a job, and the alienation of a nation lost in a circus where clowns are running the government.
Like your Prophet Jeremiah whom you have asked to tell your people in Judah and Israel how their sins have caused all their miseries and sufferings, enlighten us more to wake up our nation to the truth we have turned away from you.
Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest, over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wound. If I walk into the field, look! Those slain by the sword; if I enter the city, look! Those consumed by hunger. Why have you struck us a blow that cannot be healed? We wait for peace, to no avail; for a time of healing, but terror comes instead. We recognize, O Lord, our wickedness, the guilt of our fathers; that we have sinned against you. Is it not you alone, O Lord, our God, to whom we look?
Jeremiah 14:17-18, 19-20, 22
Show us the way, the path back to you, O Lord.
We have become the weeds among the wheat, trying to ruin everything.
We have become callous and numb with our sins, too, that others cannot believe our calls for conversion and renewal.
Renew us, O Lord, so we may listen more to your words that will guide us to recovery and conversion. Amen.
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.
But the pain remains. And the more it gets painful.
Lalong bumabaon, as we say.
Since her 61st birthday, Mamu as she preferred to be called when the apos came, she had “stopped” living because my dad was really her life. We believe her sorrow contributed to her stroke in December 2004.
Growing up until I have become a priest, I have always seen my father preparing coffee and breakfast daily for her. She had in fact forgotten how to cook or learn new dishes because my father was a superb cook — that is why we all have gout in the family.
Most of all, as I would always tell my students before, since childhood until I have become a priest, dad never ate his meals without Mamu at his side or at least to personally tell him to eat because she had gone to a party or some prayer meeting.
Every Sunday after my Masses in a nearby town, I would visit my father’s grave and surely find fresh flowers and candles earlier placed by my mom and sister’s family.
After praying and blessing his gravesite, I would talk to him, telling him, “Dad, there are 365 days in a year. Why did you die on June 17, 2000?”
It took my father more than a year before answering my question.
Yes, he spoke to me in his usual deep, whispering voice I heard from within as I looked down on his grave, “Nick, I died on your mother’s birthday so you would love her more like I have loved her.”
Tears swelled in my eyes and eventually rolled down my cheeks that I almost watered the grass on his gravesite!
It was a very tall order that until now, I really do not know if I have fulfilled.
Mothers are like God
God cannot be everywhere that is why He created mothers.
Every Thursday I come home to visit Mamu on my day off, as well as during special occasions and gatherings like birthdays of my siblings and pamangkins.
Sometimes I ask myself if I have loved my mom that much as my dad had wanted me to.
This comes strongest to me when going to a sick mother in my parish to anoint with Holy Oil or when presiding at a funeral Mass of a deceased mother; I would listen intently to the “thank you speech” of a son or a daughter and marvel at how great his/her love for the deceased parent.
As a priest, I have always been with so many mothers but not so much with my own mom. But one thing I have experienced since my father died on my mother’s birthday 20 years ago is the life that continues to flow from her very self and presence which flows unto me and spills even up to my parish and community.
She’s from the “old school” who had taught me a lot about sacrifices, of keeping things in order like telling me after lunch that while resting, I should mop the floor and dust off the jalousies of our windows downstairs. Resting meant doing something worthwhile like removing cobwebs at ceilings; so, you can just imagine what is housecleaning for her!
Another thing I have learned from her is harimunan wherein you try to save little amounts of money with things you may forego like instead of taking tricycle, I walked for three kilometers or instead of buying soda, drink from the water fountain at school.
The only lesson that I have refused to learn from her which I now admit I should have taken into heart is the art of bargaining or asking “tawad” in the “palengke” (market). It is a gift from God I think reserved for mothers.
One important lesson I have learned from Mamu came via a picture I have found in a copy of a Reader’s Digest. I was five years old then while scanning the new copy of my dad’s magazine, I saw the picture of a baby crying so hard after being delivered.
I asked her why the baby was crying and her explanation had stuck into my mind since then that later as a priest I realized it so existentially true! According to her, when a baby is born crying, that means she/he is alive; if the baby does not cry, that means she/he is dead.
So simple yet so deep.
When we cry, we are alive.
And sometimes, to be alive, we have to cry. A lot.
And I believe that is why mothers continue to give life to us despite the passing away of their husband because they are the ones who cry a lot.
Mothers cry in silence, alone because they are the ones who can truly feel the flowing of life, the slipping away of life.
In a few hours I will be coming home and I could already visualize and feel my mother’s crying on her birthday.
As much as possible I hold my tears, praying that in God’s time, we would just be the ones crying so that finally, Mamu would no longer be crying.
But, that’s another thing I dread so very much…I hope not yet that soon because I really do not know how life will be for me and my siblings.
Thank God for all the Mothers who have given and nurtured our lives even in old age.
And when our quarantine period was extended for the second time before the end of Holy Week last month, I began praying again Psalm 42 every night for that is when I truly long for God so much, most of the time lamenting to him our situation, my condition of being alone in my rectory.
This is the first time I felt like this, so different from those so-called “desolation” or “dryness” because I could feel God present in my prayers but… he is not “fresh”.
Like the deer longing for streams of water, my soul longs for God too.
Not just like the water we buy from a filling station but exactly what the deer yearns for — fresh water that is refreshingly cool not only on your face but deep into your body when sipped amid the burbling sounds of the spring, babbling through rocks and branches of trees with the loamy aroma of earth adding a dash of freshness in you.
Admittedly, sometimes I wonder if I still know how to pray or if I still pray at all!
I can feel God present but he is like someone stacked there in my mind, in my memory, in my ideas shaped by my years of learning and praying.
What I am longing for is a God so alive, so true not only in me but also in another person.
And that is when I realized, most likely, my parishioners must be longing for God too in the same way — the God we all come to meet and celebrate with every Sunday in our little parish, among the people present who are so alive, so vibrant, so true, so touching.
Psalm 42 is believed to have been sang by David when he was prevented from coming to the tent of God either during the reign of King Saul who plotted to kill him or during the revolt of his own son Absalom when he was already the king of Israel.
Like David or the psalmist, I miss celebrating Mass with my parishioners.
And maybe it is safe to assume that two or three of my parishioners are also feeling the same way with me and David, saying these to the Lord:
My tears have been my food day and night, as they ask daily, “Where is your God?”
Those times I recall as I pour out my soul,
When I went in procession with the crowd, I went with them to the house of God,
Amid loud cries of thanksgiving, with the multitude keeping festival.
If there is one very essential thing this pandemic has brought back to us in our very busy lives, it is most certainly God. And if ever this is one thing people need most in this time of corona virus, it is spiritual guidance and nourishment from God through his priests.
Of course, people can pray and talk to God straight as the Pope had reminded us before Holy Week.
But, human as we are, we always experience God and his love, his kindness, his mercy, his presence among other people who guide us and join us in our spiritual journey. They are special people like friends or relatives or pastors with whom they can be themselves, let off some steam, get some rays of light of hope and encouragement.
And that this is why I try to keep in touch with my parishioners in various ways in this time of corona: even I myself can feel so low and dark despite my prayers and very condition of living right here in the house of God who can still feel alone and desolate, even depressed.
If I – a priest – go through all these uncertainties and doubts this in this time of quarantine, how much more are the people, the beloved sheep of Jesus the Good Shepherd?
Why are you downcast, my soul; why do you groan within me?
Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.
After our Mass this morning when we set out to distribute the Holy Communion, there was a little drizzle. It did not last long that I just wore a hat and left my umbrella in the rectory.
There were about 30 people who waited for us to receive Holy Communion, most of them along the main highway that stretched to about 2 kilometers. Some families gathered with a little altar at their front gate while a waited a couple waited in a gas station along our route.
In less than 20 minutes, we have completed our mission and as we headed back to the parish, the rains fell again, this time stronger than before.
My driver commented, “The weather cooperated with us, Father”1
I just nodded my head to him inside his tricycle but deep inside me, I felt joy because God answered my prayer, my lamentations for he was crying too, – for me and his people.
May this lamentation be an answer to your lamentations during this pandemic of COVID-19.
Continue with your lamentations to God our Father for this very act of crying out to him is the working of the Holy Spirit he had sent us through our Lord Christ Jesus. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe, Tuesday of Easter Octave, 14 April 2020
Acts 2:36-41 ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< John 20:11-18
Lord Jesus Christ, you know very well how on this blessed season of Easter, so many of us are crying, weeping due to the threats and deaths brought about by corona virus worldwide.
Yes, it is the saddest Holy Week and Easter for many people in recent history.
But behind all these sadness, deep inside us, many have experienced your more meaningful presence and coming this Easter amid our tears of sadness, of weeping because this is also the time we have missed you so much, we have sought you so much.
How lovely, O dear Jesus, to contemplate the two occasions in the gospel today when Mary was asked why she was weeping.
Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there… And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”
We cry, we weep whenever we lost someone or something so precious and valuable like the people we love – or even hardly knew – due to COVID-19.
Give us the grace of tears and realization that in this life, the most beautiful reason we can have in weeping, in crying is that of losing you, dearest Jesus. It is the most beautiful reason for us to cry and weep at this time of the corona virus as it leads us back to you like Mary Magdalene!
Like the listeners of Peter on that Pentecost day, “cut us in our hearts” and may we be like Mary Magdalene desiring only you, searching for you, longing for you alone for in you is our fulfillment in life.
Let us not waste our tears on trivial things and most specially “toxic persons” to help us move forward in your new directions in life amid this pandemic of COVID-19.
At the same time, we pray today for those crying and weeping for varied reasons, too, that they may see you soon to experience comfort and assurance in you. Amen.
Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 ><)))*> + <*(((>< John 8:1-11
Our loving Father, today I pray in a very special way for all people who have been maligned, especially for those whose reputation have been destroyed in public by false accusations, those put to shame in our family and community by harsh words.
Like those two women in our readings today, Susana in the Book of Daniel and the woman caught in adultery in John’s gospel, these people unjustly accused in public or “in their face” are surely suffering so much in the loneliness of their homes, of their room in this period of lockdown.
Most especially, Lord, I pray for those languishing in jail especially those for crimes they did not commit.
But Susan cried aloud: “O eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be; you know that they have testified falsely against me. Here I am about to die, though I have done none of the things with which these wicked men have charged me.” The Lord heard her prayer.
Comfort, O God, those crying for justice.
Give them patience and perseverance, trust and confidence in Jesus Christ your Son who have come “to proclaim liberty to captives” (Lk.4:18b).
Grant them a healing of memories.
Most especially, I pray O God, that Jesus may touch them today with the same gentleness and love, mercy and forgiveness without any condemnation except to go and “sin no more” (Jn.8:11). Amen.