Sharing Jesus our Light

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night, 16 April 2022
Easter Vigil 2021 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.

Every summer when we were growing up with all our cousins home for the vacation, we would always play bahay-bahayan underneath the many fruit-trees at our Lola’s garden. We would use palm leaves and whatever pieces of wood we had for our playhouses where we used to have our merienda and lunch.

One major concern we always had was making the “night scene” when we were supposed to “sleep” and the inside of the playhouse must be really, really dark by covering its walls with thick blankets. But, no matter how hard we tried to keep the lights out of our playhouses, there would always be a streak of light bursting forth inside, thus, teaching me an important lesson that has guided me through adulthood and priesthood: no matter how dark life may be, nothing can stop nor prevent even the smallest amount of light in penetrating every space and corner. And once light had burst through any darkness, all we have to do is just to spread that light until the whole place is basked in pure joy and glory like this Easter Vigil!

After three days of darkness when Jesus suffered and died and was buried, tonight we celebrate his Resurrection, his being our Light who has conquered the darkness of sin and evil that have enveloped the world for so long.

Easter Vigil 2021 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.

Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, symbolized by the Paschal Candle we have blessed earlier outside the church. Jesus is the Light who dispels all darkness in this life, the Light who clarifies everything to mankind that we are so loved by God our Father.

Our many readings tonight remind us of God’s fidelity to his promise to save us. When we try to look back especially in these past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic is our new exodus. And thought we are still in the wilderness wandering like the chosen people, we are now more certain of God’s presence with us in the present and the future because right now, we have felt the salvation of Jesus Christ.

Yes, we may have loss many of our loved ones but we are still alive continuing the journey of life. Some of us may have lost our jobs but the light of Christ had led many of us to new careers and business opportunities. Students are finally looking forward to their F2F classes to resume while many of those who kept their lights burning through the darkness of online classes have finally graduated with this year’s batch becoming the first to have F2F commencement exercises.

The light of Jesus Christ was never extinguished during these dark moments of pandemic. And tonight we are challenged to share Christ our Light amid the darkness we are still into like this pandemic and the coming elections.

Easter Vigil 2021 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.

Let us recall the beautiful rites we have just celebrated tonight. May I invite you to recall the gradual lighting of our own candles from the Paschal Candle after it was blessed outside. First to light from it were us your priests, then as we entered the church, one by one, everybody was able to light from the Paschal Candle, passing on the light to others until we illumined our church.

That gradual lighting of candles at the altar after the singing of the Exsultet and later the turning on of all lights after the Gloria evoke so many wonderful truths about God always present in our lives especially when there are darkness of sin and evil, failures and disappointments, sickness and sufferings, life and death.

Tonight we are asked to share and spread Jesus Christ, his light to others especially those in the darkness of sins and sufferings, of ignorance and blindness to truth, and other forms of darkness that prevent us experiencing the joy of being free in the Lord.

The most beautiful sight of all when all the lights in the church were turned on while our own candles were extinguished is the Paschal Candle still burning, prominently placed near the ambo, reassuring us of Jesus Christ remaining with us throughout the year as our light present in every celebration of the Sacraments in this church especially when we are nourished in his Word and Body and Blood in the Sunday Eucharist, in welcoming every new Christian during baptism and accompanying our departed ones in their journey to eternal life in him.

Easter Vigil 2021 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.

Beginning tonight, every time we see the Paschal Candle, may we remember the challenge of Jesus to share his light with others, to be open to welcome him who has risen.

While they were puzzling over this (the empty tomb), behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces on the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”

Luke 24:4-7

Stop seeking the living among the dead! Perfectly said by the angels as they reminded the women looking for Jesus at the empty tomb on that Easter morning. And these are the words they are telling us still since that Easter!

Sharing the light of Jesus Christ is reminding ourselves too and others the same words of the angels to stop seeking the living among the dead.

Be kind and be gentle with yourself. Jesus had forgiven you, forgive yourself for your sins and mistakes in the past if you have confessed these or gone to confessions this Lenten season.

Move on with the present moment, dare to go out and challenge yourself to learn again, to work again, to love again, to dream again! COVID-19 may still be around but Jesus Christ is stronger, so let us rise again from our sickness and diseases! Let us not be afraid of the dark anymore for the Light can never be dimmed anymore.


May the light of our Risen Lord 
illumine your dark corners in life, 
enable you to empty yourself of sins 
and pains of the past to bask 
in the warmth and brightness 
of each new day in Christ!  
Amen.

Easter 2021 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.

That sin called “adultery”

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Fifth Week of Lent, 04 April 2022
Daniel 13:41-62   <*(((>< + ><)))*>   John 8:12-20
Photo by author, 2019.
For the second straight day,
we hear the story of adultery:
yesterday the woman was guilty,
today the woman is accused wrongly
but in both instances, your justice
and kindness prevailed, O God our Father!
But what is really with adultery 
that it is a favorite sin and topic in
your Sacred Scriptures, dear Lord?
More than its nature of infidelity, 
adultery also speaks deeply of our 
broken relationships with women:
like those two old men accusing Susana
wrongly of having a tryst with another man,
so often we have forgotten, even refused
to recognize adultery involves another man,
not just the woman.
Open our eyes, Father, especially the
"chauvinist pigs" and misogynists among us;
may the light of Jesus Christ your Son
enlighten the darkness within us and
enable us to see "where we came from" 
and "where we are going" so that we 
stop accusing and judging each other
of sins we ourselves are guilty too.

“You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone. And even if I should judge, my judgment is valid, because I am not alone, but it is I and the Father who sent me. Even in your law it is written that the testimony of two men can be verified. I testify on my behalf and so does the Father who sent me.”

John 8:15-18
How funny, dear God,
that the root of this word
adultery means to pollute
or defile when in fact, that is
also the root of our sinfulness
when we defile others because
we have defiled our very selves
first when we turn away from you
as our origin and destination.
Amen.

When evil overtakes us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest & Doctor of the Church, 28 January 2022
2 Samuel 11:1-4, 5-10, 13-17   ><]]]]*> + <*[[[[><   Mark 4:26-34
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, 25 January 2022.
Why do we always try to "imprison"
or keep you in a place, God our Father?
Why, despite our faith and knowledge
of your power and might, we insist on 
trying to entrap you in the hope we can
get away with our evil deeds or sins?
Praying over the first reading for today
on how King David committed his first 
grave sins against you, I could see myself
in him overpowered by evil during those
instances when I thought you were out
or far from my side not to see my sins:

At the turn of the year, when kings go out on campaign, David sent out Joab along with his officers and the army of Israel, and they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. David, however, remained in Jerusalem (while the ark of the covenant was lodged in tents while his soldiers fought the Ammonites, cf. v. 11).

2 Samuel 11:1
What happened with David that
after getting Bathsheba pregnant,
he tried to dupe her husband Uriah
by luring him to sleeping with his wife
that when it did not work, he had him
positioned in a battle to die and get away
with his sins?
How sad and so shameful when we,
like David, fall into a series of sins we
thought we could get under control
only to find ourselves imprisoned
in the darkness of evil.
Make us realize, Lord, the enduring
truth of your powerful and silent 
presence even in the darkest night
when nothing seems to happen:

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God: It is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise, night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.”

Mark 4:26-27
"Grant me, O Lord my God", 
as St. Thomas Aquinas would 
pray to you: 
"a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you."
Amen.

St. Thomas Aquinas,
Pray for us!

An epiphany of love

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday after the Epiphany, 04 January 2022
1 John 4:7-10   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Mark 6:34-44
Photo by author at Liputan Island, Meycauayan, Bulacan, 31 December 2021.

By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.”

Mark 6:35-37
What a very moving moment,
Lord Jesus of how your heart 
was moved with pity for the people,
of how it is to truly love one
another as taught by your beloved
disciple John in the first reading.
To love is to remain with someone 
when it is already late and dark;
to love is to stay with someone
in a deserted place, accompanying
others despite the many dangers;
to love, most of all, is to give others 
with food to eat even while in darkness
and in a deserted place!
O dear Lord, the numbers of COVID
infections are rising again; dark clouds
are looming above us again; people
are back into panic buying while 
many are back to worrying where to
find their means of livelihood amid
another series of restrictions to control
the spread of the pandemic.
In this another surge of COVID infections,
may we be an epiphany of your love to
others by practicing health protocols,
being mindful of the well being of others
so that the love of God may be revealed
in us.  Amen.

Parol ating pastol

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-16 ng Nobyembre 2021
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.
Hindi ko maiwasang umindak
sa awiting "kumukuti-kutitap,
bumubusi-busilak" tuwing 
makakakita ng mga parol 
nakasabit sa mga binatana,
binebenta sa kalsada
kahit malayo pa ang Pasko.
Ang mga parol ay tulad ng pastol
umaakay sa atin sa gitna ng dilim
hatid ay liwanag at galak
upang matunton at marating
Sanggol na sumilang sa sabsaban
habang mundo ay balot sa kasamaan
upang tayo ay tubusin sa ating mga kasalanan.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.
Makukulay, puno ng sigla
alalaong-baga, buhay na buhay
itong mga parol at iba pang mga palamuti
hatid ay hindi lamang ngiti sa labi
kungdi tuwa at kagalakan sa puso at kalooban
isang taon na naman matatagpusan
kahit COVID-19 kayang lampasan!
Katulad ng mga bituin at tala
mga parol at palamuti ng Kapaskuhan
matutunghayan lamang sa gitna
ng malaking kadiliman kagaya sa ating buhay
kung kailan mayroong kapighatian 
at lahat ay nalalabuan, doon naman
nagiging maliwanag at makulay ang lahat!
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.
Isang kabalintunaang tunay
ganda at busilak ng mga parol
sa atin nagpapastol tungo sa
liwanag ng kinabukasan;
sana manatiling nagningning 
liwanag ni Kristo sa puso at 
kalooban natin. 
Aking dasal at hiling
ngayong Paskong darating
sana matapos na itong COVID-19;
matularan sana natin mga parol
magpastol sa kawan, huwag silang maligaw
sa kadiliman  ng mga mapanlinlang 
tanging Diyos ang maging sandigan.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.

Prayer in celebration of life

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs, 02 June 2021
Tobit 13:1-11, 16-17     ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>     Mark 12:18-27
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com
Jesus said to them,
"He is not God of the dead
but of the living.
You are greatly misled."
(Mark 12:27)

Forgive us, O God our Father, for always crying out to you when life is so tough and difficult, so unbearable that we beg you for death to end our sufferings. Despite our deep faith as we strive to be holy in our prayer life and charity, sometimes like Tobit and Sarah in the first reading we get the wrong impression death is the only way out of our miseries, forgetting that you are the God of the living.

We forget to widen our horizons, to see beyond what is tangible that we get stuck with everything that is wrong, with our failures and mistakes, and with our sins.

We forget the people who love us, our family and friends who love us so much, trying their very best to console us, to help us, and to care for us like in this time of pandemic.

We forget that when life is full of tests, it is always silent and even dark but it does not mean you have left us – on the contrary, that is when you are most closest to us, even carrying us in your loving arms, dying for us like Jesus Christ your Son.

Instead of asking for death when in misery, teach to pray to find a way out of it alive with you! Teach us, O Lord, to pray to celebrate life because it is always good to be alive. Knock us off to our senses like Sarah to rediscover the value and beauty of life even when things are not going according to our plans.

"Blessed are you, O Lord, 
merciful God and blessed 
is your holy and honorable name.
Blessed are you in all your works forever!"
(Tobit 3:11)

Life is so difficult these days, Lord, taking its toll even to our emotional and psychological well-being that so many among us are already losing hope and meaning in life.

Give us the grace like that of your martyrs St. Marcellinus and St. Peter who looked for opportunities to give witness to you with their faith and courage during their time of persecution in Rome that they were able to convert their jailer and his entire family.

We pray for those those wishing death these days like those who are sick, those who have lost loved ones during this pandemic, those without money and work, and those so stressed out. Let us bring your light and smiles to others feeling desperate these days, Lord. Amen.

Photo by Fr. Pop Dela Cruz at Binuangan Island, off the coast of Obando, Bulacan, May 2021.

Easter is being led by God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Second Week of Easter, 12 April 2021
Acts 4:23-31   ><)))*> + <*(((><   John 3:1-8
Photo of an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD at Barrington, Rhode Island, 10 April 2021.
Jesus answered Nicodemus, 
"Do not be amazed that I told you, 
'You must be born from above.'  
The wind blows where it wills, 
and you can hear the sound it makes, 
but you do not know 
where it comes from or where it goes; 
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."  
(John 3:7-8)

Lord Jesus Christ, like Nicodemus in the gospel today, we continue to be amazed amid the darkness surrounding us at this time of the pandemic. Enlighten us as we grapple in the darkness of this experience so surreal and unreal.

Many among us feel at a loss, many are losing hope, many are angry, and more are suffering, grieving in pain after losing a loved one.

Clear our minds and our hearts, dear Jesus. Break all barriers that prevent us from finding you, from embracing you, and following you. Let us see your wounds left by the nail marks on your hands and the side pierced by a lance so we may experience your presence in us with the wounds we now bear.

Rekindle the fire and intensity of the Baptism we have received and renewed this Easter Season.

Reawaken our zeal and stimulate us like Peter and John after being released from prison in the first reading to set our sights to the directions and ideal toward which we must strive at the moment with open hearts and confidence in the possibilities granted by the Holy Spirit.

Give us the courage to trust God wherever he is leading us in the Holy Spirit so we may properly respond to the challenges of this pandemic.

Oh, yes..! We are ready, Lord Jesus Christ, to answer God’s call through the Holy Spirit to lead us to new directions in life beginning today. Amen.

From Facebook, 04 April 2021: “There is an urgency to announce the Joy, the joy of the Risen Lord.”

Looking at Easter, seeing Easter

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday within the Octave of Easter, 07 April 2021
Acts of the Apostles 3:1-10  <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Luke 24:13-35
Photo by author, sunrise at Lake Tiberias in Galilee, the Holy Land, 2017.
When the crippled man saw Peter and John 
about to go into the temple, he asked for alms.  
But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, 
and said, "Look at us."  He paid attention to them, 
expecting to receive something from them.  
Peter said, "I have neither silver nor gold, 
but what I do have I give you:  
in the name of 
Jesus Christ the Nazorean, 
rise and walk."  
Then Peter took him by the right hand 
and raised him up, and immediately 
his feet and ankles grew strong.  
(Acts 3:3-7)

Praise and glory to you, our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, in sharing with us your victory and glory over sin and death, sickness and powerlessness. In joining us in our humanity in all of its aspects except sin, you have made us share in your divinity at Easter.

Like Peter and John at the Beautiful Gate that afternoon, fill us with your presence and power, love and mercy to uplift and empower our brothers and sisters afflicted with sickness and other burdens that drag them down, unable to rise again to experience life anew.

Give us the courage to tell people to look at us and find you like that crippled man you have healed through Peter and John.

Moreover, let us look at your face, look for what will unite us than divide us, look at your light than at the world’s darkness and shadows so we may look for Easter especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remove the pessimism and cynicism growing among us in this worsening pandemic.

Ignite the flames of faith, hope and love within us so our eyes may be opened to see you again walking with us in this journey.

Cleanse us of our biases and prejudices, as well as of our expectations and other personal beliefs so we may see you most especially when we are treading the wrong path to our Emmaus of sunset and defeat.

That very day, the first day of the week, 
two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village 
seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.  
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, 
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them 
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.  
(Luke 24:13-16)

O dear Jesus, may we look at Easter on the face of everyone you send us and at every situation we find ourselves into so we may lead and guide others to you.

May we see and recognize you most of all in the darkness enveloping us this time of crisis so that eventually, we may come together in the breaking of bread and sharing of our very selves to others blinded by the calamities that have fallen upon us. Amen.

“Road to Emmaus I” painting by Daniel Bonnel, 2011 from mwerickson.com.

“Up Where We Belong” (1982) OST of “An Officer and A Gentleman”

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 14 March 2021
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, at Rhode Island, February 2021.

We are now halfway through to celebrating another Easter amid the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic worsening anew with a recent surge in infections. But today’s Sunday readings especially the gospel give us so many reasons to celebrate and rejoice for the gift of life and love, light and hope in Jesus Christ who had come not to condemn us but to save us (Jn.3:16-17).

By his dying on the Cross, Jesus had opened a path for us back to the Father by uplifting us from our sins and miseries, becoming our light that dispelled the many darkness that enveloped us if we follow him with our sacrifices and efforts to be good like him (https://lordmychef.com/2021/03/13/the-joy-of-lent-4/).

This we find in our gospel story of Jesus conversing with Nicodemus under the cover of darkness of the night, reminding us of the 1982 hit Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes from the equally smash hit movie of that year, “An Officer and A Gentleman” starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger.

The movie is also interesting for us because of some references to the Philippines with the opening scenes of Zack played by Gere growing up with his father who was a Navy officer assigned at the Subic Naval Base.

Like Nicodemus in the gospel, Zack had so many darkness within him following his mother’s suicide and his living with his father who initially refused to take him, afraid he would not be a good father after separating from his mother earlier in childhood. After graduation in college, Zack went to train to become a Naval aviator where he encountered more darkness in life especially from their tough and hard-driving Marine training officer played by Louis Gosset Jr. that earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film (the first African-American male to do so).

More instances of darkness in Zack were also shown in the film like the suicide of a fellow trainee and friend whose marriage proposal was rejected when his girlfriend learned he had left Naval training. Zack almost quit his training because of that but was prevailed upon by Gosset after an unsanctioned fight bout.

After graduation, Zack went to see his girlfriend at work (Debra Winger), declaring his love for her. And when she said yes to his love, they kissed, after which he carried her in his arms as he walked out of the factory while her co-workers clapped their hands in a round of applause.

The scene is so touching, so lovely. And that is when Jennifer and Joe began their duet.

Who knows what tomorrow brings
In a world few hearts survive
All I know is the way I feel
When it’s real, I keep it alive
The road is long
There are mountains in our way
But we climb a step every day
Love lift us up where we belong
Where the eagles cry
On a mountain high
Love lift us up where we belong
Far from the world below
Up where the clear winds blow
Some hang on to used to be
Live their lives looking behind
All we have is here and now
All our lives, out there to find
The road is long
There are mountains in our way
But we climb a step every day
Love lift us up where we belong
Where the eagles cry
On a mountain high
Love lift us up where we belong
Far from the world we know
Where the clear winds blow

The song is very Lent, in fact very spiritual that some Christian stations in the States have reportedly adapted it into some religious variations as it speaks so well of overcoming every obstacle in life with determination and perseverance. And of course, with a lot of help and light from above, Jesus Christ. Have a joyful and blessed week ahead, everyone!

*Video was uploaded by Roadvideo 404.

Take me out of the dark, O Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Monday, Memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin, 08 February 2021
Genesis 1:1-19     >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>     Mark 6:53-56
Photo by author, Petra, Jordan, May 2019.

I know dearest, Lord, my prayer sounds like a song but on this first day of work, I wish to pray for all those living in darkness, for those whose lives are in disarray due to so many reasons like being misled by others or left out on their own weaknesses.

So many people today are living in the darkness of sin, darkness of addiction, darkness of failures, darkness of diseases and sickness, and darkness of social evils that continue to denigrate every person’s dignity and honor.

Despite all of these darkness and evil in the world, you never stop, O God, to bring light and grace through Jesus your Son like in the story of creation.

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”
Thus evening came, and morning followed — the first day.

Genesis 1:1-5

This you have proven so many times in everyone’s life, most especially in St. Josephine Bakhita of Sudan whose memorial we celebrate today.

Kidnapped and sold to slavery when she was only seven years old in Darfur, Sudan around 1876, St. Josephine went through so much physical and emotional sufferings that she had forgotten her true name after being resold to many different masters until finally to the Italian consul in Khartoum, Callino Legasti.

Legasti brought her to Venice and gave her to his friend as her new master, Augusto Michielli who made her a babysitter to his daughter Mimmina who was then receiving catechetical instructions for baptism. While babysitting the young Michielli, she felt drawn to the Catholic faith, eventually getting baptized and confirmed in 1880, adopting the name Josephine. Her ordeals did not end with her becoming a Catholic until all conflicts in her were resolved by the Italian court in 1885, declaring her free from slavery. In 1893 she entered the Canossian Sisters excelling in service and charity not only among the poor and suffering they served but even among her fellow religious. She was canonized by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in 2000.

Sometimes in life, we have to cross as in today’s gospel great seas of challenges and sufferings, go through many darkness so we may arrive at the light of brand new days in Jesus Christ.

Help us to trust in you always, Lord Jesus, so we may get out of the many darkness of our lives. Amen.

Photo by author at the chapel of the Graduate School of Theology, Immaculate Conception Major Seminary, November 2020.