A face-to-face prayer

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Third Week of Easter, 24 April 2023
Acts 6:8-15   ><)))*> + <*(((><   John 6:22-29
Photo by author, La Mesa Eco Park seen from OLFU-Quezon City campus at Hilltop Subdivision, January 2023.
Many times
people ask me 
how your face looks like,
Often I tell them you
are spirit like the angels
without a physical face
as we know so well
but even I, dear Lord,
wonder too how your face
really looks like.

Today's first reading 
does not give us a direct 
answer to that but somehow
helps us a lot in finding 
the meaning of what's 
in a face, inviting us to
face our face.

All who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him (Stephen) and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Acts 6:15
In Genesis,
we are told you created us
in your image and likeness,
O God, the crowning glory 
of all your creation;
image and likeness imply a face,
an identity, a recognition;
O Lord, help us to find your face,
to imitate your face,
to have a face like yours
that must be totally 
different from the face 
of those in the Sanhedrin
who looked intently at Stephen.
How sad that it is either we 
could not look at the face of
others because of lack of interest 
or with anger and suspicion that we
look intently for the wrong reason; 
what a face we have filled
with malevolence and negativities,
locked in ourselves unlike the face of
an angel, your face that must be aglow
with love and joy, openness and
On the other hand,
like those people looking
for Jesus who found him at
Capernaum, we also have 
a thick face, a shameless one 
that sees the other face for self-interests;
no matter how we hide what's
in our heart, the face would 
always show and radiate
what is inside us!

And so we pray,
dear Jesus today,
as we face another week
of work and studies,
another week of showing
our face, looking or avoiding
other's faces, let us face
the truth within us
by purifying our hearts
of our pride so that our
face may be filled with warmth
and tenderness to reflect 
your presence in our hearts.
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima, GMA-7 News, March 2020.

Ang bagong damit ni Kristo

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-12 ng Abril 2023
Larawan mula sa freebibleimages.org.
Batay sa kuwento
noong pasko ng pagkabuhay
ni Kristo,
patakbong tumungo 
sa kanyang libingan
sina Pedro at Juan,
ang alagad na minamahal;
wala nga doon si Kristo
mga tanging naiwan at natagpuan
ay ang kayong lino na pinambalot
sa kanyang katawan at ang
panyong ibinalot sa ulo
na parehong nakatiklop
at magkahiwalay.
Larawan mula sa freebibleimages.org.
Kung saan nanggaling
mga bagong damit
ni Kristong muling nabuhay
sa atin ay walang isinasaysay
ngunit kung tayo ay magninilay
napakagandang aral sa atin ang binibigay
ng mga naiwang kayong lino:
ngayong Pasko ng Pagkabuhay,
iwanan na natin mga lumang damit
ng pag-uugali
sa atin ay bumabalot
tulad ng pag-iimbot
at mga makasariling paghahangad;
huwag nang itiklop bagkus
hubarin at iwanan
masasakit na karanasan
upang lubusang malasap
tuwa at galak ni Kristong muling
nabuhay; atin na ring hubarin
mga damit ng pagluluksa sa
masasama at di magandang
nakaraan bagkus isuot
malinis at bagong pagkatao
na hinugasan sa dugo ni Kristo
noong Biyernes Santo.
Hindi natin maisusuot
bago nating katauhan kay Kristo
bilang kanyang mga naligtas
at napatawad
hangga't hindi natin
dati nating pagkatao
sa kasalanan at
sa isang liham ni San Pablo
ating mapananaligan
mga aral niya tungkol sa
dapat nating kasuotan:
ang pagiging mahabagin,
maganda ang kalooban,
mabait at matiisin.
Higit sa lahat,
Iyan ang bagong damit
natin kay Kristo
at huwag natin
hayaang malukot
at marumihan
ng kasalanan!
Mula sa Google.

The joy of Easter: Jesus going the opposite direction with us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Easter Octave, 12 April 2023
Acts 3:1-10   ><}}}'> + <'{{{><   Luke 24:13-35
“The Road to Emmaus” painting by American Daniel Bonnell from fineartamerica.com.
Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ
in leading us back to you,
to Jerusalem in those 
many nights of our lives
when we walked the opposite
direction of going back to Emmaus,
to our previous ways of life like
those two disciples on that
Easter afternoon.

Oh what a joy,
dearest Lord that even for a while
you walk with us going the
opposite direction,
listening to our frustrations and
disappointments when things do not
happen as we have planned and
expected; no coercions, no reprimands
except for calling us "foolish" and
"slow of the heart" to believe the
Scriptures (Lk.24:25) for that is 
what we really are!
Forgive us, Jesus,
when we easily give up
to failures and shortcomings
that we leave you and your mission
entrusted to us; help us find our way
back to you, to Jerusalem!
Most especially,
keep our hearts "burning"
with love and zeal for you,
sharing you with others,
strengthening them,
raising them up like
what Peter and John did 
to the crippled man at the
Beautiful Gate
as we continue to seek
you O Lord even
in darkness and emptiness,
sadness and losses,
sickness and failures.
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 22 March 2023.

Dying well is living well

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
The Seven Last Words, 07 April 2023
Photo by author, Chapel of the Holy Family, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 2014.

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried our in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last.

Luke 23:44-46

Do you have a “bucket list”, of things to do before turning a certain age or before dying? Very often we read in social media articles of sample “bucket lists”, of things to do, things to see, food to eat before one dies as if these are the ultimate things or cities or food in the world!

I am sorry I do not believe in such “bucket list” no matter how good is that movie of the same title. It is all non-sense! Why spend so much time and energies of things to do before dying or turning 50 or 60 or whatever age when we should be making the most out of every present moment because we could die any time!

We will all die one day for sure. But, will we die well? Our death is our most wonderful and lasting gift to our loved ones if we die for them and for others, if we lived a fruitful life we can leave for them. The question we should be asking is “how do we live our lives meaningfully now in the present so that when we die, our lives would continue to bear fruit in the generations that will follow us?” Stop wondering or asking about what we can do in the future or the years we have left to live because that is highly hypothetical. It has not happened yet and might not even happen at all if we die soon enough. Get real by living fully in the present! Coming to terms with death is coming to terms with life. The moment we realize we shall die one day, that is when we start living authentically. And joyfully.

Jesus died so well on that Good Friday because he was able to surrender everything to the Father and for us all because he lived fully that is why he was able to surrender or give or commend his spirit. How about us? How sad that many times our loved ones left us with much pain and regrets because we never fully lived with them nor enjoy precious moments with them while still alive. Live fully in love and joy, forgiveness and mercy. Celebrate life daily. Life is too short to spend it in dramas and wishful thinking.

At the hour of our death like Jesus on that Good Friday, can we also give others and God our spirit of love and mercy, our spirit of joy and kindness? Or, we are still busy thinking what else we can do in this life? What if we are called back to God now, at this very moment?

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus Christ,
grant me the grace to live 
my life in you,
with you,
and through you
to the fullest in every here and now
so that if ever I should die any moment,
I am able to commend to the Father 
my spirit back to him
without regrets,
without pains,
without sin
but only with joy and gratitude
that my loved ones would 
feel and nurture
until we all meet again
in your kingdom in heaven.

Thank you for following our reflections on the Seven Last Words of Jesus on the Cross. May you have a meaningful Holy Week and a joyful Easter! God bless you!

Photo by author, 08 February 2023.

Love is perfection of life

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
The Seven Last Words, 06 April 2023
Photo by author, Chapel of the Holy Family, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 2014.

There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

John 19:29-30

Every Maundy Thursday, people await that most unique part of the Mass every year when the priest washes the feet of some members of the community. As a priest, it is one of the most humbling experiences I have had when a brother priest washed my feet on that Mass I attended in 2008 and 2021.

But there is something more beautiful to the ritual washing of feet. It is the context and words that accompany that: “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).

The Greek word for the “end” is telos which is not just a terminal end in itself but indicates or connotes direction. Or fulfillment and perfection, not just a ceasing or end or stoppage of life or any operation.

When Jesus said on the Cross “It is finished”, he meant he had fulfilled his mission, that is, he had perfectly loved us to the end by giving us his very life.

At his death on the Cross, Jesus showed us perfectly in no uncertain terms his love for us, the Father’s love for us that he had told to Nicodemus at the start of the fourth gospel that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn. 3:16).

There on the Cross this was definitively fulfilled and perfected more than ever. Jesus did not have to die on the Cross but he chose to go through it because of his love for us.

Here we find the beautiful meaning of love. It is not just obeying the commandments nor being good and kind with everyone. Love in its totality is the perfection of life. It is our only destiny in life, our call to life from the very beginning. Love, love, love. Keep on loving until it hurts. Until the end.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

1 John 4:11-12

From that same letter, John declared at the very start that God is love which according to Pope Benedict XVI in his first encyclical is the most profound statement about God found only in Christianity.

My dear friends, only God can love us perfectly. Only Jesus can love us perfectly like what he did on the Cross. Human love is always imperfect. In our imperfect love, let us find Jesus filling up, making whole, perfecting our love for each other. Let us die in our selves sometimes when we have to let go with each one’s imperfection like when they make side comments. Forget all about revenge. Forgive. Understand the shortcomings of everyone. Accept and own the pains and hurts inflicted on us by our loved ones like our mom and dad, your former wife or husband, your friends, of those who have hurt you in words and deeds. That is being like Christ, dying on the Cross because of love.

Let us pray for those we love and those who love us despite our imperfections.

Lord Jesus Christ,
how I wish I could love until the end,
how I wish I could say too like you
"It is finished";
forgive me because many times with me,
the pains and hurts I have had are not yet
finished, even festering inside me,
eating me up, rotting inside me
that I could not grow and bloom in you.
Forgive me and teach me to forgive too
for it is in forgiving we truly love
perfectly like you.
Photo by my former student, Ms. April Oliveros on their ascent to Mt. Pulag, 25 March 2023.

Lent is trusting God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent, 31 March 2023
Jeremiah 20:10-13   >>> +++ <<<   John 10:31-42
Photo by author, 20 March 2023, Sacred heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City.
God our loving Father,
I am a sinner;
forgive me for always turning 
my back from You,
for refusing to love
like Jesus Your Son;
but, despite my being a sinner,
You know very well how I love you,
You know everything about me,
how I strive repeatedly
because I trust in You.
I believe in You!
Like the psalmist,
I sing this day,
"I love you, O Lord,
my strength...
In my distress I called
upon the Lord
and cried out to my God;
from his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him
reached his ears"
(Psalm 18:2, 7).
Like Your prophet Jeremiah,
I could hear people, 
even those closest to me, 
denouncing my efforts to be
just and loving,
living Your precepts;
I could hear their whispering,
"on watch for any misstep of mine"
(Jeremiah 20:10).
like Jesus Christ,
some have tried harming me
with their words and deeds!
Sometimes, I feel so low,
so sad how good would be
rewarded with evil by some.
But I trust in You, 
dearest Father;
let me witness
Your love and mercy,
justice and kindness
despite my sinfulness
and weaknesses.
Be my strength and
my surety.

Our venial sins

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Fifth Week of Lent, 30 March 2023
Genesis 17:3-9   >>> +++ <<<.  John 8:51-59
Photo by author, 2017.
Your words today,
dear God our Father
remind me of my venial sins,
the most common sins I take for granted
because they are "small", too little and 
not fatal like mortal sins.
Unfortunately, there is something sinister
with venial sins being the most common of sins,
repetitious to the point we get discouraged
and even depressed of the need for
to break free from
our cycle of venial sins.

"For what?"
"Para que?"
"Ganun din naman, uulit din!"
Abraham was already 99 years old
when You, O God, formalized with him
Your covenant to become the father of all nations; 
how good he was not discouraged 
to the point of being depressed, 
giving up Your plans, Father,
waiting for Isaac's birth
because he was very old,
perhaps even sinful.
Merciful Father,
forgive me when I act like
the people who tried stoning Jesus 
when He said "before Abraham came to be, 
I AM" (John 8:58); don't let me get to that
point that whatever You say would mean nothing
to me because of my repetitious venial sins;
do not let me be discouraged, God,
because discouragement indicates
I trust more myself than You, O Lord.

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”.