Praying for perseverance

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of St. John Marie Vianney, Patron of Priests, 04 August 2021
Numbers 13:1-2, 25-14:1, 26-29, 34-35   ><]]]]*>   Matthew 15:21-28
Photo by author, sky over Sinai desert in Egypt, 2019.
Dearest God our Father,
on this sacred feast of our
Patron St. John Marie Vianney,
I pray not only for us your priests
but most especially for everyone
going through so many trials and
tests these days as we near 
another series of lockdown due to 
a surge in COVID-19 infection.
I pray, O God, for more perseverance
in our faith, hope and love in you
so that we may remain committed to you 
like that Canaanite woman in the gospel:
a pagan yet believed so much in Jesus,
crying out to him as "Lord" and "Son 
of David" to heal her sick daughter (Mt.1521ff);
most of all, like St. John Marie Vianney,
teach us to persevere in life, in serving you
no matter how great are the odds against him
when he lived at a most unfavorable time
for the Church in France after a bloody revolution
that sowed strong anti-clerical, anti-Church 
sentiments among the people.
Perseverance.
From the Latin root perseverare
that means to continue with one's
commitment despite the lack of
any success, surviving trials and no
matter what is the result, whether
we succeed or not in our goals,
we still emerge a better person,
a winner.
Perseverance
as perseverare in Latin means doubling
the efforts in keeping up with the doubling
of sufferings and trials we face,
of continuing to work hard even after
you have already worked so hard,
in fact so tired but would not
refuse to surrender and stop
because you are so committed,
truly a winner in the Lord!
Like St. John Marie Vianney:
despite his difficulties learning
and mastering the Church language
of Latin during his time, he persevered
in the seminary until he was ordained priest; 
as Cure de Ars or pastor of the insignificant 
village of Ars with its 250 inhabitants, 
he persevered in preaching and 
hearing confessions that were so appreciated 
by everyone from all parts of France and Europe
because of his life of simplicity and humility.
And like that Canaanite woman after
being challenged by Jesus, saying
"It is not right to take the food 
of the children and throw it to the dogs",
she said, "Please, Lord, for even the
dogs eat the scraps that fall from the
table of their masters" (Mt. 15:26-27).
Let us not imitate the men sent
by Moses to reconnoiter the land 
of Canaan that instead of instilling
the virtue of perseverance on the people, 
they discouraged them from taking possession 
of the land you were giving them, 
giving up everything they have worked for
and sacrificed; most of all, rejecting your gift
that eventually, you denied them entrance 
into the Promised Land for forty years.
Let me persevere in loving you, Father
even if I am a sinner through
the mercy and salvation in Jesus;
Let me persevere in following your will
 through the Holy Spirit 
even if I stumble and fall so often;
Let me persevere in serving you
dear Lord like St. John Marie Vianney
 even if I am self-centered, 
always seeking rest and rewards.  
AMEN. 
From QuotesGram.com.

Kung narito ka Panginoon…

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-29 ng Hulyo 2021
“Ang Pagbuhay kay Lazaro”, isang painting ni Duccio de Buoninsegna noong 1311. Larawan mula sa commons.wikimedia.org
Sinabi ni Marta kay Jesus,
"Panginoon, kung narito kayo
hindi sana namatay
ang aking kapatid." (Juan 11:21)
Maraming pagkakataon, Panginoon
ganyan din aming sinasabi
kapag kami ay sakbibi ng dalamhati,
tulad ni Santa Marta sa pagpanaw
ng kapatid nilang si San Lazaro:
Kung narito ka, Panginoon.....
...hindi sana nagkaroon ng pandemic,
...hindi sana kami nagipit,
...hindi sana kami nagkasakit,
...hindi sana kami nagkamali,
...hindi sana kami kinakapos,
...hindi sana kami nagugutom,
...hindi sana kami naghikahos,
...hindi sana kami nalinlang,
...hindi sana kami nasaktan,
...hindi sana kami nawalan,
...hindi sana kami nagkahiwalay,
...hindi sana kami napaalis,
...hindi sana kami natalo,
...hindi sana kami napahiya,
...hindi sana kami sumuko,
...hindi sana kami napatigil sa pag-aaral,
...hindi sana kami naulila,
...hindi sana kami naligaw,
...hindi sana kami nabigo,
...hindi sana kami nagkaganito.
 
Tiyak na marami pa kaming
masasambit na sana ay hindi
nangyari kung narito ka,
Panginoong Jesu-Kristo
katulad ni Santa Marta nang
pumanaw kapatid niya at
kaibigan ninyo na si San Lazaro;
ngunit hayaan din ninyo na aming
mapagtanto kalooban at layon ninyo
kaya kayo naparito upang kami 
ang maging kapanatilihan mo
at sumaklolo sa mga nasa peligro.
Itulot po ninyo, Panginoon
aming tularan bunsong kapatid 
nina Santa Marta at San Lazaro,
si Santa Maria ng Betanya:
manatili sa iyong paanan, 
magnilay at madalisay ang buhay 
sa pananalangin upang sa pagdamay
namin sa mga nahihirapan at nabibigatan
ikaw bilang Buhay at Muling Pagkabuhay
ay kanilang panaligan sa aming 
pagkakapatiran at pagtutulungan
maramdaman nila, narito ka, Panginoon!
Icon ni Jesus dumalaw sa magkakapatid na San Lazaro, Santa Maria, at Santa Marta sa kanilang tahanan sa Betanya. Larawan mula sa http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com.

Praying for the elderly

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne, Parents of BVM, 26 July 2021
Sirach 44:1,10-15   ><]]]]*> + <*[[[[><   Matthew 13:16-17
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.
"Old age is the final stage
of human maturity and a sign
of God's blessing." 
(St. John Paul II, Letter 
to the Elderly, 01 October 1999)
God our loving Father,
today we remember 
the elderly among us 
in celebration of the Memorial 
of St. Joachim and St. Anne, 
parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
grandparents of our Lord 
Jesus Christ.
Thank you for their many gifts
that without them, we won't be
here at all while at the same time,
life for us will be not this easy
and comfortable without their
many sacrifices and efforts
we may never know 
or even experience.
"Their bodies are peacefully laid away,
but their name lives on and on."
(Sirach 44:11)
Teach us, O Lord, to put a stop
to the wrong and evil mentality
 of our time that gives priority
to human usefulness and productivity
 that lead to contempt
 for the later years of life
that make older people wonder
if their lives are still worthwhile.
Help us recover, merciful Father,
the correct perspective on life
as a whole that leads to eternity
for which we are all preparing for,
guided by the elderly among us
who share with us their wisdom
and maturity of the past
on which our present is firmly rooted.
"But, blessed are your eyes,
because they see, and your ears,
because they hear.  Amen,
I say to you, many prophets
and righteous people longed
to see what you see but 
did not see it, and to hear
what you hear but did not hear it."
(Matthew 13:16-17)
We pray most especially, dear God
on this day for the young people
to remain close to the elderly
with much love and generosity,
for them to realize how older people
can give them much more
than they can imagine
to grasp life's meaning.
Make us remember to keep
your only commandment with 
the promise of blessing at old age
to honor our father and mother
by welcoming the elderly,
by helping them in their old age, and most
specially, by upholding their dignity as your
most unique gift to humanity.  Amen.

Seeking, awaiting the Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Disciple of Jesus, 22 July 2021
Song of Songs 3:1-4   ><]]]]'> ><]]]]'> ><]]]]'>   John 20:1-2, 11-18
 
Painting by Giotto of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ appearing to St. Mary Magdalene from commons.wikimedia.org.
I wonder, dearest Lord Jesus,
why did you appear to Mary Magdalene
on that Easter morning
but not to Peter and John
who also rushed to the scene?
Mary stayed outside 
the tomb weeping.
And as she wept,
she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white
sitting there, one at the head
and one at the feet where 
the Body of Jesus had been.
(John 20:11-12)
It was the second time 
Mary Magdalene had come 
to your tomb that early morning;
when she found it empty,
she rushed to Peter;
when they found it still empty,
John believed and left with Peter
but Mary remained and stayed,
weeping, hoping to find 
your body, dearest Lord. 
And the angels said to her,
"Woman, why are you weeping?"
She said to them,
"they have taken my Lord,
and I don't know whey they laid him."
When she had said this,
she turned around
and saw Jesus there, 
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, "Woman,
why are you weeping? 
Whom are you looking for?"
She thought it was the gardener
and said to him, "Sir, if you carried him
away, tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him."  Jesus said to her,
"Mary!"  She turned and said to him
in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means
Teacher.  (John 20:13-16)
O sweet Jesus,
forgive us 
when we fail to see you,
when we miss you coming
as we never stay long
to await you in the empty tombs
of our sadness and failures,
broken dreams and 
disappointments and sickness;
teach us to stay longer,
to grieve in you, pour out in you
our hurts and aches,
pains and sorrows;
like that Bride in the
Song of Songs
let us be intense in seeking you
by patiently awaiting you,
remaining in you that we may also say,
"I had hardly left them when I found him
whom my heart loves." (Song of Songs 3:4)
When love among friends
and one another is real,
surely our beloved would appear
only on a higher, different level
of recognition unlike before;
this is the lesson we can glean
from St. Mary Magdalene
when Jesus called her by name,
asking her to touch him not
because at Easter
we have been raised higher
in Christ, much beloved than before.
Let us answer your call,
dear Lord, to proclaim your gospel to all
despite the troubles we have had before.
Grant us the courage
to change our ways and follow you
like St. Mary Magdalene
who had remained pristine and clean
assuring every sinner with a saintly future.  Amen.


Voice of God, Power of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist, 24 June 2021
Isaiah 49:1-6 ><}}}'> Acts 13:22-26 ><}}}'> Luke 1:57-66, 80
Photo by author, site where St. John the Baptist was born beside the Church in his honor in Judea, 2019.

Today’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist reminds us of the very important grace and gift from God we take for granted and always abuse – our voice.

Also known as the “voice in the wilderness” who prepared the coming of Jesus Christ, St. John shows us even before his birth through his father Zechariah the proper use of this gift of voice from God.

Voice is power.

In the Book of Genesis, God created everything by simply saying “let there be…” and it comes into being. When Jesus came as the “the Word who became flesh”, he witnessed to us this immense power of the voice of God when he would simply speak to heal people, cast away evil spirits, and still the seas and quiet the storms.

Only us humans were gifted with this unique power of God to speak using the voice.

How sad that we have forgotten or have been totally unaware of the fact that we merely share in the power of God in speaking, in voicing out what is in our minds and in our hearts. Like freedom or the power to choose what is good, we have abused this power of the voice so evident in this digital age as we drown in a cacophony of voices from everybody wanting to be heard, wanting to rule.



And the tragedy is that 
those with the loudest voice and 
easy access to all kinds of media platforms 
are also the ones in power who only voice 
out their selfish interests like our politicians. 

Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, Bgy. Lalakhan, Santa Maria, Bulacan, June 2021.

And the tragedy is that those with the loudest voice and easy access to all kinds of media platforms are also the ones in power who only voice out their selfish interests like our politicians.

Have you noticed how most of the loud voices we hear these days come from those not involved at all in any kind of suffering? They are not only loud but also so quick to voice their views empty of any concern at all. Worst, many of these loud voices we hear come from people who have little or no concern at all for those truly in pain like the poor and marginalized who have remained voiceless in our society.

When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father; but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.

Luke 1:59-60, 62-64

Silence is the voice of God.

At the eve of our celebration today, we have heard how the angel had made Zechariah deaf and mute after he doubted the good news announced to him of the coming birth of their son to be named as John.

Now after nine months of being silent, Zechariah recovered his voice and speech that he spoke blessing God.

Imagine the power and stature Zechariah must have commanded at that time: both he and his wife Elizabeth were from the priestly clans. They were like the royalty at that time, living in an affluent section of the country. Both were born into wealth and fame. And power.

Zechariah’s voice must be one of the most sought after in Judea with his wisdom and influence.

Suddenly gone when his very voice questioned the source of its power, God represented by Archangel Gabriel.

Photo by author, Church of St. John the Baptist, the Holy Land, 2019.

The experience of Zechariah teaches us of the value of silence that has become a very rare commodity these days.

Many of our misunderstandings are due to our lack of silence, of listening to what others are saying or telling us.



Contrary to what 
we also believe,
 silence is not emptiness 
but fullness:


Contrary to what we also believe, silence is not emptiness but fullness: it is different from being quiet when we do not simply speak but allow our minds to work on what we believe in or hold on to. Silence is trying to listen to every voice, especially the faintest ones that usually speak the truth. In the Bible, we find a common pattern in both the Old and New Testaments how God’s communication is preceded always with silence.

Zechariah was forced into silence to experience again its fullness, of being connected anew with God as it gave him opportunities to truly listen intently to God in prayers. That is why everyone was surprised not only when Zechariah confirmed the name of his son would be “John” but most of all when he spoke and his voice heard again by the people. According to Luke, Zechariah sang a blessing to God called the Benedictus.

Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.

Luke 1:65-66

Becoming the voice of God like John the Baptist

See how Luke presented the scene in pure simplicity as if we were also there, everybody asking “what will this child be?” for surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The scene is packed with the power of God. No voices were heard except the few “pakialamera” or “mahadera” neighbors who wanted the child named Zechariah like his father.

Elizabeth was so cool but emphatic by declaring her son shall be named John. No debates nor arguments among the women who approached Zechariah – surely, not to ask him to voice his decision as he was deaf and mute at that time. Everybody was amazed when he asked for a tablet and wrote “John is his name”.

There was the deafening silence of God’s voice heard loud and clear, perhaps even for several days after the circumcision and naming of John.

“St. John Preaching In the Wilderness” by Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779), photo from commons.wikimedia.org

Such is the power of God, of his voice.

Always preceded by silence.

Never harsh nor imposing.

Soft but always felt, always consistent, very clear and simple.

Most of all, refreshing and blissful.

It is a voice kept in one’s heart, nurtured through time in prayer and simplicity of life until the listener becomes the speaker and carrier of the voice of God.

In our digital age where humans and machines speak with voices competing for our attention, we are reminded that the true power of the voice is not in its volume but in God himself who is also the message.

Like images, voices can also be enhanced with the help of modern technology and human ingenuity, especially by image makers and propagandists who are paid to advance one’s power and influence.

Let us be more discerning in listening to the many voices competing for our attention.

Let us begin first in that soft and feeble voice inside our hearts we disregard but consistently speaks to us daily. That voice could be God speaking to us.

Let us rediscover silence and the true power and beauty of the voice of God.

Recall how often in our lives and in human history, the most important voices ever heard, ever written come after long moments of silence, of reflections and listening to God and with others.

The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Luke 1:80
Photo by Fr. Pop Dela Cruz, Binuangan Is., Obando, Bulacan, May 2021.

Getting nearer the Kingdom of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, 03 June 2021
Tobit 6:10-11; 7:1, 9-17; 8:4-9   ><)))'>+<'(((><   Mark 12:38-34
Photo by Fr. Pop Dela Cruz, Binuangan Is., Obando, Bulacan, May 2021.

At last! Finally! Something very positive in your words today, O God almighty Father. Asmodeus the demon was finally conquered with Sarah consummating her marriage to Tobiah while in the gospel, a scribe asked Jesus a question without any strings attached.

Like the rains brought by the typhoon yesterday, your words soothed our dried lives these days scorched with so many problems and struggles. How we wish your Son Jesus Christ would also tell us today his very words to that scribe who asked him which is the first of all the commandments:

"You are not far
from the Kingdom of God."
(Mark 12:34)

Cleanse our hearts, dear Jesus, and make us pure and simple in our search for God in our prayers like that scribe. Or better, teach us to be like Tobiah, the kind and faithful son of Tobit who beautifully expressed in a prayer his clean heart in marrying Sarah:

"Now, Lord, you know that I take
this wife of mine not because of lust,
but for a noble purpose.
Call down your mercy on me and on her,
and allow us to live together 
to a happy old age."
They said together, "Amen, amen,"
and went to bed for the night.
(Tobit 8:7-9)

Enable us to learn and practice faithfully your teaching to “Love God with with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our strength” by “loving our neighbor like our selves” (Mk.12:30-31).

Thank you in continuing to send us modern witnesses of faith like St. Charles Lwanga and his 21 companion martyrs of Uganda who chose to remain pure and chaste than give in to the immoralities and idolatry of their king.

Through their intercession, we pray for those among us who have succumbed to the lures of the world, those addicted with social media and those into the continued degradation of the human person with sexual abuses.

O God, bring back our senses of what is right and good, our adherence to values and decency with a deep love for you and your Kingdom. Amen.

Photo by author, Baguio Cathedral, January 2019.

True freedom

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr, 01 June 2021
Tobit 2:9-14     <*(((>< + ><)))*>     Mark 12:13-17
Photo by author, inside the ruins of the Temple of Jerusalem, 2019.

Glory and praise to you, O God, our loving and merciful Father for this month of June as we go through the last 30 days of this year’s first half. How fast time flies! It is so relieving how we have gone through almost half of this extended year of pandemic.

As we celebrate today the Memorial of your great apologist and martyr, St. Justin, we pray for more enlightenment to always seek and follow and most of all, stand by the truth of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is not enough that we merely seek the truth because it can easily be faked like the Pharisees and the Herodians in our gospel today.

Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not?”

Mark 12:13-14

Truth can only set us free as Jesus had taught us if in our search for the truth we break away and discard our biases and prejudices. To truly seek the truth is to be empty in order to accept it so we can follow the truth and most of all stand by it.

Forgive us for the times and moments we have been like the Pharisees and Herodians who are not genuinely seeking the truth as they were evidently from the start were seeking a confirmation of a lie they insisted to be true. There are times we are like them even in coming to you not to find the truth but be affirmed with our own beliefs when deep inside us we know it is not right and true at all! It seems it is more difficult for us to discard lies and wrongful assumptions and beliefs than simply accept the bare facts of truth.

At the same time, give us the humility to accept truth because there are times, too, in our deep devotion to you like Tobit, we become blinded with our righteousness that we cannot accept the truth presented to us by others.

Help us masticate today’s responsorial psalm: “The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.”

Like St. Justin, give us the courage and determination to seek and follow and stand by the truth by understanding it so well, ready to explain it and most of all, defend it even with our lives. Freedom comes from truth when we are not held captive by lies and unfounded beliefs.

Let us trust in you alone and make us not so proud and arrogant nor so righteous that we are enslaved by our ego that blinds us in our search for truth. Amen.

Laugh and be holy

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, 26 May 2021
Philippians 4:4-9  ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Mark 10:32-45
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.
Rejoice in the Lord always,
I shall say it again:  rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
(Philippians 4:4-5)

Thank you very much, dear God our loving Father for the gifts of joy and sense of humor. So many times we forget that we are most alive when we are laughing, when we are filled with joy in our hearts. Just like your amusing saint today, St. Philip Neri.

Give us the grace of wisdom and intelligence, simplicity and humor nurtured by a deep prayer life of St. Philip Neri who would always reserve the nights for his prayer periods especially at the catacombs of Rome where he experienced great joy that enlarged and expanded his heart that broke two of his ribs!

And always, give us some sprinklings of his sense of humor that he came to be the patron saint of joy and humor, saying that “A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one.”

He was so filled with life in his ministry that he spent serving everyone – from the poorest of the poor including prostitutes to the men and women of power and influence in royal courts and palaces, government offices and most of all, in the Vatican as well as local churches.

Because of his great love for you, St. Philip Neri became a great patron of arts, inspiring and supporting so many artists during his time when the Reformation period was bent on attacking the many paintings that adorn our churches.

It is really amazing how St. Philip Neri without any plans of reforming the Church actually gave the human touch in the realizations of the Counter Reformation efforts by St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Charles Borromeo, and other saints.

His Congregation of Oratory proved to be so essential in the life of the Church with his priests who were more concerned with prayers, spiritual reading, and administering the sacraments than emphasizing discipline and obedience.

Teach us to imitate St. Philip Neri to take into our hearts the essence and meaning of your Son Jesus Christ’s words today:

"whoever wishes to be first among you
will be the slave of all.  For the Son of Man 
did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many."
(Mark 10:44-45)

We pray, O God, today for those feeling sad due to the many problems and difficulties this pandemic has caused to many of us. Give us a fresh and new perspective in life where we rely more on you than on our selves and the world, enabling us to see the light and beauty around us, especially among those the suffering we must lend our hands to.

Like St. Philip Neri, in sharing the joys and laughter of children we may become like children again. Amen.

From pinterest.com.

When we are disturbed

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
First Friday, Memorial of St. Agatha, 05 February 2021
Hebrews 13:1-8     >><)))*>   +++  <*(((><<     Mark 6:14-29
Photo by author, Silang, Cavite, September 2020.

Your words today are very disturbing, Lord Jesus. So many times I find myself like Herod perplexed at listening to your words, praying your words, analyzing and learning your words for they are so delightful to the feelings but so disturbing when I am in a state of sin.

Forgive us, dear Jesus, in making into a cliche that beautiful prayer we once in a while utter to you, “Disturb us, O Lord.” So often we hear and read this beautiful prayer without really meaning it so well like Herod in today’s gospel.

Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee…

The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison.

Mark 6:20-21, 25-27

Disturb us, O Lord?

So nice to read, so good to say but never easy to totally feel and live out its real meaning!

There is no doubt at how your words disturb us, dear Jesus, bothering our conscience, making us feel uncomfortable specially when we are deeply into sin and evil; but then, we would reason out with our usual alibis and justifications that eventually we find a way out of your teachings like Herod in taking the wife of his brother Philip.

Ironically, and yes, tragically, when our words are put to test by somebody else’s words, we feel more distressed like Herod when asked for the head of John after making a pledge to his daughter to ask for anything. Shamefully, that is when we are pushed to edge to finally make a decision on something so wrong simply because we felt challenged and dared to assert our position and power. We act instinctively without much thinking if we are just being taken for a ride, of being manipulated like Herod.

Beheading of John the Baptist from wikipediacommons.org.

O Lord, you know us so well. Too often in life, we would rather bear the daily hurts no matter how painful for as long as we look good among others than suffer big time in confronting and accepting our true selves before you for fear it could badly wound us, exposing our true selves and other vulnerabilities as a person like Herod. Yes, we would rather save face than save souls.

Give us the grace and courage, Lord Jesus Christ, to face up and dare ourselves to rise to your challenge of purifying ourselves into better persons like John the Baptist who truly played his role as your precursor with his prophetic preaching.

Like St. Agatha your holy virgin and martyr, may we persevere in our sufferings, not disturbed at all at what others may say except in how we may witness your Gospel of love and mercy for you are always “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Amen.

A mosaic of St. Agatha of Sicily whose breasts were cut off by her torturers hoping she would renounce her faith in Christ. She remained faithful to Jesus who sent St. Peter to appear to her in a vision to console her and thus became the patron saint for those with breast cancer. She eventually died a martyr while in prison as a result of the repeated cruelties inflicted to her around year 251. Photo from aleteia.org.

Embracing our pains

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, 03 February 2021
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr
Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15     <*(((><<   +++   >><)))*>     Mark 6:1-6
Photo by author, sacristy table, December 2020.

O God our Father, thank you for enlightening us today about the sufferings we are going through especially at this time of the pandemic. Forgive us for those times we have doubted you and your love for us when we go through many sufferings, forgetting that these are a part of our lives you have allowed to happen so we may grow and mature.

Forgive us when at the slightest sign of pain and sufferings, we balk at taking the path of the Cross of Jesus Christ, choosing to commit sin than being faithful to you.

Help us realize that when we suffer, the more you are nearer to us truly as a Father who lets his children go through trials and hardships to make him better and stronger in the future.

Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.

Hebrews 12:7, 11-13

We pray, O Lord, for those going through so much sufferings today especially those undergoing chemotherapy, dialysis, and physical therapy; those who have lost loved ones, who have lost their jobs.

Most specially, we pray for those suffering from rejection like Jesus when he came home to his native place and people took offense at him after hearing him spoke at the synagogue and healed so many sick people in other places.

It is one of the most painful sufferings anyone can go through, of being rejected by family and relatives, co-workers and colleagues, friends and neighbors.

Like St. Blaise, may we bear all pains and sufferings in life so we may strengthen the weak among us and offer healing to those who are sick and afflicted.

Most of all, like St. Blaise, as we accept the pains and sufferings coming our way, may we strive hard to never be the source of pains and sufferings to others. Amen.