Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
The Seven Last Words, 01 April 2023
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Such is “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of Christ’s love for us all” (Eph. 3:18-19) that right upon His crucifixion, Jesus begged God for our forgiveness. And that was not only for those who nailed Him on the cross on that Good Friday but also for us today who continue to crucify Him whenever we destroy our relationships.
In the Jewish thought, “to know” is not just of the mind but of the heart because to know is to have or enter into a relationship with others. Hence, Jesus begged first for our forgiveness when crucified because if there is something we must “know” above all is the fact that we are brothers and sisters in Him, one family in God our Father.
Every time there is a breakdown in our relationships, when we destroy our ties with one another, that is when we sin and know not what we do. And crucify Jesus anew.
We sin and know not what we do when we hurt those dearest to us – our mom and dad, sisters and brothers, relatives and friends – when we speak harsh words to them, calling them names, denigrating their persons as things.
We sin and know not what we do when we betray the trust of those with whom we promised to love forever, keep their secrets and protect them like your husband or wife, your children, your BFF, your student, your ward.
We sin and know not what we do when we lose hope in persons around us, choosing to do them evil because we thought they could no longer change for better, that they could never learn and overcome life’s pains and tragedies, that they could no longer get well from an illness or, sadly, because they are old and dying.
We sin and know not what we do when we cheat on those true to us, when we hide from those open to us, when we back stab those who believe and support us.
We sin and know not what we do when we abuse and use those people we are supposed to serve and protect, when we regard persons as objects to be possessed even if we do not know them personally.
Is there anyone whom you might have hurt in words or in deeds which you might not be aware of?
Who are the people who cause you pains and sufferings, who do not know what they are doing?
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ,
I am sorry in crucifying You again,
when I know not what I am doing
like hurting the people You give and send me
to experience your love and mercy,
your trust and confidence
your kindness and fidelity;
I pray also for those who make me
suffer physically and emotionally,
those who do not know what they are doing;
help us build again
our many broken relationships;
make us humble and true;
let us believe in Your love
expressed by our family and friends
and by everyone who cares for us.
40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Second Week of Lent, 10 March 2023
Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28 >> +++ << Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
Today O God you speak to us
of the most lovely virtue of kindness
which is more than being good to another
but precisely of treating others as a "kin"
or a kindred; being "kind" is the most
Christian word because it refers to our
being one big family in you our Father
with each one a brother and a sister in
How sad we have become more
unkind than ever, just like the sons of
Jacob, the brothers of Joseph:
They said to one another:
“Here comes the master dreamer!
Come on, let us kill him and throw him
into one of the cisterns here;
we could say that a wild beast devoured him.
We shall then see what comes of his dreams
From petty jealousies among us,
our being unkind deteriorate further
into sinister plots right in our hearts
to destroy our own loved ones,
those closest to us; worst of all,
it happens in the midst of us recognizing
them as "our own flesh" like Judah
and yet still "sell" them!
Forgive us, dear Jesus, for being so unkind:
“when the tenants saw the son,
they said to one another,
‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him
and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him,
threw him out of the vineyard,
and killed him (Mt.21:38-39).”
Our responsorial psalm captures
the reason why we must always be kind,
“Remember the marvels the Lord has done.”
Let us heed your warning against being unkind,
“When the Lord called down a famine
on the land and ruined the crop
that sustained them,
he sent a man before them,
Joseph, sold as a slave
Teach us to be kind with everyone because
"the stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes" (Mt.21:42);
This season of Lent,
let us bring back kindness in our hearts,
in our words,
in our thoughts
and in our deeds
even if others are not kind to us
because very often,
kindness has a way of teaching us
the importance of this virtue
that may not always be kind at all.
The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 13 February 2023
Genesis 4:1-15, 25 ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*> Mark 8:11-13
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father,
for this wonderful Monday!
How amazing and lovely
to contemplate your words
daily, to experience your love
and mercy you lavishly pour
upon us despite our sinfulness.
Then the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord then said: “What have you done! Listen: your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil!”
How often we act like
Cain, O Lord!
How often we miserably
fail one another,
pretending not to know
each one when we cut off
our ties as kins,
as brothers and sisters in
you our Father!
What a shame how everyday,
you ask us those basic questions
in Paradise after the fall of our
first parents: "Where are you?" and
then, "Where is your brother?"
let us ponder on these
questions of "where are you?"
and now "where is your brother?":
to find our place in you
is always to find
and recognize too
those around us as our kin,
our family in you;
open our eyes and
our hearts to one another
as a sign of your presence
in Jesus Christ (Mk.8:11-13);
let us feel the gravity
of our sinfulness of
how evil in its darkest
reality happens right inside
our circles of family and
friends, when we strike one
another with our painful words,
or sharp looks, or indifference
and coldness; let us realize, however,
that even in the midst of these
sinful thoughts and jealousies
we harbor against others in
our hearts, you remain in us,
still there continuing your
inner dialogue with us not to be
"resentful and crestfallen,
to do well in order to hold up
our heads, and resist the demon
urging toward us" (Gen. 4:6-7).
In the name of Jesus Christ
your Son, in the power
of the Holy Spirit,
enlighten our minds
and our hearts,
to keep this basic truth
that we are indeed
our brother's keeper,
that to keep our ties in you
tightly knit is to keep
our kinship always
because you are our Father,
our origin and our end,
We pray in the most special
way for our family members
who have cut off ties with us,
those we have hurt or have hurt
us, choosing not to know us.
Touch their hearts.
Ask them too,
"Where is your brother,
Show them the way back
home, to experience
love and forgiveness
and mercy again.
The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Octave of Christmas, Feast of the Holy Family, 30 December 2022
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 ><}}}}*> Colossians 3:12-21 ><}}}}*> Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
God our loving Father,
thank you for sending us
your Son Jesus through the
husband and wife of
Joseph and Mary;
as we celebrate today
the feast of the Holy Family
of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
you remind us too that
Christmas is a living story
that happens daily when you
come first in every family.
Help us imitate the Holy Family
in getting closer with you
and with one another in their
flight to Egypt when they faced
so much sufferings and hardships;
how sad that as families face
so many attacks these days from
within and from the outside,
family members have failed to
realize that our flights to Egypt
when we have to go through trials
and difficulties are occasions
to get closer to Jesus and one another;
teach us to go back to you in prayer as
a family, to bring back our altars
of sacred images and icons now
replaced by the giant flatscreen TV;
enable us to reach out more to one
another, to hug more, to converse more
than to spend the whole day before the
computer screen and cellphone
or with business partners and colleagues
or friends and classmates.
Most of all,
as Ben Sirach and St. Paul
reminded us in our first two readings
today, make us realize that our
relationships in the family
mirror our relationship
with you, O God, our Father;
let all our love and charity,
kindness and care begin at home
because that is where Christ
comes first to us! Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday in the Third Week of Advent, Day 2 of Christmas Novena, 17 December 2022
Genesis 49:2, 8-10 ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> Matthew 1:1-17
Beginning today, we shift our focus in our Christmas preparations into the second phase of Advent, of looking back to the first coming of Jesus Christ when he was born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.
The birth and origin of Jesus has always been an issue to many people then and now. It was the main reason he was put to death for the case of “blasphemy” because his enemies at that time refused to accept he is the Son of God, the fulfillment of the promises in the Old Testament, of him coming from the lineage of King David.
Until now, people continue to question his origin with so many others insisting Jesus is not God, that he is only human.
That is why all four evangelists began their gospel accounts by first establishing his identity and roots with Matthew doing a very superb job by starting right away with the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram….
For the early Christians, it was very important to first establish the origin of our Lord because his roots reveal his very being and mission – that indeed, he is the Christ, the promised one of God since the beginning sent to save us from sin and bring us back into one with the Father.
The same is very true with us. Unless we know our roots, our origins, we will always have those confusions in life like identity crisis and meaning of existence. All these problems about gender identity, drug addictions, teenage pregnancies, depressions and so many others are basically due to lack of our knowing of ourselves, of our being. How can we go on with our life journey and mission if we are not even sure of ourselves, of who we are, of our grounding, of where we came from?
When I was a newly ordained priest assigned to a school in Malolos, at first I felt so mad at seeing how our young people behaved, their lack of discipline and sense of responsibilities. But after three months in school, I realized that the question we should be asking even until now is not why are the young acting that way today but, “where are their parents”?
Now that I am assigned as a university chaplain, the more I see this reality so true, even at its worst and ugly faces of the many burdens and sufferings our young people have to bear and contend with right in their homes – incest and physical abuses, absentee parents and separated parents or single parents made more difficult by poverty that many of them even go without breakfast or decent meal on many occasions every week.
Now more than ever, the school has become truly the home of every student because they have no home, no parents and no love to come home to! They prefer hanging out anywhere including school and get into drugs and other vices at a young age because nobody cares for them except their equally lost peers. Many practically live in the internet and social media because nobody is around to interact with them at home.
Many young people are lost simply because their parents are lost too. They have all kinds of issues because they do not know who they are and where they are going to. They have low self-confidence and low self-esteem, depressive and yes, almost everyone contemplates committing suicide even once because they could not find meaning in their lives anymore.
... human love is imperfect,
only God can love us perfectly.
So sad, so disheartening.
This past week, I have been hearing confessions of our students who poured out everything to the point of crying. What is so moving for me was how they still professed their love for their parents and siblings despite their pains and sufferings.
After listening to them – sometimes crying with them – I tell them that human love is imperfect, only God can love us perfectly. For sure, I tell them that their parents must have also come from so many pains and hurts in their lives, even broken homes too like theirs. Widen your perspectives, I tell them. And keep your hearts wide open to God, to welcome Jesus who comes daily in our lives especially in the most trying time.
This is the meaning of all those names in Jesus Christ’s genealogy – he is so like us with many imperfect relatives and family like quarrelsome siblings, single-parents, prostitutes, unfaithful kings and husbands, illegitimate children, and probably all those things we describe or label as “dysfunctional family”.
Deep within every name is a real person, broken and sinful, hurting and lost just like us yet, loved and saved by God in Jesus Christ. All of them remind us we all came from God like Jesus and with him, in him and through him, we shall all come home to God our true Father.
Every time I administer Baptism, I remind parents to shower their children with love especially in their formative years from infancy to early teens while singing to them a few lines from James Taylor’s “Shower the People with Love” to make my point.
Recently I found in my Facebook feeds from one of the sites I follow a beautiful story and shared it on my wall, saying, “Ito ang tunay na pag-ibig” (this is true love):
Our being is from God who is love. Therefore, our mission too is love. Just like Jesus Christ. That is the meaning of all those names in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The very same meaning we shall find when we trace our own roots, when we do our family tree to find our being and mission.
This is the grace of Christmas 2022 – after two years in the pandemic with so many restrictions, we are celebrating face-to-face to personally experience one another again. Most of all, to personally experience of being loved and loving again.
Christmas is essentially a story of our first love – God – who comes to us face-to-face. Even its preparation as we have seen in the Lord’s genealogy, of God coming to us in our imperfections and weaknesses happened face-to-face in the context and spirit of love, a love that covers a multitude of sins, welcomes everyone, ready to forgive and celebrate life.
Let us see and welcome God in our hearts by rekindling that love we have always have. And upon finding him there, may we also find him in the face of everyone we meet, especially those closest to us, our family and relatives. Let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ,
thank you for coming to us;
thank you for showing us that
like us, you came from very
dysfunctional family too!
Thank you for assuring us
that despite our many imperfections,
sins and weaknesses,
you still come and even more present
in our hurts and wounds.
Let us find you where we are,
right here in our brokenness
and darkness so that in the process,
we may also show you to others
lost in their many sufferings and pains.
You have given us yourself, Jesus,
let me give you to others
in love and kindness,
in my mere presence.
The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 26 October 2022
Ephesians 6:1-9 ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> Luke 13:22-30
Bless me, dear Jesus,
and forgive me for being like
that someone in the gospel
who asked you, "Lord, will only
a few people be saved?"
(Luke 13:23); many times
I am that someone in the
crowd, so eagerly feeling inside
you would answer with a
resounding "yes" to my
question, feeling that I am one
of those few who would be
saved because I belong
to your chosen ones,
the ones "who ate and drank
with you, the ones you taught
in the streets" (Luke 13:26).
Forgive me Lord Jesus
for feeling so entitled;
let me realize your Kingdom
is not about affiliations nor
about the company we are with
but more of the path we take
in life, your path of the Cross.
He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.”
being a part of your
Kingdom, dear Jesus
is keeping our relationships
Christ-centered that begins
right in the family, to our parents,
of parents to children, of siblings
among each other, and with those
in the household.
How sad, dear Jesus,
when we all desire of heaven
when we make a mess of our
family life when couples are
unfaithful to each other,
when parents wrongly pursue
wealth not realizing their children
are their greatest riches,
when siblings compete with one
another instead of loving each other,
and when children do not care at
all to their parents.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
as we count the days
make us realize you
came to bring salvation
to the world by coming
through the husband and
wife of Joseph and Mary;
when you came to save us,
you opened the narrow gate
to salvation there on the Cross
with your Mother and beloved
disciple standing until the end.
Let us strive to enter
through your narrow gate,
Jesus, that is found first
in our own family.
The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop & Martyr, 17 October 2022
Ephesians 2:1-10 ><)))*> + <*(((>< + ><)))*> + ><)))*> + <*(((>< Luke 12:13-21
Praise and glory
to you, God our Father,
so "rich in mercy" and love
and "kindness in Jesus Christ"
(Ephesians 2:4,7); sometimes,
I wonder why can't we just be
like the trees and other plants
that keep on blooming with flowers
and fruits so delightful to sight
and tastes without any efforts at all
except to simply follow your flow
of seasons unlike us spending
our entire lives earning and
amassing wealth and things
that do not fulfill us but even
rob us of peace and joy!
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from your works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
You have created everything,
everyone so beautiful by nature,
dear God, but here we are,
destroying earth and our selves
with our own "creations"
that do not last at all.
Forgive us, O God,
that in our pursuits to earn
for ourselves, we fail to learn
that the "bestest" things in life
come only from you - Jesus Christ
and his gifts of faith, hope and love
lived sincerely in our family and
friends and community.
Forgive us, Father,
in coming to you in prayers
like that "someone in the crowd"
asking for material favors and
treasures of this world not realizing
the most important which is to be
"rich in what matters to God"
May we heed and contemplate
the words of your great Saint,
Ignatius of Antioch,
Bishop and Martyr who
wrote the Christians in
"Do not talk about Jesus Christ
as long as you love this world."
Help us forget ourselves,
Lord, so we may love you
more through others.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 04 September 2022
Wisdom 9:13-18 ><}}}}*> Philemon 9-10 ><}}}}*> Luke 14:25-33
One of the most moving parts of the rite of ordination to the priesthood as well at profession of vows by nuns is when they prostrate in front of the church altar to signify their total conviction and commitment to the person of Jesus Christ.
What a beautiful image of the nature and essence of discipleship requiring great sacrifices to faithfully persevere to the end in Jesus who is always the highest priority of our lives, not only of priests and religious but lay people alike for we are all called to a life of holiness.
We find this conviction and commitment to Jesus in Paul’s own experience while in prison when the slave of his friend Philemon named Onesimus fled to seek refuge in him and eventually converted into Christianity.
Conformity and fidelity to the gospel
is beyond morality
because it is an adherence
to the person of Jesus Christ.
It must have been a difficult situation for Paul if found harboring a runaway slave, Onesimus, who in turn could face death as punishment for his act. Remember that slavery was normal during Paul’s time and even if he did not preach directly against its institution, here in this short powerful letter of just 25 verses he planted the seeds for its destruction when he stressed that Onesimus is Philemon’s “brother in the Lord”.
Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord. So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.
Many times in life, we realize that fidelity to the gospel can be entirely unreasonable like when we have to be like Philemon whom Paul had asked to believe in the sincerity of the conversion of Onesimus his slave when it seemed to be more of convenience or merely circumstantial. Most of all, how could we receive another as a “beloved brother in the Lord” to whom we owe nothing at all when in fact who had hurt us in the first place! Conformity and fidelity to the gospel is beyond morality because it is an adherence to the person of Jesus Christ, of our communion with him and in him as his disciples.
Are we willing to go that far, of leaving everything behind, even our loved ones, our very selves for Jesus like what the gospel asks us today?
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
It is already September and we have only about 12 weeks to go before closing this liturgical year to prepare for Christmas with the Advent Season. Jesus is fast approaching Jerusalem and great crowds were already following him.
However, Jesus was very much aware too of the mixed crowd following him where many were simply curious, some were interested, still searching for more proofs perhaps while a few of them were already committed.
How about us today?
See how Luke presented Jesus resolutely journeying to Jerusalem when he turned to face the crowd that includes us today to issue two important lessons about discipleship, hating those dearest to us including our very selves and, second, carrying our cross.
There comes a time in our lives
when the only explanation,
the only justification,
and the only reason
why we do something unthinkable
even foolish is because of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is not asking us to literally hate our family and friends or even our very selves; the word hate in this passage refers more to action than emotion, of doing something that others would surely hate like when we do not give in to their requests to support them in a lie or something not fair and just, or simply sinful and evil. We have experienced how it is actually more difficult to being good Christians doing God’s will, doing what is right and good that are exactly not what our family and friends are doing and would want us to also do. And that is why, when we do not go with them and their whims and caprices, they think we “hate” them.
Following Jesus means putting him first always, even above our loved ones that they always misinterpret as our lack of love and concern for them.
But more difficult than that is hating our very selves, doing a Philemon for the many Onesimus in our lives. There comes a time in our lives when the only explanation, the only justification, and the only reason why we do something unthinkable even foolish is because of Jesus Christ. And that is when we have to hate our selves like when we forgo vengeance, let go of some debts, forget all about technicalities and legalities because we love Jesus. It is really foolish by world standards that sometimes one comes to hate one’s self too for letting go and letting God.
Meanwhile, to carry one’s cross is more than patiently accepting our human conditions of suffering and sickness, weakness and trials in life. This understanding of carrying one’s cross implies passivity as if the difficulty we are into is something that just happened and fell on our lap or shoulder that we simply have to accept them in the name of Christ.
That is very good and highly commendable but, Jesus wants a more active participation from us. To carry one’s cross is to voluntarily choose and accept a difficulty in life as a direct consequence of our conviction in and commitment to Jesus Christ our Lord and Teacher!
This is the reason Jesus presented us with two parables after sounding his call to discipleship, that one of building a tower and of a general going to war. The two men in these parables had to calculate the cost of their efforts, of how much they have to sacrifice and give to be successful in their endeavors lest they become laughing stocks in the community. The same is true with each one of us today as disciples of Jesus.
“In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce his possession cannot be my disciple.”
Of course, Jesus gives us the grace to become good disciples but grace builds on nature; how much are we willing to sacrifice, to renounce even our very selves to truly follow Jesus through and through?
Kaya mo ba?
Discipleship in Christ is being devoted to him in the same manner he is devoted to the Father toward whom he is drawing us. There is no other Way but Jesus alone. Therefore, to be his disciple means to prefer nothing to Christ who is our very life, our being, our end.
There is no room for mediocrity in being his disciple. We have seen in history and in our very lives how superficial discipleship had caused more damages to the Church and to each one of us when we fail to be committed to our calls. Despite our long years of seminary formation, many of us priests miserably fail in our discipleship with the many scandals that plague the Church these days, not to mention the endless complaints by people of how their pastors do not prepare homilies nor celebrate Mass daily and worst, refuse to answer sick calls! On the other hand, many families and most especially children have been destroyed by the separations of many couples who have refused to learn of letting go of themselves to let God work in their relationships. Then, there are the siblings who fight simply because they cannot let go of their principles and egos and wealth that matter most to them than their brother or sister, or even parents!
This Sunday, let us pray for God’s counsels, for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit as expressed in the first reading from the Book of Wisdom so we may not simply know what is good but most of all lead holy lives by experiencing God daily as his disciples. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of Sts. Mary, Martha, & Lazarus, 29 July 2022
Jeremiah 26:1-9 ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> John 11:19-27
Glory and praise to you,
O Lord Jesus Christ who
had come to us not just a
family but most especially
as a friend you have stressed
during the Last Supper
And even before that evening
of Holy Thursday came, you have
been a friend to the siblings
Mary, Martha and Lazarus so
dear to you, visiting them often,
sharing not only in their meals but
in their lives and death, joys and
pains; what a beautiful imagery
not only of friendship but of the
neglected ties that bind brothers
and sisters in this time when
family is being destroyed
by new emerging thoughts
and ways of life.
In this time of the pandemic
you know how, dear Jesus,
we have finally come together
as families free from all excuses
of work and studies, of being far and away;
but sadly, many have ignored and missed
the opportunities to bond together
and mend many gaps long festering
among siblings; instead of fighting and
rivalries, may brothers and sisters
in every family emulate the love and
respect among Saints Martha, Lazarus and Mary.
We pray for all siblings to gather anew
as one family in prayers before you, Lord,
like Saints Martha, Lazarus and Mary;
help them create a space anew for God in our
lives, the surest bond among us despite
our many differences as we open our ears
and hearts like St. Mary to your words,
to heed and fulfill them unlike the people
of Judah who cursed your prophet Jeremiah
when he spoke to them
of the truth.
Most of all, give us the grace
to be the presence of Jesus Christ
when our siblings are sick and burdened
with all kinds of sufferings and miseries
like Martha and Mary present to each other
awaiting Christ’s coming after Lazarus had died:
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died." Jesus told her,
"I am the resurrection and the life; whoever
believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me
will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:21, 25-26)
Like St. Martha, and most likely
her siblings, too, St. Lazarus
and St. Mary who may not have
understood fully your words and teachings,
keep us open to your coming,
to your visits, sweet Jesus;
make our hearts like theirs
filled with warmth and hospitality
to let you stay and reign inside us;
most of all, like the three holy siblings
let us share with others the gift of kindness,
of being a kin to everyone in you, with you. Amen.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 26 July 2022
Today is supposed to be a day for grandparents being the Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anna, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary – therefore, the lolo and lola of Jesus Christ. When my father Wilfredo was still alive, he would always tell as that if he had been a girl, he would have surely been named Anna because in 1932, it was only St. Anne who was celebrated with a feast in the Church.
Now you know, today is my dad’s 90th birthday but now that he is in heaven, I am sure they are no longer celebrating any birthdays at all for they are in eternity, forever happy and joyful, no more sufferings and pain.
It is us who are left behind who celebrate their birthdays here because despite the 22 years that have passed since his sudden death, the pain and emptiness have remained. That is the saddest and most difficult part in the death of a loved one: I cannot say we just get used to “it” because though he is absent, deep in my heart I could feel him present in me and with me.
Maybe that is what they call as healing – when we learn to live, find meaning in life, and most of all “mature in life” as we age hoping someday we would finally meet in eternity when we shall all be totally complete again, literally and figuratively speaking.
Lately as I age, I notice a marked change in me in remembering my dad when I see myself more in him and likewise see him more with me. Somehow, every day I have slowly realized that old age indeed is the final stage of human maturity with all of God’s bountiful blessings while it subtly reminds us of our own twilight too.
Maybe that is the reason why we mellow and become more spiritual as we get older. Our departed loved ones, especially with those we are closest with, continue to teach and guide us just like when we were kids. And stupid.
The more I look at my face every morning and see those wrinkles and lines topped with white hair, I get more convinced I look like my dad.
Anak nga ako ng tatay ko! – whatever that means.
Perhaps, like in the experience of St. Mary Magdalene, we learn to relate with our departed loved ones on a higher level, no longer physical but something spiritual and more personal.
Basta! It is difficult to explain but we move on with life, still limping and complete without them on our side yet we feel more intensely them with us at the “other side” looking at us, laughing or smiling at us, sometimes irritated or covering their face because of shame, but always loving us, believing in us.
And that is why for me, especially as a priest trying my very best to live my celibacy as faithfully as my dad had been as a husband to my mom, he has always been my inspiration in everything. In fact, he is always the one I think as my audience every time I write these blogs. Every Sunday, I imagine him one of those seated on the pew celebrating with me in our Mass, imagining how he would be bored or delighted with my homilies. And I am very sure of him, whether he liked or not my blogs and homilies, he would never tell me and just keep it to himself but would surely call his brother Arturo or sister Neneng or nieces Toots and Joji how he liked my stories and preaching.
A few years ago when I started blogging by relating a secular music with the Sunday gospel, I learned that David Gates of The Bread actually had his departed father – not his girlfriend at that time as inspiration in composing “Make It With You” in 1970.
During an interview at the peak of their success, Gates was asked of one more thing he would wish in life as they were so famous. He told the interviewer that he wished his dad were alive to experience his joys in having a successful career. And that was when he explained it was actually his father he was referring to in every line of their greatest song that was repackaged as a love song addressing it to a girl.
Hey, have you ever tried Really reaching out for the other side? I may be climbing on rainbows But baby, here goes
Dreams, they’re for those who sleep Life is for us to keep And if you’re wondering what this song is leading to I want to make it with you I really think that we could make it, girl
Like Gates, that is one thing I have always wished for since my dad passed away 22 years ago: how I wished he had heard me for 16 years having regular programs at Radio Veritas to which he had always been glued to since the time of the late Fr. Ben Carreon; how I wished he could have visited me in my own parish when I finally became a parish priest; and now, how I wish he could see our beautiful University where I am the chaplain.
It is a grace to get old most especially when you have old folks to look up to, those who have gone ahead of us to eternity as we now approach its threshold too.
Life can be short or long Love can be right or wrong And if I chose the one I’d like to help me through I’d like to make it with you I really think that we could make it, girl.
By the way, my dad died on my mom’s birthday on June 17, 2000. I always say that’s a proof of how much my dad loved my mom so much, his birth into eternal life was my mom’s birthday. But, that is easier said than done because the reality is it was doubly hard for us losing our dad on my mom’s birthday. Especially for Mommy who had never been happy in life. And that fact makes his death more painful and even difficult for us.
My father loved my mother so much. Since childhood until I became a priest, he never ate without my mother with him at the table. He does her coffee and did all the cooking at home. Every Sunday was a feast with his pochero, chili con carne, mechado. Bulalo was our simplest fare that is why we all have gout too!
On the first two years since his death, I would ask him whenever I would visit his grave why did he die on mom’s birthday? Why that date when there are 364 other days?
After two years, I felt his answer: me and my mom had some LQ at that time and I did not go home for a month but I would still visit his grave when I felt him telling me, “Nick, I died on your mom’s birthday so you would also love her as I have loved her.”
And that is what I have always tried to fulfill until now. Like what the late Luther Vandross expressed in his 2003 hit “Dance With My Father”.
Sometimes I’d listen outside her door And I’d hear how my mother cried for him I pray for her even more than me I pray for her even more than me
I know I’m praying for much too much But could you send back the only man she loved? I know you don’t do it usually But dear Lord she’s dying to dance with my father again Every night I fall asleep and this is all I ever dream
My father never asked me to become a priest but it was him who unconsciously planted the seeds of my vocation when I would always see him praying before our altar before leaving for work and upon arriving home in the evening. It was from him I have learned and realized what true love is and most of all, that indeed, God is love. He loved us so much and even though it has been 22 years since he died, I can still feel his love.
How I wish his grandchildren have all met him too.
Thank you in taking time to bear with me, in listening me bare my heart out.
God bless to all the grandparents! And moms and dads too!
*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.