To come in peace and goodwill despite the chaos and darkness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, 105th Anniversary of the Last Marian Apparition at Fatima, 13 October 2022
Ephesians 1:1-10 ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> Luke 11:47-54
From cbcpnews.net, 13 May 2022, at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.
God our loving Father,
thank you in sending us
your Son Jesus Christ
who in turn gave his own
Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary
as he died on the Cross
to be our Mother too!
How wonderful
that in her last apparition
at Fatima in Portugal
105 years ago today,
she came bringing peace
and good will like when
Jesus was born more than
2000 years ago; it was the 
same message that St. Paul
brought to us through the
Ephesians as he described
Your magnificent plan
for us in Jesus Christ.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…

Ephesians 1:2-5
Forgive us, merciful Father
in the name of Jesus Christ 
Your Son, in refusing to accept
this beautiful offer you have 
given us expressed clearly 
105 years ago today in Fatima,
Portugal by the Blessed Virgin Mary
who introduced herself as 
"the Lady of the Rosary";
despite the miraculous dancing 
of the sun, many still refuse to
believe and heed her call 
to return to You in Jesus Christ
through conversion,
of turning away from sins
and following the path of holiness,
of being filled with You.
Give us the grace that
like Mary in Fatima,
may we show others 
an alternative vision of
the world wherein 
all things are restored in
Jesus Christ by bringing
the light of your truth
against the world's 
darkness of lies and fake news;
like Mary at Fatima
may we lead people back to
you through the Sacraments 
especially the Holy Eucharist and Confession
instead of worshipping 
and adoring the modern gods
of gold and glamor the world 
offers so easily but treacherously.

Purify our devotion to Mary that
is rooted and focused on Christ
so we may instill hope and joy 
to so many people today 
in despair amid the harsh
realities of this life due to
the ongoing pandemic
with the persistent problems
of war and violence, 
poverty and inequalities, 
and lack of respect for life
and dignity of every person
regardless of color, belief,
and gender.
Be patient with us,
God our Father;
with Mary whom you
have sent to us in Fatima,
may we find our way
back to you in Jesus Christ
along with the conversion of
sinners and unbelievers
including our brothers and
sisters who profess to believe
in you but promote a culture
of death, leading a life
of evil and sin contrary to
your vision of living
in communion with you
in Christ.
Amen.
Our Lady of Fatima,
Pray for us!
Photo from pinterest.com.

Faithful and loving

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. John XXIII, Pope, 11 October 2022
Galatians 5:1-6   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 11:37-41
Photo by author, April 2022.

Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Galatians 5:1, 6
O dearest Jesus,
thank you for coming
to save us, 
in setting us free
from sin
and most especially,
from the yoke of slavery
to externalities of
religion.
Keep us faithful 
to you, Jesus,
by being more loving
to one another;
set our sights on
you and people
not on rules and
regulations,
rituals and traditions
as you have pointed out
in the gospel today.
Through the intercession
of your servant,
St. John XXIII who was
lovingly called as 
"the good Pope"
and father of Vatican II,
give us the courage 
to stand firm
and defend our faith in you
while being open to the winds
of change sweeping
the world today.

Make us free and faithful,
and loving too like him 
who had said on the eve
of the conclave that would
elect him as Pope John XXIII,
"We are not here to guard a museum,
but to cultivate a flourishing garden
of life."  Amen.
St. John XXIII,
Pray for us!
Photo from https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/

Bless our (stubborn) generation

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time, 10 October 2022
Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1     ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><     Luke 11:29-32   
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, in France, March 2022.

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.”

Luke 11:29
I could feel your words,
Lord Jesus, today:
so strong,
so direct,
so true;
yes, dear Jesus,
your words are
meant for us 
today.
What an evil generation
we are in still seeking
signs from you
for even those entrusted
to witness your presence,
your love and mercy
are nowhere to be found,
seeking signs of you
and worst,
creating so many conflicting
signs of you!
We have been so stubborn
like the Galatians;
we prefer going back to
old, evil ways
as we insist on what 
we believe as true,
on what we have been used to
that until now so many of us
are still trapped 
and enslaved to sins 
of bigotry and prejudice,
refusing to find you
among everyone
especially the sick,
the poor,
and disadvantaged.
Bless us, dear Jesus,
and set us free from
our stubbornness;
soften our hardened hearts,
open wide our constricted
minds and perceptions
to find you present 
in our lives daily,
both in our joys and pains,
in our ease and struggles,
and especially
with everyone we 
meet each day.
Amen.

Prayer is emptiness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest, 06 October 2022
Galatians 3:1-5   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 11:5-13
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 10 September 2022.
Remind us, 
O Lord Jesus Christ,
that "while the world changes,
the cross stands firm",
that you alone, 
Jesus Christ
is our salvation
and way to perfection
as the Carthusians
had held for almost 
a thousand years.
Like St. Bruno
their founder and father,
let us "seek God 
assiduously
to find God promptly
and to possess God
fully."

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks the door, the door will be opened.”

Luke 11:9-10
Stop our foolishness,
our being stupid like the
Galatians as St. Paul
called them in the first reading:
prayer is not an ATM
where we go to get cash
we need nor an apps
when we can just seek,
find and have whatever
we desire and need;
PRAYER IS EMPTINESS.
Teach us Jesus 
to lay ourselves bare,
to strip ourselves
naked before you;
teach us to ask for YOU,
to seek YOU,
and to enter YOU.
How foolish we
have become
that we have been
misleading people
from you because 
we teach wrongly
about prayer that
is centered on us
and our needs and
desires, making God
a Santa Claus
or even a genie.
Make us persevere
in emptying ourselves
of our pride
to be filled with your 
humility and love,
to be an indwelling
of the Holy Spirit
so that we become more
like you, Jesus,
fulfilled and at peace.
Amen.

The majesty of God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest & Doctor of the Church, 30 September 2022
Job 38:1, 12-21, 40:3-5   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 10:13-16
Photo by Greg on Pexels.com
God our loving Father,
open my eyes
open my mind
open my heart and soul
to your majesty
to experience your
immense mystery
so profoundly
unthinkable
unexplainable
yet so true
that it can be felt
and experienced
because we live
in you though we
are not aware.

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said: Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place for taking hold of the ends of the earth, till the wicked are shaken from its surface? The earth is changed as is clay by the seal, and dyed as though it were a garment. Have you entered the sources of the sea, or walked about in the depths of the abyss? Have the gates of death been shown to you, or have you seen the gates of darkness? Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?

Job 38:1, 12-14, 16-18
Dearest Father,
many times I have asked you
so many questions 
and would still have more to
follow you up with but,
when I contemplate
your love and presence
in my life,
among the people you
have surrounded me with,
then I realize 
you are all questions 
that in itself more than enough
for me to see, even imagine you!

Like Job,
let me remain silent
and be wrapped by
your majesty
and glory!

Then job answered the Lord and said: Behold, I am of little account; what can I answer you? I put my hand over my mouth. Though I have spoken once, I will not do so again; though twice, I will do so no more.

Job 40:3-5
Open my eyes
in Jesus your Son
to appreciate more
your coming
your loving presence
your healing
O God our Father;
let me listen
and be more attentive
to Jesus,
your Word who became
flesh to dwell
among us;
like St. Jerome,
give me the grace
to read and study
especially to pray
your Sacred Scriptures
each day of my life
to be still
and remain
in you always.
Amen.
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, 2019.

Praying for our critics

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Twenty-second Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 02 September 2022
1 Corinthians 4:1-5     ><]]]]'> +++ <'[[[[><     Luke 5:33-39
Photo by author, Pater Noster Church outside Jerusalem, May 2019.
Dearest Lord Jesus Christ:
today I pray for my critics,
the well-meaning among them
who truly think of my growth
and maturity in you as your servant
and steward; likewise, I pray for 
all the other critics who have
nothing else to do but criticize
me.

Praise and glory to you, Lord Jesus
that in the end, it is you who shall judge
me and everybody else, not our critics;
like Paul in today's first reading, I admit
my many shortcomings to you and your
people as your servant and steward; 
grant me the grace to be more trustworthy
by being more loving and understanding,
kind and caring, merciful and forgiving
but at the same time firm with what is
true and good in you.
People will always have something to say
about me and everyone, some may be
true, some may be false and even fake
but like the admonition of Paul, let no one
among us pass judgment on anyone;
keep us open, Jesus, to the leading of
the Holy Spirit; make us always like 
the new wine skins always flexible,
adjusting to new situations, to every
possibilities of your presence and coming.
Amen.

Avoiding factions

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time, 01 September 2022
1 Corinthians 3:18-23     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Luke 5:1-11
Photo by author, February 2020.
"To the Lord belongs the earth and all that fills it."
-Responsorial Psalm for today
How often do we forget
or disregard this truth,
God our loving Father
that prevents us from
maturing in our spirituality
and relationship with you 
and one another as we follow
the wisdom of the world
that puts premiums on wealth
and power, fame and success
that create factions 
and divisions among us.
Forgive us when what we pursue
is often the ways of the world 
which is dominance over others, 
of having and possessing, 
of being served than of serving:

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written: God catches the wise in their own ruses, and again: The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you.

1 Corinthians 3:19-21
Teach us to be fools for you, 
Jesus Christ, in whom everything
was created, things visible and
invisible (Col. 1:16) yet,
had to borrow a boat from Simon;
teach us to be fools like Simon and
company who listened and obeyed
Jesus, a carpenter, to cast their
nets into the deep;
many times, O Lord, we are
so divided within ourselves,
there are many factions inside
and outside of us that we get
separated from you our unity
and whole.  Amen.

The Spirit of God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Twenty-second Week of Ordinary Time, 30 August 2022
1 Corinthians 2:10-16   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 4:31-37
Photo by author, September 2020.

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God. Among men, who knows what pertains to the man except his spirit that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 2:10-11
Your words are so comforting,
so consoling and so soothing today,
God our loving Father that I praise
and thank you for this most wonderful
gift we never acknowledge or
even recognize because to be spiritual
these days is laughed upon.
Or worst, to be spiritual these days
is something of different kind,
products of the human mind that
pretend to be esoteric and exclusive
only to a few; many times, we believe
these days in dark spirits and other
kinds of spirits instead of knowing 
and nurturing your Spirit, O God,
in Christ Jesus.
Help us to be truly "spiritual people"
who share and understand 
"the mind of Christ" (v.16) we all have
that enables us to see people and 
things the way Jesus sees
and values them, sharing in his
vision of the meaning and goal of
our lives which is communion 
in you, God our Father through the
scandal and mystery of the Cross.
Many times in life, 
you know how we always
feel at a loss for your will,
for your plans and for your
love for us because we never
allow your Spirit to grow and
reign in us as we are so busy
and delighted listening and
watching and reading all those
horror and crazy stuffs of the
bad spirits; we would rather go
to witch doctors than to priests
and nuns or any spiritual people
in the real sense, believing more in
the power of evil subjecting us
to all forms of malady and sufferings.
May we nurture your Spirit in us,
O God, so we may live authentically
and with authority in our words 
and deeds like Jesus in today's
gospel when he cast out a demon
from a possessed man just with
his words; let us grow in your Spirit,
God, so we may finally find and 
experience peace and harmony in
our lives and relationships.  Amen. 

Finding our proper place

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 28 August 2022
Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29 ><}}}*> Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24 ><}}}*> Luke 14:1, 7-14
Photo by author, Ubihan Island, Meycauayan City, 31 December 2021.

Sometimes I feel life in the Philippines is a daily game of musical chair with each of us trying to secure our favorite seats in the bus or jeepney or train, in the classroom, in the church, in the restaurant. Everywhere.

And the favorite seats are always the ones at the back of the room most especially in churches and those nearest the door like in buses and jeepneys.

Most funny of all is when you find our kababayan in airports here and abroad rushing to board the plane as if they would not find a seat already paid for!

All because we put too much premium on our seats that mean power and control, even prestige although no one among us would admit it. In fact, our usual excuse of being seated at the back is due to shyness which is not true at all! More truthful is the fact that too often, we choose our seats for personal convenience that seats are everything for us.

But, unknown to many of us, what truly matters most in life, in being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not where we sit but where we stand which is the gist of our gospel this Sunday.

On a Sabbath, Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.

Luke 14:1,7
Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images, Baclaran Church, 09 February 2020.

See how Luke had briefly compressed in his opening lines for this Sunday’s gospel the gravity of Christ’s teachings today about discipleship. Setting was the most important day of the week for the Jews, the Sabbath, celebrated right in the house of a leading Pharisee.

Wow! It must had been a big party with all the “who’s who” that everybody was trying to get a piece of the action with all eyes on Jesus being observed carefully.

But, why?

To impress him? To be closer to him? To test him as most often would happen with him when in a gathering of people?

I find the scene overloaded with meanings that concern us when unconsciously we also “closely observe Jesus” whenever we would pray and celebrate the Sunday Mass in our parishes. There are times we forget God in our prayers as we are so preoccupied with our very selves, so focused and even insistent on what we believe and hold on to whatever we are asking from him. The “me, me, me” and “I, I, I” attitudes of being right, of being good, of being deserving and of course, entitled. Hence, the confiteor and kyrie are merely recited just for the sake of saying we are sorry for our sins even if we do not really mean them because so often, many are either late or do not examine their consciences.

Photo by author, Parish of San Pedro Calungsod, Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City, 12 August 2022.

Luke seems to be having some shades of humor when he noted how the “people carefully observed Jesus” at the dinner without them realizing the Lord himself had already and easily unmasked their pretensions and true characters of choosing the places of honor at the dinner that he had to tell them a parable about choosing the lowest seat!

When we come to the Lord most especially at prayer and the Mass, or even to a party and dinner for that matter, our main attitude must be of humility; to be invited to any party is an indication of our special relationship with the host. Multiply this to the highest degree in coming to the Holy Mass and simple prayer because it is God who gives us the grace to come to him, who values so much our relationship as Father and beloved children.

That is the point of Ben Sirach in the first reading, tenderly addressing the reader “My child, conduct your affairs with humility” (Sir.3:17), indicative of a relationship.

Every Sunday Mass is a banquet of the Lord like that Sabbath dinner Jesus attended in the gospel. No need to choose our places of honor because we are already honored by Jesus to celebrate “in him, with him and through him”. It is the very reason why we must celebrate Mass every Sunday as good, practicing Catholics.

Photo by author, Parish of San Pedro Calungsod, Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City, 12 August 2022.

Prayer and Mass are moments we strip ourselves naked before God who welcomes us to come near him even before we say sorry for our sins, even if we are not worthy of being in his presence at all. Recall the story of the calling of Nathanael or St. Bartholomew the Apostle last Wednesday; like him, Jesus had already seen and known us with joy long before we have approached him!

Every prayer moment, every Eucharistic celebration like a banquet on a Sabbath Jesus attended in the gospel today is an occasion for us to be truthful and sincere, to be our true selves, to be humble. St. Teresa of Avila said that “humility is walking in truth.” Just be yourself before God.

That is why Jesus said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk.14:11). In the end, when we die, we shall all be placed in our proper places before God; hence, the need for us to be humble and sincere with who we really are. Do not try to be somebody else not you because God knows everything, even the hair on our heads.

Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends, or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:12-14
Photo by author, Parish of San Pedro Calungsod, Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City, 12 August 2022.

The first parable was addressed by Jesus to the guests while this second parable was meant for the host; however, both parables are meant for us all who are all guests of God in this big banquet called life that leads to eternity.

First of all, just be our true and best selves in prayers and in life for we are all honored in Jesus Christ as God’s beloved children.

And if we live and act like Jesus our Host making him the most important guest in our hearts, then our hearts become big enough to welcome everyone, especially “the crippled, the lame, the blind”, making us inclusive like Jesus himself and not exclusive as our seating arrangements would often reveal.

The right attitude in being a guest and a host in this life is to imitate God in the responsorial psalm “who made a home for the poor”, of being like Jesus welcoming everyone with love and kindness, mercy and forgiveness, care and understanding.

Again, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews beautifully reminds us today in the second reading that the ultimate goal of our Christian life is communion with God that starts here in this life on earth. Every Mass is a “dress rehearsal” of our entrance into heaven because

Brothers and sisters: You have not approached that which cold be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy and darkness… No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem… and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven… and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

Hebrews 12:18, 22, 23, 24
Photo by author, Makati skyline from Antipolo City, 13 August 2022.

My dear fellow journeyers in Christ, the blessedness of this Sunday shows us how fast time flies, that in a few days, it would be September, the beginning of the -ber months, the approaching Christ the King celebration to close our liturgical calendar.

Before thinking of Advent and Christmas, we are reminded today of “Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Lk.9:51, 13th Sunday, June 26, 2022) to face his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Along the way are invitations to join him too in banquets; let us not seek the seats of honor but instead be firm in making our stand for Jesus on the Cross by being loving and merciful like him. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead!

Prayer of an (h)ungry sheep

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time, 17 August 2022
Ezekiel 34:1-11   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 20:1-16
Photo fromĀ https://aleteia.org/2019/05/12/three-of-the-oldest-images-of-jesus-portrays-him-as-the-good-shepherd/.
God our loving Father,
what happened in Israel
during Ezekiel's time is happening
again, of "shepherds pasturing
themselves" (Ezekiel 34:2)!
Send us shepherds, dear Father, 
who have vision, who seek Jesus our 
Good Shepherd and not just listen to one's self
or with what our "cordon sanitaires" say and
whisper to our ears no matter how pleasing
or assuring these may be (should we not be
more at home with being bothered than
pleased, Lord?);give us shepherds who would 
come out of their comfort zones like
that landowner ensuring everyone is doing
something; send us shepherds with courage
to smash existing structures of dominance
and cliques within your Church, drive away
the gnostics among us who know only what
is good for one's self to let in a breath 
of fresh air to enliven your flock.
Thank you in calling us
to shepherd your flock in
different capacities as priests,
parents, elder brothers and sisters,
superiors, teachers, leaders and 
managers; but, shepherding is more
than "strengthening the weak,
healing the sick,
binding up the injured,
bringing back the strayed
and seeking the lost" (cf. Ez. 34:4-5):
all these efforts are meant 
to enable every sheep "to work" -
that is, do something good,
something that would awaken
each one's worth and giftedness
as your beloved one like the master
of the vineyard in today's gospel:

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn… at nine o-clock… at noon… at three o’clock… and at about five o’clock to hire laborers for his vineyard.”

Matthew 20:1, 3, 5, 6
O dear Jesus,
forgive us your shepherds,
especially us your priests,
who have refused to go out
literally and figuratively speaking,
to look on your flock, to find every
sheep and give each one a chance to
"work" for you, to do something good
like serve others and harness their talents
you have given;
Oh, please forgive us your shepherds
when we feel so entitled knowing everything
and being capable of everything that we have
refused to stop "working" for you, when we
have refused to leave our "work" and made it
into an office than a ministry, replacing service
with power, simplicity with material comfort,
and yes though very sad, we have made your 
vocation a privilege as we bask in our
positions and ranks, refusing to give others
the chance to work because we have ceased
shepherding, choosing to be herding or worst,
lording over others.
Amen.
Photo by Mr. Lorenzo Atienza, 12 June 2019, Malolos Cathedral.