In the beginning

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial, St. Pedro Bautista & Companions, Priests/Martyrs, 06 February 2023
Genesis 1:1-19   <*(((>< + ><)))*> + <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Mark 6:53-56
Photo by author, 6:30 AM, 29 January 2023, in Bgy. Igulot, Bocaue, Bulacan
"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" (Genesis 1:1-2).
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father,
in waking us up to a wonderful 
morning, reminding us of 
another beginning!
Though many of us have 
the Monday blues,
whining and complaining
of great tasks ahead,
of the many problems still not
solved especially unpaid bills
while others are still sick with
some feeling lost and empty
for so many reasons;
forgive us in first seeing what we
do not have without seeing what
you have given us!
Awaken our senses, Father!
Awaken us to this great 
reality of our daily "genesis" story:
of how in the beginning
there was nothing at all!
Help us appreciate how we
all started in the beginning
without the many things
we have today that despite 
the gloom and darkness,
pains and hurts,
we are still better off today
than before when we were just
beginning in our career,
in our business,
inn our studies,
in our lives.
Let us keep that in mind
and heart, O Lord, that 
in the beginning,
there was nothing until 
you blessed us with everything
that is good.
Let us be filled with hope
in you that while everything 
may be in chaos in every
beginning,
order soon follows
as you unfold your 
wonderful plans
for us.
Your Son Jesus Christ
came to enable us to start anew 
in daily life, to find every day 
a new beginning, a genesis,
and go back to you, Father;
to be touched with your love
and mercy so that we too
may touch others to experience
new beginnings in life.
The great martyr-priests 
of Japan led by St. Pedro Bautista
suffered greatly in bringing the faith
in the land of the rising sun;
their martyrdom may have ended
their lives but their faith in you
touched so many others that
brought new beginnings to life
here on earth; may we touch 
others with your love and mercy,
dear Jesus today to start a new
beginning 
for a new earth.  
Amen.

The real big deal & call to be real

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 06 November 2022
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14 ><]]]]'> 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5 ><]]]]'> Luke 20:27-38

We are now in the penultimate month of the year and the last two Sundays before the Solemnity of Christ the King when we close our current liturgical calendar to usher in Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas.

That is why every year on these two consecutive Sundays before Christ the King, the Church rightly orients us through the readings into our ultimate end in heaven – the real big deal in life calling us all to get real because it is the eternity.

But, do we really care at all? Or, are we just like the Sadducees in the time of Jesus Christ who are so concerned with the realities of this passing world than with that of eternal life?

We may not be exactly like the Sadducees who totally rejected the resurrection as well as the existence of angels and spirits but like them, we also fall into the trap of believing that the concerns of this world are ends in themselves that we spend so much time and energies pursuing wealth and fame that in the process we destroy our selves, our loved ones and relationships.

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward. Jesus said to them, “The children of this stage marry and remarry, but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. The dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob’; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

Luke 20:27, 34-38

Jesus had entered Jerusalem and it is very interesting that this conversation about the resurrection of the dead and heaven happened there where he himself would suffer and die and rise again on the third day. Both Matthew and Mark recorded this conversation of Jesus with the Sadducees but for Luke, this is the only time Jesus met them face-to-face before his arrest.

According to Luke, the Sadducees were the most responsible for the death of Jesus because from their ranks came the high priests like Caiaphas. The Sadducees were the ones who also persecuted the Apostles after the Ascension of Jesus, ordering the arrests of Peter and John. Most of all, the Sadducees were also enemies with Pharisees whom they also opposed and persecuted. They were the fundamentalists of Judaism who only accepted the first five books or Pentateuch collectively known as the Torah (the Laws) as the only inspired books by God. For them, all revelations from God stopped with Moses; hence, their rejection of resurrection and of anything of spirits.

In this scene, we find Jesus just chillin’ with the Sadducees; he was not even debating with them because he was not bothered at all with their analogy about marriage and afterlife. See how Jesus was not even trying to prove anything but simply asking, inviting them including us today to focus on him as the one revealed by the Scriptures and the Laws whom Moses called as “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob” because “Amen, Amen I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM” (Jn.8:58).

Right there in the heart of Jerusalem at the temple area, Jesus was already revealing to everyone his being the Christ, that if all were not “alive for him, with him, through him and in him” – that is, if he were not resurrected – then he would not only be a God of the dead but a dead God! Then everything would be a mockery, a fake as St. Paul would always say in his letters. And if that were the case, then, we forget all about morality and virtues and we just keep on pursuing money and wealth, fame and glory, food and pleasures for nothing will come after this life.

But, deep inside us we know that is not true at all.

Deep inside us springs an eternal hope of something and someone more lasting than this life, God. It is what we experience so often in life especially when we are going through severe tests and trials like getting sick or losing a loved one. Many times, we feel this too when we are going through emptiness, when we feel after having everything, there is that great “something” that we are missing like Bono and U2 singing “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”.

And that is God. Jesus Christ. Eternal life.

The only real deal in this world, in this life. It is a grace embedded in each of us by God that enables us to face and choose death eventually like the seven brothers in the first reading: When he was near death, he said, “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him” (2 Mc.9:14).

This is what we confess and proclaim every Sunday and in every Mass we celebrate, the mystery of our faith. It is something so difficult to explain or express because it is too deep for words.

Last September my youngest sister Bing was diagnosed with cancer. It was only then when I realized the gravity and seriousness of the big “C”. It was like hearing the cocking of a gun which I have experienced covering the December coup of 1989: everything stops in eery silence, awaiting sure death.

When she told me about it one night while studying, I just felt nothing, could not even think well, doubting if I really knew how to pray. I just imagined myself like a “worm” curling before God in prayers, not saying much, just making him know what was deeply in my heart.

Bing underwent surgery last month to remove her cancer and three weeks ago came the results of her lab tests: it is cancer stage 2 that did not require chemotherapy nor radiation except close monitoring. Of course, we all rejoiced for the good news which we also knew could be temporary as we are still awaiting the results of another test to gauge her cancer’s severity.

Maybe because I was also scared that I did not talk to her much as I also wanted her to have more time and space for herself. And God. It was only two days after she had texted me her diagnosis of stage 2 cancer when I asked her how was she, really? That’s when I felt God so close to me when she replied, “Kuya, I am thankful to God; I did not ask him for anything except the grace to accept my sickness. So glad it was detected very early.” Hallelujah!

Faith in the resurrection is not just belief in the afterlife like reincarnation of which many Christians follow as real and true. Ancient peoples believed in the afterlife but not necessarily with resurrection that is why they always have to contend with the issues of the relationships among the living and those who have died. From there came their ideas of karma as well as those offerings being made to the dead to beg their favors or appease them to ward off their destructive powers.

Faith in God, faith in Jesus Christ, faith in his Resurrection is a revelation we experience deep inside us in the most personal manner that does not require us with so much thinking and reflections just to convince unbelievers. It comes from an encounter with the living God our Father in Jesus Christ “who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace” (2Thess.2:16). Like my sister Bing simply telling me her prayers, of how thankful she is for the results of her surgery.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI beautifully wrote in 2007 in Spe Salvi #27 that “anyone who does not know God, even though he may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life (cf. Eph. 2;12). Man’s great, true hope which holds him firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God – God who has loved us and who continues to love us ‘to the end,’ until all ‘is accomplished’ (cf. Jn.13:1 and 19:30).”

People who truly believe in the resurrection in Christ are men and women who live for God here and now, people who witness Christ on the Cross in daily living of loving service and kindness to everyone, living in the presence of God striving to do his Holy Will even if it may be difficult and painful sometimes because our true home is in heaven with him. That is the grace of this Sunday assuring us of our own resurrection in the end, of our union with God in eternity that begins NOW, right HERE in this life. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead!

Photo credits:
Topmost photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, in Portugal, October 2022;
Second (Ascension Chapel of Jesus) and third (wall of Jerusalem) by the author, May 2019;
Fourth by Ms. Meg Lalog-Bringas, 03 November 2022.

Hope in heaven is hope for others

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, 02 November 2022
Wisdom 3:1-9 ><}}}}*> Romans 6:3-4, 8-9 ><}}}}*> John 6:37-40
Praise and thanksgiving
to you our loving God and Father
for the grace of life
for the grace of death
for the grace of judgment:
in the end, your love prevails.
Our hope lies in your judgement,
O God and Father because it is
both justice and grace:
justice because you render fairly
to everyone what is due including 
everything we have done but
it is also grace because you know
our weaknesses, our sinfulness:
"The souls of the just are in the hands of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish,
to be dead; and their passing away was thought
an affliction and their going forth from us,
utter destruction.  But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet it is their hope of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them and found them
worthy of himself" (Wisdom 3:1-5).
Thank you, dear Father in sending us your Son
Jesus Christ who had closely linked
your justice and grace in his Passion,
Death and Resurrection we now share
in the hope of being with you in heaven;
as we remember today our faithful departed,
including those who have been forgotten,
we not only hope for ourselves but also
hope for others because we have realized
all the more these November 1 and 2
that no man is an island:  
we are all linked together in Jesus, 
no one lives alone
no one sins alone
no one is saved alone!
On this All Souls' Day
we express to you not only 
our own hope for salvation
but also our hope for other's salvation:
remember those who have died ahead of us,
purify them in the love of Christ
who assured us that "I came down from heaven 
not to do my own will but the will 
of the one who sent me.  And this is 
the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything
of what he gave me, but that I should 
raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son
and believes in him may have
eternal life, and I shall raise him
on the last day" (John 6:38-40). 
O most holy Virgin Mary,
our Mother who is the "Star of the Sea"
in this journey of life,
lead us safely to Jesus in eternity
especially at the hour of our death.
Amen.
Photo credits:  Top photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD in Portugal, October 2022.
Last photo by author, 2019. 

We are God’s handiwork

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
Photo by author, April 2021.
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.

Ephesians 2:8-12
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"
(Lk.12:21).
May we heed and contemplate
the words of your great Saint,
Ignatius of Antioch,
Bishop and Martyr who 
wrote the Christians in 
ancient Rome:
"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.
Amen.
St. Ignatius of Antioch,
Pray for us!

From “dance” to “guidance”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, 105th Year of Final Apparition at Fatima, Portugal, 13 October 2022
Ephesians 1:1-10   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   Luke 11:27-28
Photos from pinterest.com.

Today we commemorate the 105th year of the final apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal where over 70,000 people witnessed the “Miracle of the Sun”.

It was raining the whole previous night until noon of October 13, 1917 when people made up of believers and unbelievers alike with skeptics and hecklers at the sides came to Cova Da Iria to await the Virgin Mary’s reported apparition to three young children, Lucia Santos and her two younger cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto. The Blessed Virgin began appearing to the three children at the site on the 13th of May of that year and had promised to appear for the sixth and final time on that October 13, promising a great miracle to everyone. By noon, she finally appeared to the three children and after conversing with them, the sun “danced” or zigzagged the sky emitting radiant colors before careening down to Earth.

Page from Ilustração Portuguesa, 29 October 1917, showing the people looking at the Sun during the Fátima apparitions attributed to the Virgin Mary. From en.wikipedia.org.

Many people cried in fear, begging for mercy as the spectacular occurrence seemed like the end of the world that nothing of such kind was ever experienced nor recorded in history.

The dancing of the sun lasted for about ten minutes before it stood still, shining brightly with warmth that dried the people and nature soaked in rain the night before until that noon.

From then on, devotion to Our Lady of Fatima grew and spread worldwide until the Church recognized the apparition as authentic so that even its official feast was set on May 13, devotees have kept October 13 very special.

The eldest of the three children, Lucia became a Carmelite nun and provided so many useful information to later investigations and studies of the Fatima apparitions. She died on the 13th of February 2005, a few months ahead of the great St. John Paul II who had a very special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima after surviving an assassination attempt on the 13th of May 1981. Sr. Lucia’s younger cousins, as promised by the Lady to them in one of her apparitions, died earlier and have been canonized as saints recently.

Photo by author, April 2022.

Dance as expression of union

Lately I have been observing with great interest and appreciation how our young generation had been “borrowing” the music we grew up with from the 70’s to the 80’s into new level of dance steps via TikTok that are so coool and grooovy!

From the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive to EWF’s September and Groove Tonight to Patricia Rushen’s Forget Me Nots and Puff Daddy’s spin of Sting’s Every Breath You Take, generation gaps are being bridged, even closed with these endearing dance reels in social media.

Latest video I have been watching over and over these past two weeks is by a group of young Asians dancing to a James Brown 1973 funk song recorded by Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s. that is so funky and spunky. So fantastic! You may catch the fever and get the funky feel in both Instagram and YouTube in the link below.

The choreography is superbly modern and contemporary with dress and colors so 70’s yet as you watch the video, you do not feel lost or alienated because you feel a sense of belonging, of oneness unlike most modern music videos.

From YouTube.com.

Dance is a non-verbal communication that expresses our relationships and social interactions as a people, as a culture and as a society which we refer to as social intercourse. At the same time, dance is, generally speaking in the animal kingdom which includes us humans, the expression of gender roles in mating process or sexual intercourse. Notice how the many dance moves in the 70’s and 80’s expressed the promiscuity wrongly promoted by the so-called sex revolution.

Of course, sex is good, sex is holy.

But, it is more than an act or a part of the body! What the sex revolution of the 70’s until now missed greatly is the fact that sex is the totality of the person. Sex was created by God to bring humans into unity, into a communion and oneness with him and with others within his plan found in the sacrament of marriage. Not just according to human plans like same sex marriage nor union.

That noble union is the deeper meaning of a dance, of dancing – whether with a partner or by one’s self – it is always communicative of our higher aspirations of communion with God and others!

It is perhaps the reason why the sun “danced” on October 13, 1917 – it was God’s longstanding invitation for us mankind to dance with him, to follow his steps as taught to us by his Son Jesus Christ repeated by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima. Notice how in our second reading, it was also the message of St. Paul to us through the Ephesians.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…

Ephesians 1:2-5
Photo from vaticannews.va, 13 May 2017.

Guidance: God + u and i dance in life!

Like during that time of 1917 in Fatima and the whole world, life was very difficult with the First World War still raging in Europe. People could not find meaning as they found the world so chaotic like today with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, wars in various parts of the world, rising costs of living and so many other difficulties and sufferings in life.

But, like St. Paul, the Blessed Mother at Fatima reminded us of an alternative vision of the world found in Jesus Christ, of the need to renew everything in Christ who had “bestowed on us every spiritual blessing” we need in this life. Despite our sinfulness, God still “chose us in Christ to be one in him” here in this life and in eternity, offering us salvation and fulfillment when we turn away from our sins and evil ways to follow Jesus.

If we reflect deeper into the miracle of the sun in Fatima 105 years ago, the great miracle was not really the sun dancing in the sky but how did the three little children so poor without higher form of learning believed in the promise of our Lady of the Rosary, that a great miracle would happen that day?

Clearly, the three children were guided by the Blessed Mother, most especially by the Holy Spirit! It was their faith that was so outstanding that like Mary, they believed the words spoken to them would be fulfilled as our gospel today told us (Lk.11:28) which were the same words spoken by Elizabeth to Mary at the Visitation (Lk.1:45)!

When we allow ourselves to be guided by the Blessed Mother and by the Holy Spirit, miracles happen in our lives: problems and sufferings are overcome, life becomes fruitful and fulfilling in God. And that is the meaning of the word GUIDANCE:

God
U and
I
D
A
N
C
E 
in life!

May we pray to imitate the three children’s faith in Fatima – that of Sr. Lucia, St. Francisco and St. Jacinta so we may follow the GUIDANCE of Jesus Christ with his Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary as we dance our ways into the many difficulties of this life like in 1917. May we dance with Jesus and Mary in prayers and faith, hope and love. Amen. Have a blessed Thursday!

Photo from cbcpnews.net, 13 May 2022, at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.

To come in peace and goodwill despite the chaos and darkness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, 105th Anniversary of the Last Marian Apparition at Fatima, 13 October 2022
Ephesians 1:1-10 ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> Luke 11:47-54
From cbcpnews.net, 13 May 2022, at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.
God our loving Father,
thank you in sending us
your Son Jesus Christ
who in turn gave his own
Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary
as he died on the Cross
to be our Mother too!
How wonderful
that in her last apparition
at Fatima in Portugal
105 years ago today,
she came bringing peace
and good will like when
Jesus was born more than
2000 years ago; it was the 
same message that St. Paul
brought to us through the
Ephesians as he described
Your magnificent plan
for us in Jesus Christ.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…

Ephesians 1:2-5
Forgive us, merciful Father
in the name of Jesus Christ 
Your Son, in refusing to accept
this beautiful offer you have 
given us expressed clearly 
105 years ago today in Fatima,
Portugal by the Blessed Virgin Mary
who introduced herself as 
"the Lady of the Rosary";
despite the miraculous dancing 
of the sun, many still refuse to
believe and heed her call 
to return to You in Jesus Christ
through conversion,
of turning away from sins
and following the path of holiness,
of being filled with You.
Give us the grace that
like Mary in Fatima,
may we show others 
an alternative vision of
the world wherein 
all things are restored in
Jesus Christ by bringing
the light of your truth
against the world's 
darkness of lies and fake news;
like Mary at Fatima
may we lead people back to
you through the Sacraments 
especially the Holy Eucharist and Confession
instead of worshipping 
and adoring the modern gods
of gold and glamor the world 
offers so easily but treacherously.

Purify our devotion to Mary that
is rooted and focused on Christ
so we may instill hope and joy 
to so many people today 
in despair amid the harsh
realities of this life due to
the ongoing pandemic
with the persistent problems
of war and violence, 
poverty and inequalities, 
and lack of respect for life
and dignity of every person
regardless of color, belief,
and gender.
Be patient with us,
God our Father;
with Mary whom you
have sent to us in Fatima,
may we find our way
back to you in Jesus Christ
along with the conversion of
sinners and unbelievers
including our brothers and
sisters who profess to believe
in you but promote a culture
of death, leading a life
of evil and sin contrary to
your vision of living
in communion with you
in Christ.
Amen.
Our Lady of Fatima,
Pray for us!
Photo from pinterest.com.

The power & wisdom of God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Twenty-first Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 26 August 2022
1 Corinthians 1:17-25   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   Matthew 25:1-13
Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago, Lourdes, France, 2015.
Praise and glory to you,
God our Father for this weekend;
we have passed a week of many discomforts
from the opening of classes,
followed by a strong typhoon,
a weak market and economy
marred by all kinds of shortages
but, here we are, Lord, still alive,
still well amid all the sufferings
and trials because of your gift of
FAITH.
Thank you, dear God, for this
wondrous gift of FAITH brought
to us, sustained in us, made beloved
in us by your Son Jesus Christ 
in his Cross.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but for those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 
1 Corinthian 1:22-25
Many times, we take our faith
for granted without realizing it is
one of your most important gifts
to us; it is in faith where everything
in this life begins:  we cannot hope,
we cannot love if we do not believe!
And this faith as gift has come to us,
continues to be poured upon us
by its most beautiful sign, the CROSS.
Teach us to be wiser, dear Jesus,
like those virgins in your parable,
to embrace and love your CROSS;
it is not all suffering and pain but
gain and addition in life of more
wisdom and more power so that we
can be more loving and merciful,
kind and forgiving, generous and caring
in your most Holy Name.
Amen.

God never sleeps nor forgets us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Friday, Dedication of St. Mary Major in Rome, 05 August 2022
Nahum 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   Matthew 16:24-28
Photo by author, September 2021.
Dearest God our loving Father:
You surely know how often we
wonder why you allow bad things 
to continue to happen in our lives,
in our community, even in our country;
so many times we feel you seem to
have forgotten us, of must have fallen
asleep unaware of the sufferings we are
going through.
You know these thoughts and feelings
we often have but today, you assure us
you are always with us, that you never
forget us nor abandon us; sometimes, you
allow our sufferings to happen longer 
because you believe in us, and most of all,
you want us to become stronger and better.

See, upon the mountains there advances the bearer of good news, announcing peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah; fulfill your vows! For nevermore shall you be invaded by the scoundrel; he is completely destroyed. The Lord will restore the vine of Jacob, the pride of Israel, though ravagers have ravaged them and ruined the tendrils.

Nahum 2:1, 3
Finally, you  have liberated Israel
from the clutches of the "scoundrel", Assyria;
perhaps like us today, the Israelites at that
time of the Assyrian conquest wondered
if it ever would end with all the evils
perpetrated by men and women alike;
but it did!  History teems with many
episodes of great countries and empires
falling, collapsing from their towers of
success and dominance, reduced to
nothingness because evil never lasts,
it is so bad that it has all the factors
contributing to its destruction and end.
Good always triumphs, always prevails.
Storms and dark nights end,
the sun always rises,
shining brightly to gladded our hearts,
drying our tears and giving us
all the chances in life.
Like the good news brought by Nahum,
may we be your messengers of good news,
of peace to those suffering for a long time
from illness and other problems in life,
including the many evils that seem to have
become so endemic in our country;
give us the grace to persevere
in following Jesus Christ your Son,
forgetting our very selves
for what profit would there really be
for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit one's life (Mt.16:25)?
As we celebrate the dedication of 
St. Mary Major in Rome today,
may we imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary
who not only bore your Son Jesus Christ
but continues to lead others to him
by being the messenger of your 
love and salvation. 
Amen.

The good hands of God, our gift of sight: a prayer for ophthalmologists and their patients

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 28 July 2022
Photo by author, 2018.

Dear friends: Since Monday I have felt in my prayers God leading me to reflect on his “gracious hands” taking care of us, handling us with care like St. James the Greater in Monday and the prophet Jeremiah beautifully expressing today God with a potter’s hand molding us into great “earthen vessels” of his majesty and mystery according to St. Paul (https://lordmychef.com/2022/07/28/we-are-in-gods-good-hands-always/).

Early today I went to visit a patient with “high myopia” who underwent a surgery for a “clear lens extraction” of her right eye. From what I have gathered, she never finished school and could not find a job because she could not read nor even walk straight as she would hit objects and people despite her glasses of 1000 grade!

After celebrating Mass this morning, I rushed to the Fatima University Medical Center in Valenzuela to visit her after her operation. Though I totally do not know her as she was only referred to me, I immediately felt her deep joy within as she told her doctor how she could see everything so clearly right after surgery! You could sense her ecstasy within as she described the immense light she could finally see with her right eye. She was with her younger sister and I felt both young ladies controlling their joys from bursting to avoid making a scene outside the OR.

And so, to complete their joys, I led a simple prayer session right there outside the OR and this is what the Lord put on my lips:

Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father for the
gift of life, for the gift of sight!

Lord Jesus Christ, you have 
healed so many blind people
recorded in the gospels like
Bartimaeus; we pray for Eden 
and others with eye problems;
restore their sight not only to see 
the beauty of the world but most
especially to see your kindness and
majesty among people!

Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ
for the gift of doctors,
of ophthalmologists whose 
hands you use to touch and 
heal the blind and those 
with ailments in their eyes;
bless them always,
keep them safe and their
loved ones as you
fulfill their dreams.
Amen.
Healing of Batimaeus, from Pinterest.com.

I have said in my previous blogs these past three weeks how I have noticed many among us going through a lot of storms in life these days, of getting sick and diagnosed especially with the big “C” with some in advanced stages; others having family problems; and most especially, coping with death in the family.

Amid all their cries of pains and hurts, feelings of rejection and being left out, even forgotten by God, I remember the French poet Charles Peguy who said that hope is God’s most favorite virtue because it “surprises him.”

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, Atok, Benguet, September 2019.

Hope indeed is very surprising not only to God but even to us.

To hope is like remaining seated at the movies after the show, still waiting for a loud roar or a teaser for the sequel. Even if you know it is the end of the show, the end of the line, you still believe and hope something beautiful would come because you are so sure that the one we hope in – God – is Life itself. Life just goes on and eventually, if not here, in the afterlife, there we shall have the fullness of life.

For the moment, let us be still and be calm, remaining in God, like a clay in the potter’s hand as he molds us into someone better.

It is said that sometimes, the hands of God would pat us on our shoulders or caress our backs but, sometimes would “beat” us too that cause many pains.

Just remember, whether we are caressed or beaten in life, these are all from the gracious hands of God that make us see later the beauty of all those darkness and sufferings we go through. Amen.

Have a blessed day filled with hopes in God!

When the well runs dry

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Tenth Week in Ordinary Time, 07 June 2022
1 Kings 17:7-16   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 5:13-16
Photo by author at St. Catherine Monastery, Mt. Sinai, Egypt, May 2019.
As we resume the Ordinary Time
in our Church calendar, your words
today, O God, speak so much of our
similar situation in life:  another round of
increases in petroleum prices is not 
only making life insane for car owners
but so difficult most especially for
the poor!  Is there really a way, O Lord,
you can make their oil wells run dry 
suddenly to make them realize their 
insensitivities to other peoples?
Many of us could not complain at all
because life has always been hard and
difficult ever since; to complain and whine
of the economic crunch hurting us are useless
and a waste of energies; all we have is you,
God our Father!
We only have you as our hope and
salvation and consolation in hard times
like these like your prophet Elijah.

The brook near where Elijah was hiding ran dry, because no rain has fallen in the land. So the Lord said to Elijah: “Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have designated a widow there to provide for you.”

1 Kings 17:7-9
When things get worst
and seem to turn against us,
make us realize always that you are
simply asking us to trust you more
because a new chapter in our faith journey
in you and with you is about to unfold.
Never let us entertain thoughts you
have forgotten us or worst, had withdrawn
support from us.  That never happens with you,
Father, because you love us so much!
Give us the grace through your Son
Jesus that we keep our taste as salt,
giving flavor and meaning in you
even in our most bland situation in life;
keep our light shining in Christ
amid the many darkness and gloom
of our time to give others even a glimmer
of hope and meaning in life.  Amen.