Prayer to keep our memory

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Third Week in Lent, 10 March 2021
Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9   <*{{{><  +  ><}}}*>   Matthew 5:17-19
Photo by Dr. Mai B. Dela Peña, MD, at Tokyo, 2018.

God our loving Father in heaven, you have designed us to always remember people and events, their meanings and significance, and most especially, to always remember you and your love and kindness for us. But, alas, due to our fallenness, we have become “beings-of-forgetfulness” too.

In this season of Lent as we pray more and slow down in life, give us the grace to refresh our memories, to remember the many good people and good things they have brought us. Most especially, help us keep our memories not only of your laws but of their meanings, of the relationships they lead us to keep you through others.

Moses spoke to the people and said: “However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”

Deuteronomy 4:9

How sad we are always afflicted with selective memory when we choose which and whom to remember and to forget. More sad is the fact that we forget you more, disregarding all the good gifts you have given us.

Help us make every effort to remember you, dear God, by cultivating and nurturing within us the relationship you have established with each of us with others through Jesus Christ.

Give us the grace to fulfill your laws by loving and respecting one another for that is the essence of to RE + MEMBER, which is to make somebody a member again of every present, of every here and now. Amen.

Keeping the Christmas story alive

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul
Friday, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, 01 January 2021
Number 6:22-27  >><)))*>  Galatians  >><)))*>  Luke 2:16-21
Photo by Mr. Marc Angelo Nicolas Carpio, Christmas 2020.

A blessed Merry Christmas to you all!

Please, continue greeting one another with a “Merry Christmas” than with “Happy New Year” because Christmas is not over yet; besides, we Catholics celebrated our new year last November 29, the first Sunday of Advent. Most of all, it is so unfair to Jesus that we easily forget Him and think more of the new year! What happened to those Christmas countdowns that began in September only to stop greeting “Merry Christmas” after eight days?

Most of all, contrary to what most priests are erroneously saying today, our Mass is not for the new year but for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Although the sacramentary (our book for the celebration of Mass) has prayers for the Mass on new year, it also says – written in red ink to stress this point – that one cannot celebrate the Mass for new year on January first because the proper celebration on this date is the Motherhood of Mary.

The “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God” used to be celebrated on October 11 but during the Second Vatican Council, the Fathers deemed it more right and proper to celebrate every January first which is the eighth day called octave of Christmas. This solemnity also abolished the feasts of the Circumcision of Our Lord (January 1) and the Holy Name of Jesus (Sunday between January 1 and 8, or January 2).

Nonetheless, as a further background to our liturgy, today’s celebration is also the oldest feast in honor of Mary, dating back to year 431 after the Council of Ephesus when the Church declared Mary as the Mother of God following heresies claiming Jesus was not born divine but only human, that he assumed his divinity later in life as he matured. It was during that Council of Ephesus when the Church Fathers insisted that when Mary conceived Jesus in her womb, His divinity was not diminished nor lost. Hence, Mary shall be called the Mother of God Jesus Christ who is true God and true human, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

While the whole world is celebrating in revelry with all the pagan practices of fireworks and noise that sadly include many Christians, we Catholics on this first day of the new year celebrate Mary the Mother of God as our model disciple in journeying through life this 2021 in Jesus Christ.

Photo by author, Mary in our Nativity scene, 25 December 2020.

Beginning anew in Jesus like Mary

It has been more than 24 hours since my iPhone “crashed” that I now merely rely on Messenger for communications. But, it is a wonderful feeling too! Nothing bothering me so I can rest fully today.

Yes, I am a “dinosaur” when it comes to these tech things and gadgets. When I got this phone in 2018, I never bothered to check its “storage capacity”, thinking since it is a high-end phone, it must be very, very good.

Then came the pandemic last year when I had to use it for our daily online Mass until it showed signs of problems two weeks ago when I found out we have used all its 32 GB capacity.

But, as I learned all those things about storage capacity of cellphones and computers, I remembered the Blessed Virgin Mary in our gospel today.

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Luke 2:16-19

How beautiful to hear those words of the evangelist, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”

Yes, better than any cellphone and computer is the human heart with unlimited storage capacities for all memories, data and images of life! How sad we have been keeping all those wonderful events in our lives inside this tiny gadgets that eventually would be corrupted by bugs or even hacked.

But we have this heart – the core of our very being where we process all those memories and images of everything we are going through and have gone through.

We celebrate today this Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God to remind us in keeping the Christmas story alive through the new year by imitating the Blessed Mother in treasuring and reflecting all our experiences – good and bad – in 2020!

Imagine that image of Jesus born in a manger: it must be so dark, even filthy and smelly – maybe like how our lives have been last year. But, do not forget, there was Jesus present with us in the darkness and dirt and foul smell of 2020.

If life has been so good and kind to you last year, reflect on those memories, find Jesus in those joy like the shepherds and share the good news and blessings you have received!

I love that part Mary “treasured” – as something precious – all those things said by the shepherds, reflecting them in her heart. Luke would always present Mary keeping everything in her heart to reflect them especially when things and events were beyond her understanding.

Photo by author, Mary at the foot of the Cross.

The same is true with life. Sometimes, we just cannot comprehend the many things that have happened in 2020.

Instead of blaming the year 2020 for all the negative things that have have happened, Mary shows us the way by looking into our selves, into our hearts to “process” all those experiences, find their meaning, and most of all, what God is trying to tell us. That is Christmas – Jesus became human like us to be with us specially in our sufferings and trials in life. Problem is, we are so filled with ourselves as our cellphones and other gadgets would show – selfies and so many posts most often done for the sake of “likes” and “followers”.

Do we still have memories? Do we still remember? Or, should the question be, do we still feel at all?

Whenever I see people with arms stretched looking through their cellphones in so many events, I pity them because they fail to feel and savor the moment, living in a “mediated” world, not grounded and detached from the realities of life. This is perhaps the reason why despite the affluence of life today, more people are lost, alone, alienated, and empty.

There are two local commercials that I have always loved and they both featured grandparents having Alzheimer’s.

First is McDonald’s about ten or 15 years ago of a lolo slicing into half his cheeseburger, saying, “ito para sa paborito kong apo, si Karen” (this is for my favorite grandchild, Karen).

Second is the Ayala Malls’ “Wishing Tree” in 2019 where the grandmother, so sad and haggard looking suddenly smiled again with her face lighting up in joy when she saw the old CCTV footages of her trips to the Mall with her apo in the past.

Both commercials show how big is the storage capacity of our hearts to keep our beautiful memories with loved ones even if the memories in our brain “crash”.

How amazing that the heart remains intact with its stored memories of events and persons who have loved us – and even hurt us. That is how big is our heart as a storage of memories that must be treasured, processed, and reflected upon like what Mary did to deepen our faith, widen our perspectives and most of all, find Jesus Christ.

See my dear Reader how at the end of the gospel on the eighth day Mary’s child was given with the name “Jesus” – the only thing she and Joseph were certain of about their child. The same is so true with us on this day as we begin 2021: we do not know what will happen to us. Nothing is really so certain, not even having that COVID-19 vaccine, legally speaking.

Like Mary and Joseph, all we have for sure is Jesus, the only One we must trust and follow, the only One we must nurture and share so that His face may shine upon us (Num.6:25) and lead us to eternal life as heirs to the kingdom of heaven as children of the Father (Gal.4:7).

Have a blessed Merry Christmas this new year, and may the Lord bless you and keep you! Amen.

Photo by Mr. Marc Angelo Nicolas Carpio, 25 December 2020.

Bakit masarap balikan nakaraan?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-22 ng Mayo 2020
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Mula nang mag-quarantine 
palagi nating hiling
sana'y maibalik dating takbo
nitong buhay natin.
Kung tutuusin bahagi ng sarili natin
ano mang luma laging kinagigiliwan 
basta mayroong kinalaman sa nakaraan:
lumang tugtugin at awitin,
naninilaw na mga liham, nalimot na nilalaman;
mga kupas at sepia na larawan,
sinaunang estilo at disenyo
ng mga gamit at damit, bahay at gusali;
lumang radyo, lumang kotse
antik at klasik kung ituring
tibay at husay walang kapantay.
Mga bakas ng kahapon
ayaw nating itapon
bagkus tinitipon, kinakahon
sa isang sulok ng bawat ngayon
upang kung may pagkakataon,
mga ito ay malingon
baka sakaling makabangon
at humakbang pasulong.
Madalas sa atin mga kahapon
tila palaging umaayon sa bawat ngayon
dahil alam na natin nangyari noon:
mga kinalabasan at hinantungan
ng ating pagsasapalaran
hatid man ay tuwa o luha
mga iyon atin nang nalampasan. 
Madali at masarap balikan nakaraan
dahil alam na natin ang nagdaan
habang sa bawat ngayon at kinabukasan
tayo ay laging kinakabahan
dahil wala tayong panghawakan
maliban pakikibaka at sapalaran
gaya noong nakaraan 
nang tayo ay pumailanglang
sa walang katiyakan.
Kaya nga huwag kabahan
sa kasalukuyan maging kinabukasan;
mahalaga ating matandaan 
matutuhan mga aral, kabuluhan, at kahulugan
ng kasaysayan upang itong kasalukuyan 
malampasan, mapagtagumpayan!
Photo by Essow Kedelina on Pexels.com

The peace of Jesus Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Tuesday, Easter Week-V, 12 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 14:19-28 ><)))*> +++0+++ <*(((>< John 14:27-31

Photo by author, a bass relief of the Agony in the Garden by Jesus at the Church of All Nations beside Gethsemane near Jerusalem, May 2017.

Lord Jesus Christ, I pray for more faith and trust in you today to experience your peace within so we can truly appreciate the beauty and meaning of life.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.”

John 14:27-28

So many sufferings, so many uncertainties in life but indeed, Lord, you have never left us.

It is so difficult to rejoice – even absurd – when “you are not with us because you are with the Father”.

I could just imagine the increased fears and anxieties your apostles must have felt when you told them to not let their hearts be troubled or afraid when you were to be betrayed and arrested, and eventually suffered and died.

I always wonder, Lord, why during this quarantine period, as I reviewed my life, there are so many painful memories coming back to me that I thought I have transcended or even outgrown, and hoped forgotten and deleted in my memory bank. Worst, the longer the time had lapsed, the more painful these memories become, like death and other losses in life.

but, no word can ever be enough to express and explain how in these painful past you have stayed in us, now coming back to remind us you will always be with us. And that is when we finally feel your peace within.

Your peace is not found outside us but within us – right in our hearts where we allow you to dwell, to reign in us amid all our trials and sufferings that we continue to forge on in this life, to keep the struggle alive.

Grant us the courage and wisdom you have given Paul and Barnabas who, despite the physical harm and emotional distresses they went through, they never wavered in their mission of proclaiming your Gospel because they have you in their hearts.

Please, Lord Jesus, reign in my heart and fill me with your humility, justice, and love. Amen.

Photo by author, garden beside St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Jerusalem, May 2017.

Remembering

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Thursday, Easter Week IV, 07 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 13:13-25 <*(((>< ++0++ ><)))*> John 13:16-20

Photo by author, February 2020.

Thank you, O Lord, for the gift of remembering, of not simply recalling the past but even the joy or pain of experiencing them again. Most of all, of learning their lessons that have made us what we are today.

In this time of quarantine when we have so many time spent in remembering our past, our family and friends, may we also remember your saving grace to us like St. Paul at the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia.

Help us to remember – that is, to make you a part of the present again of which re + member is all about.

May we never live like what we have done before this pandemic began when we thought we can lead our lives without you.

As we remember your goodness, your coming to us in your Son Jesus Christ who suffered and died like us, may we keep in mind that everything is in your hand, in your power and control. Not ours.

Grant, O Lord, that in re + membering your saving action to us, your great love for each one of us, may we continue to lovingly serve one another in your name. Amen.

Mosaic of “Washing of Feet of the Apostles”, photo from Google.