Birthday prayer

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Lent, 22 March 2023
Isaiah 49:8-15 >>> + <<< John 5:17-30
Photo by author, sunrise at the Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 22 March 2023.
Loving God our Father,
Your words say it all today,
my birthday:

Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I answer you, in the day of salvation I help you; and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the peopleā€¦ Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.

Isaiah 49:8, 15

The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Responsorial Psalm, Ps. 145:8
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, QC, 22 March 2023.
More than words, dear Father,
I praise and thank you 
for your boundless love
and kindness to me all these 
58 years!
You have always been present with me,
in me, for me, and through me in Jesus Your Son.
And so, I pray this to you:

Dearest Lord,
you have given me with so much,
I have given you so little;
teach me to give more 
of my time and talents,
to give more of my self 
so I can give Christ Jesus to others,
especially his love and mercy,
kindness and forgiveness;
empty me of my pride, Lord,
and fill me with your humility,
justice and love.
Amen.
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, QC, 22 March 2023.

Practical blessedness

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 05 February 2023
Isaiah 58:7-10 ><}}}}*> 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ><}}}}*> Matthew 5:13-16
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 2022.

We are still at the sermon on the mount by Jesus Christ that opened last Sunday with his teachings on the beatitudes. We have reflected that the beatitudes are actually Jesus Christ himself that are supposed to be the very disposition of his disciples by being like him who is “poor in spirit”, “meek”, “afflicted”, “hungry and thirsty for righteousness”, “merciful”, “clean of heart”, “peacemaker”, and “persecuted”.

Every disciple is already blessed in Christ because blessedness is primarily a being like status in Facebook, not a mere doing. What a dignity we all have in Jesus in being called blessed! That is why this Sunday Jesus is teaching us the practical side of our blessedness, of being “the salt of the earth” and “light of the world” that call on the characteristics and demands of being like Christ, of conforming to his gospel of salvation.

See that being a salt and a light perfectly match the beatitudes when we say, “Blessed are you who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world”! For this Sunday, let us focus on the call of being the light of the world.


After praying over today’s gospel, I saw on a friend’s FB this post from Meralco inviting anyone interested in becoming a lineman. The tag-line was very catchy, “Handa na ba kayo maghatid ng liwanag?” (Are you ready to bring light?) with a hashtag, #BuildingABrilliantFuture.

From Meralco/fb

I felt the Meralco advertisement so brilliant, extolling the great honor of being a lineman who brings light to homes and schools, offices and factories, and everywhere. Requirements are actually minimal except for that most important thing of not having fear of heights. Of course!

But, Jesus Christ’s call to us all is more pressing, more important. More than the linemen building the facilities that will bring light to towns and cities, Jesus invites us to be the light ourselves.

Jesus alone is the light of the world. The light we carry is his. We are all Christ-light who reflect the very light of Jesus Christ in our good works and loving service to others, in our witnessing to our faith.

Words are not enough to bring his light to the world. The light of Christ shines brightly in us when we are witnessing truth and justice, kindness and mercy among our brothers and sisters, when we bear all pains and sufferings in continually working for peace and uplifting of the lowly despite so many accusations by those in power. Here we find that being the light of the world is to put into practice the beatitudes of having a clean heart, of being peacemakers, and being persecuted. It is when we work on them that our light shine before others that upon seeing our good deeds, it is God whom they glorify and not us:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Matthew 5;16

See the following verses when Jesus described in details his teachings of being good, of witnessing his gospel values, he also warned us his disciples to never do good deeds for the sake of being known and popular. It is very clear that in being the light of the world, it is God who must be seen in us not our selves. Living the beatitudes is not having the most “likes” and “reactions” in Facebook nor of being viral nor trending. Moreover, it is definitely not being an “influencer” whatever that word means.

At the same time, Jesus Christ’s call for us to be his light ourselves is also a call for us to work as a community, not just as individuals. It is perfectly good if every disciple will shine brightly as a light of Christ but it is better when all disciples as a community of believers shine in gospel values!

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

Matthew 5:14-15
Photo by author, La Mesa Dam Eco Park seen from OLFU-Quezon City, 01 February 2023.

How sad that lately, the world has grown darker not only because of fewer men and women sharing the light of Christ with their witnessing of the gospel but because nations and regions have abandoned the faith. Many are getting de-Christianized on a wholesale basis these days.

Nobody seems to care at all anymore of not going to Mass face-to-face while everyone is so glued on their cellphone and computer screens without a whimper of opposition or rejection even disdain with all the trash coming out in social media like TikTok so saturated with sexual content ranging from same sex relationships to display of too much skin and use of indecent language.

Making matters worst are the many priests and religious lacking understanding in communication who do all the stupid things on camera that instead of evangelizing are demoralizing the faithful. And the tragedy is how most of these media practitioners in the Church are simply playing on novelties than creating innovations in employing the modern means of communications that result in just creating cults around themselves and miserably fail in evangelizing the people. This is the message of St. Paul in the second reading, reminding us that faith rests on the power of God than in the personality and eloquence of the priests and bishops.

Christ’s call for us to be the light of the world is a resounding call we must all respond to in this present age through deep prayer to be immersed in the person of Christ, the light of the world. It is only Jesus and always Jesus whom we must share and give to the people by realizing and affirming our prophetic functions in denouncing the ways of the world of injustice against the poor and the hungry like what Isaiah described in the first reading.

The world badly needs prophets these days, men and women like Christ who are “light rising in the darkness who would turn gloom into midday” (Is.58:10) for indeed as the psalmist declares, “The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.” Amen.

Have a blessed and illuminating week ahead in Jesus Christ!

Photo by author, 01 February 2023.

Praying, working for peace

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Second Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 18 January 2023
Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17   ><)))*> + <*(((>< - ><)))*> + <*(((><   Mark 3:1-6
Photo by author, Ubihan Is., Meycauayan, Bulacan, 31 December 2021.
Beginning today 
until next Wednesday,
Mother Church invites us 
to observe the Week of Prayer
for Christian Unity especially
for the evangelization of peoples
and for the persecuted Christians
around the world; may our prayers
lead us to work for peace
most especially in our home,
in our parish and community,
and in our country.
May we stop and
put an end to those cliches
of wishing for peace like in 
most beauty contests that 
make a mockery of peace;
may we realize that peace is
God's greatest gift to us which
we have often taken for granted,
something God freely gives 
if we are willing to give up and
sacrifice our very selves
for the sake of peace like
Abraham in the Old Testament.

Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings and blessed him. And Abraham apportioned to him a tenth of everything. His name means righteous king, and he was also “king of Salem,” that is, king of peace.

Hebrews 7:1-2
Peace finally came to us
in Christ Jesus who is likened
to Melchizedek, God's high priest
in the Old Testament; like Melchizedek,
Jesus is our High Priest for he is
"without father, mother, or ancestry,
without beginning of days or 
end of life" (Heb.7:3); but,
unlike Melchizedek, Jesus is our
High Priest because he is 
the Son of God who offered himself
for us as a sacrifice, dying on the
Cross but rose to life on the 
third day!  On the evening of that
Easter, Jesus appeared to his
disciples, greeting them with
"peace" as his precious gift of
his resurrection.
Loving Father,
give us the grace to
value this immense gift 
of peace by Jesus Christ
won through his Cross;
like Jesus, may we choose
the path of peace by doing
what is good not evil;
of choosing persons not 
things and rituals and laws;
of choosing God above all
than selfish interests.
As we close our hands to pray
for peace and unity, may we learn
to let go of whatever we are holding,
of being empty handed like Jesus;
like that man with withered hand
Jesus healed in the temple on a sabbath,
may we stretch out our hands to reach
out to those in need,
to those persecuted,
to those sick and dying,
to those forgotten.
Let your peace, O God,
begin within me,
right in my heart empty of
pride, filled with the humility,
justice, and love of Jesus.
Amen.

Maturing in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 09 January 2023
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ><}}}}*> Acts 10:34-38 ><}}}}*> Matthew 3:13-17
Photo by author, September 2022.
God our loving Father,
thank you for this most wonderful 
Monday when we close 
the Christmas Season 
with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 
we also celebrate the feast 
of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo 
which is the most popular
devotion in our predominantly
Catholic nation. 
As you opened the heavens
with your outpouring of love
and life upon us today like
what happened at the baptism in Jordan,
open our minds and our hearts, Father,
to recognize Jesus as your Anointed One;
most of all, may our double celebrations
this Monday remind us of the need for us to mature
in our faith in you.
Photo from flickr.com by Mark S. Abeln, Resurrection Cemetery in Affton, Missouri, USA, 16 November 2010.
Fix our eyes on your Chosen One,
Jesus Christ, upon whom you have 
put your Spirit who brought forth
salvation to us all,
not crying out,
not shouting,
not breaking a bruised reed
nor quenching a smoldering wick;
let us imitate the gentle humility
of your Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ
in whose person you have made your
covenant, a light for the nations,
healing us of our infirmities of 
body and most especially of soul,
not yielding to anyone nor anything
because you and him are one
(cf. Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7).
Let us continue the teaching of Peter
in the house of Cornelius with our own
experiences and meditations, with our
own witnessing "of how God anointed 
Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. 
He went about doing good 
and healing all those oppressed
by the devil, for God was with him"
(Acts 10:38).
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Quiapo, 09 January 2020.
God our loving and merciful Father,
let us see Christ's presence and
coming in our lives daily,
his coming out of Jordan
with your mission to save us,
to journey with us in this life;
most of all, let us heed your voice,
Father, to be one in Jesus in all
sufferings and trials, standing 
and fighting for truth and justice
even to the point of death on the 
Cross because he is your beloved Son
with whom you are well pleased
(Matthew 3:16, 17).
Lord Jesus Christ,
our Nuestro Padre Nazareno,
make us realize that more than
the devotions and panata,
more than that lovely robe of your
royalty as King of kings,
help us penetrate your dark skin
in Quiapo to realize your being
called "Nazarene" does not only mean
your origin, Nazareth, but most of all,
from the Hebrew word "nezer" or shoot -
that you are, O Lord Jesus is the "shoot
from the stump of Jesse" (Is.11:1),
the one completely consecrated
to God from your mother's womb
until your death on the Cross.
Make us realize this, Jesus Nazareno,
that we too, in our baptism, are 
consecrated to God:  let us manifest
your love,
your justice,
your humility,
your healing,
your mercy
in our lives.
Amen.
From google.com.

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. 

Putting on Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 27 October 2022
Ephesians 6:10-20   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 13:31-35
Photo from forbes.com, 2019.
Lord Jesus Christ,
in this age of affluence
when we are so concerned 
with how we look,
on how people see us
that we strive to buy 
and put on the most 
expensive and luxurious
clothes, shoes and bags,
accessories and gadgets 
to impress people, 
to make known to everyone
that "we have come", 
of who we are, of what we have
achieved;  make us not forget
that what matters most is 
our inside not the outside.
Most often, we are like
actors and actresses,
or worst, clowns who see
life as just a show - a palabas 
as we say in Filipino - 
that we forget the more
essential and important things
found inside us like our loving
and kind hearts, beautiful mind,
filled with your peace and goodwill.

Brothers and sisters: Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the spirits in the heavens.

Ephesians 6:10-12
Let us be dressed in your
humility and kindness;
clothe us with your justice 
and truth, wear always your
peace and power wherever
we go as we share you Jesus Christ
to everyone we meet.
Amen.

Straight from the heart…

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin, 11 August 2022
Ezekiel 12:1-12   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 18:21-19:1
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com
"So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from
his heart" (Matthew 18:35).
Dearest Lord Jesus Christ,
take away my stony heart
and give me a heart of flesh
that beats with firm faith,
fervent hope and unceasing charity
and love for you through others.
Enable me to see with my heart,
let me not be blind to my many sins,
especially in dealing with my fellow sinners
for we are all loved and forgiven sinners of the Father;
incline my heart to your Holy Will,
let me not be rebellious like the people
during the time of the Prophet Ezekiel -
so numb and callous, no sense of sinfulness
at all that they were not bothered at all 
with your efforts to turn back to you
by being contrite to reform
 their lives.
Let me heed the prayer of the psalmist today,
"Do not forget the works of the Lord!"
Let me remember your great sacrifice
for me to forgive my sins,
to wipe me clean and
start anew!
Reign in my heart, Jesus;
dwell in my heart, O Lord,
empty me of my pride
and fill me with your
humility, justice, and love;
grant me the grace of poverty
like St. Clare whose memorial
we celebrate today so that we may
serve you with joy and gladness
coming from a heart so blessed
by you.
Amen.

God sends us on a mission

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time, 20 July 2022
Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Matthew 13:1-9
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2021.
"Talaga?
Is it really true, O God?"
These are the words that
came from my heart as I prayed
over your words today through
the prophet Jeremiah:

The word of the Lord came to me thus: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you… See, I place my words in your mouth! This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms, to root up and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant.”

Jeremiah 1:4-5, 9-10
It is not that I do not believe you,
dear Father, but your words are so
comforting, so encouraging;
how wonderful indeed that I am no
accident, that I have a reason being here
because you have always have a plan
for me, for each one of us.
Thank you for believing in me, Lord;
thank you for sending me to a mission;
make me like a fertile ground, a rich soil
so that your seeds sown in me may grow
and mature and produce fruit;
in the name of Jesus your Son, 
open my ears and my heart to always
listen to your instructions, give me
the courage most especially to be your
prophet like Jeremiah, "comforting the
afflicted and afflicting the comfortable"
by giving witness to your truth and 
justice, mercy and charity at all times.
Amen.

When harbor is not a harbor…

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of First Martyrs of Holy Roman Church, 30 June 2022
Amos 7:10-17   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 9:1-8
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD at Nazare, Portugal, March 2022.

Harbor (noun) – a place on the coast where vessels may find shelter, especially one protected from rough water by piers, jetties, and other artificial structures.

Harbor (verb) – keep (a thought or feeling, typically a negative one) in one’s mind, especially secretly; also, shelter or hide (a criminal or wanted person). In Pilipino, “magkimkim”.

On this final day of June 2022
as we honor all the martyrs in the
persecution under Nero in 64 AD Rome,
you gave me O Lord the word "harbor"
as a focus of prayer and reflection after
finding the playful twist in the gospel
of Jesus crossing the lake into his own town 
where he healed a paralytic by telling him 
"Courage, child, your sins are forgiven" 
(Mt.9:2).

At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts?”

Matthew 9:3-4
What a sad turn of events that continue
to this day when prophets come into our midst, 
especially those of our own like Jesus to his folks, 
who are denounced for speaking your words, 
O God our Father; instead of finding shelter among
us like a "harbor" for telling the truth, prophets
have always become targets of negative thoughts
we "harbor" within like when Brazilian Archbishop
Helder Camara said, "When I give food to the poor,
they call me a saint; when I ask why they are poor,
they call me a communist."
Bless us, dear Father, to be like a "harbor"
to your prophets; let us not imitate Amaziah
in the first reading who drove away your prophet
Amos back to Judah to earn his keeps as
shepherd and dresser of sycamores;
forgive us when we "harbor" negative thoughts
on those who tell and speak to us your truth;
and most especially, let us "stir into flame 
the gift of God that we have" (cf. 2 Tim.1:6)
at Baptism, the sharing in Christ's prophetic
ministry of witnessing your truth and mercy,
justice and love among the people at all time.
Let us not fear, O Lord, 
to cross the seas of this life
to spread your gospel of salvation,
finding only in you our safe harbor
from all storms that come our way
in carrying your Cross.  Amen.

Praying to be radical

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Doctor of the Church, 27 June 2022
Amos 2:6-10, 13-16   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 8:18-22
Photo by author, Subic, 2019.
God our just and merciful Father,
today I pray for the grace of being
radical - of going back to my roots or
"radix" in Latin; how sad that more
than 3000 years ago, the words of
your prophet Amos still sound so true
today.

Thus says the Lord: for three crimes of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke my word; because they sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals. They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way. Son and father go to the same prostitute, profaning my holy name.

Amos 2:6-7
The situation then in Judah is
very much the same in our own time,
so distressing at how we have turned
away from you, O Lord, and from one
another, living so low without any 
respect and regard especially for
the weak and poor; may we heed 
the call of Jesus Christ to come and
follow him truthfully, radically by keeping
in mind and heart that there can be
no true love of God nor true religion
without a genuine practice of justice
and love among the weak.
Grant us the wisdom and courage of
St. Cyril of Alexandria to fight heresies
that now come as fads in many aspects,
from clothings to lifestyles that are so far
from the beauty of Christ's person as
exemplified by his own Mother, the 
Blessed Virgin Mary; make us firm in
holding on to your teachings on the values 
of life and of every person rooted in you
dear God our Lord and Creator.
Amen.