“Ashes to Ashes” by Dennis Lambert (1972)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II
Photo by author, Mt. Nebo, Jordan overlooking Israel, 2019.

Blessed Sunday, everyone! It was a very tiring but fulfilling week that after our Saturday evening Mass, I just thought of listening to Mr. Dennis Lambert’s music “Ashes to Ashes” released in 1972.

I have always loved the voice and music of Mr. Lambert, especially his love song “Of All the Things”; but, as I listened to “Ashes to Ashes” last night, I realized the song is perfect match with our gospel this Sunday where Jesus reminded his disciples and us to “do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Lk.10:20).

Discipleship – and life in general is about relationships. It is never about the things we can do or have achieved because everything and everyone is passing. Nothing is permanent in this world except love who is God himself (https://lordmychef.com/2022/07/02/maintain-safe-braking-distance/).

When we speak of heaven, we speak of intimacy with God; its opposite, hell, is separation from God. That is why Jesus tells us to rejoice our names are written in heaven, that we are one with the Father in him now. It does not really matter to him whatever we can do or whatever we have achieved but what matters most is what we have become: have we been more loving and faithful? Kind and understanding?

That is what Mr. Lambert is telling us in his “Ashes to Ashes” which is of biblical origin: “We’re only living to leave the way we came”.

They’re tearing down the street
Where I grew up
Like pouring brandy
In a Dixie cup
They’re paving concrete
On a part of me
No crime for killing off
A memory
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Can you find the Milky Way
Long Tall Sally and Tin Pan Alley
Have seen their dying day
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
It’ll never be the same
But we’re all forgiven
We’re only living
To leave the way we came

But of course, it is not the end of everything.

Our Christian faith tells us we have direction in this life wherein death is not the end but the beginning of eternal life which is still, about perfect relationships with God and one another.

Have a blessed Sunday everyone – eat, pray and unwind with your loved ones.

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

Finding our directions in life

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Friday in Week XIII of Ordinary Time, 01 July 2022
Amos 8:4-6, 9-12   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 9:9-13
Photo by author, 14 May 2022 in Los Baños, Laguna.
Glory and praise to you,
God our loving Father for this
brand new month of July 2022:
new beginning, new batch of 31
days filled with your wonderful 
surprises, filled with life and joy!
Grant us, dear Father,
with sense of directions in you
through Jesus Christ your Son;
like Matthew, may we have the grace
to respond to his call to follow him;
help us realize like Matthew
that life is not about having 
wealth and every thing money can buy
but finding meaning and 
directions in life in you.
Forgive us, O Lord, 
when affluence and comforts
overtake us that we forget you
and the people around us
like the people of Israel at the time
of Amos who "trampled upon the needy
and destroyed the poor of the land"
(Amos 8:4); all the sad conditions
happening then still happen today when
nobody cares at all about Sunday worship
nor with honesty in trading and work.

Yes, days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord. Then shall they wander from sea to sea and rove from north to the east in search of the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.

Amos 8:11-12
Continue to speak to us, Lord,
for without your words,
we are lost like many of those
among us today, "wandering from sea
to sea, roving from north to the east"
searching for your words,
searching for meaning and
directions in life.
Amen.

The Holy Trinity, our Life and Love

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, 12 June 2022
Proverbs 8:22-31 ><}}}}*> Romans 5:1-5 ><}}}}*> John 16:12-15
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2021.

Surveys worldwide say that for most Christians, to speak of God as the Blessed Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit does not matter that much at all. They simply believe in God, period.

But sad to say, the same surveys say that many Christians are turning away from the Church, imitating those who refused to belong to any religion at all but simply profess they believe in God or that there is God. Their anthem is John Lennon’s 1971 hit “Imagine” that says, “Imagine there’s no heaven… No hell below us… And no religion too.”

Worst, there are some who regard Jesus Christ as just another great prophet who had lived in the past with unusual wisdom and teachings, not realizing that without the Trinity, Jesus would not be Jesus whom we believe.

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

John 16:12-15
Photo by author, St. John the Baptist Parish, Calumpit, Bulacan, 02 May 2022.

Mystery of Trinity as gift of God

For most Catholics including priests, discussion of the Blessed Trinity is shunned because it is a “mystery”, the most difficult to explain and understand of all our teachings that many find so apart from daily life. And that is totally wrong and untrue as we fail to realize that the more we understand or have some grasp of something or someone, the more we find their meaning and relation with our very selves, the more we appreciate life!

That is why on this first Sunday as we resume Ordinary Time, we celebrate this Solemnity of the Holy Trinity so we would have some understanding of this highest truth in our faith and thereby appreciate its meaning and relation with our daily living.

First of all, the Blessed Trinity as a mystery can be explained and understood but not fully. Mystery means something hidden that has been revealed. The Trinity was totally unknown among the Israelites in the Old Testament but its concept have been there in its many books beginning with Genesis and today as we have heard from the Book of Proverbs. It was revealed in and by Jesus Christ who cautioned his disciples then and now that indeed, many of his words cannot be fully grasped right away.

A mystery can be explained and understood because it is something that continues to unfold, revealing its many aspects to us in the light and guidance of the Holy Spirit. And the more we become aware of its nature, the more we realize how the Trinity can concretely evoke the unity and beauty of our lives in God!

Let us take our cue from the Lord himself who tells us today that “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” Jesus is not insulting us but simply telling us today that learning and understanding the mystery of God is concretely an action of the Holy Spirit and not simply an effort of human intellect. There has to be a lot of praying and studying at the same time. And the most traditional Catholic gesture and prayer we can use in learning more about the mystery of the Blessed Trinity is the sign of the cross which we sadly take for granted.

Our sign of the cross, mystery life and love of the Trinity

Since becoming a priest, I have always insisted to people especially children and youth to make the sign of the cross properly because it is the very mystery of the Trinity. We sign ourselves in the form of a cross to remind us we are the indwelling of God as Jesus told to us last Sunday that “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn.14:23).

Photo by Sis. Mira Mandal Sibal, August 2021.

What a beautiful image, of being the “indwelling” of God who is a person, not just a being who relates with us as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

In the sign of the cross we find and experience the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. It was Jesus Christ who revealed to us, slowly but surely, the mystery of the Triune God in his very life and teachings with its summit on the Cross and later in his sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Notice how every time we are in a tight situation, when we are shocked or surprised at something, we instinctively make the sign of the cross to praise and thank God we are still alive, that we are loved. There is always the unconscious realization of life and love after pulling through a difficult situation and making the sign of the cross.

Life and love are the most common yet most profound and deep mysteries we have as persons. And the more we dwell into its beauty and majesty, the more we are absorbed into the mystery of God as a community of persons relating to us. It is a mystery we are able to grasp little by little of how God fills us with his life and love.

Both the first and second readings show us how God poured out his life (first reading) and his love (second reading) for us. In the Book of Proverbs, we are shown how “at the beginning” God “poured forth” wisdom on his creation and was so “delighted” with man. This wisdom according to Jesus in his teachings is the Holy Spirit, the very breath of God who enlivens us. On the other hand, St. Paul reminds us in the second reading how God’s love was “poured out to us by the Holy Spirit” to be saved in Christ who also promised us with eternal life we all hoper and aspire for.

Like the very mystery of how and why we are alive, why we are loved, these are the very same feelings we have with God as a person we feel and experience as the Father loves us and gives us life, how Jesus our brother forgives us and accepts us, and how the Holy Spirit enlightens and comforts us.

See how these feelings and experience of being alive, of being loved and so in love are difficult to explain and even understand but so very true that we dwell in them and even keep them to relish and enjoy often. If we could just do the same with God as Father and Son and Holy Spirit then we can find our own beauty and unity as a person too. Then we learn to value more our lives, accepting everything good and bad in us as we reach out to others too in kindness and mercy.

Celebrating the mystery of the Trinity

See how we begin and end each Mass with the sign of the cross, a sign of how we entrust in God everything we are and we have not only in the celebration but in our very lives itself.

Photo by author, September 2021.

When we start the Mass with the sign of the cross with the priest greeting us, “May the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”, we are reminded that every Mass is a celebration of God’s invitation for us to be in his presence as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This becomes clearer when we realize that every Mass is not just our celebration but a celebration of God’s gift of Self to us in Jesus Christ whom we receive in Body and Blood so that we may become more perfect members of his Body, the Church, animated by the Holy Spirit.

That is why we have to make the sign of the cross slowly and deliberately at the start of the Mass to get the feel of God in person and ask his help that we be able to surrender our very persons to him in the celebration.

At the end of the Mass, we again close it with a blessing by the priest with the sign of the cross again as we are dismissed and sent forth as God’s presence to the world and people we meet. By making the sign of the cross at the end of the Mass, we commit ourselves to continue in our daily life the love and kindness, the mercy and forgiveness we have celebrated. We promise to go forth and share the peace of Christ to everyone by remaining rooted in God who is Life himself, recreating the world in his Love Jesus Christ by fighting the evil and sins that beset us so that we make God’s glory and holiness present in this fractured world in the Holy Spirit.

As we make the sign of the cross especially at the start and end of the Holy Mass, may we realize this mystery of the Blessed Trinity that we are God’s indwelling and presence, his beauty and unity in the world. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead!

Photo by author, St. John the Baptist Parish, Calumpit, Bulacan, 02 May 2022.

Pagpapala sa paglisan

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-01 ng Hunyo 2022
Larawan kuha ng may akda sa Bolinao, Pangasinan, ika-19 ng Abril 2022.

Mahigit isang linggo ko nang pinagbubulay-bulay ang pananatili at paglisan hanggang sa aking mapakinggan kahapon sa libing ng kaibigan itong magandang awit ni Bb. Cookie Chua dalawang dekada na siguro ang nakalipas.

"Kung ang buhay ay isang umagang nakangiti
At ikaw ay ang lupang sinusuyo ng bituin
Di mo man silip ang langit
Di mo man silip, ito'y nandirito pa rin

Kung ang lahat ay may katapusan
Itong paglalakbay ay makakarating din sa paroroonan
At sa iyong paglisan, ang tanging pabaon ko
Ay pag-ibig"

Noong nakaraan, ang tanong ko lang naman ay kailan tayo dapat manatili at kailan tayo dapat umalis o lumisan?

Dahil sa awit na aking napakinggan dala ng pagpanaw ng kaibigan, napalawig ang aking pagninilay ng panibagong katanungan: sa bawat paglisan, sino nga ba ang may higit na pag-ibig, ang umaalis o ang naiiwan?

Hayaan ninyo munang aking sagutin unang tanong, kailan ba tayo dapat umalis at kailan dapat manatili?

Larawan kuha ni G. Chester Ocampo sa Japan, 2017.

Napagnilayan ko ito noong nakaraang Martes nang ang mga pagbasa sa Misa ay tungkol sa pagkakulong nina San Pablo at Silas sa Filipos nang biglang mayanig ng malakas na lindol ang naturang lungsod (https://lordmychef.com/2022/05/24/prayer-to-know-when-to-stay-and-when-to-go/). Magpapakamatay na sana ang kanilang bantay sa pag-aakalang tumakas sina San Pablo at Silas nang pigilan siya mismo ni San Pablo na naroon pa rin sa kanilang selda (Gawa 16:22-34).

Hindi ba madalas kapag tayo ay nasa mahirap na sitwasyon, napakadaling pumasok sa isip natin ang basta mawala na lamang at makaalis, gaya ng pagbibitiw sa trabaho o panginibang bansa marahil?

Iyon nga nakapagtataka kina San Pablo at Silas! Bakit hindi pa sila tumakas na lamang pagkaraan ng lindol na sumira sa kanilang kulungan?

Sa kabilang dako naman, doon sa Mabuting Balita ng araw na iyon, si Hesus ay panay ang paalam ng kanyang paglisan sa kanyang mga alagad noong kanilang Huling Hapunan. Sinabi pa niya na ang pag-alis niya ay sa ikabubuti ng mga alagad niya dahil sa pagdating ng Espiritu Santo na susuguin niya (Jn.16:7).

Dalawang magkaibang sitwasyon, kailan nagiging mabuti at tama, ang manatili at umalis?

Mga sagot:

Una, sa manatili man o lumisan, pinakamainam palagi ay sundin banal na kalooban ng Diyos. Parehong mabuti ang manatili at lumisan ngunit nagkakaroon lamang ito ng kabuluhan o katuturan kung makikita batay sa kalooban at plano ng Diyos para sa atin.

Larawan kuha ni G. Chester Ocampo sa Japan, 2017.

Bakit nga ba hindi pa tumakas sina San Pablo at Silas nang mawasak ng lindol kanilang piitan habang nasa Filipos noon? Maliwanag nating makikita dito ang plano at misyon ng Diyos sa kanila upang masagip at mabinyagan bilang Kristiyano ang kanilang bantay sampu ng kanyang pamilya at angkan! Kung tumakas sina San Pablo at Silas, marahil ay nagpakamatay na nga kanilang bantay at hindi naging Kristiyano. Sayang!

Dito ipinakikita sa atin kahalagahan ng pananalangin upang maging maliwanag kung nasaan ang ating misyon sa buhay. Kung ika’y mananatili ngunit ibig ng Diyos ika’y lumayo tulad ni Abraham, kailanaman ay hindi ka mapapanatag sa buhay. Gayun din naman, kung ikaw naman ay magpipilit na umalis at lumipat dahil sa maraming magandang alok at pagkakataon ngunit hindi naman iyon ang layon sa iyo ng Panginoon, baka ikaw ay mabigo lamang sa iyong pupuntahan.

Minsan nais ko na liwanagin paborito nating salawikain na “Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa” kasi madalas, nauuna ang gawa ng tao at kapag nagkaproblema na, saka hihingi ng awa sa Diyos. Totoong nasa Diyos ang awa at nasa tao ang gawa kung bago tayo gumawa ay humingi muna tayo sa Diyos ng awa, liwanagin sa kanya ano ba ang dapat nating gawain? Hindi iyong kapag palpak na at marami nang sabit saka lalapit sa Panginoon.


Pangalawa, sa pagpapasya natin sa pananatili o paglisan batay sa pananalangin, isang bagay makikita natin palagi nangingibabaw sa Diyos ay kapakanan ng iba hindi ng sarili dahil tiyak palagi niya tayong pangangalagaan at hindi pababayaan.

Kaya, huwag matakot na manatili o lumisan, pangalawa sa Maykapal na ating batayan ng desisyon ay kapakanan ng iba, hindi ng sarili.

Batid ito ng maraming OFW at mga magulang na nangibang bansa. Mahirap at masakit ang lumisan ng bayan, iwanan mga mahal sa buhay at mahirap din naman ang maiwanan at mahiwalay sa kabiyak at magulang. Ngunit, kanilang tinitiis ang lahat para sa isa’t-isa, para sa minamahal at hindi para sa sarili.

Larawan kuha ni G. Chester Ocampo sa Japan, 2017.

Ganoon ang Diyos parati: hinihiram tayo para sa kapakanan ng iba. Ito yung katotohanan ng sinabi mismo ni Hesus na “Walang pag-ibig na hihigit pa sa pag-ibig ng isang taong nag-aalay ng kanyang buhay para sa kanyang mga kaibigan” (Jn.15:13).

Yung nanatili at lumilisan, kapwa nagmamahal at nagmamalasakit, nagiging mabunga ang buhay at pagkatao kung ang pasya ay batay sa kalooban ng Diyos.


Pangatlo, makikita natin na kapag tumpak ang proseso ng pagpapasya natin kung tayo ba ay mananatili o aalis, naroon din palagi paglago ng ating pagkatao at ng mga maiiwan natin. Sa pananatili at paglisan, higit na mahalaga ang pamumunga o “fruitfulness” at di lamang success.

May mga tao na matagumpay, successful wika nga dahil nanatili at nagtiyaga o kaya’y lumayo at nasapalaran sa ibang lugar ngunit hindi naman ganap sa buhay at tila baga mayroong kulang pa sa kanila. Kasi nga, wala namang naging lalim sa kanilang katauhan kanilang mga ginawa sa pananatili man o sa paglisan. Marahil ay sa kabila ng kayaman at katanyagan, wala silang natagpuan kahulugan sa buhay. Palaging mayroong kulang. Tulad ng Diyos na siya lamang ating kaganapan sa buhay.

Larawan kuha ng may akda sa Bolinao, Pangasinan, ika-20 ng Abril 2022.

Maituturing din ito bilang pagmamature o pagkakaroon ng gulang. May mga pagkakataon lalo na sa mga nakababata na kapag naiwanan at hinayaang mamahala sa kanilang sariling buhay, sila’y nagma-mature; gayun din naman kapag sila ay lumuwas ng lungsod upang mag-aral at manirahan ng sarili sa mga dorm, sila man ay nagma-mature.

Alalaong-baga, sa ating pananatili o paglisan, lagi ding dapat isaalang-alang paglago sa katauhan ng nanatili at lumilisan.

Kapwa puno ng biyaya at pagpapala ang pananatili at paglisan kung ito ay ating mapagpapasyahan ng mahusay at hindi ng padaskol-daskol lamang. Ito higit nating mapagtatanto kung ang usapin ng paglisan ay hindi lamang pansamantala at hindi ibang lunan na maaring marating.

Naiiba at lalong lumalalim ang kahulugan ng pananatili at paglisan kung ito ay sa larangan ng pangmagpakailanman, kapag ang paglisan ay kamatayan.

Iyan ang ating pagninilayang susunod upang sagutin ating pangalawang tanong, sa bawat paglisan, sino nga ba ang may higit na pag-ibig, ang umaalis o naiiwan?

Pansamantala, ay halina at pakinggan, sabayan kung mas mainam, itong awiting Paglisan at baka kayo man ay mayroong ibang mapagnilayan. Hanggang sa muli.

*Wala po kaming hangad na lumabag sa karapatang-pangsipi o copyrights ng may-ari ng awit at video na ito maliban sa namnamin kagandahan ng nitong musika.

Mula sa YouTube.com.

Jesus Christ, our reality

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fourth Week of Easter, 13 May 2022, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
Acts 13:26-33   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 14:1-6
Photo from the Commission on Social Communications, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.
Your words today, O Lord Jesus Christ
are so timely, so perfectly meant for us
these days:  "Do not let your hearts be
troubled. You have faith in God; have 
faith also in me" (Jn.14:1).
Forgive us, dear Jesus,
in believing so much with ourselves,
forgetting you and God in the process;
help us accept the many realities
in life, help us to move on with life,
and most of all, stop from being 
bitter and being unkind with others;
make us realize we cannot have the
truth when we are apart from you.
It is so timely that on this 105th
anniversary of the first apparition 
of your Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary
in Fatima, Portugal that our gospel
is very much the same truth she had
revealed to the three children and 
to the world:  that you alone, Jesus is
the true reality in this life for you 
are "the way and the truth and the life,
that no one comes to the Father
except through you" (Jn.14:6).
It was at Fatima where your Mother
told us how your way is always 
accessible and leads to fulfillment, 
so unlike our many ways in this world
that change and disappear, sometimes
become obsolete.
It was at Fatima where your Mother
assured us too that there is no other
way nor a secret road in life except you,
dear Jesus.
It was at Fatima where Mary brought us
back to reality of you Lord Jesus that
no one comes to Father except through
you.
Help us dear Jesus,
through our Lady of Fatima,
to return to you again in 
the sacraments of Penance
and Eucharist, to trust in you again,
to follow your Person as the way,
the truth, and the life.  Amen.
Photo from the Commission on Social Communications, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.

Beauty and blessedness at sunrise

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 05 May 2022
Photo by author, sunrise at the Lake of Tiberias (Galilee) in Israel, May 2019.

Our gospel last Sunday spoke of the Risen Lord’s third appearance to his disciples at the Lake of Tiberias. No one, except the beloved disciple recognized Jesus standing at the shore after he had told them to cast their net to the right side of the boat that led to their plentiful catch of fish.

When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.

John 21:4-7
Photo by author, sunrise at Lake of Tiberias, May 2017.

I love the way it is narrated. What a wonderful interplay of realities, of John the beloved recognizing Jesus standing at the shore upon seeing the many fish caught in their net!

The story speaks of the beauty of every sunrise many of us seem to take for granted, of how so many of us miss the beautiful sight and silence of the morning. It is a story of every new day filled not only with promises but in itself a blessing we can surely experience when we first recognize Christ present in us.

That is perhaps one problem with us who always prefer spectacular sights and events to find God.

Unlike sunset, sunrise does not have radiant displays of colors and shades. It is very simple which is the lesson of Easter to us, of how our great God comes to us in the simplest moments of life. Recall too that Jesus was born in the middle of the darkest night of the year when everyone was asleep and rose from the dead very, very early in the morning that no one had seen! And here lies one of the wonderful mysteries in life – the hiddenness of God!

It is in God’s hiddenness that we can find him not because he is hiding but inviting us to be hidden in him too. That is the beauty of sunrise when you have to wake up early to see the beauty of life unfolding, awaiting something we are totally unaware of what is going to happen next. It is easier to wait for the sunset because you have been up and going the whole day; you just have to stop and pause for a while to await the sun going down.

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

Sunrise is different. It is like awaiting a total stranger, compared with sunset after we have befriended the the day about to end.

Every morning when we wake up, we do not know what is in store for us. Some people are excited, others are not while the rest simply got the blues or too lazy to work and study that they would rather sleep more.

Maybe that is why sunrise is more subdued with its hues and shades. Like God, sunrise is so kind, very accommodating with everyone, no spectacular display of colors so that one could buy his own time on whether to go out and move or snuggle more in bed, alone or with somebody else.

Like a beloved someone or God himself, sunrise looks soft and calm, reassuring everyone the day ahead would be just fine for us all.

Its light is so gentle, though bursting filled with life but never insistent to the eyes, so gentle. This we feel in our favorite word and activity every morning – breakfast – which came from the literal “breaking of fast” the night before by the monks in the monasteries. We can feel this gentleness of sunrise in that Christian hymn Morning Has Broken, whether you sing it or listen to Cat Steven’s cover or to its original Gaelic Scottish tune. And along this line, we find sunrise as the sweetest breaking of all in Angela Bofil’s 1981 love song Break It To Me Gently.

Photo by author, sunrise at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, November 2018.

Sometimes, sunrise can be a bit wild, bursting with light that can penetrate one’s soul with its light traveling so fast, eager to cover the whole surrounding with the good news of life coming.

Think of the Beatles’ 1969 Here Comes the Sun with its lovely guitar introduction, assuring everyone, especially your beloved “little darling” that “it’s all right” with “smiles returning to the faces.”

Photo by author, sunrise at Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

That is the most beautiful part of catching the sunrise when all is silent with you all alone, listening to Jesus whispering, “Little darling, it’s all right” because whatever had happened yesterday, with all your sins and mistakes, are all forgotten and forgiven. Today is a new beginning, like what he told Peter in last Sunday’s gospel when he asked him thrice, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Photo by author, sunrise at Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep… And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”John 21:17, 19

John 21:17, 19

It is said that whatever one feels in describing the sunrise is one’s perception of love – warm and refreshing, joyful and so alive, filled with hopes and raring to go.

Sunrise is beautiful because it is when we experience closest with our truest self, with those most faithful and loving to us, and most of all, with God, our very root and being. Every morning is the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy of each of us becoming a John the Baptist whose name means “graciousness of God.” This we pray every morning in the Benedictus (cf. Lk.1:68-79):

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us, 
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
     shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

May you be blessed every morning, every day of the week. Amen.

Photo by Ms. Jing Rey Henderson, sunrise at Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, 27 April 2022.

Talinghaga ng Kuwaresma

Lawswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-07 ng Marso, 2022
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 2019
Kuwaresma:
nagsisimula Miercules de Ceniza
mga noo'y pinapahiran ng abo
sa anyo ng Krus ni Kristo, paalala
tayo ay markado na yayao -
"Alalahanin sa alabok ika'y nanggaling,
at sa alabok karin babalik" - ngunit,
tinitiyak din ng Krus na hindi magwawakas 
pagkaagnas at pagkabulok nitong 
ating katawan dahil sa kahuli-hulihan 
si Kristo ay babalik upang ibangon tayo 
at mabuo mga buto at laman ng kasu-kasuan
mabubuhay magpakailanman
pati katawan kaisa ng kaluluwa.
Sa panahon ng Kuwaresma,
hinihikayat tayong mag-ayuno
at mag-abstinensiya, ipagpaliban 
kaginhawahan sa katawan
hindi upang pahirapan ni parusahan
kungdi upang maranasan kapanatilihan 
ng Diyos nating banal; tinitiis kagutuman 
layaw pinipigilan upang tanging
panaligan at asahan Poong Maykapal;
katawan ay sinasaid upang mawalan 
ng laman upang mapunan, mapalitan
ng Espiritung Banal, magkaroon ng puwang
at pitak para sa Diyos at kapwa tao 
na ating tinatalikuran at nakakalimutan.
Pagmasdan kabalintunaan 
sa gitna ng kasaganaan di lamang 
ng pagkain at kagamitan pati ng
mga gawain at maraming kaisipan
hindi maitatanggi ating pagkalugami 
sa kadiliman ng kawalan ng kahulugan;
itong ating buhay, araw-araw na Kuwaresma 
sa tuwina ipinapaalala pananalangin at
pagtitika, pag-aayuno at paglilimos
sana ating matalos na siyang landas 
pabalik sa Diyos na ating hantungan
at pinagmulan, ating kaganapan na
natatagpuan, nararanasan kapag ating
pinapasan Krus ni Hesus na ating kaligtasan.
Larawan mula sa ravenscov.org

Lent is choosing life

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday after Ash Wednesday, 03 March 2022
Deuteronomy 30:15-20   ><)))*> + <*(((><   Luke 9:22-25
Photo by author, Sonia’s Garden, Tagaytay City, 15 February 2022.
Thank you very much,
dear God our loving Father
for the gift of prayer today:
to pray to you, to remember you
is already a choice for life,
a rejection of death.

Moses said to the people: “I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land that the Lord swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Thank you for the gift of these
40 days of Lent for us to be 
conscious again of our decision
to choose life, to choose you;
but, Lord, what is to choose life,
what is to choose YOU?

Then Jesus said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”

Luke 9:23-25
Choosing life, choosing YOU
dear God means choosing to love
myself, you, and others;
choosing life, choosing YOU
dear God means choosing the
Cross of Jesus Christ your Son;
how ironic that with love being
the best we can have in life, 
it is what we always reject too
as we find it hard to love our very
selves and in the process, love you
and others.
Choosing to love myself is to accept my 
giftedness, to see myself as you
see me despite my sins and flaws
yet still loved and forgiven;
to love you, O Lord, means to
enter into a personal relationship
with you, to love whom you love,
to simply love; and to love others is 
to love as myself, to find you in them
especially the sick and the poor.
Oh God!  How easy it is to say these
because it is indeed a cross - sometimes
too heavy when I love myself more than
I love you or others;  while we always 
choose life and love, in reality we choose
death because we refuse to love like
Jesus who gave his life for our sake
so that we may also love like him.
Send me the Holy Spirit to enlighten
my mind and my heart always so that
in every choice I make beginning
this Lent, may I be more focused with
the "who" or person than the "what" or thing
because it is only in YOU found within me
and in every person I meet that there can
truly be life, love and blessings.  Amen.

Ash Wednesday: rising from the ruins of life

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Ash Wednesday, 02 March 2022
Joel 2:12-18 ><}}}}*> 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 ><}}}}*> Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Image from Google.

For the third straight year, we enter the Season of Lent in the most unusual conditions in the world. Perhaps, even surreal. We had in 2020 the start of the COVID-19 pandemic persisting through 2021 up to the present that has altered the way we live and how we look at life.

Just when we felt like “Easter” coming in 2021, there came the stronger Delta variant at around this time that claimed so many lives among us.

Now in 2022 after we have all the vaccines available to put COVID-19 in control with a “tamer” variant Omicron, we have a more serious concern with Russia invading Ukraine.

To a certain degree, it is “good” this had happened at this time when we are starting the Lenten Season with Ash Wednesday that reminds us the question we should be asking is not “where is God” but “where are we, his people”?

It has always been the same question ever since – of “where are we in relation to God” every time there are man-made and natural disasters like wars and famine, epidemics and plagues, or earthquakes, drought and floods.

It is easier to blame God for all of our troubles because he is always silent, never answering us back; but, it is in his silence when we also realize the truth that we are the ones who have drifted apart from God, who have gone lost away from him who is always looking for us, waiting for us to come back.

It is in the silence of God that he is most present especially when we are deep in sin and sufferings.

Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Why should they say among the peoples, “Where is their God?” Then the Lord was stirred to concern for his land and took pity on his people.

Joel 2:12-13, 17b-18
From istockphoto.com by Getty Images.

Lent: A coming home to God for us mortals, sinners, and ruined

Lent is a “coming home” to God with Ash Wednesday serving like a porch that leads us inside the “house of God” with each of its five Sundays acting like a door opening us closer and closer into the innermost room where God is.

In the shadows of the war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and the heated national elections in our country, let us focus on the practice of giving of ashes every Ash Wednesday which is a gesture often mentioned in the Bible.


Ashes remind us first of all, of our mortality, that we shall all die one day. This is the reason why we priests say “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Gen.2:7) while imposing ashes on your foreheads in the form of a cross.

And there lies the good news too of Ash Wednesday: we do not just die, rot and return to ash because at the end of time, we shall all rise again to become whole – body and soul – like Jesus Christ!

From ravenscov.org.

Though we are marked for death, Ash Wednesday reassures us of our resurrection and salvation in Christ signified by the ash in the form of a cross on our foreheads.

Ashes signal our readiness for repentance as expressed in the new formula in the imposition of ashes, “Turn from sin and believe in the Gospel”.

Recall how in the Book of Jonah when the king of Nineveh removed his royal robe, covered himself in sackcloth, and sat in ashes upon hearing Jonah’s preaching as he ordered too his people to do the same that averted the wrath of God.

In the gospels of Matthew and Luke, we find how Jesus lambasted the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida for not repenting upon seeing his mighty deeds, so unlike the pagans at Tyre and Sidon who would have “repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Mt. 11:21 & Lk.10:13).

Ashes also signify ruin, destruction and devastation in life like Job who had lost all precious to him when he said, “(God) He has cast me into the mire; I am leveled with the dust and ashes” (Job 30:19).

It is the most applicable signification of ashes to us today in this time of prolonged pandemic with its deep emotional and psychological impact on everyone trying to grapple with life’s many challenges as we try to start anew almost daily.

The feeling is best described by the Book of Lamentations in the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem: “Those accustomed to dainty food perish in the streets; those brought up in purple now cling to the ash heaps” (Lam. 4:5).

Indeed, that ash on our foreheads reminds us of the ruin we are into as an individual, as a nation, as citizens of the world.

How often did we have to shelve and postpone our many plans in life since 2020 due to this pandemic with its recurring surges now worsened by this war at Ukraine launched by Russian president Putin?

We were already sighing in great relief the past weeks with declining cases of COVID when suddenly – to our great disbelief and dismay that this can still happen in the 21st century when Putin invaded Ukraine, casting the world into another grave danger of unimagined proportion.

And lastly, who does not feel ruined after all these years of the pandemic worsened by decadent politics that has gone into an abyss of filth and insanity?

Now more than ever we could feel and experience the “ash heap” we are into with only God who can raise us up and cleanse us again.

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, 21 February 2022.

Lent is a joyful season!

Contrary to what most people believe, Lent is not all that drab and dry. While its prevailing mood is of sobriety and seriousness in the light of its call for penance, fasting and almsgiving, Lent is a joyful season preparing us to Easter.

St. Paul tells us in the second reading that “now is the day of salvation”:

Brothers and sisters: We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:20, 6:2

To be reconciled with God who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment” begins right inside our hearts when we open it – rend – so it may be cleansed of sins for Jesus to dwell inside again.

Like our reflection last Sunday, it is the truth of the heart that must be expressed on this Ash Wednesday, that must be cleansed and “repaired” after so many beatings and ruins especially these past years (https://lordmychef.com/2022/02/26/taking-jesus-to-the-heart/).

It is the heart that must be strengthened and converted by our lenten practices because its purity is revealed by our very lives, the kind of life we lead, the aura we project even if half of our face is covered by the face mask.

This is the very essence of the Lord’s calls in the gospel to do these practices “in secret”, not be seen by others that it becomes more of a show. It is God whom we must please, not the people; to enter into one’s room is to enter into one’s self to meet God with our true selves, without our usual alibis, of ifs and buts.

From Google.

This is the grace of Lent that begins on this Ash Wednesday: it is God who actually comes to us, to meet us, to work in us in his “mercy and graciousness” so we may experience his loving presence again despite all our sins and troubles.

Life is a daily Lent, a cleansing of our hearts, a repairing of our hearts ruined especially when we have truly loved and ended up being misunderstood and persecuted.

Do not worry, human love is always imperfect; only God can love us perfectly. That is what Ash Wednesday is reminding us, that we are finite and sinful, ruined most of the time but always open to God who never leaves nor forsakes us his children.

In this spirit, let us also not forget that Lent is a journey we take with others, a daily exodus from darkness to light, from sickness to healing, from ruins to newness, from sin to forgiveness and grace.

Photo by author, Lent 2019.

We come home to God together as a people, as a family, as brothers and sisters in Christ.

May our gathering together on this Ash Wednesday be an occasion to free ourselves from the ever-growing threats of individualism that has marked our age with everyone feeling a celebrity, even playing God.

Please don’t forget to practice fasting and abstinence today to create a space for God and for others in your heart.

Have a blessed and safe Lenten season, everyone!

A world without first nor last

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week VIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 01 March 2022
1 Peter 1:10-16   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Mark 10:28-31
Photo by author, pilgrims in the Holy Land preparing to walk, 2019.
Thank you very much, 
dear God our loving Father in heaven
for the gift of this brand new month
of March; tomorrow we start the
blessed Season of Lent with 
Ash Wednesday; today, you remind
us of your gift of salvation through
your Son Jesus Christ long foreseen
by your prophets of Old.
Today, you call us to move into action
by putting all our hope and confidence
on Christ's gift of salvation:

Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I am holy”.

1 Peter 1:13-16
Help us, dear Jesus,
to gird up the loins of our mind -
to be ready for action, especially
if we have to make radical moves
and changes in our lives as witnesses
of your gospel of salvation; help us,
Lord, to overcome our desire to think
only of ourselves, of "what-about-us"
attitude of Peter in the gospel; help us, 
Jesus to be holy like you - filled with 
the Spirit, living in a world without first
nor last but brothers and sisters relating
with each other in mutual love and care.
Amen.