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 people… 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.
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, QC, 22 March 2023.

Our first task

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 19 March 2023
Monday, Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of Blessed Virgin Mary
2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16 + Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22 + Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 20 March 2023.
Praise and thanksgiving to you, God our Father
for the gift of calling me like St. Joseph
to bring your Son Jesus into the world
despite my many fears and doubts,
inadequacies, weaknesses 
and sinfulness, 
you entrusted me 
with the same task you gave St. Joseph 
of making known your Son
as “God Saves” - Jesus.

…the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home… She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:20, 21
Remind me always, dear God,
of this first task you gave us 
your beloved children
to make known to everyone 
that Jesus came to die on the Cross 
to show us “God saves” - 
that we are so wrong to think
you are domineering and ruthless God,
that you are not a God hungry of power,
that you are not insistent, and demanding God,
most of all, you are not a God who competes
with us your mere creatures like everyone thinks
from Adam and Eve down to us today.
Photo by author, Chapel of Holy Family, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 2014.
Teach me to be silent, 
trustful of you, O Father, 
like St. Joseph not bothered at all
of how things would turn out 
with my task to make people realize and
experience Jesus Christ;
give me the courage and obedience 
of St. Joseph to do as you have
tasked me to witness this great mystery 
and wonder of your love
because “God saves”.

The truth is… we are loved.

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Third Week of Lent, 17 March 2023
Hosea 14:2-10   >>> + <<<   Mark 12:28-34
Photo by PhotoMIX Company on
More than any other prophet, O Lord, 
Hosea is the one who tells us most
of your immense love for us all;
his writing moves like a beautiful
love story so unbelievable
yet exists, so true.
After so many harsh words
against us your people for our
infidelity like prostitutes,
here at the last part of his book,
Hosea tells us to never lose hope
because you love us so much.
Moreover, dear God our Father,
what I like most in Hosea's writings
is how you yourself reveals to us
how we must approach you
like a teacher coaching us 
for the best answers so we may pass
your final exam.

Thus says the Lord: Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God, say to him, “Forgive us all iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls

Hosea 14:2, 3
Please Lord, help us experience
your promises of "healing our defections,
loving us freely, becoming like dew 
so we shall blossom like the lily, 
our splendor be like the olive tree
and fragrance like the Lebanon cedar,
allowing us to dwell in your shade again
and raise grain, blossom like the vine,
and our fame be like the wine of Lebanon"
(cf. Hosea 14: 5-8).
Cast away our doubts of your love
and mercy for us, Father for as your Son
Jesus Christ had revealed, all the commandments
is summed in LOVE, your great love for us
as the very reason why we must love you
not because you need our love but 
so that we can have more of your love
when we love.
May we love,
and love!

Praying to listen & gather

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Third Week of Lent, 16 March 2023
Jeremiah 7:23-28   >>> + <<<   Luke 11:14-23
Photo by author, sunset in the metropolis seen from Our Lady of Fatima University-QC, February 2023.
Lord, teach me to listen.
Let me not harden my heart
if today I hear your words,
O Lord.
Your people in Jeremiah's time
have indeed committed the most
grave sin of disregarding your

Thus says the Lord: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that command you, so that you may prosper. But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.

Jeremiah 7:23-24
But we are no different from them,
Lord!  We are like them, totally
disregarding your commands,
walking in the hardness of our evil
hearts and turned our backs, not
our faces, from you!  Worst than
the time of Jeremiah, we have imitated
the people at the time of Jesus,
accusing him too of casting out demons
by the power of Beelzebul
when media glorify satanic
cults, promoting same sex relationships,
abortion, and contraception;
when we speak about life
and justice, we are laughed upon
and when we cry for decency,
we are accused of hypocrisy.
Teach us to listen to your words,
O Lord; enable us to distinguish your
voice from that of the world and
the devil; most of all, help us
gather than scatter.

Lent is for sincerity of heart

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Third Week of Lent, 14 March 2023
Daniel 3:25, 34-43   >>> + <<<   Matthew 18:21-35
Photo by author, sunrise at Katmon Nature Sanctuary & Beach Resort, Bgy. Binulusan, Infanta, Quezon, 04 March 2023.
God our Father,
grant me the grace of sincerity
to pray like Azariah whom you
spared from death along with
Shadrach and Meschach in the fiery
furnace of King Nebuchadnezzar;
not even their clothes were singed
by the intense heat that burned to death
their executioners!

Teach me to be sincere
like Azariah who prayed to you while 
walking into the furnace with his
companions, telling you one of the 
most beautiful prayers in the Bible 
we too pray in our Sunday Lauds:

“For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins. We have in our day no prince, no prophets, or leader, no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense, no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you. But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord.”

Daniel 3:37-39, 42-43
Yes, dear God,
there is no need,
not even necessary,
for us to do anything
"to win your favor" 
to grant our prayers except
that we be sincere before you,
that is, to be true and humble,
putting ourselves into your hands
completely that you would take care
of us like Azariah and companions.
Many times, O God,
we can't be like you and be
forgiving as a Father to those
who have wronged us because
we ourselves are not true,
lacking sincerity in begging
your mercy and forgiveness;
many times we doubt your
mercy and forgiveness
that often we act like
the unforgiving servant
in Jesus Christ's parable.

Dalawang anyo ng pag-aayuno

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-13 ng Marso 2023
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa ilang ng Jordan, Mayo 2019.
Apatnapung araw 
nag-ayuno si Kristo
tinukso ng diyablo sa ilang:
“Kung ikaw ang Anak ng Diyos,
Gawin mong tinapay itong bato.”
Bagaman kanyang tiyan
ay walang laman,
hindi nalito si Kristo 
sa tukso ng diyablo
naging matibay 
tulad ng bato
na buhay ng tao 
di nakasalalay
sa tinapay 
kungdi sa
Salita ng Diyos 
na tunay 
nating buhay at gabay.
Dapat nating pakatandaan
na hindi sapat
at lalong di dapat
mapuno tayong lagi 
at mabusog 
ng mga bagay ng mundo
dahil sa maraming pagkakataon 
tayo ay nababaon sa
balon ng pagkagumon
kung laging mayroon tayo;
sa pag-aayuno 
tayo napapanuto
tumitibay ating pagkatao
tuwing nasasaid 
ating kalooban
nawawalang ng laman
nagkakapuwang sa Diyos
na tangi nating yaman!
Nguni't mayroon pang isang anyo
itong pag-aayuno
higit pang matindi
sa pagkagutom
na madaling tiisin
kesa pagka-uhaw
na nanunuot
sa kaibuturan
ng ating katawan
hindi maaring ipagpaliban
gagawa at gagawa
ng paraan
upang matighaw
panunuyo ng labi
at lalamunan
kahit tilamsikan
ng konting kaginhawahan!
Maraming uri ating
pagka-uhaw ng laman
at sa laman
sa kayamanan,
at katanyagan
na pawang mga anyo lamang
ng iisa nating pagka-uhaw
sa Diyos at Kanyang pag-ibig
sana sa atin may pumansin
at kung maari
tayo ay kalingain,
at patawarin,
mga lihim nating mithiin,
inaasam, hinihiling.
Kay sarap namnamin
paanong si Hesus
ating Diyos at Panginoon
nag-ayuno upang
magutom at
mauhaw din
tulad natin
upang ipadama
pag-ibig Niya
sa atin; Siya lamang
ang pagkaing bubusog
sa atin
at inuming titighaw
sa pagka-uhaw natin
kaya pagsikapang
Siya ay tanggapin
at panatilihim sa 
kalooban natin!
Larawan mula sa

On being kind

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Second Week of Lent, 10 March 2023
Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28   >>> + <<<   Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46 
Photo by author, Anvaya Cove, Bataan, January 2023.

Being kind is more than being good. The word “kind” is from the old English kin – as in kindred or kinsfolk or same family, clan, or tribe. A kind person is someone who treats you as a kin, a family and not as an alien or a stranger. “Hindi ka naman iba sa amin” as we would say in Tagalog (“You are not different from us”). It is perhaps the most Christian word in the English language as it refers to our belonging to one big family with God as our Father and everyone a brother and a sister in Christ.

Unfortunately, kindness has become a rarity in our world today that has become so unkind where we feel so “different” as in “iba” in Tagalog even right in our own family like in the experience of Joseph in our first reading today.

They said to one another: “Here comes the master dreamer! Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We shall then see what comes of his dreams.”

Genesis 37:19-20

Most often, it is jealousy that makes people unkind like with the elder brothers of Joseph. This is expressed in our name-calling as we refuse to acknowledge someone as our kin by giving them aliases like Joseph referred to by his brothers as “master dreamer”. We Filipinos have all kinds of aliases and codes for the family members we hate like “bruha”, “demonyo”, “Hudas” or even “Hitler”. The more mean, the better, without us realizing how our jealousies expressed in name-calling deteriorate into sinister plots against our own kin. It is the most unkindest kind of unkindness demonstrated in the selling of Joseph:

Judah said to his brothers, “What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed. They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. (Gen.37:26-28).

Genesis 37:26-28
Photo by author, Infanta, Quezon, 04 March 2023.

This is the tragedy now going on in our family when we call our parents and siblings as “mom” and “dad”, “kuya” and “ate” yet at the same time, disrespect them in our thoughts and deeds! See the absurdity of Judah in concluding, “after all, he is our brother, our own flesh” that they sold him! He miserably missed the whole point that if Joseph were their brother and own flesh, all the more he should have cared and saved him even from being sold to slavery right there!

This is the curse of many fraternities in our universities. Even worst than Judah, there are some fratmen blinded by their rites and rituals of initiations that they have forgotten or have become oblivious to the meaning of brotherhood or fraternity. The most incomprehensible of all is with every death happening among their brods, still the same story of silence and cowardice happening with all attempts to hide their heinous crimes.

It is a tragedy we also participate daily in our homes when we regard our family as kin yet at the same time disregard all kindness and respect due to our parents and brothers and sisters, or to husband and wife. What an unkind world we have when we cheat on one another with our infidelity and betrayals, when we stab each other with harsh words of suspicions without bases at all as well as our never ending sumbatan.

Jesus himself shows us in his parable of the wicked tenants the face of this “unkindest kind of being unkind” springing not only from jealousy but from our self-centeredness and self-righteousness.

“when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.”

Matthew 21:38-39
Photo by author, Infanta, Quezon, 04 March 2023.

What an unkind world when after recognizing one another as a kindred, instead of being kind and respectful, of having malasakit, like the wicked tenants we use our ties and kinships as bases for murderous and other evil plots against those we know and closest to us.

It is disheartening and frustrating when our social media are filled with moral aspersions as well as downright accusations so harsh that could sometimes get into one’s nerves, hurting our sensibilities. True, charity is never imposed and respect has to be earned but kindness is demanded of us because being kind is the hallmark of a person’s goodness.

Our responsorial psalm captures the reason why we must always be kind, “Remember the marvels the Lord has done.” And here lies the warning to those unkind, “When the Lord called down a famine on the land and ruined the crop that sustained them, he sent a man before them, Joseph, sold as a slave” (Ps. 105:16-17).

The story of Joseph the Dreamer never fails to move us of how in the end, his brothers wept in shame upon meeting him as their brother whom they have sold into Egypt. As Jesus said too to the chief priests and Pharisees of his time, “Did you never read in the Scriptures: the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?” (Mt.21:42).

This season of Lent, let us try to bring back kindness in our hearts, in our words, in our thoughts and in our deeds even if others are not kind to us. Sometimes, kindness has a way of teaching us the importance of this virtue that may not be always be so kind at all. Amen.

Photo by author, Infanta, Quezon, 04 March 2023.

Lent is getting nearer to God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Second Week of Lent, 09 March 2023
Jeremiah 17:5-10   >>> +++ <<<   Luke 16:19-31
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2022.
God our loving Father,
let me come to you closer,
let me get nearer to you
in Jesus Christ present
among the sick and suffering,
among those we take for granted,
in those we have forgotten
in our family, in the church,
and in the society.

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.

Luke 16:19-21
Yes, O Lord Jesus,
your parable continues to 
happen among us today
despite our many technologies,
we have grown more apart
from each other not only in
physical distance but worst
even in heart as being kindreds in you.
Indeed, what you had told Jeremiah
is most true even today, 
"More tortuous 
than all else 
is the human heart,
 beyond remedy;
who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9)
but you alone, O Lord!

Cleanse our hearts,
incline our hearts to you,
dear Jesus;
let us be nearer to you
than anyone or anything else;
let us trust in you alone
for it is in you only is
found life and its fullness
here and the hereafter.

Lent is for setting things right

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent, 07 March 2023
Isaiah 1:10, 16-20   >>> +++ <<<   Matthew 23:1-12
Photo by author, sunrise at the Pacific from the coast of Infanta, Quezon, 04 March 2023.
In this blessed
Season of Lent,
I pray to you, 
dear God our Father,
to help me set things 
right in my self,
in my life;
help me set things right
by "washing myself clean, 
putting away my misdeeds,
ceasing from doing evil
and learning to do good
by making justice my aim,
redressing those I have wronged,
hearing the plea of the orphans,
and defending the powerless 
among us" (Isaiah 1:16-17).
Let me set things right,
O Lord, by walking my talk,
by practicing what I preach,
by being humble without any 
desires to be known nor admired,
nor be served by putting too much
burdens on others without my 
lifting of my finger, seeking 
places of honor and being 
greeted by everyone (Mt. 23:1-7);
forgive me for those times
I thought that you are like me
when I recite your statutes and
profess your covenant with mouth
yet hate discipline (Ps. 50:16-17).
Let me set things right,
O Lord, in my life
my keeping in mind
YOU alone is our Master
and Teacher, that there
is no other Father but
God alone in heaven
(Mt. 12:7-10).
Let me set things right,
O Lord, in my life
by letting go of my
bitterness and unforgiveness,
of my painful and dark past;
help me set things right
in finally fulfilling that 
promise I made to change
in myself, in finally making 
peace with that person I detest,
in going back to you in
Christ Jesus.