Aral ng anino ni Kristo

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, ika-07 ng Abril 2020

Minsan sa aking pananalangin sa takip-silim
hindi kaagad namalayan sa gitna ng dilim
nakamasid pala sa akin
si Kristong nakabitin nang
sa krus namatay para sa atin.


Nang siya ay aking tingalain
ako'y namangha sa tanawin
sa kanyang mga anino
sa akin ay nagpapaalala
huwag mangamba, kasama siya tuwina.


Noong mga bata pa tayo
itong ating mga anino
ang siyang lagi nating kalaro
dahil lagi tayong sinasabayan
kailanman hindi tayo iniwan.


Kaya naman nang aking pagmasdan
larawan nina San Juan at Birheng Mahal
sa magkabilang pagitan ng krus na pinagpakuan
ni Hesus na ating katubusan
kakaiba ang aking naramdaman:


Katiyakang hindi iiwanan
kapag ako'y laging nasa kanyang paanan
nananalangin, nananampalataya
handa na siya ay tularan at sundan
lahat ay iwanan alang-alang sa pagkakaibigan.

Prayer of the Lord’s servant

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe, Holy Monday, 06 April 2020

Isaiah 42:1-7 ><)))*> +++ 0 +++ <*(((>< John 12:1-11

Photo by author, Tabernacle of Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan, 05 April 2020.

In the midst of this most trying time in our modern world while we get into the holiest days of the year, grant me, O Lord Jesus Christ, the grace to be like you, a servant of the Father, filled with the Holy Spirit, “not crying out, not shouting, not making my voice heard in the street” (Is.42:1-2).

Teach me the path of non-violence when brute force is preferred by those in authority, to strive for what is just so that there may be peace and joy throughout the land as well as healing and health among the sick.

A bruised reed he shall not break, a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

Isaiah 42:3-4

Help me O Lord, to bridge the gaps among people separated by pains and hurts in their past, differences in beliefs and color and status in life.

Give me the strength to grip and steadily hold those about to give up on life, in God, in their family, and in humanity.

May I open the eyes of those blinded by worldly possessions to see beyond material things, most especially the warmth of your loving face found in every child and persons we meet trying to make ends meet.

In my own struggles may I set free the many prisoners of sins and addiction as I try to bring your light, dear Jesus among those in darkness especially the poor who have always been with us but we have always forgotten. Amen.

Hosanna in the time of corona

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Solemnity of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, 05 April 2020

Isaiah 50:4-7 >>+<< Philippians 2:6-11 >>+<< Matthew 26:14-27:66

Photo by author, altar of Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, Palm Sunday 2020.

“Hosanna!” is the song of the day and despite the ongoing lockdown now entering its penultimate week, we have every reason to praise God this Solemnity of Palm Sunday in the Lord’s Passion.

Let us continue to sing “hosanna” even if our churches are closed due to threats of COVID-19 because even with all the difficulties arising from this enhanced community quarantine, it also gives us much needed time and space to reflect on the meaning of our Holy Week celebrations.

Let us make this Holy Week holy indeed so we may discover God anew in our sacred celebrations and right in our very hearts in this time of the corona pandemic.

The “ascent” to Jerusalem

Photo by author, ancient city of Jerusalem from the Church of Dominus Flevit (The Lord Wept) where Jesus came from towards the holy city via the eastern gate as prophesied in the Old Testament, May 2019.

Geographically speaking, to go to Jerusalem is to go up, to ascend to higher level as it rises to 754 meters above sea level (2,474 feet) compared with Galilee from where Jesus spent his three years of ministry which is just 209 meters (686 feet) above sea level.

Jesus Christ’s “trip to Jerusalem” was both literally and figuratively speaking an “ascent” in all aspects: he went up to Jerusalem to offer himself on the Cross to replace temple worship so people can finally worship in “truth and spirit” as he had told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well three Sundays ago.

More than the outward sign of ascending Jerusalem is the inner sign of Christ’s ascent in his outpouring of love for the Father and us.

That is the beautiful imagery of his triumphant entrance to Jerusalem which will reach its climax on Good Friday capped by the glorious Easter.

Every day, Jesus invites us to welcome him and most of all to join him in his ascent to Jerusalem, to the Father by forgetting one’s self, taking our crosses, and following the Lord in giving of self in love.

Now is the perfect time to sing “hosanna” – to welcome and follow Jesus in our inner ascent when everything and everyone is “down” due to COVID-19. The only way to rise again from this misery of the corona pandemic is to ascent in Jesus, with Jesus, and through Jesus.

For so long, we have been following the upward path of “social mobility” measured in income and material things without considering the emotional and spiritual imbalances that result in these worldly pursuits. In our rat race for higher productivity, more money and less costs, we have become distant from persons especially family. Now, we have to practice social distance not only to stop spread of virus but most of all, to realize anew that above all is always the human person.

And the best route to encounter each person is in Jesus Christ who leads us from Jerusalem to the Cross and into Easter; hence, the liturgies this Holy Week are the oldest and simplest we have in the Church so that we can truly sing “hosanna” and focus only to Jesus ever present to us.

Death and Love

Photo by author, parish altar, Lent 2019.

Now playing at Netflix is the fourth part of its hit series “Money Heist”. I had the chance to watch its first episode that opened with a scene of the professor escaping police in the forest with a narration by “Tokyo” trying to control the situation in the bank they have taken over. She said, “His (the professor) heart held two words that should not be together: love and death.”

Perfect sound bite for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – “two words that should not be together: love and death” when in fact, its opposite is the exact reality! For love to be very true, it must be willing to suffer and die as the Lord Jesus Christ had shown us more than 2000 years ago.

Love and death are always together! That is why we have a Holy Week leading to Easter!

It is a basic reality we have always tried to negate and escape that have only left us more empty and lost within. The undeniable sign of love is when we are able to love somebody more than our very self – and that includes willing to die for the beloved!

We can never ascend, never arise for as long as we have too much of self, like the characters opposite our Lord Jesus Christ this Holy Week.

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

Matthew 26:14-16

Selflessness and silence of Jesus, Selfishness of man

Palm Sunday in our parish 2020.

One distinct characteristic of Jesus throughout his life that is most especially clear from Palm Sunday to Good Friday is his selflessness and silence in the face of too much pressure and suffering.

Rather than being a sign of weakness, it is Jesus Christ’s shining moment of mastery and control as we have noted last Sunday when he cried in meeting Martha and Mary at the tomb of Lazarus who had been dead for four days.

This becomes more evident starting this Sunday reaching its highest point on Good Friday to be capped by his glorious Resurrection on Easter.

See how during his entrance and ascent into Jerusalem, Jesus was silent. Because he knew what was going to happen! He was even looking forward into it.

His entrance into Jerusalem to assert his being the Christ by offering himself on the Cross is the culmination of what St. Luke had noted in his account early on at Caesarea Philippi that “when the days of his going up to heaven was nearing completion, Jesus resolutely journeyed to Jerusalem.”

Despite the dangers and the certainty of death, Jesus did not balk nor even thought of backing out. He resolutely went into his death because of his immense love for us and the Father. He never cracked under pressure!

Even during his trials first before the Sanhedrin and before Pontius Pilate, there was the mastery and surety of Jesus very evident in his silence. He was totally composed, wholly entrusting himself in total obedience to the Father in heaven.

How about us these days of lockdown in the face of the growing threats of COVID-19?

What a shame that our officials and their families finally revealed their true colors as the modern Judas Iscariots seeking VIP treatment for COVID-19 testing! So afraid of dying because love they have none whatsoever for the country and the people but for themselves alone.

From a Facebook post of my friend .

Like Judas, they think only of themselves, keeping their loot of more than 30 pieces of silver, looking for the opportune time to betray us again, totally quiet in the comfort of their homes when thousands are facing hunger and uncertainties.

They are the modern Pontius Pilates who mumble in public, who could not make a definitive stand on anything at all, more at home in accusing and blaming others for the confusions and lack of order, always washing their hands, without guts to humbly accept lack of foresight despite the grave dangers that did not happen overnight.

Most of all, look inside ourselves too for those moments we think more of “what we can have” than “what we can give or do” in these trying times? Do we hoard and panic buy? Do we cower in fear by hiding it with our anger and demands for assistance and relief goods?

Above is a nice guide I found on my friend’s Facebook, indicating three zones to show where are in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic. It can be very useful too in indicating where we can meet Jesus in ascending and entering Jerusalem to fulfill his mission and our mission too.

Entering Jerusalem, entering Jesus

My daily Mass attendees since the lockdown.

When the Luzon lockdown started last March 18, I cried on my first Mass: it was simply unbelievable – until now – for me celebrating Mass without people because a Mass always presupposes people and community to celebrate Christ’s presence!

But now, everybody is gone.

Except me. And the birds who keep constant company for me.

Every morning after pealing our bell as I celebrate Mass alone, I bow before the giant crucifix looming above our altar and look on the metal engraving of the Lamb of God on the cover of our Tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament of Jesus is kept.

This week as I looked more often onto the lamb during prayer periods, I felt it to be looking at me too. That’s when I realized how the lamb perfectly signifies Jesus Christ entering Jerusalem, the “Suffering Servant” of God prophesied by Isaiah in the first reading today. But what struck me most is the song’s latter part not included in our first reading, referring to Jesus Christ:

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.

Isaiah 53:7

That lamb is indeed Jesus Christ, coming to us day in, day out in the Holy Eucharist we priests continue to celebrate even if our churches are closed. Every day especially in the Mass, Jesus invites us to ascend with him to the Father, little by little with our selfless acts of charity and kindness to others.

Looking into that lamb of our Tabernacle, I see the eyes of Jesu telling me how much he loves me, how much he has forgiven me from my sins despite his knowing me through and through.

And that is Jesus Christ: always silent, gazing with his eyes full of love, full of knowledge about us and what’s going to happen next, inviting us to join him, to come with him to ascend to our higher selves especially in this time of crisis. All despite his knowing our sins because he sees us too with eyes full of mercy!

These my dear readers are more enough reasons to sing “hosanna” today despite the many difficulties and uncertainties around us because Jesus is with us and will never leave us especially when we reach the cross. Amen.

A blessed holy week to you!

Our tabernacle, Palm Sunday 2020.

Tayo ba’y Palabas o Paloob?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-20 ng Abril 2019
Larawan mula sa Google.
Ano nga ba ang kabuluhan
Nitong mga panata na sinasakatuparan
Kung wala namang kahulugan
Maliban sa ito'y nakagisnan?
Inyong pagmasdan itong ating mga nakagawian
Na pawang puro kaluhuan
Puro palabas wala na sa kalooban
Kaya nawala na sa atin ang kahulugan.
Pagkakataon sana upang ating masalamin
At mapaglalim mga minanang kaugalian natin
Ngunit nagiging isang malagim na tanawin
Karima-rimarim na pag-uugali ng marami sa atin.
Larawan mula sa GMA News.
Isang kabataan nadismaya sa nakita
Nang gawing malaking basurahan simbahan nila
Ng mga nag-visita iglesia na walang pakundangan 
Nilapastangan at sinalaula tahanan ng Diyos.
Hindi lamang iyan sa Antipolo
Kungdi maging mula Aparrri hanggang Jolo
Eksenang ganyang kagulo
Ng mga Katolikong sira ang ulo.
Larawan mula sa Google.
Anong uri nga ba ng pananampalatay mayroon tayo
Mga Filipino diumano Katoliko sarado
Hindi mababago anila pagiging Kristiyano
O sarado isip at puso sa katotohanan ni Kristo?
Ngayong "nakahimlay" Panginoon natin
Suriin mga pagkukulang natin
Kung bakit mga pagdiriwang at gawain
Sa simbahan nawalan ng taginting.
Mga simbahan ba natin maituturing na bahay dalanginan pa rin
Kung punung-puno ng mga palamuti, walang katapusang mga pagawain?
Puro flat screen at tarpaulin mga dingding
Lahat na lamang naka-recording, ang Diyos wala nang dating. 
Nasaan na ang marubdob na pakiramdam
Kung ang simbahan mistulang tindahan
At ang masaklap na katotohanan minsan o palagian
Kay Father walang maramdamang kabanalan.
Madalas nating mapakinggan itong kasabihan
Kung ano ang gobyerno, ganoon din ang mga tao;
Huwag nating kalilimutan ang katotohanang iyan
Sa simbahan ma'y matatagpuan una doon sa mga kaparian.
Larawan mula sa Sandigan-Diocese of Malolos.

Our life of leaving and loving

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe, Holy Thursday of the Lord’s Passion, 18 April 2019
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14///1 Corinthians 11:23-26///John 13:1-15
Altar at the Carmelite Monastery in Israel with a unique Crucifix. Photo by Dra. Mai B. Dela Pena, 2011.

Today I am celebrating my 21st year in the priesthood. This is the first time our ordination anniversary falls on a Holy Thursday when we celebrate the institution of the two Sacraments most closely linked with us priests and the Church, Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders.

When we were ordained by Archbishop Rolando J. Tria-Tirona 21 years ago at the Malolos Cathedral, there were so many things going on in my mind and in my heart. But there was one thing that had remained very clear with me since that day: I am being ordained priest at the age of 33, the very same age Jesus was crucified on the Cross. From then on until now, I have kept in my heart that priesthood is suffering and dying on the Cross in Jesus and with Jesus centered on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.

John 13:1

Of the four evangelists, it is only St. John who repeatedly mentions the expression “hour of Jesus” in his gospel account. For him, the very life of Jesus is a journey and preparation to his “hour” which is his crucifixion and death. The hour of Jesus is his passion. The word passion is from the Latin verb patior that means to undergo, to pass through, evoking some form of suffering and pain.

The hour of Jesus started in his Last Supper. It was a very long hour so to speak. And very dark. However, it was also the finest hour of Jesus when he poured out his immense love and mercy for us. Beginning at his supper when he washed the feet of the Apostles to his agony in the garden when he perspired with blood to his arrest reaching it darkest point in his crucifixion and death, the darkest hour of Jesus is also his finest hour when he was able to bear all sufferings and insults, including death because of love. Jesus showed us that in fact, love is the very process of passing over, of going beyond our means and capacity in order to transform and become better persons. That is why our darkest hour is also our finest hour when we are transformed in Jesus because precisely that is when we truly love. It is also for this reason that the Eucharist is called an agape which is the Greek word for the highest form of love that does not expect anything in return. That is the love of Jesus Christ. And supposed to be the love of us priests.

Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.

Jesus washes feet of Apostles. From Google.

Msgr. Epitacio Castro, one of our retired priests, has a favorite expression with his being a priest: “pinag-uubra lang ako ng Diyos”. True. God is just making do of us as priests because nobody is worthy of being one. We are the worst men around! We are also sinners like you, even more sinful than most of you. In the Eucharist, we priests experience that great love of Jesus Christ when he tries to make us fit as his priests, transforming us into men like him. It happens every time we are one with him in his hour of suffering and death. Priesthood is a life of leaving and loving, of passing over and transformation. The day we were ordained, our Last Supper began, our passion began because that is also our hour in Jesus Christ. Every time we celebrate the Holy Mass, we priests are reminded that our hour had come to pass, challenging us to love more. Pray for priests who no longer love the Eucharist; something is terribly wrong with them.

I am a sinner. But it is a tremendous grace of God through the Eucharist that I continue to leave and pass over, from sin to holiness and grace, from darkness to light, from selfishness to selflessness, from desperation to hope, from grief to joy. And all because of the power of love of God overflowing in the Eucharist. How can I resist to love and to forgive, to let go and move on, to be patient and to persevere when right in the Eucharist I could feel Jesus truly present, entrusting himself to me who is so untidy with sins and weaknesses? How could I not believe in him when Jesus is the first to believe in me despite my many self doubts? Every celebration of the Eucharist is an imitation of Christ when we priests go down to wash and kiss the feet of the people we serve whom we also hurt and hurt us too!

They say the darkest nights are the longest nights. Very true especially for us priests. Be patient with us when we forget so many things, when we change so often in our plans because every time there are celebrations, our hour goes over time too. Bear with us, pray for us when we sometimes become irritable even grouchy because aside from your many problems and burdens we help you carry, we have our own struggles and problems too. That hour of Jesus remains with us even after every Mass when you all go home to your own family while we priests are left alone in our parish thinking about the next celebrations. The hours are long and the nights are so dark and all we have is that flickering light of faith, hope, and love in Jesus in our hearts.

But, though the darkest nights are the longest nights, they also say that only the brave who dare walk the darkness can see the brightness of the stars above. Courage does not mean having no fear but the ability to face our fears. And, oh! We priests have many fears too, including the fears of rejection, of being misunderstood, of being boxed, and most of all, of failing. We are what you call as “warrior is a child” — “They don’t know that I come running home when I fall down. They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around. I drop my sword and cry for just a while, ‘Coz deep inside this armor, The warrior is a child.

In the Eucharist, we priests truly share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ because that is also when we feel transformed in his love, when we pass over with so much pains from the many experiences we have in our very selves and with others. Indeed, without the Eucharist, we are not priests! Every time I raise Christ’s Body and Blood, I pray that Jesus may make me whole in body, mind and heart, that he may wash me of all my sins, doubts and fears. Nobody else in the Mass perhaps, except us priests who truly feel the meaning of praying these words before receiving communion, “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my shall be healed.”

Maybe you have all seen the photos after the fire that razed the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this Holy Tuesday. Intact were the altar table with the huge cross beaming with light. What a beautiful reminder to us all, especially us priests, that in this life, our darkest hours are also our finest hours when we are one with Jesus Christ. No fire nor anything can ever destroy us because Jesus had overcome every evil even death for us. Every destruction and darkness are a prelude to the light and new creation of Easter Sunday that begins right here in the hour of the Eucharist of Jesus. Let us remain in Christ in love in passing over, in leaving behind the pains and hurts of the past with much love in our hearts to move on in this life. Amen.

Photo from Yahoo.news.

A prayer on “spy Wednesday”

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe, Holy Wednesday, 17 April 2019
Isaiah 50:4-9///Matthew 26:14-25
Photo from Google.

Today O Lord Jesus Christ is “spy Wednesday” for tonight Judas will strike a deal with your enemies to betray you. Tonight is said to be the night of traitors, of betrayers.

O Lord, we hate being called traitors and betrayers, a Judas Iscariot. And yet, too often, it is true whenever we sin, whenever we turn away from you, when we exchange you for things and people we find more valuable than you.

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

Matthew 26:14-16

Please forgive us Jesus whenever we betray you. Most of all, we pray and seek your forgiveness and healing O Lord from this grave sin of betrayal for we do not only do it to you but to those most dearest to us, our family and friends whom we hurt whenever we hand them over to troubles and miseries, to grief and tears.

Help us Lord Jesus to enter into full communion with you, to be filled with your Holy Spirit so that we think and act like you in total obedience to the Father, giving no space in us for satan to trade you off for anything. Amen.

Who fills you?

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe, Holy Tuesday, 16 April 2019
Isaiah 49:1-6///John 13:21-33, 36-38
At the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem, April 2017. Photo by author.

As we come closer to your Paschal Triduum O Lord Jesus Christ, I try to probe deeper into myself to examine where are in you in my life? There were so many times I have not been faithful to you. There were so many times I wavered, almost gave up following you because nothing seemed to happen.

Who really fills me, you O Lord or the enemy?

So many times I have wallowed into so many complaints and excuses, always doubting if you are really with me, if you have truly called me. Like Peter, I just say so many things, asking you many questions without really understanding and knowing anything at all especially your very words. Worst, there are times I feel like Judas sharing in your sacred meal and yet betraying you when I sin because I have allowed evil to take over me.

Give me the grace to be like you as the faithful, suffering Servant of God so certain and so trusting of the Divine call and mission:

The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God.

Isaiah 49:1-2, 4

Lord Jesus Christ, reign in my heart, fill me with your humility, justice, and love. Amen.