The way of the world

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Wednesday, Easter Week-VI, 20 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 17:15, 22-18:1 ><)))*> + <*(((>< John 16:12-15

From Facebook, 18 May 2020.

As I prayed over the readings for today, dear Jesus, I felt the great similarity of the time of St. Paul in Athens and of the world in this time of the corona virus that made me wonder what would your apostle tell the people of today who have made the malls as their new temples of worship.

Or, what would St. Paul tell those in government who see businesses as most essential needs, totally disregarding the need to open houses of worship where people can find spiritual nourishment?

What would St. Paul tell us your priests and Bishops who have suddenly become less assertive in pushing for the opening of churches so people may celebrate and receive the sacraments so essential in this time of crisis?

Lord Jesus, you know how like St. Paul we have always stressed to the people that

“The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.”

Acts of the Apostles 17:24-25

…. and yet, they continue to consider you anything spiritual as non-essential?

Tell us Lord what we must do these days so we may reach the modern pagans and Athenians of this age who have turned to worship to other gods aside from you, O Lord.

May we probe more the reasons why like the Athenians at that time people today still “scoff and leave” when they hear about you, your Resurrection and other spiritual things.

Is it because we would rather massage ourselves with our own thoughts about you and the Divine that seem so magical and more delightful like Hollywood?

How sad that until now, we cannot accept and believe you truly love us so much that you rose again from the dead to bring us back to life too!

Dear Jesus, teach us to be patient and be opened to the Holy Spirit who enables us to understand slowly in your own time at our own pace the realities and truth of your Resurrection.

May the Holy Spirit open us to more imaginative ways like St. Paul in preaching you to the modern pagans and Athenians of today. Amen.

St. Bernardine of Sienna, pray for us!

The “IHS” Christogram: the ancient way of writing the name “Jesus Christ” with the first three letters of his name in Greek substituting the sigma with “S” in Latin. It was St. Bernardine of Sienna who popularized reverence to the Holy Name of Jesus, encouraging Christians to put the letters “IHS” on their doors. Later St.Ignatius of Loyola adopted the Christogram to symbolize his newly founded Society of Jesus that eventually became a part of our Christian art and tradition.

Loving presence of Jesus in us

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Easter Week VI-A, 17 May 2020

Acts of the Apostle 8:5-8, 14-17 ><)))*> 1 Peter 3:15-18 ><)))*> John 14:15-21

Nuns bringing relief goods to a remote village. Photo from Facebook.

We are about to end two great seasons in our liturgy and still, here we are in our enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19. Prospects remain dim as experts say the corona virus may never be totally eradicated despite the discovery of vaccines and medicines later this year.

It is in this background we find our readings this Sunday so reassuring, reminding us of how so often in history that tragic or painful events in the lives of individuals and societies have led to happy endings.

In our first reading, we have seen how the persecution of the Church at Jerusalem so tragic but at the same time also helped spread Christianity so fast led by the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus Christ before he was betrayed and arrested on that Holy Thursday evening.

All this is possible if we believe in Jesus, if we love Jesus.

Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

John 14:15-18
Photo by author, flowers at Church of Gallicantu near Jerusalem, May 2019.

Intimacy with Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit

For the first time, Jesus promised during their Last Supper the sending of the Holy Spirit when he fulfills his mission.

In most translations, the Holy Spirit is referred to as Advocate although some prefer the transliteration Paraclete from its original Greek Parakletos to truly capture its full meaning or context.

Only St. John used the word Parakletos to denote the Holy Spirit. In its Hellenistic context, Parakletos had come to be known as Advocate like a lawyer or a friend who speaks on behalf of the “accused” like Jesus in a hostile world (Jn.16:7-11).

However, St. John also used parakletos in different contexts like in our gospel today.

See how before introducing to us the sending of the Holy Spirit, Jesus speaks more of a grand instruction – in fact, a reality, a truth in the life of his every disciple: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn.14:15).

Without specifying any commandments to keep, Jesus further explained that “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me” (Jn.14:21). He would be speaking of this like a refrain four more times later to stress that loving Jesus is keeping his commandments.

It is a very difficult task to fulfill and most often, more difficult to understand or interpret especially when we are in real life-situations like loving an arrogant president or loving officials who break the rules of quarantine!

This is so because Jesus himself is the law, the commandments which is his very person; therefore, to love him is to be like him and that is always keeping his commandments of love.

And that is why Jesus made sure to inscribe this lesson and reality into his disciples’ memory and hearts during their last supper by promising the Holy Spirit he called as Parakletos who would be acting as his Advocate, Counsellor, and Comforter when he returns to the Father.

It is the Holy Spirit who leads us now into an intimacy with Christ that we are able to love Jesus, love like Jesus, and love in Jesus. This is the same Holy Spirit who binds the Three Persons of the Trinity in love who also makes us one with God and with others.

Photo from Facebook post by Ms. Marivic Tribiana, 17 April 2020 fire in Tondo area.

Making Jesus present in our love

We make Jesus most present when we love because when we love, everything changes for the best, even the most difficult and worst situations in life.

Albert Camus rightly said when he wrote in his 1947 novel The Plague now being reread due to the corona virus, that “A loveless world is a dead world.”

Without love, we would have gone extinct by now.

Because of love, every tragedy, every suffering and problem we go through leads to happy ending primarily because we discover something, someone beyond far more important than any situation or plight we may be into.

Artwork by Fr. Marc Ocariza upon seeing the FB post by Ms. Marivic Tribiana above on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday 2020.

Most of all, love has a distinctive characteristic that moves the lover to become like the beloved. This is the reason why we who love strive harder, persevere and forge into every obstacle and fight until we are one with our beloved!

And who is ultimately our very love?

God.

The God revealed to us by Jesus Christ his Son who became human like us to be one with us in everything including death except sin so that we become like him – divine – in his Resurrection.

Jesus Christ whom we “sanctify as Lord in our hearts” (1Pt.3:15) is the one we imitate and follow, the one we see and, most of all, the only one we (must) share when we love, when we serve especially in this time of the corona pandemic.

Sometimes, it is still difficult to believe how these pandemic and quarantine are happening to us when all of a sudden here comes typhoon Ambo that wreaked a path of destruction in the Visayas and Bicolandia the other day, making us wonder what is happening in the world right now?

Making things worst that have stressed us all so much is our government at all levels lacking preparations, with some officials into alleged corruptions while the enforcers of the laws are the ones breaking all the rules of quarantine!

We just keep on hoping things would get better by starting right at our own end.

Sometimes it can be funny although painful when some people forget us or take us for granted, thinking we are fine or doing great without any hint of the sufferings within.

But the grace is always there because Jesus is within each one of us who believes in him and tries hard to keep his commandments.

“In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”

John 14:19-20

We just have to do our part, to keep on believing in Jesus, loving Jesus, and most of all, keeping his commandments because Jesus is the “explanation to anyone who asks us for a reason for our hope” (1Pt.3:15).

This does not mean the world is lacking the Lord’s presence.

He has not left us indeed and sooner or later, we shall see how he, the God of history, will direct everything according to his greater plan for us.

Today’s gospel reminds us of his assurance to be with us always in the Holy Spirit.

It is now our turn to pick up the pieces and make him more felt, especially in comforting those affected severely by the many storms that hit us in this time of the corona virus.

Have a blessed Sunday and stay safe! Amen.

Photo from CBCPNews of the debris left by Typhoon Ambo in Arteche, Eastern Samar, 14 May 2020.

Pasko ng Pagkabuhay sa panahon ng nakamamatay na COVID-19

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-13 ng Abril 2020

Katulad ninyo 
ako man ay humiling
sa aking mga panalangin
sana'y magbalik na 
dating normal na buhay natin 
bago mag-COVID-19.



Ngunit nang aking suriin
mali itong aking hiling
at tiyak hindi diringgin
ng Panginoon nating
nagpakasakit upang baguhin
kinamihasnang pagkakasala natin.


Ano nga ba ibig sabihin
pagbabalik sa dating normal
na buhay natin?
Hindi ba ito naging sanhi
nitong COVID-19 kaya 
tayo ngayon ay naka-quarantine?
Bago pa man dumating 
itong social distancing
magkakahiwalay at hindi natin pansin
mga kapwa lalo mga nalilihis 
habang ang iba ay minamaliit 
tila baga buhay ng iba walang halaga sa atin?
Kaya dating normal na buhay natin
hindi na dapat magbalik sa mga panahong...
normal ang walang Diyos
normnal ang hindi pagsisimba
normal ang paglapastangan sa magulang at kapwa
normal ang makasarili
normal ang walang pakialam
normal ang kasakiman
normal ang patayan
normal ang pakikiapid
normal ang pagsisinungaling
normal ang fake news at chismis
normal ang pagnanakaw
normal ang korapsiyon
normal ang gulangan
normal ang pagmumura at pag-alipusta
normal ang kawalan ng kahihiyan
normal ang mga trapo na pulitikong pulpol
normal ang pagbebenta ng boto
normal ang kawalan ng modo
normal ang pagwasak sa kalikasan.
Iyan ang dating normal na buhay natin
na hindi na dapat mabalik
sari-saring mga diyos-diyosang
sinasamba upang magkamal ng maraming pera
hangaan at tingalain ng iba
waring ang sarili'y angat sa karamihan.

Iyan ang dating normal na buhay natin
na hindi na dapat mabalik pagkaran nitong COVID-19:
malayo sa Diyos at sa kapwa tao
dahil itong Pasko ng Pagkabuhay
ay pagbabalik sa landas ng kabutihan at kabanalan
paglimot sa sarili, pagpapasan ng Krus upang si Kristo ay masundan.

Kaya marahil matatagalan itong ating lockdown
upang higit nating madalisay ating mga buhay
nang sa gayon matapos pagdaanan mga kahirapan
huwag nating malimutan ang Diyos na makapangyarihan
hangad ang ating kabutihan at kapakanan.

Life will never be the same after Easter 2020

The Lord is My Chef Easter Vigil Recipe, 11 April 2020

Our simple yet meaningful Easter celebration amid Covid-19, 11 April 2020.

A blessed happy Easter to you my dear reader!

What have you been praying for since the start of this Holy Week amid the threat of COVID-19? Aside from being spared by this dreaded corona virus, what have you been praying for?

For almost a month, I have always been praying to God for one special thing: that we may all go back to our “normal lives” soon.

Since the first Sunday of our lockdown last March 22 that happened to be my 55th birthday, until after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, I have been going around our parish with the Blessed Sacrament and Santo Entierro on Good Friday mounted on a truck to bless the people.

And every time I would go around – with strict orders on the people to observe social distancing – I have strongly felt how they were so hungry and thirsty for Jesus, kneeling along the highway, some with lighted candles while others have their little altar in front of their homes.

Photo by Mr. Randy Cajanding, 09 April 2020.

Except for some few people, almost everyone would make the sign of the Cross, take a bow or raise their hands, asking for blessings, praying silently in their hearts.

I really wonder what they were praying for.

Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, 22 March 2020.
Photo by Ms. Anne Ramos, 10 April 2020.

Me?

Next to the request that we may all be spared of the corona virus in our parish, I always prayed silently to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and in his Santo Entierro, to please, “bring us back to our previous normal lives Lord… I am will to sacrifice everything, to bear all these pains and hardships… just bring us back to our previous normal lives… magbalik lang kami sa dating normal naming buhay, Lord, lahat titiisin ko po.”

Photo by Ms. Anne Ramos, 10 April 2020.

Easter is moving forward to new life, never a going back

But early this Holy Saturday morning as I prayed, I realized God is not going to answer that special prayer of mine.

God will never bring back our previous normal lives before this time of the corona virus when we take control of everything because Easter is leaving the past behind, the old misconceptions, the old sins, the old ways of life far from God.

Easter is moving forward to Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus.

Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.”

Matthew 28:5-7

After this time of the corona virus in the year 2020, we shall never go back to our previous normal lives because Easter is a call to renewal, to going back to God, to going back to love and kindness.

Easter is going back to God, centering our lives anew in him because he is our life!

Entrance to our church during our Easter Vigil, 11 April 2020. Photo by Ms. Ria de Vera.

Jesus is inviting us on this Easter 2020 in the time of COVID-19 to come to him in his new life, to leave the previous normal lives when we spend Sundays on our own, when we just pray and celebrate Mass on special occasions or when we have problems or when going through calamities and disasters.

Jesus is inviting us on this Easter 2020 in the time of corona virus to come to him in his new life to renew our ties with our family and friends, to forgive and bridge gaps among us because life is too short, so fragile.

Jesus is inviting us on this Easter 2020 in the time of COVI9D-19 to come to him in his mercy and justice, to leave our previous lives when we take people for granted, especially those in the health sector like nurses or ordinary folks we call like janitors and garbage collectors.

Easter is rediscovering anew the more essential in lives like the value of each person, the value of health and education, the value of wisdom and sound judgement and decisions.

Jesus is demanding us on this Easter 2020 in the time of the corona virus to never go back to our “normal lives” of before when it was normal to be corrupt, to use foul language, to lie and malign others, to kill and disregard human life, to use violence and force.

Never again must we be silent when people and nature are taken for granted.

Jesus is inviting us on this Easter 2020 in the midst of COVID-19 to never go back to our old politics of trapos and vote buying, to rediscover how blessed is our country with great, talented people equally blessed with a country rich in natural resources ravaged by greedy politicians.

Jesus is inviting us on this Easter 2020 in the time of the corona virus to come to him in his new life by working for justice and truth, speaking against violence and disregard for lives, fighting corruption, rejecting the normal things of life of deception and lies in government, in the church, in school, and in our own families.

Photo by author, 02 April 2020.

If you have listened to our readings, from the story of the creation to the time of Abraham and Moses and then Jesus, people were blessed materially and spiritually because they never went back to old ways of lives but always moved forward in God, in selfless giving of self in service to others.

Without any doubt, Holy Week 2020 is the most unforgettable – even unbelievable we have ever had in our lifetime or even in recent history. And with the extension of the ECQ until the end of April, that makes our Holy Week 2020 as the longest one too!

But, it is not that bad at all.

Holy Week is “Mahal na Araw” in Filipino: mahal means valuable that is why it is the same word we use for expensive. Most of all, mahal is the root of pagmamahal or love because to love is to value another person.

Extended lockdown, extended Holy Week means longer “Mahal na Araw” — that is, more time to love God, others, and self.

So, it is still a blessed Easter to everyone!

Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, Easter Vigil in our parish, 11 April 2020.

Conversing with God in time of COVID-19

40 Shades of Lent, Sunday Week-V, Year-A, 29 March 2020

Ezekiel 37:12-14 +++ Romans 8:8-11 +++ John 11:1-45

Photo by Ms. Anne Ramos last March 22, 2020 during our procession of Blessed Sacrament in the Parish when a rainbow appeared at the horizon.

Once again as we near the closing of our Lenten journey, Jesus does another “sign” or miracle — his last and grandest in anticipation of his coming Passion, Death, and Resurrection: the raising from death of his friend Lazarus.

What is so beautiful in this story is how the evangelist involves us his readers and hearers into a conversation with Jesus unlike last Sunday at the healing of a man born blind where the characters conversed only among themselves.

The raising of Lazarus to life is more engaging because it is deeply personal and intimate as it involves friends dearest to Jesus — exactly like each one of us! And that is why it is also very timely as we go through the ongoing lockdown due to COVID-19.

When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

John 11:4

My dear family and friends, Jesus assures us today of the Father’s love and healing, that he would save us from the deadly corona virus. Come and let us converse with him with the sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary.

After my “private Mass” (Missa sine populo) during the Solemnity of the Annunciation, 25 March 2020.

Presence of Jesus

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

John 11:21-22

Twice do we hear this line in this very long story of the raising of Lazarus when Mary repeated it upon meeting Jesus later at the entrance of their town of Bethany.

And like Martha and Mary, we always say it to Jesus too as if he ever leaves us alone!

“Lord, if you had been here…”

Jesus is always with us.

We are the ones who always leave Jesus behind.

We always have so many other things to do, so many other people to meet that we have no time to truly pray and most of all, celebrate the Sunday Mass every week.

It is my hope that following the suspension of the “public Masses” due to lockdown, people now realize the value of the Holy Eucharist which is the “summit” of our Christian life where we are nourished by the words of God and strengthened by the Body and Blood of Christ.

Photo from Forbes.com via Facebook, 2019.

Long before we were told to observe “social distancing” in this time of pandemic, we have long been distant from one another and from God.

How ironic that these modern means of communications were invented to bring us closer but have actually brought us farther apart! Most often, we are close enough with someone miles across the seas but too distant and cold to persons physically near us, even seated beside us.

Let us spend more time with our family and most especially with God in prayer during this enhanced quarantine period to be the presence of Christ with one another. Let us remember Fr. Patrick Peyton’s expression, “The family that prays together, stays together; a world at prayer is a world at peace”.

Remember: the most wonderful and enriching relationships we can have are those rooted in Jesus Christ who is always present in us.

Jesus is perturbed and deeply troubled

While praying over this long gospel, this photo by Raffy Lerma kept on flashing in my mind, showing me how Jesus must have reacted upon seeing Mary weeping over the death of her brother Lazarus.

He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept.

John 11:33-35

Like our gospel today, Lerma’s photo of a mother crying over her son lost to “tokhang” at the height of this administration’s war against drug in July 2016 is very conversant, so moving like the Pieta by Michaelangelo in Rome. In fact, the government doubted the veracity of the photo, claiming through its trolls it was merely “staged” or “drawing” as we say in journalism. The photo is authentic because the event truly happened. And continued to happen before this lockdown.

What I like most with this photo is the composure of the mother. You can feel she was deeply sad and troubled, weeping without the hysterical theatrics or palahaw in Tagalog that we see in many instances like funerals.

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

Multiply that to the highest degree and we get the image of Jesus “perturbed and deeply troubled, weeping” at the death of his friend Lazarus.

There is the gentle yet firm mastery by Jesus of the situation, of the loss and tragedy.

No hysterics nor theatrics. Pure and all-encompassing presence.

It would be the same mastery and composure Jesus would exhibit at his coming Passion and Death, reaching its highest point on Easter.

Here we find Jesus Christ truly human, truly Divine. Yes, he was perturbed and deeply troubled; he cried and wept not because of weakness but rather more of strength, of being true and determined in overcoming not only his coming Passion but most of all, our own setbacks and losses.

Have faith, my dear reader. Jesus is surely “perturbed and deeply troubled, weeping” again with us in this time of the corona pandemic. Step back and let him be himself in being one with us; then, wait and see what he is going to do next for us.

Photo from theguardian.com, 19 March 2020 reporting how a “generation has died” in Bergamo, Italy struggling with 1959 deaths from corona virus that has overwhelmed the nation’s funeral sector.

Jesus joins us in death so we can rise to life in him

Today is not a beautiful day to die, especially for victims of COVID-19. No wakes. No Masses. Just simple blessings after cremation. If ever possible.

The scenes from Italy are deeply disturbing that has become the new epicenter of corona pandemic. According to a report last Monday, the obituary page of a local newspaper had increased tenfold in a week, listing up to 150 deaths daily! More disturbing is the fact that “death and mourning happen in isolation”.

Our readings this Sunday speak a lot about death symbolized by graves.

But not on a morbid sense like a defeat or a loss; rather, as a victory, a raising to new life!

Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live.

Ezekiel 37:12-14

Ezekiel proclaimed these words of the Lord to the Israelites during their Babylonian Exile when they lost everything and everyone, including God as they thought have forsaken them for their sinfulness. This prophecy is finally fulfilled in Christ’s coming and victory over death on Easter.

In calling back Lazarus to life, Jesus shows us in this scene his tremendous power over death and defeat, agony and pain, sin and evil. It is a prefiguration to a grander scale of his own Resurrection on Easter after the Good Friday.

And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

John 11:43-44
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News. Used with permission. Seen here from atop the GMA Network Center in QC is Mt. Samat in Bataan with the Memorial Cross visible, across the Manila Bay, taken on 26 March 2020.

Do you believe this?

Jesus is calling us to have faith in him, to believe in him especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic. And like his question to Martha which he repeated twice, the Lord is asking us the same question today:

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?

John 11:25-26

Do you believe in him, Jesus the Christ?

Good things have also been happening lately in this two-week old lockdown.

Families are again getting together, staying together. Finally we now have more time than ever to converse once again as husband and wife, children and parents, brothers and sisters.

Some people have rediscovered God and are back to praying again, to believing again.

Even Mother Nature is said to have taken a big break during this lockdown, giving us spectacular views never seen before due to cleaner air, less pollution and congestion in the cities.

These are all conversations going on – thanks to COVID-19!

Let us join the conversations with our loved ones, with nature, with our self, and with God.

Below is one of my favorite photos this week taken by GMA-7 reporter Mr. Raffy Tima. Again, another photo conversing with us, like Jesus in the story of the raising to life of Lazarus.

See the Memorial Cross on Mt. Samat in Bataan?

The raising of Lazarus is the “sign” or miracle as the other evangelists would say, that prefigures the definitive victory of Jesus on the cross.

Like the sisters of Lazarus, believe in Jesus who is awakening us today amid the threats or crosses of corona virus to bear all these sufferings, to passover like him to the life that bodily death cannot touch “through his Spirit dwelling in us” (Rom. 8:11). Amen.

Prayer under pressure

40 Shades of Lent, Friday, Week IV, 27 March 2020

Wisdom 2:1, 12-22 ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan, 22 March 2020.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man but out of them all, the Lord delivers him.”

Psalm 34:19-20

God our heavenly Father, we come to you today, begging you for more strength, more courage, more faith in you as the pressures and stress increase and worsen due this COVID-19 pandemic the whole world is suffering with.

Like your Son Jesus Christ in today’s gospel, we can feel so strongly the tremendous pressure he was going through from his enemies in the weeks leading to his Passion, Death, and Resurrection that he could not openly go to Jerusalem.

But, still he went there in secret to continue his mission of proclaiming the good news, trusting in you, our Father in heaven, who alone designates each one’s “hour”.

So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.

John 7:30

Give us the grace, Lord, to withstand all the pressures and stress going on within us, in our family and community as we enter the second week of lockdown.

Most especially, we pray for our frontliners in health and medicine who are subjected to intense pressures by the pandemic. Some of them have lost their lives fulfilling their mission. Bless their souls, bless their loved ones left behind.

We pray, Lord, for those who have to work today so we can have food on our table, electricity and communication lines, water, and also security we have seem to take for granted these days.

May this lockdown provide us with the much needed rest to fight all the stresses and pressures we have been carrying on our shoulders for a long time.

May this lockdown be a Sabbath for us like you have envisioned in the beginning when you created everything. Amen.

Photos by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, 26 March 2020. See Mt. Samat and the 1,821 feet Memorial Cross in Bataan as seen from the GMA Network Bldg. in Quezon City across the expanse of Manila Bay. Used with permission.

Lent is for “debugging”

40 Shades of Lent, Friday, Week-I, 06 March 2020

Ezekiel 18:21-28 +++ 0 +++ Matthew 5:20-26

Photo by author, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan, Lent 2020.

Once again, our loving Father, I take the computer as my point of comparison for my prayer reflection on this second Friday of Lent.

Thank you in giving us this blessed season of Lent when we are able to “debug” our “internal hard drive” – the heart – to be cleansed of bugs and virus as well as unnecessary materials that slow us down to be holy and perfect like you.

Your words are very reassuring of how you want us to be “fixed” always, to be in good condition, filled with life and holiness.

Thus says the Lord God: “Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of a wicked?” says the Lord God. “Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live? Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous man turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniqity he committed that he must die. But if the wicked, trning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”

Ezekiel 18:23, 25-28

Educate our hearts, O Lord.

Help us “surpass the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees” in Jesus Christ who have come to perfect the laws in himself, in love.

May your purifying love, sweet Jesus, cleanse us of our sins, delete our painful memories that continue to hold us back, preventing us to move forward and forgive others and especially our very selves.

Make us rejoice, O Lord, in your immense love and share it with others so that we may grow more in holiness in you. Amen.

Lent is believing in one’s self

40 Shades of Lent, Wednesday, Week I, 04 March 2020

Jonas 3:1-10 +++ 0 +++ Luke 11:29-32

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, Batanes, 2018.

Our dearest Father in heaven:

On this first week of Lent, we pray for the grace that we become more trusting of ourselves, of our worth, of our identity as your beloved children.

Until now, we can hear your Son Jesus our Lord lamenting that “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah (Lk.11:29)”  because we keep on looking for signs from you and from others before we can believe in ourselves.

Remind us, O God, that we are already a sign of your presence in Christ Jesus, our Emmanuel or “God-is-with-us”.

Like Jonah in the first reading, we keep on running away from you, from disobeying your will.

Worst of all, like Jonah, we cannot trust you and others because we always doubt and mistrust the people around us of something good they could do. 

From Google.

And sad to say, the very people we doubt much about their own abilities and goodness are the ones closest to us like husband or wife, children, brother or sister, and friends! 

What a tragedy indeed that we always refuse to appreciate our worth as your beloved children that lead us to see also the value of others around us, especially those who truly care and love us like our family and friends.

May we have the grace and courage to finally be reconciled with you in the Sacrament of Confession in one of these 40 days of Lent, that we may return to you in Jesus Christ with our “whole hearts, for you are gracious and merciful.”

Most of all, may we believe more in you, O God, so we also begin to believe in our selves, in our goodness and ability to change for the best. Amen.

Lent is a call to life

40 Shades of Lent, Thursday after Ash Wednesday, 27 February 2020

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 +++ 0 +++ Luke 9:22-25

As we step forward into the second day of Lent, O Lord, you remind us today of your call to conversion which is actually a call to love and a call to life.

Forgive us, O Lord, for those times we have turned away from you in sins, thinking that is the path to life, the path to freedom, the path to fulfillment – only to find out later it is the path to destruction and death.

Moses said to the people: “Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy. 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.”

Deuteronomy 30:15-16, 19-20
Photo by author, our Parish altar candle, Lent 2019.

Help us, Jesus, “to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily, and follow you” (Lk.9:23) in the path of conversion and fidelity to your everlasting covenant.

Make us realize that Lent is more than a season we yearly celebrate but a reality of life itself, a life so blessed in your coming to be one with us in our sufferings and struggles.

Give us the strength, dear Jesus, to renew your covenant with us, to always choose God, choose life.

May we also share your love and mercy, understanding and patience, kindness and compassion to our fellow pilgrims in this journey of life so that together in the end, we may all enter into the house of the Father in heaven. Amen.

Walang laman

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, ika-26 ng Pebrero 2020

Mula sa Google.
Mierculés de ceniza
araw ng pag-aayuno at abstinensiya
ngunit tila wala nang nagpapahalaga
ni nakaka-alala.
Marahil ay nalimot na nga
at binalewala mga banal na gawain
tuwing cuaresma na nagpapa-alala
kahalgahan ng Diyos higit sa lahat.
Nagtitiis ng gutom
hindi pinapayagang sayaran 
ng anumang laman ang tiyan
alang-alang sa kaganapan at kabanalan.
Kaya nga kung titingnan
pag-aayuno ay higit pa sa sakripisyo
na kung saan tiyan ay walang laman
upang magkapuwang Tagapagligtas ng tanan.
Ngayong cuaresma sana iyong mabuksan
puso at kalooban tingnan ano ba kanilang mga laman
baka naman mga wala nang kabuluhan
pabigat lamang sa kalooban.
Bigyan ng puwang upang makapanahan
sa ating puso at kalooban si Kristong maasahan
upang ngayon pa lamang maranasan
hatid ng Diyos na kaligtasan sa mga sa kanya'y mayroong puwang.