Dalawang makabagong santo, kapangalan ng aming Patron

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-22 ng Oktubre 2020
Larawan nina San Juan Pablo II at San Juan XXIII kasama isa sa mga matandang imahen ng aming Patron San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista sa likuran ng aming simbahan sa Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan.

PANALANGIN KAY SAN JUAN APOSTOL AT EBANGHELISTA KAUGNAY NG MGA BAGONG SANTO NG SIMBAHAN: PAPA JUAN PABLO II at PAPA JUAN XXIII (Bahagi ng aming mga Panalangin sa Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan mula nang itanghal bilang Santo ang dalawang naturang dating Santo Papa noong 27 Abril 2014, Linggo ng Dakila Awa ng Diyos.)

Minamahal naming Patron na Banal, 
Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista po ang inyong ngalan!
Ngayo'y aming ipinagdiriwang sa buong Simbahan 
dalawang bagong Banal: Kapwa sila pastol ng kawan, 
nang manungkula'y pangalan mo ang hiniram.

San Juan Beinte-tres nang sa kanyang katandaan tuladmo,
Sinikap maging makabuluhan at buhay na palatandaan ng Diyos
sa gitna ng makabagong panaho nitong InangSimbahan
nang kanyang simulan ang Ikalawang Konsilyo sa Vatican. 

Kasabay niyang tinanghal bilang Banal 
ang tinaguriang Dakilang San Juan-Pablo Ikalawa;
Labis na pagtitiis ang kinamit sa kanyang sakit, 
Krus ay sinapit, katulad mo’y naging malapit
sa Ina ni Hesus kaya’t “Totus Tuus” ang kanyang awit.

Itulot mo aming Mahal na San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista,
kaming iyong mga anak sana’y matularan,
pinagsikapan ng dalawang bagong San Juan:
pamilya’t sambayanan mabuklod sa nagkakaisang pag-ibig
katulad ng dalangin ni Hesus doon sa Huling Hapunan. AMEN.

San Juan Ebanghelista, ipanalangin mo kami.
San Juan Beinte-tres, ipanalangin mo kami.
San Juan-Pablo Ikalawa, ipanalangin mo kami.

Katatawanan, katuwaan sa buhay COVID-19

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-16 ng Oktubre 2020
Pitong buwan na nakakaraan
mula nang kumalat mula Wuhan
corona virus, tayo ay nag-lockdown
nang lumaon pinagaan quarantine
COVID-19 pasakit pa rin sa atin.
Nguni't huwag din namang masamain
maraming aral ipinamulat sa atin
itong COVID-19:  pananalangin 
at pananalig sa Diyos, 
pagpapahalaga sa pamilya at kapwa,
pangangalaga sa ating kalusugan.
Gayon din naman
maraming katatawanan
katuwaan ating naranasan
lumipas na mga buwan
kaya mga ito ating pagparoonan
kesa pabigatan ating mga isipan,
puso at kalooban.
Sa dami at tagal nang hirap ating naranasan
minsan marahil iyong inaasam-asam
makapagpahinga at magbakasyon
at saka sasagi sa isipan na hindi ba gayon
itong COVID-19 ngayon?
Bakasyon at pahinga
kaya nakapagtataka
kapag walang pasok sa eskuwela
at opisina dahil sa piyesta upisyal
gayong wala namang papasyalan
ni pupuntahan
lahat ng araw pare-pareho lang!
Nang magsimula ang lockdown
karamihan hindi naman nahirapan ni kinabahan
bagkus naging engrandeng bakasyunan
kantahan at inuman kung saan-saan
hanggang magkahawahan
nang mabatid katagay sa inuman
walang panlasa, walang pang-amoy
nang maglaon akala mo'y
aping-api, kinawawa at pinabayaan
pinag-aagawan lahat ng uri ng ayuda
pera at de lata
habang ang iba naman ay saganang-sagana.
Ang Pinoy nga naman
maski saan man
basta may kalamidad
hindi pababayaan kumalam kanyang tiyan;
aminin ang katotohanan
parusa nga ba at kahirapan ang lockdown
bakit tayo nagtabaan?
Hindi lamang iyan:
sa bawat tahanan
 mayroon isang tiyak natutuhan
bagong libangan at pagkakitaan
pagluluto at pagbe-bake.
Isang pangunahin kabutihan
nitong lockdown
luminis mga lansangan
umaliwalas kalangitan
kalikasan nabigyan
kapahingahang kailangang-kailangan;
magagandang tanawin
muling nasilayan mula kalayuan
habang sa mga tahanan
laganap na luntian ng mga halamang
 inaalagaan at pinagkakakitaan
ng mga tinaguriang plantitos at plantitas.
Mayroon pang ibang mga katatawan
nangyari sa gitna ng lockdown
at quarantine ng COVID-19
ngunit huwag nang pag-usapan
baka lamang pagmulan
labis na hapis at kalungkutan
mga kabalastugan sa pamunuan, 
sakim sa kapangyarihan
katanyagan at kayamanan
ngunit walang pakialam
sa bayang nahihirapan
nagsisikap lampasan mga pagdurusa
dinaraan sa katatawan
katuwaan upang mapanatili
katinuan ng isipan
kesa tularan mga baliw
at hunghang na payaso
sa gobyernong ito.

*Mga larawan sa itaas mga kuha ni G. Jay Javier, Mayo 2020; habang ang mga nasa ibaba ay kuha ng may-akda maliban sa ibong dilaw at puting bulaklak na kuha ni Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD.

Linangin, palalimin ang Pananampalataya

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-13 ng Oktubre 2020
Larawan kuha ni Bb. Ria de Vera, Agosto 2020.
Pangunahing biyaya
ng Diyos sa ating lumikha
pananampalataya o pananalig
sa Kanya tayo magtiwala;
ngunit hindi natin alintana
itong pananampalataya 
katulad ng ano mang biyaya
dapat linangin upang payabungin
pamungahin, at patatagin 
hindi lamang magbigay galak sa atin
kungdi makaya nating harapin
ano mang unos sa buhay ang dumating.
Kumbinsido ba tayo
sa pinanghahawakang pananampalataya
kaya nating panindigan di lamang ipaglaban
 kungdi ipaliwanag katuwiran at katuturan?
Kung minsan akala natin
itong pananampalataya gamit para kamtin
ano mang hilingin sa Diyos Ama natin
nakakalimutan higit sa lahat ito ay ugnayan
relasyon na dapat pinalalalim
pinaiigting upang maging matalik
pagkakaibigan natin.
Ano mang samahan at ugnayan
palaging nakasandig sa pananalig
sa isa't-isa, palaging makatotohanan
walang kasinungalingan;
tiyak na palaging maasahan
dahil ang tunay na pananampalataya
consistent, hindi pabago-bago
kungdi pare-pareho
  saan man at kailan man,
sino man ating pakiharapan
nananatili katapatan
tulad ni Hesus
hanggang kamatayan.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 09 Oktubre 2020.

Aral ng COVID-19 VIII: makiramdam sa halip na pag-isipan

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-05 ng Oktubre 2020
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Shambala, Silang, Cavite, 22 Setyembre 2020.
Kay sakit isipin
sa gitna nitong COVID-19
marami pa rin sa atin
mga hirap at sakit di pansin
binibigyang daan
mga maling katuwiran kahit 
mayroong nasasaktan;
pagmasdan mga karahasang umiiral
kawalan ng pakialam 
sa kahirapang pinagdaraanan
pinagpipilitan maling kaisipan 
kungdi kasakiman, pawang kababawan.
Hindi ba maaring pagsikapan
itong kaalaman at isipan
ay ibaba sa puso at kalooban
bigyang daan nararamdaman
upang higit na matimbang
ang mas mainam na kabutihan
kesa pairalin mga alituntunin
na hindi sumasalamin
sa tunay na katauhan natin?
Mabuti ang paghuhugas
ng mga kamay bilang lunas
at pag-iwas sa virus
ngunit kung sa katotohanan
iiwas tayo manindigan
maghuhugas kamay
upang hindi ito marungisan 
mawawasak ating mga ugnayan
mapapatid ating kapatiran.
Social distancing ay mainam
ngunit huwag din nating kalilimutan
pagdadamayan, pagtutulungan;
tama ang maging abala
sa maraming mga bagay sa buhay
ngunit higit na mahalaga ang kaluluwa:
kabutihan at kagandahang-loob
ang siyang magbubuklod
papawi sa pagod, nagbibigay-lugod.
Hindi lamang medisina at bakuna
ang sagot sa ano mang pandemya
dahil ano mang sakit at karamdaman
pinagmumulan ay kasamaan 
kawalan ng kaayusan sa isang may katawan;
sa puso at kalooban, malubhang kapansanan
kapag pinabayaan parang sakit sa kalingkingan
nadarama ng buong katawan, nahahawa maging sangkatauhan. 
Pandemya ay lunasan ng pagmamahalan at paggalang
ibaba ang nasa isipan, dalhin sa kaibuturan 
damahin, huwag isipin
makiramdam sa pintig ng ating katauhan.
Larawan kuha ni G. Raffy Tima ng GMA-7 News, Marso 2020.

Panalangin ng umiibig

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-01 ng Oktubre 2020
Huwebes, Paggunita kay Santa Teresita ng Sanggol Na Si Hesus
Job 19:21-27     >><)))*>  +  <*(((><<     Lukas 10:1-12
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 01 Oktubre 2019.
O Diyos Ama naming mapagmahal,
Ikaw ay pag-ibig 
kaya kami ay umiibig 
dahil ikaw ang sa amin ang unang umibig;
Parang ang hirap dasalin
at gayahin dalangin ni Santa Teresita
na maging pag ibig sa gitna nitong 
Simbahang iniibig.
Nguni't kung susuriin 
tunay ang kanyang hiling
na dapat din naming asamin
dahil itong pag-ibig ang nag-uugnay
sa lahat sa aming buhay
at kung hindi lahat ay mamamatay.
Katulad ni Job sa unang pagbasa,
tangi naming inaasam ikaw O Diyos 
ay “mamasdan at mukhaang makikita
Ng sariling mga mata at di ng sinumang iba;
Ang puso ko’y nanabik na mamasdan kita” (Job 19:26-27)
upang Iyong pag-ibig maihatid
sa daigdig nasa gitna ng maraming pagkaligalig
nalilito, nagugulo kanino mananalig at sasandig;
Unawain nawa namin turo ni Jesus (Lk.10:2)
aming hilingin sa Iyo na magpadala ng manggagawa
sa maraming anihin:  hindi pagkain, salapi o gamit
ang mahalaga naming kamtin 
kungdi kapwa na makakapiling
at magmamahal sa amin.
AMEN.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 2019.

Nang mabuksan ang langit

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-29 ng Setyembre 2020
Martes, Kapistahan ng mga Arkanghel San Miguel, San Gabriel, at San Rafael
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14     >><)))*>   +   <*(((><<     Juan 1:47-51
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, pagbubukang-liwayway sa Lawa ng Tiberias, Israel, Mayo 2019.

At sinabi ni Jesus sa lahat, “Tandaan ninyo: makikita ninyong bukas and langit, at ang mga anghel ng Diyos ay manhik-manaog sa kinaroroonan ng Anak ng Tao.”

Juan 1:51
Batid namin Panginoon
 noon pa mang kami'y 
Iyong tinubos sa kasalanan
 nabuksan na ang langit 
upang kami ay makalapit sa Ama 
na bukal ng buti at bait;
Ngunit ang masakit sa langit 
hindi kami makatingin 
dala nitong mabibigat na pasanin
mga kasalanan aming inaamin;
Kaya sana Iyong dinggin
aming dalangin at hiling
ngayong kapistahan ng tatlong Arkanghel
na palaging nasa Iyong banal na piling.
Kay San Miguel Arkanghel
kahulugan ng pangalan 
ay "Sino ang katulad ng Diyos?" 
kami sana'y bigyan, O Jesus, ng tapang
labanan kasamaan at kasalanan 
upang makapanatili sa Iyong banal na harapan;
Bigyan Mo rin kami, Jesus ng Iyong lakas 
katulad ni San Gabriel Arkanghel
na ang kahulugan ng pangalan 
"Diyos ang aking lakas" 
upang Iyong mabuting balita aming maipahayag
lalo na ngayong panahon na ang daigdig
ay manhid sa kasalanan at kasamaan;
Gayon din naman, Panginoon
batid ninyo minsan dala ng aming karamdaman
hindi lamang pangangatawan nanghihina 
kungdi pati puso at kalooban 
Ikaw ay aming tinatalikuran
kaya naman sana Inyong mapagbigyan
sa pamamagitan ni San Rafael Arkanghel
na kahuluga'y "nagpapagaling ang Diyos"
sana'y gumaling o maibsan hirap at tiisin
ng mga may sakit, hipuin kanilang
puso at kalooban upang paghilumin.
Itulot po Ninyo, Panginoong Jesu-Kristo
na katulad ni Nataniel 
kami ma'y walang pagkukunwaring 
tumalima at sumunod 
sa Iyong tawag bilang alagad 
upang maakay ang marami pang iba
palapit sa langit na Iyong binuksan
upang kami ay maligtas ngayon at magpasawalang-hanggan.
AMEN.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Panalangin upang tuklasin pagpapala sa bawat pagkakataon

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-25 ng Setyembre 2020
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Jerusalem, Mayo 2019.
Tunay na tunay ang iyong mga pananalita
Ama naming mapagmahal sa Aklat ng Mangangaral:
"Ang lahat ng pangyayari sa daigdig ay nagaganap
sa panahong iyong itinakda; 
Iniangkop mo ang lahat ng bagay sa kapanahunan.
Binigyan mo ang tao ng pagnanasang alamin ang bukas
ngunit hindi mo siya binigyan ng pagkaunawa 
sa iyong mga ginawa mula pasimula hanggang wakas." (3:1, 11)
Nakamamanghang isipin 
bakit nga ba tuwing kami ay mananalangin
saksakan kami ng pagka-inipin 
ngunit tuwing kami sa iyo ay hihiling
paglipas ng oras sa pananalangin di namin pansin?
Ito marahil ang paglalarawan ng iyong kaganapan
na hindi ka kayang saklawan ng aming panahon at lunan
dahil hindi lamang ikaw ang sa amin lumalang
kungdi sapagkat sa iyong pag-iral ikaw ay pagmamahal
walang bukas at kahapon, ang lahat ay ngayon.
Itulot po ninyo, O Panginoon
ikaw ay aming tuklasin at sundin sa iyong pagdating
sa bawat sandali at pagkakataon sa aming buhay ngayon
na madalas hindi namin kaagad maunawaan iyong nilalayon
dahil ika'y walang hanggan gayong kami ay pana-panahon;
magtiwala nawa kaming lagi sa iyong pag-ibig
upang kung sakali man kami ay wala sa panahon ng pagkabig
sa iyo lamang kami manalig at lahat ay madaraig!
AMEN.

Panalangin laging alalahanin

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-17 ng Setyembre 2020
Huwebes, Ika-24 na Linggo sa Karaniwang Panahon, Taon II
1 Cronica 15:1-11   ///   Lukas 7:36-50
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Mirador Hills, Baguio City, Enero 2018.
O Diyos Ama naming butihin
sa panahong ito ng COVID-19
aming dalangin huwag naming limutin
bagkus palaging alalahanin 
ang lahat ng pagsubok ay aming malalampasan din.
Lagi nawa naming tandaan aral na iniwan
ng mga Apostol na siyang paalala ng sulat 
 ni San Pablo sa mga taga-Corinto 
  na ang sentro nitong Ebanghelyo
ang muling pagkabuhay ni Jesu-Kristo
na nagpakitang totoo sa mga alagad at mga tao
upang tiyakin sa aming lahat ngayon 
Kanyang pagbabalik sa wakas ng panahon.
Habang Ikaw ay aming inaabangan, O Panginoon,
turuan mo kami manalig at pakatandaan
pamumuhay na marangal aming pa ring makakamtan
kung kasalanan aming tatalikuran
mauupo sa Iyong paanan
upang mga aral mo ay pakinggan
tulad ng babaeng iyong ginawaran ng kapatawaran.
Ito sana aming laging tandaan, alalahanin
huwag lilimutin upang Ikaw ay makapiling.
Amen.

Hiling at daing sa Mater Dolorosa

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Martes, Kapistahan ng Mater Dolorosa, 15 Setyembre 2020
1 Corinto 12:12-14, 27-31  || + ||  Juan 19:25-27
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Abril 2020.
O Birheng Maria, aming Ina!
Ngayong aming ipinagdiriwang
iyong kapistahan bilang Mater Dolorosa
kinabukasan pagkaraan ng kapistahan 
ng Pagtatampok ng Banal na Krus ni Hesus,
nabubuo ang napakagandang larawan
ng malalim at matalik ninyong ugnayan, 
 kaisahan bilang mag-ina sa liwanag ng Banal na Krus;
tunay nga ikaw Birheng Maria ang una at dakilang alagad Niya
sinamahan Siya hanggang pagdurusa at kamatayan
kaya naman ikaw ay naging Ina nitong Santa Iglesya
nang kami ay naging katawan Niya.
Aming dalangin sa gitna nitong COVID-19
paratingin aming mga daing at hinaing
masintahing Ina sa Panginoon natin:
patatagin aming pananampalataya
paalabin aming pagmamahal at paglilingkod
iwaksi kami sa sakit at iba pang kapahamakan
upang balang araw sa pagbubukang liwayway
mapawi rin aming mga dalamhati
katulad mo'y magningning ang ngiti sa aming mga labi
mula kay Kristong muling nabuhay
sa pandemya kami'y pinagtagumpay.
Amen.
Larawan ng “Mater Dolorosa” ng pintor na si Carlo Dolci mula sa Wikimedia Commons.

Mary in the hiddenness of God

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 10 September 2020
Chapel of the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem where the Holy Family hid before fleeing to Egypt to escape Herod’s murder of innocent babies. According to tradition, a drop of milk from the Virgin Mary fell on the floor of the cave that turned color of the stones to white.

We have just celebrated the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the most perfect example of one who had experienced God’s hiddenness in her life, teaching us with some important lessons in rediscovering and keeping God’s hiddenness specially in this age of social media when everything is shown and has to be seen.

We have mentioned in our previous blog that hiddenness is different from being invisible that simply means “not visible”; hiddenness is more than not being seen per se but that feeling with certainty that God is present though hiding because he wants to surprise us. If God were not hidden, we would have not found him at all. And the more God is hidden, the more we are able to see him and experience him too as seen in the life of Mary (https://lordmychef.com/2020/09/04/the-hiddenness-of-god/).

The hiddenness of Mary.

Simplicity and humility of Mary as venue for the perfect setting of God’s coming in Jesus Christ. Consider her origins: her town of Nazareth in the province of Galilee was definitely outside the more popular city of Jerusalem that was the place to be at that time. Most of all, it is the only town in the New Testament never mentioned in the Old Testament nor by the prophets for lack of any significance in the coming of the Messiah.

Nazareth was largely unknown with some hint of notoriety as expressed by Nathanael (aka, Apostle Bartholomew) when he expressed disbelief to Philip who told him they have found the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, by saying “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

Photo by author of chapel at the grotto believed where Mary received the good news of bearing Jesus Christ in her womb underneath the Basilica of the Annunciation at Nazareth, Israel (2019).

But that is how God works in his hiddenness, coming to us in the most ordinary places and circumstances, even least expected like Mary who was definitely not “in” if we go by today’s popular standard of “who’s in and who’s out?”

In fact, she was so “outside” the circle of influence of their time with her being promdi as we say these days, without any illustrious lineage to be proud of like her spouse Joseph who was from the royal Davidic line or her cousin Elizabeth from the priestly branch of Aaron, the brother of Moses whose husband, Zechariah belonged to another priestly clan in Israel.

Yet, God chose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus Christ because of her hiddenness expressed in her simplicity and humility. It is a far cry from our extreme “Marianism” when we almost worship Mary forgetting Jesus Christ her Son and our Savior! Worst still is the growing trend of “triumphalism” in many parishes racing for the so-called “episcopal” and “canonical” coronation of their various images of the Virgin Mary that come in all kinds of names and titles that has come to look more of a fad than authentic Marian devotion.

Without any intentions of denigrating the role and stature of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our faith as well as her proper place in the life of the Church defined by Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, I dare ask the following questions:

Photo by author, a replica of Our Lady of the Poor of Banneux, Belgium at Girlstown, Cavite (2009).

Is her coronation in heaven as Queen of heaven and earth not enough?

Why the need for these lavish spectacles for the coronation of the most simplest and humblest woman to have lived on earth?

It is a clear case of triumphalism – that exaggeration or overdoing our worship and rituals – especially if the Marian image is less than 200 years old without widespread devotions like the ones at Sto. Domingo (Quezon City) and Manaoag (Pangasinan).

I do not think the Blessed Mother would favor this considering her simplicity and solidarity with the poor and marginalized peoples seen in her many apparitions.

See the quaint and charming simplicity of Mary at Fatima in Portugal (1917) and lately at Banneux in Liege, Belgium (1933) where she identified herself as “Lady of the Poor”.

Note how the Virgin Mary reads “the signs of the times” in her apparitions and appearances when during the 1500’s at the height of European royalties and expeditions, she was always portrayed as victorious in regal clothes; but since Fatima in the 20th century as the world sank into the excesses of Industrial Revolution and affluence, Mary appeared simple, always in solidarity with the poor and suffering.

It is a cue we are sorely missing and sad to say, instead of renewing the world as St. Paul had asked us, we have allowed ourselves with the Mother of God to be transformed into the ways of the world by immersing in its showbiz frenzies, focusing on the material aspects like expensive clothes and jewelries.

Second example of Mary’s hiddenness is her oneness with Jesus Christ. She was never on her own, always seen in Jesus, with Jesus her Son and Lord. She believed in him so much, making him the focus at the wedding feast at Cana as well as at the foot of the Cross where she expressed in the most strongest terms her solidarity with the Savior of the world.

This has always been insisted by the Church since Vatican II regarding our devotions to Mary that must always be in relation with Jesus and his mission — never on her own.

Photo by author, 2019.

In all her apparitions, the Blessed Mother has always been consistent with her messages of conversion and return to God through her Son Jesus Christ, the frequent reception of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession or Reconciliation.

Mary’s Christocentricity is best seen in her oneness with him in pains and sufferings like in the Pieta and the Mater Dolorosa where Jesus is the one standing out, not her. Nor anybody else.

When Mary, or anybody else for that matter goes on one’s own, Jesus is no longer hidden but removed from the scene. Then his Cross disappears and all that is seen is Mary in all her “beauty and glory” that are empty, very secular because these attributes come precisely from her communion in Jesus!

Perhaps, this pandemic is teaching us today to review our Marian devotions and processions that have become more of a show and a spectacle for Instagram than for deepening of our faith.

I pray that the Cofradia that holds the annual December 8 processions at Intramuros would take a rest this year until 2022 to discern their noble efforts before that have degenerated to pomp and pageantry among “devotees” specially camareros and camareras trying to outshine and outclass each other with some participation at the sidelights of their pastors and sacristans.

Keeping the hiddenness of God while we remain hidden in contemplation.

Of all the qualities of Mary we all must imitate to help people rediscover God’s hiddenness is her being hidden in prayer and contemplation.

St. John Paul II noted in Rosarium Virginis Mariae when he launched the Luminous Mysteries in 2002 that although the scriptures are silent about where was Mary during the other significant moments of the life of Jesus, especially at the institution of the Holy Eucharist, it was most likely that Mary was also present deep in prayer.

This we find clearly at the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary while they were praying at the Upper Room in Jerusalem (Acts 1:13-14).

Modern rendition of the Pentecost with Mary among the other disciples of Jesus. From Google.

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI shares with us his profound insight in his second Jesus of Nazareth book series (Birth of Jesus) how after the annunciation of the the birth of Christ to Mary, the angel left her totally without ever coming back to warn or instruct her unlike with Joseph. After saying “Yes” to the plan of God to be the Mother of Jesus, Mary immersed herself deep in prayers and contemplation, becoming hidden herself in God.

Since then, she never doubted Jesus her Son as the Christ, nurturing her faith with prayers beautifully expressed by St. Luke in saying how “Mary treasured things in her heart” when facing difficult situations like during his birth and his finding at the temple. It is not surprising that in the contemplation by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Risen Lord must have first appeared to his Mother upon rising from the dead because she was the first to believe totally in him (which became the basis of our tradition of the Salubong).

Mary has always been present in the hiddenness of Christ from his coming in the darkness of the night on a manger in Bethlehem, to his hidden years in Nazareth, to his ministry when he would always retreat to a deserted place to pray, to his Crucifixion and death and burial on Good Friday and finally, in the darkness of Easter.

In this age of social media where everyone and everything has to be seen and shown with nothing hidden anymore even without qualms and shame at all, part of our mission and ministry as priests and religious is to lead people back to God’s hiddenness like the Virgin Mary so they may realize anew that the best things in this life are not always seen.

To fulfill this is for us first of all to imitate God like Mary — be hidden!

How unfortunate that instead of leading the people back to God’s hiddenness, we priests and religious have in fact joined the secular world, imitating the “influencers” like bloggers and vloggers that instead of focusing on God who is hidden, we are concerned with our selves and all the “porma” for the sake of number of “likes” and “followers” we have in our posts.

The more we try so hard to make God visible in our ministry by imitating the styles and gimicks of some media personalities that make our liturgy look like a variety show complete with song and dance numbers with our altars heavily decorated like a studio set with giant tarpaulins like in EDSA, that is when we remove God totally – not only his hiddenness – from the scene and inverse proportionately, the more we priests and pastors become more popular than the Lord himself.

“The Assumption of the Virgin” by Italian Renaissance painter Titian completed in 1518 for the main altar of Frari church in Venice. Photo from wikidata.org.

And that is how cults begin, with or without Jesus. It is very sad, even tragic and ironic because we have removed God himself – even Mary! – by unconsciously making ourselves the center of attention like pop icons and idols.

Mary had shown us the most perfect example of discipleship which is more of Jesus, less of self.

Can we not post without using our own pictures – no matter how profound our thoughts are – so the people may see the hiddenness of God in a photo of a lovely flower or a magnificent sunset? Unless you are a bishop or the Pope himself, having your photo published specially in the news is part of the information process about the person in focus. It is totally different in Church communications which is all about God and his message of love, not us.

The quarantine period invites us in the Church to appreciate and share this wonderful hiddenness of God by first becoming incognito, unknown and hidden from others, preferring to be at the background or “behind the camera” as we follow God in his hiddenness until we go to that great beyond of totally hidden from everybody except God.

Do not worry. We have Mary in every step along the way. Amen.