Learning to pray again in Lent

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 25 February 2021
Thursday, Week-I of Lent, 35th Anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution
Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25     ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>     Matthew 7:7-12
From Pinterest.

Late have I realized, God our Father and of history, that our much revered event/experience of the past, the EDSA People Power of 1986, happened during the Season of Lent. Was it because we were sincere in our prayers that the impossible happened on those days from February 22-25, 1986?

I believe so.

And that is why I pray again for our beloved country before EDSA is totally relegated to just dates in our poor memories or worst, as the most notorious symbol of everything wrong in us which is the highway where it all happened 35 years ago today.

In this Season of Lent as we celebrate another EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary, teach us again how to pray.

First, to have that attitude of total surrender to you, O God, like when we faced tanks and soldiers in full battle gear holding flowers and rosary beads and images of Mary and the saints at EDSA.

Like Queen Esther in the first reading today, may we pray in total surrender and dependence on you.

Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the Lord. She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids, from. morning until evening, and said: “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand.”

Esther 12, 14-15

Most of all, teach us that in order to obtain whatever we may pray from you, let us ask only for what is good for us and for others like during those days at EDSA. So many times you neither hear nor grant our prayers because it is not good enough, for us and for others. Teach us to be good, to desire only what is good, for you are the only Good One.

“Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”

Matthew 7:9-11

You know very well how most of us, the ordinary people who came there, simply wanted change in our country. You know so well we have neither lands nor money nor names to keep and safeguard. You know so well how most of us simply have you until today.

Photo by author, yellow flowers at the Carmel of the Holy Family Monastery, Guiguinto, Bulacan, 2019.

How sad some persons of power and influence took advantage of that and fooled us into believing they we were one with us in the ideals of EDSA. You also knew so well what were in their hearts then which they still keep to this day — self interests and greed for power, wealth, and fame.

Forgive us, Lord, in allowing them to prostitute EDSA.

Never again should it happen again.

Sayang.

Please show us again the way to regain its glory, its dreams and aspirations especially at this time we are at our lowest point in history as a nation. Send us selfless men and women willing to leave everything behind to you for the good of the nation.

Yes, Lord, “The Filipino is still, and always, worth dying for.” Amen.

Ang ating pagkakamali

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-10 ng Pebrero 2021
Larawan kuha ng may akda, Ikapitong Istasyon ng Krus sa Parokya ni San Ildefonso sa Tanay, Rizal.
Doon sa magandang simbahang
aming pinuntahan kamakailan
matatagpuan din kakaibang larawan
ng ikalawang pagkadapa ni Jesus
habang ang Kanyang krus ay pasan;
isa sa mga taga-usig Niya
hindi kita mga mata dahil 
suot niya may kulay na antipara
kagaya ng maraming nabubulagan
at hindi makita katotohanan
nasisilaw sa kapangyarihan
ngunit kaliwanagan ayaw masilayan.
Palagi namang kulang at kapos
ating kaisipan at karunungan
kahit anong ingat at siyasat
hindi sasapat;
Diyos lamang ang ganap
na Siyang nakasisipat
ng mga magaganap
na ni wala sa ating mga hinagap
kaya naman madalas mas mainam pa
na ating matanggap kahit mabigat
kakulangan maging kahangalan
ng mga nanunungkulan.
Madalas aking napag-iisipan
sa dami ng mga kamalian
kagagawan ko o ng iba pa man
kailanma'y hindi naman ako pinabayaan
ng Panginoong Maykapal;
sinasamahan maging sa pagpapasan
ng mga pinagdurusahang bunga
ng mga kasalanan at kamalian
hanggang sa maliwanagan
lahat ay malampasan
at muling makabangon
sa Kanyang kabutihan at kaganapan.
Ito ang ating panaligang
katotohanan sa ating buhay:
lahat ay nagkakamali
maging mga pari
ngunit si Jesus kailanma'y
hindi nagkamali
sa atin ng Kanyang pagpili
kaya tayo ay manatili
 huwag managhili
patunayan nating hindi Siya nagkakamali
 magsumakit sa Kanya mapalapit
hanggang ang langit ay masapit!
Mayroong mga nagsasabi
ito raw lalaking nakasalaming may kulay
ay si Caiaphas na punong pari
na siyang humatol laban kay Jesus
nang Siya ay litisin ng Sanhedrin
nang dakpin noong gabi sa hardin
habang nananalangin;
kay gandang pagnilayan
ngayong aming lipatan ng kaparian
paalala sa amin ng yaring larawan
alisin na at hubarin salamin na madilim
upang makita si Jesus nakadapa sa tabi.
Detalye ng larawan sa itaas ng Ikapitong Istasyong ng Krus sa Simbahan ng Tanay na inukit noon pang 1785.

Becoming God’s children

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul
Feast of the Sto. Niño, 17 January 2021
Isaiah 9:1-6  >><)))*>  Ephesians 1:3-6.15-18  >><)))*>  Mark 10:13-16 
Photo by author, 16 January 2021.

Today we spend an extra Sunday for the Christmas Season’s Feast of Sto. Niño granted by Rome to the local Church in recognition of the important role played by that image of the Holy Child gifted by Magellan to Queen Juana of Cebu in 1521.

Its role in the Christianization of the country cannot be denied, considering the historical fact that when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in Cebu 44 years later after Magellan to claim the country for Spain, they were surprised to discover how the natives venerated the Sto. Niño inside a special hut for worship along with their other anitos.

Legazpi’s chaplain Fray Luis Andres de Urdaneta attested to how that devotion to the Sto. Niño in Cebu enabled them to Christianize other natives without difficulties as the Holy Child image at that time has become the favorite among the people in asking favors like children and bountiful harvests as well as protection from calamities and wars.

The late National Artist Nick Joaquin was absolutely right to claim in his many writings and talks that it was really the Sto. Niño who truly conquered the Philippines that continues to be the most popular Christ-devotion in the country along with the Nuestro Padre Jesus de Nazareno of Quiapo.

More powerful than the swords and cannons or any force in the world indeed is the Child Jesus who has continued to be a paradox in world history: the Son of God born in a lowly stable in a small town called Bethlehem because there was no room for them in the inn during the time of the powerful Caesar claiming to be the king of the whole world by ordering a census of all his subjects in the vast Roman Empire now totally forgotten, his kingdom long gone.

What an irony the God who came so weak like all of us, without any title to His name nor an army at His command still influencing the world in His weakness and silence, in His childlikeness. A reality in life until now we have refused to accept even in the Church.

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then Jesus embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

Mark 10:13-16
A child praying in our Parish, 07 November 2019; photo by Mr. Red Santiago.

Christ’s path of weakness vs. the world’s path of power

It is so timely that during this Ordinary Time we have this Feast of the Sto. Niño to remind us of the central teaching of Jesus Christ to be childlike that gets lost in the novelty and sentimentality of our Christmas celebrations.

See how this call for us to be childlike becomes more difficult even almost impossible to achieve in our world that has become so technical and “sophisticated” as we seek to shape and manipulate everything according to our own design.

The world of men, of macho men we love to relish with delight in the secular and religious world in all of its trappings of fads and fashion and “hard talks”, of external showmanships that we try so hard to project cannot hide the hypocrisies within, of keeping grips and control on everyone and everything like the disciples of Jesus. The tragedy of that scene continuing to happen in our time is how some few people who live in darkness pretend to be seeing the light that in the process are actually misleading people towards darkness and destruction.

Every time we refuse to allow others to come forward with their new thoughts and new ideas, fresh perspectives in governance and management, in the ministry, in theology, when we close our minds to hear others ideas and opinions in doing things, then we are into serious power plays that can be pernicious at the same time.

When this happens, we are all the more challenged to be child-like before God in taking all the risks in exposing what is true, what is real like those kids shouting “the emperor has no clothes”!

To be a child means to owe one’s existence to another which we never outgrow even in our adult life. It is an attitude of being open, that Jesus can be talking to us through people not necessarily like us, even different from us. It is an attitude of trusting others, unlike those hungry for power who only believe in themselves, so afraid they might be proven wrong because their minds are either narrow or closed.

Are we not surprised at all that these control freaks around us who try so hard to project images of power and strength are often the perverts and deviants hiding their childishness and immaturities and other skeletons in the closet?

Photo by author, “Sleeping Sto. Niño”, January 2020.

Becoming and living as God’s children

Jesus shows us today in this feast of the Sto. Niño that it is in the path of being weak like children when we are truly free like Him – free to be a child of God indeed! This He accomplished by dying on the Cross not only to forgive us for our sins but made us a “new man/woman” in God as His children.

Brothers and sisters: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in then heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundations of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.

Ephesians 1:3-6

How sad that in our efforts to be in the man’s world of power and dominance, we try so hard becoming somebody else whom we are not only to end up alone, lost and unfulfilled.

Our being children of God is something innate in us, already within us that was accomplished by Christ for us at the Cross.

The key is to always go back to Jesus at the Cross.

We have said earlier that to be a child is to owe one’s existence to another that is, ultimately speaking, to God alone.

Hence, one sure sign of being like a child is having the sense of gratitude, of thanksgiving.

Incidentally, the Greek word for thanksgiving is eucharistia or eucharist! In the gospel accounts, we find so many instances of Jesus thanking the Father for everything that beautifully reminds us of His childlikeness.

The moment we feel strong enough without need for others, then we stop being grateful, then we lose that childlikeness in us as we start tinkering with power and influence, assuming to ourselves that everybody owes us, the world needs us.

That is when we stop growing and sooner or later, we collapse and eventually fall so hard on our faces.

How amazing that the Sto. Niño image given by Magellan to Queen Juana holds an orb or a globe. It is very interesting where did the maker of that image got that idea that the world is round when in fact it was the theory that Magellan had in mind in setting out to his ambitious expedition by sailing westward and returning from the east?

Records show that the first images of the Child Jesus or Sto. Niño as we know came from Flanders, a region in the Netherlands. The Flemish people have been making those images as early as the late 1400’s. That is why there is also that popular image of the the Child Jesus in Prague in the Czech Republic.

The mystery remains where did they get that idea of the Child Jesus holding an orb?

Could it be that the Flemish people who were devoutly Catholics at that time must have found the “light” from Jesus Christ in their devotions and prayers as prophesied by Isaiah in the first reading?

Nobody knows for sure but the next time you look at a Sto. Niño, be reminded always that it is the Child Jesus who holds the world in His hands. If you want to have the world in your hand too, be child-like! Be always grateful for who you are and what you have. Jesus promised it anyway.

Blessed week ahead of you!

The Black Nazarene in COVID-19

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Saturday, Feast of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo, 09 January 2021
1 John 5:14-21     >><)))*>   +   <*(((><<     John 3:22-30
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Quiapo, 09 January 2020.

For the first time in so many years, there will be no Traslacion today of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo due to the COVID-19 pandemic but devotees are still celebrating its feast via online Masses and by visiting other churches with revered images of Nuestro Padre Señor Jesus de Nazareno first brought in the country by Augustinian Recollects in the early 1600’s.

Like in our celebrations last year of Lent and Easter and recently of Christmas, COVID-19 pandemic has given us much needed time to reflect, meditate, and review our faith in general that has been shaped for better and, for worst, by our many rites and rituals that have turned us blind to its deeper realities of finding Jesus among the poor and suffering.

It is a great marvel for our eyes to see this unique and intense expression of faith of great crowds gathering every year to fulfill their panata or vow to the Black Nazarene. People from all walks of life, children, men and women, young and old flock to Quiapo on this day as part of their panata for a prayer and wish granted them by the Señor Nazareno.

Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Quiapo, 09 January 2020.

Beloved: We have this confidence in him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours. Children, be on your guard against idols.

1 John 5:14-15, 21

So often people wonder do we really have to go through all these because of a prayer granted like healing or having a child or getting a job or passing a board exam?

The beloved disciple reminds us today during this time of the pandemic that somehow we have to restore some sense of order especially in the Traslacion.

There is no doubt about the faith of everyone — but it is not everything. Faith is directed to God, a Person, not to a ritual or rite nor to an image. In this time of COVID-19, Jesus reiterates to us His love for us, of how like yesterday in the gospel He always wishes the best for us.

Let it be clear we are not passing judgment on the devotees of the Black Nazarene and of other popular devotions anywhere else in the world. In the letter of St. John we heard today, we find that we do not need to go through so much hardships like some people would do in their panata because prayer is not primarily for having things but for deepening relationship with God. We pray because we relate, we want to be one with God. Asking for things or blessings is secondary. Prayers and sacrifices do not necessarily change situations in one’s life; prayers and sacrifices change the person. In fact, when we pray for something, deep within us we already knew if it is meant for us or not; that is why, I always tell people to “claim” from Jesus whatever he/she may be praying for because if it is for you, the Lord will surely give it to you.

It will almost be a year since we have this pandemic but until now, see in most churches how people continue to disregard our health protocols not to touch and kiss images. In less than a month, we shall start the Season of Lent when images are covered so we go deeper into the person of God and not merely to His images and other visuals that unfortunately for some have become their gods. And that is why despite our deep religiosity, we cannot experience real change in our society because we are still individualistic than communal. Values are misplaced or even disregarded when we think more of the favors to be had than the relationships to be kept, the person to be respected and life to be valued. No wonder, so many Catholics ironically and sadly support corrupt politicians and leaders who lie and disregard life despite their being “prayerful”.

From Google.

John said: “He (Jesus) must increase, I must decrease.”

John 3:30

Señor Nazareno reminds us how in this life we imitate John the Baptist remaining humble before Jesus, entrusting everything to Him. Most especially, working hard to ensure that Jesus and His gospel of salvation is made known to everyone.

See how in our gospel today when the disciples of John the Baptist reported to him Christ’s ministries in Judea, seeking clarifications on how to deal with the situation as more and more people were coming to Jesus. The scene reveals to us the deep spirituality of John, telling his disciples how Jesus must increase and he must decrease which is essentially Christ’s teaching on discipleship, that who ever wants to follow Him must first deny himself and take up his cross with Him.

That is the central message of the Black Nazarene: of how we are also willing to forget our very selves, take up our cross and follow Jesus in the path of self-sacrifice. It is finding Jesus among the poor and suffering that made the Quiapo devotion so appealing to every generation, but — we also wonder why our nation remains poor with so many sufferings! There must be something wrong.

This is something that only the pandemic can offer us: to search our souls, sincerely asking our selves if we still find Jesus in the center of all these devotions. How sad that every year, we hear reports of how some devotees getting unruly, insisting on what they believe, on what they want, including the route of the Traslacion.

Amid all these celebrations, do we hear John’s declaration “Jesus must increase and I must decrease”?

That is spirituality which is more about relationship with God than just fulfillment and celebration of rites and rituals that we call religiosity.

The Black Nazarene statue sits at the stage of the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on January 8, 2013, one day before its feast day when it will be paraded around the streets of Manila to the greeting of thousands of devotees. (Photo by LJ Pasion)

Usually, when you ask anyone for the meaning of “Jesus Nazareno”, easily they would say it refers to the Lord’s origins, the town of Nazareth where He grew up after returning from Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous plot against all infants when He was born.

It is true but on deeper reflection, we have to remember that Nazareth is the only place in the New Testament never mentioned in the Old Testament. Besides, Jesus Christ is actually from Bethlehem, the town of David and Joseph His father where He was born in fulfillment of the prophecies.

According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the words Nazoraios and Nazarenos used to designate Jesus in the gospels came from the Hebrew root “nezer” for root. Remember in the Simbang Gabi the prophecy by Isaiah that “There shall comne forth a shoot (nezer) from the stump of Jesse” (Is.11:1)?

Pope Benedict explains that Matthew must have detected in the name Nazareth a prophetic reference to the “shoot” as a sign of fulfillment of God’s promise to draw new life from the dead stump of Jesse:

If we add that in the inscription above the Cross, Jesus is called ho Nazoraios (cf. Jn.19:19), then the title acquires its full resonance: what is at first sight refers simply to his origin, actually points to his essence: he is the “shoot,” he is the one completely consecrated to God, from his mother’s womb to the day of his death.

Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (pp.117-118)

What a beautiful reminder to us all today in this time of COVID-19 in celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene, reminding us that in this time when everything seems to be “dead” like a “stump” of the tree, God is working something marvelous, something great among us through His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus is coming, Jesus has come and remains with us despite this pandemic.

But, are we willing to die to ourselves to see Him, to experience Him, and most of all, share Him?

Viva Nuestro Padre Señor Jesus de Nazareno!

Pasko… na naman?!

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-25 ng Disyembre 2020
Larawan kuha ni G. Marc Angelo Nicolas Carpio, Pasko 2020 sa aming parokya.
Pasko na naman.
Yan palaging sambit ng karamihan
minsan hindi maintindihan
palaging inaabangan
pero kapag nariyan na
parang tinatabangan
inaayawan
maski kinaiinisan.
Kapag natutuwa, nakangiti mga labi
sabay sabi, "(Yehey!) Pasko na namann!!!"
Pero kung nagagalit, mata'y nanglilisik:
"Pasko na naman!?!"
Kapag nagtataka, nagugulat,
mabilis pagbigkas, sa dulo umiigkas
"Pasko na naman???"
At kung walang pakialam,
malamlam mukha, halos ibulong
"Pasko na naman."
Larawan kuha ni G. Marc Angelo Nicolas Carpio, Pasko 2020 sa aming parokya.
Iisang pangungusap
nababago dating
kung saan ang diin
kung bigkasin
batay sa damdamin
nababago ibig sabihin
ngunit kahulagan
at aral nananatili pa rin.
Hindi maililihim
sa likod ng mga katagang
"na naman"
nararamdaman
panghihinayang, pagsisi
tila mayroong gustong aminin;
ang iba naman pilit walang kibit
dahil sa sakit at pait na sinapit
kunwa'y walang pakialam
Pasko kinakalimutan.
Larawan kuha ni G. Marc Angelo Nicolas Carpio, Pasko 2020 sa aming parokya.
Pasko ay higit pa sa petsa
pera, damit at mga regalo
magarbong pagsasalo-salo;
Pasko ay pagparito sa mundo
ng Diyos na nagkatawang-tao
pangalan ay Jesu-Kristo
upang iligtas tayo
mahango sa pagkakasala.
Mababago pagbigkas
pagbati ng "Maligayang Pasko"
ngunit kahulugan mananatili
magpakailanman
ang pag-ibig na walang hanggan
ng Diyos na atin unang nagmahal
gumawa ng paraan
kaya sumilang sa sabsaban
sa ilalim ng malaking kadiliman
Kanyang Anak upang tayo samahan, damayan!
Larawan kuha ni G. Marc Angelo Nicolas Carpio, Pasko 2020 sa aming parokya.

Our song, our life

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe-7 for the Soul
by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Advent Week IV, 22 December 2020
1 Samuel 1:24-28     >><)))*>   +   <*(((><<     Luke 1:46-56
Photo by Marc Angelo Nicolas Carpio, 20 December 2020.

When I was about to enter the high school seminary, an aunt would always comment on our way to school how I would become a priest when I am a big fan of rock and roll music. You know, the usual stuff ever since with old folks about rock music as evil and everything…

Looking back, I just imagine what if I had told her and my other relatives the meaning of Steely Dan that is my most favorite band? Most likely they would have fainted! And I would tell tell them too that I am the only priest who had played Stairway to Heaven in Radio Veritas where I used to co-anchor a show, playing only good, old rock n’ roll to the delight of many listeners despite protests from management.

Lately I have been blogging every week linking secular music with the Sunday gospel that had enabled me to reach new and younger generations I hope had rediscovered Jesus in the music I had offered them.

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer had said that “music is the food of the soul” and it is very true for it transcends cultures and languages that even if you do not understand the lyrics, music always touches the soul.

Meanwhile, the great English playwright William Shakespeare is said to tell his audience at the start of his plays that “If music be the food of love, play on.” That’s very beatiful. Like love, music is best served with another person; when we sing, it is always to pour our hearts out. We let others hear our song even if we sing alone because that is what music is all about – it is meant to be shared.

This is the reason why Mary sang her Magnificat during her Visitation of Elizabeth, not by herself in Nazareth after the angel had left after announcing to her the birth of Jesus.

Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.”

Luke 1:46-49
Photo from Pinterest, Our Lady of Fatima Centennial in Portugal, 17 May 2017.

Mary praised and thanked God with her “Magnificat”

Recall how Elizabeth praised Mary twice and her baby Jesus in the womb once yesterday at the Visitation. Naturally for us, when we are praised we always return it by praising too whoever spoke nicely of us.

But that was not the case with Mary. She took the occasion to praise and thank God for all His goodness and salvific work in her and in Elizabeth. Like Hanna in the first reading and responsorial psalm today who sang praises to God in giving her a son in the prophet Samuel, Mary while filled with the Holy Spirit sang this canticle, narrating how God worked in her and through her.

Our lives is a song of thanksgiving always to God who never stops doing great things for us not to make us famous but to bring His divine will into fulfillment. Mary affirmed this when she admitted her own blessedness, “From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.”

Yesterday we have reflected that true blessedness is to trust in God. Likewise, Mary added another dimension in what is to be blessed before God and that is being His servant, His slave or in her very words to the angel at the annunciation, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

A handmaid is the feminine form of “slave” but more than being poetic in her identification as a female slave of God, Mary through her Magnificat showed us a glimpse of the lives of the early Christians at that time who were considered “weird” and “odd”, even “bizarre” among the Roman pagans who could not understand why they worshipped Jesus Christ they saw as “a crucified criminal”.

Worst of all for the pagans, they could not understand why the early Christians who were mostly poor would give themselves to Jesus in loving service to others like the sick, the elderly, the hungry, widows and orphans and those living in the margins.

In fact, the Roman historian Pliny recorded in his writings how during the persecution the emperor’s soldiers rounded up Christians in every town and city by looking for anybody doing good, serving the poor and needy! It is something to think about for us Christians today: Would any one of us be arrested because we are doing something good like serving the less fortunate?

Photo by author, Our Lady of the Poor at Boys Town in Cavite (2009).

Mary, the first model disciple, the first to live out the Gospel

In singing her blessedness by God, Mary had assumed her being the spokeswoman of the early Christians, the poor ones or anawim of Israel who were truly poor materially, trusting entirely on God.

Here lies her challenge to us who love to sing her Magnificat: do we allow God to work in us His salvation?

“He has mercy on those who fear him. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he remembered his promise of mercy…”

Luke 1:50-54

Again, we find many similarities in the Mary’s Magnificat and Hanna’s song we heard in the responsorial psalm. But, more than that is the striking similarity of Magnificat with the Beatitudes to be preached by Jesus according to Luke.

In Matthew’s gospel, there are eight Beatitudes preached by Jesus at his sermon on the mount; Luke narrated it differently by citing only four Beatitudes he paired with four woes that Jesus preached in His sermon on the plain (this is due to the different audience Luke and Matthew addressed):

Blessed are you who are poor… Blessed are you who are now hungry… Blessed are you who are now weeping… Blessed are you when people hate you…

Woe to you who are rich… Woe to you who are filled… Woe to you who laugh now… Woe to you when all speak well of you…

Luke 6:20-26

Magnificat is the Gospel in a nutshell. See the works of God cited by Mary perfectly jibing with the Beatitudes of Jesus. Here we find again how Luke has shown us the consistency of Mary as a disciple of her Son Jesus Christ by witnessing to His teachings, living them out for which she was crowned as Queen of heaven and earth.

This is the reason why I love so much the image of Fatima and of Banneux known as Lady of the Poor with Mary portrayed as so simple yet so lovely and beautiful. What a scandal for the Church in our time with all those lavish processions and coronations of the Blessed Virgin Mary where the poor are left out, becoming more of a social function among the rich and famous. What a shame most especially amid the pandemic when some parishes can spend so much fortune in these rituals that look more as a show which the Blessed Virgin would definitely disapprove. Keep in mind how Mary identified herself as “handmaid of the Lord” — do away all those pomp and pageantries please!

Every night, we priests and the religious sing the Magnificat in our Evening prayers to examine ourselves if we have lived out the Gospel message of the Lord, if we have been poor and hungry, if we have allowed ourselves to be used by God to effect His salvation among the suffering.

The same is true with every disciple of Jesus: when we sing the Magnificat or “Ang Puso ko’y nagpupuri”, we have to do some soul searching how consistent we have been as a disciple of the Lord like His Mother Mary.

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 24 July 2016.

How sad late yesterday when some people -whether they are trolls or not – had come out expressing support to that cop who brutally shot and killed Sonya Gregorio and her son Anton in their home in Paniqui, Tarlac Sunday afternoon.

How can some people be not affected and even defend or belittle such unspeakable crime of a man supposed to uphold the law, protect civilians?

What had gone wrong with us as the only Christian nation in this part of the world?

Can we sing “Ang puso ko’y nagpupuri sa Panginoon, nagagalak ang aking espiritu, sa aking Tagapagligtas” while we rejoice and defend all forms of brutalities and violence around us?

As we strongly condemn this unspeakable crime and demand justice for Sonya and Anton, let us work hard and pray hardest to imitate Mary to effect change in the society we live in and create by being a voice of the poor and vessel of God’s salvation. Amen.

Nang dumalaw at manahan kasamaan sa ating bayan

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-21 ng Disyembre 2020
Larawan ni Lucifer, ang Satanas, mula sa wikipediacommons.org.
Nakapanlulumo
nakalilito
mga nakita
sa maigsing video
mga nanglilisik na mata ng bata
iginigiit ama niya ay pulis -
walang mintis
napaka-bilis 
mag-inang tumatangis
bumulagta sa lupa
lahat hilahod
sa eksenang napanood.
Pilit kong binabalik-balikan
ebanghelyo ng Simbang Gabi
kanina at kagabi
parehong nagsasabi ng mabuti:
dinalaw ng anghel si Maria
hatid Mabuting Balita
kaya nagmamadali siyang
 dumalaw kay Elizabeth
upang ibahagi at makihati
sa tuwa ng pagpapala
kay laking hiwaga
ating napala.
Ano nga ba ang nangyari
ating hinayaan
na dumalaw at manahan
sa ating bayan
itong mga kasamaan
araw-araw na lamang
bukambibig
kayabangan at kasinungalingan
pagmumura binibigyang katuwiran
kamatayan tanging nalalaman
sagot sa ano mang
sakit ng lipunan?
Balikan din mga lumipas na Kapaskuhan
bakit mga pelikulang katatakutan
pinararangalan mga impakto at demonyo
gayong ito ang pagsilang ng Kabutihan?
Hindi maikakaila 
ang kakayahan ng kasamaan 
na dumihan at linlangin
ating kaisipan upang wasakin
kaayusan at kapayapaan
na dapat nating pangalagaan 
at ipaglaban na kinakatawan ng Sanggol 
na sumilang doon sa sabsaban!
Larawan kuha ng may akda, Pasko 2018.

Ang Mahal na Birheng Maria at corona virus

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-26 ng Nobyembre 2020
Larawan kuha ni Arch. Philip Santiago, Lourdes, France, 2016.
Sana'y inyong ipagpaumanhin
at ako ma'y patawarin
ng Mahal na Ina natin
sa aking sasabihin
na noon pa man 
hindi ko inililihim:
Ano itong pagkahumaling
ng marami sa mga kapatid natin
sa pagkokorona sa Birheng Maria?
Mayroon pa bang hihigit
sa kanyang koronasyon 
sa langit?
Hindi kaya ito kalabisan
kaartehan 
o inggitan ng iilan
na ang tanging sandigan
ng debosyon kay Maria
ay panglabas lamang
upang hilig ay mapagbigyan
kahit walang kabuluhan
at katuturan
habang sambayanan
nanonood lamang
sa isang palabas na walang laman?
Pasiklaban, pabonggahan
tanging mga katangian nitong pagkokorona 
hindi birong halaga ginagasta
sa gitna ng isang pandemya
tila baga nawala na rin
panglasa at pang-amoy
nahawahan na rin
ng corona virus
debosyon sa masintahing Ina
di nila alintana
sila-sila lang nasa eksena
wala naman ang balana.
Larawan mula sa Pinterest.
Sana'y tigilan na
itong pagkokorona
ng Birheng Maria
na lumalaganap tulad ng virus
dahil natitiyak ko
hindi rin siya masaya
sa gayong parangal sa kanya;
malamang ipapaalala
din niya tulad ni Hesus
propesiya ni Oseas:
"habag ang nais ko
hindi mga susunuging hain."
Ang higit na nakakabahala
sa ginagawa nilang pagkokorona
sa Birheng Maria bilang Reyna
wala na ring pinagkaiba
sa mga monarkiya
lalo na sa Europa
na sadyang pang-aliw
na lamang sa mga turista
walang kahulugan ni
katuturan sa takbo ng buhay
maliban sa lumipas na kasaysayan
at yaman ng kanilang kalinangan.
Hindi ba ang korona
ng Birheng Maria
 ay ang putong niyang
katapatan at kababaang-loob
sa harap ng Diyos,
buod ng kanyang Magnificat?
Siya na ating Reyna
kayamanan at korona
ay mga dukha
at mahihina,
ningning at kinang
wala sa ginto at ano mang brilyante!
Balikan, higit sa lahat pagnilayan,
pagpapakita ng Birheng Maria
sa makabagong panahon
doon sa Lourdes, Fatima at Banneux
dama kanyang pagka-Reyna
dahil kaisa niya mga bata at dukha;
higit sa lahat, si Maria
ang tinutularan, pilit inaalam
kanyang larawan
hindi tulad ng kinagagawian
kanya-kanyang larawan
malayo sa katotohanan at kabanalan! 
Ang hamon ng Birheng Maria
siya ang ating makatulad
hindi siya manika o sagala 
na inaayusan dahil sa sariling kagustuhan!
Larawan niya ay karukhaan at kababaang-loob
hindi kapalaluan na pinaglalaruan;
huwag nating ipilit ang sa atin
korona ni Maria ay sirain
at maging koronang tinik
sakit at hapis ang kapalit;
koronang putik na ang dungis sa atin babahid
o corona virus sadyang wala na si Hesus!
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Our Lady of the Poor ng Banneux, Belgium sa retreat house ng Boys Town sa Cavite, 2007.

Ang problema sa mabait…

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 10 Nobyembre 2020
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Kuwaresma 2019.
Ang problema sa mabait -
hindi iyong daga at mga bubwit - 
kungdi mga tao nating pinipilit
ituring na mabubuti
pinupuring lagi
dahil lahat sa kanila ay maaari:
lahat pinapayagan, pinalalampas
kahit malayo sa katuwiran.
Laging tandaan malaking kaibhan
ng mabuti sa mabait
dahil mas malamang ang mabait
hindi makatarungan
hindi patas tumingin,
kung tumimbang
palaging kulang.
Ang problema sa "mabait"
ayaw makapanakit
damdami't isipan
 kaya hinahayaan
mga kalabisan,
sinasabing pagbigyan
mga panlalamang
 nakakalimutan
 ang katarungan;
ibig nila sila'y kagiliwan
walang imik sa mga kamalian
di alintana
kanilang tinatapakan
dangal at paninindigan
ng mga makatuwiran.
Ang problema sa mabait
sa simula lamang kaakit-akit
paglaon napapanis, nabubulok
sinasabing "nasisiraan ng bait" -
bait ay pansamantala
likha ng ating isip
minsa'y mapanlinlang
sakim at sarili ang ipinipilit;
kaibayo nito ang kabutihan
na bumubukal mula sa kalooban
kung saan nanahan
ang Diyos na tanging mabuti:
mapagpatawad, mapagbigay
hindi humahanay sa kasalanan 
at kasamaan dahil Siya ang kabanalan.

*Tingnan din naunang tula, “Magkaiba ang Mabait at Mabuti”, https://lordmychef.com/2019/07/20/magkaiba-ang-mabait-at-mabuti/

Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Kuwaresma 2020.

Palaisipan, bugtong, o hamon?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-05 ng Nobyembre 2020
Larawan kuha ni G. Jay Javier, Quiapo, 2020.
Madalas ating buhay
puno ng hiwaga
hindi mo malaman
kung ika'y nilalaro ng tadhana;
simpleng palaisipan
malalim ang kahulugan
habang mayroon namang
bugtong kay hirap dugtungan
upang masaklot
kanyang nilalaman.
Ina ng aking kaibigan noon
pinayuhan ng duktor
maselan na operasyon
gugugol mahigit isang milyon;
tumanggi sila kahit na mayroon
dahil kanilang ina
lampas ochenta na noon!
Kasabay ng panahong iyon
nagkasakit kaibigang kabataan
kailangan din ng operasyon
wala pang kalahating milyon
ngunit dahil walang ipon
hindi malaman
paano magkakaroon.
Madalas sakit ng maliliit
maraming gamot at solusyon
problema nila'y walang pantustos 
habang mga nakaririwasa 
maraming pang-gastos
sakit naman nila'y walang 
gamot ni solusyon!
Sawimpalad
ito'y itinuring hanggang ngayon 
bilang bugtong at palaisipan
kaya nanatiling pinagninilayan
sa halip na tukuying
hamon ng sitwasyon
aksiyon ang dapat na tugon!
Larawan kuha ni G. Jay javier, Quiapo, 2020.