Holy Rosary in the time of corona

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 17 October 2020
Bishop Dennis Villarojo of the Diocese of Malolos leading the praying of the Rosary during the 11th Healing Rosary for the World last May 27, 2020 at the Malolos Cathedral. Photo from Sandigan.

It is the world’s most powerful weapon in any war, the most potent medicine for any ailment but has always been shunned upon by many especially in this age of sophisticated technology and modern science.

This is the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so loved by most saints in the past 800 years, encouraged by the Mother Church, and now rediscovered by many in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

How prophetic were the words of St. John Paul II in October 16, 2002 when he declared it as “Year of the Rosary” by adding the Luminous Mysteries prayed on Thursdays.

The Rosary of the Virgin Mary… still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn”.

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Introduction

It is very interesting to know that the celebration of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was instituted following the victory by the Spanish Armada over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto Bay on October 07, 1571. That decisive naval victory attributed to the praying of the Rosary ended the push towards Europe by the powerful Moslem Ottomans. That would be repeated less than a hundred years later at Manila Bay in 1646 when the Protestant Dutch navy retreated unable to break the defenses of the combined Spanish and Filipino forces who placed themselves under the patronage of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Following their victory at the La Naval de Manila, the surviving soldiers walked barefoot to the Santo Domingo Church then in Intramuros.

There are so many other stories of how devotion to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary have led to many kinds of victories in various battles – not only in wars but also in plagues and diseases and other crises – waged by Christians both as a nation and as individuals not because the Blessed Virgin Mary is a “fighter” like a warrior but more of a woman of peace, a disciple par excellence of Jesus Christ.


The family that prays together,
stays together;
a world at prayer is a world at peace.
- Venerable Fr. Patrick Peyton

Image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary whose feast we celebrate every third Saturday of October at Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan.

What makes Our Lady of the Holy Rosary so unique in fighting all kinds of battle in life is the path she takes, the path of Jesus Christ which is the path of peace. Here we find how though the Rosary is Marian in character, it is in essence Christocentric.

…to rediscover the Rosary means to immerse oneself in contemplation of the mystery of Christ who “is our peace”, since he made “the two of us one, and broke down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). 

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, #6

Jesus had told us that the peace he gives us is not like the peace of the world but a peace that is won out of love, not of violence and power. Mary as Mother of Jesus offers us the most intimate and incomparable model in contemplating Christ the Prince of Peace, his very person, his words and teachings that leads into inner peace within each person first.

And that is what every mystery of the Rosary teaches us: we remember not just by going back to the past but by making present anew Jesus Christ in the many events of his life relevant with us today because they are very similar with our own experiences.

When we contemplate the Joyful Mysteries, we realize that real joy comes from welcoming and accepting, sharing and finding Jesus who comes to us in the most ordinary ways. In the Sorrowful Mysteries, we find in whatever suffering we find ourselves into, Jesus Christ went through it all first for us, assuring us he continues to be with us even in death that leads us to the Glorious Mysteries of Easter. In these mysteries that end with the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth, we are reminded and assured of our only “destiny” in life — to be back in the presence of God in heaven with Mary.

Mary in the Holy Rosary reveals to us that our fulfillment in life is found only in her Son Jesus Christ, the light of the world in whom everything must be seen and considered. All the rough edges, the dullness and darkness within us are dispelled when seen in the light of Jesus Christ. And that is why we find in the Luminous Mysteries the most “scriptural” part of the Rosary. According to St. John Paul II, though the gospels were silent about the presence of Mary in these Luminous Mysteries, it is most likely she was there present in silence, something so rare these days as we live our lives in the glitz and glamour of social media like Facebook and Instagram.


Photo by author, 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most unique battle man has ever fought, not only because the enemy is not seen and have made such visibly tremendous impact to our way of life in a global scale like World War II; it happened in the most unusual way that attacked and disturbed our inmost being as human persons desiring peace right in our hearts.

It exposed the sickness we have all been afflicted with, the lack of love, a love that is like the love of Jesus Christ willing to sacrifice, willing to forgive, willing to let go simply because of loving someone more than one’s self.

We have been in chaos within, longing for peace and love that have remained elusive because we have always been busy with everything except with God and our true selves. Long before we have adopted social distancing, we have long been distant from each other, even with those we live with in our homes – so cold and without love. Meals have become needs to feed one’s body, not as events to share one’s self with others as more and more people are getting used to eating by themselves, with cellphones beside them. Everybody is complaining about the face masks and face shields we have to wear without realizing when was the last time we really had a good look at each one’s face as a brother and a sister in Christ, an image and likeness of God, a person to be loved and cherished?

In praying the Rosary meditating in silence its mysteries, we not only discover the mystery of God but most of all our own mystery of being a part of his grand design and plan. That is why we feel anxious and fearful all of a sudden because death has become truer and closest to us in this time of the pandemic when “resting in peace” has become so common. And we know so well we have not loved enough!

“The Assumption of the Virgin” by Italian Renaissance painter Titian completed in 1518 for the main altar of Frari church in Venice. Photo from wikidata.org.

By praying the Rosary, its beads make us enter the rhythm of life once again, that it is not just temporal and material but also eternal and spiritual. With Mary, the Rosary enables us to be conformed to Christ which is the very essence of Christian spirituality.

In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary’s company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms of friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ’s life and as it were to share his deepest feelings.

The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary’s side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is “fully formed” in us (cf. Gal 4:19). Never as in the Rosary do the life of Jesus and that of Mary appear so deeply joined. Mary lives only in Christ and for Christ!

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, #15

I have been wondering why despite our many prayers and Masses, why have we not conquered COVID-19 yet? How many rosaries do we have to pray before God answers our prayers for a cure to corona virus?

Perhaps, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary is reminding us today that the problem with COVID-19 is not just medical but deeply spiritual, calling us to be conformed in the person of Jesus Christ that calls for many battles within us against our pride, selfishness, painful past and memories, vices and addictions, so many other negativities that please our senses but leave us empty and lost because they all lack love from which peace springs forth.

Take that Rosary again, learn from Mary that true blessedness is in believing that the words of God will be fulfilled (Lk.1:45) in us by welcoming Jesus, sharing Jesus, and becoming like Jesus in love like his Mother. Amen.

From Google.

Contemplating the face of Jesus with Mary in the Holy Rosary

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog
Wednesday, Memorial of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, 07 October 2020
Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14   >><)))*>  >><)))*>  >><)))*>   Luke 11:1-4
From Google.

Today, O God our Father, as we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, we hear one of the most beautiful requests from your Son Jesus Christ. Who else can teach us so well how to pray but him, the Son of God?

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come.”

Luke 11:1-2

In calling you “Our Father”, Jesus had taught us the basic truth and reality of every prayer that it is never alone nor solitary but always implies a community, a family — that we are all called and gathered to be one in you, O God.

And in giving us his own Mother to be our Mother too, Mary became our constant reminder of the importance and need to pray always to you God our Father, coming to us in our darkest moments like at the Battle of Lepanto Bay more than 400 years ago today.

By praying the Holy Rosary, may we learn through Mary to contemplate the face of Jesus Christ so we may be faithful to our call and mission specially in this 24/7 world of continuous action and noise that have left many of us empty and without meaning in life.

Photo by Fr. Gerry Pascual (Diocese of Iba, Zambales), Our Lady of the Rosary at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC, 2018.

The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary. It was in her womb that Christ was formed, receiving from her a human resemblance which points to an even greater spiritual closeness. No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary. The eyes of her heart already turned to him at the Annunciation, when she conceived him by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the months that followed she began to sense his presence and to picture his features. When at last she gave birth to him in Bethlehem, her eyes were able to gaze tenderly on the face of her Son, as she “wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger” (Lk2:7).

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (2002), paragraph 10

Through her intercession, may we all be like St. Paul “on the right road in line with the truth of the Gospel” (Gal. 2:14). Amen.

Five reminders from high school for married life

The Lord Is My Chef Wedding Homily for Micah and Lery Magsaysay

20 February 2020, Parish of Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Malolos City

Book of Tobit 8:4-9 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> John 15:12-17

Photo from Micah Magsaysay.

Thank you very much Micah for inviting me to officiate your wedding today with Lery. I love doing this especially with you my former students at the Immaculate Conception School for Boys (ICSB).

I have realized while praying over this wedding homily that those five things I used to tell you every true gentleman should have in his pocket are also applicable to married life.

And so, let us review and reflect on these five things you should have not only in your pocket but in your lives as husband and wife, Micah and Lery.

Handkerchief

Photo by THR GRLN on Pexels.com

Now more than ever, in this time of corona virus, you see what we have discussed 20 years ago is very much valid today: always have a clean handkerchief for hygiene. Have two handkerchieves – one for sneezing and coughing, the other for wiping perspirations and dirt from your face.

Preferably, have a white handkerchief to remind you of Jesus Christ who is so pure and clean, sinless and spotless who came to save us by wiping away, taking all the dirt of sins in us.

Every husband and wife is like a handkerchief to each other – cleansing you of dirt and smudges, wiping dry your tears whether caused by pains and hurts or joys and laughters.

A handkerchief reminds us to be kind and merciful with others like Jesus Christ who declared in our gospel this afternoon that it was him who chose you and not you who chose him to be his signs of his presence as husband and wife.

Lery, thank you for making Micah so clean today. You know when they were in high school, he has always been good looking like his buddies – guwaping lang sila talaga, okey na pumapasa – because deep in their eyes I could see they were not ready for the class, all tired and sleepy after playing computers, waiting for their next gimmick.

But today before the Mass started, I went to see Micah and was surprised, not only is he more handsome but this time, serious and really prepared! How you have changed him, Lery, I am amazed. Have more handkerchieves, though, beginning today so you continue to make him clean.

Micah, always have that handkerchief full of pure love like Jesus, ready to die for Lery. Should you make her cry, be man enough to wipe her tears dry. And clean whatever mess you have.

Money

Money is important, Micah and Lery but it is not the most important thing in life, especially for married couples. Do not be enslaved by money. Instead, be generous with others.

Remember the story of Tobiah, the son of Tobit who went to search for a wife in Media where he is also tasked to recover the money his father had deposited in that city. On his way there, he met the Archangel Raphael disguised as a man to work for him as his guide in the journey.

Tobiah was generous to St. Raphael, paying his wage justly. St. Raphael soon found a wife for Tobiah in Sarah. Not only that: St. Raphael taught Tobiah how to drive away the devil Asmodeus who had disrupted Sarah’s earlier seven honeymoons when he would kill her husband just before they would sleep together.

With Asmodeus gone through St. Raphael’s intercession, Tobiah and Sarah prayed and went home to Tobit whose blindness was also cured by the Archangel of healing.

Be like Tobiah and Tobit. Never quarrel about money matters. When you are generous with money in helping those in need, that means you are not yet enslaved by wealth and material things.

Later, Micah you shall hand over to Lery the arrhae or arras that symbolize your money and material wealth. Be true to your pledges to be wise in handling your finances. Heed Mr. Wickfield’s admonition to Aunt Betsey’s nephew David Copperfield to never spend more than what you earn.

Pen

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Pexels.com

Micah and Lery, you are both professionals, working in the office. You are both used to seeing and using all kinds of pen to write and jot things down very important to remember.

Be like the pen, Micah and Lery. In your lives together, always leave a mark of love, a mark of kindness, a mark of understanding.

Most of all, as husband and wife, leave the marks of Jesus Christ. That is the meaning of getting married in the Church, of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony: you are now the signs of the saving presence of Jesus Christ.

When people see you and feel your deep love for each other, Micah and Lery, they will thank and praise God because they experience Christ’s coming in you.

Photo from Micah Magsaysay.

Comb

I used to tell you in high school that a real man always has a comb, ang sandata ng tunay na lalaki!

Always look good, Micah and Lery! Do not forget your self. Keep in mind that when your kids come and your careers flourish, you were first called by Jesus Christ for each other. Take care of your self, and take extra care of each other!

Photo from Micah Magsaysay.

Continue to go out and date, keep the fire of love burning inside.

After 21 years as a priest, I have less hair now but I still have a comb in my pocket. Just in case the wind blows my hair.

How I wish I have the same long, thick hair of Remo.

The comb does not merely set your hair; it also massages the scalp, soothing you when things are getting so tough and rough.

Take care of yourself, Micah and Lery… never let a “bad hair day” get you down and ruin your love for each other. When you have so much love and care for each other, even if you get old, “kahit maputi na ang buhok ninyo, Micah and Lery”, comb each other’s hair with affections.

Rosary

Photo from Micah Magsaysay.

Last but not least, I used to tell you in high school to always have a rosary in your pocket. A real man is a man of prayer.

Micah and Lery, handle your life with prayer always. Inasmuch as you have invited Jesus today to your wedding day, every day, every Sunday, invite and welcome Jesus into your lives.

May the rosary remind you always of the need to grow deeper in the love of Christ Jesus who chose and called you before this altar today.

Today, you are in Glorious Mysteries where everything is so beautiful and wonderful. But not all days are bright and sunny, Micah and Lery. The Joyful Mysteries are always followed by the Sorrowful Mysteries.

Remember the word PUSH – Pray Until Something Happens.

When you are going through a lot of darkness, the more you should pray and ask for the Luminous Mysteries, the Light of Jesus Christ to guide you and lead you into better days.

Remember those five things we have learned while in high school, Micah. They are still good and applicable in your married life. Teach them to Lery and your future children too.

Handkerchief. Money. Pen. Comb. And Rosary.

May today be the least happiest day of your lives, Micah and Lery. Amen.

Photo from Micah Magsaysay.

Salamat po, Birhen ng Santo Rosario

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 07 Oktubre 2019

Larawan ay kuha ni Rdo. P. Gerry Pascual sa Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, 09 Setyembre 2017 .
Maraming salamat,
mahal naming Ina,
Birheng Maria sa iyong pagsama
sa amin tuwina
ngayong inaala-ala
iyong himala
sa pakikipag-digma ng mga Kastila
sa Look ng Lepanto
dinarasal iyong Santo Rosario.
Kay sarap namnamin
damang-dama namin
sa bawat butil ng Rosario
pakikiisa mo sa amin
upang higit naming sundin
butihin mong anak
at Panginoon namin
na siyang kapanatilihan
ng Diyos sa piling amin.
Dahil kay Kristo Hesus
na isinilang mo sa amin,
Panginoong Diyos naging kapiling namin
palaging dumarating
maging sa gitna
ng mga unos at sigwa
nitong karagatan
ng buhay namin
tumatawag para kami ay sagipin.
Mula sa panganib
ng karagatan at latian
hanggang sa katihan
kailanman ay hindi kami
iniwan ni Kristo Hesus
na iyong isinilang
upang kami ay pangunahan
pabalik sa aming tahanan
doon sa kalangitan ikaw ngayon nakapisan.
Maraming salamat
Mahal naming Ina
Birheng Maria
nawa amin kang matularan
si Hesus ay masundan
sa nakakatakot na karagatan
at kapanatagan ng kapatagan
kanyang mukha sa ami'y mabanaagan
kami rin mismo maging misteryo ng iyong Santo Rosario.