Praying to fulfill Christ’s prayer for us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday After Pentecost, Feast of Jesus Christ, Our Eternal Priest, 09 June 2022
Hebrews 2:10-18   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   John 17:1-2, 9, 14-26
Photo by author, Garden of Gethsemane, Israel, May 2017.
O dearest Lord Jesus Christ,
our Eternal Priest and Savior,
thank you so much for praying 
for us your disciples, 
thank you for consecrating us
to the Father in truth, most of all,
thank you for praying for our
protection against the evil one
(John 17:14-19).
How lovely it is that you, 
O Lord, personally prayed for us!
It is so touching, so humbling.
But most blessed of all, 
dear Jesus, is how you have
fulfilled yourself your prayer
said at the Last Supper right
away the following day on the Cross.

Therefore, he had to become like his brothers in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Hebrews 2:17-18
Forgive us, Jesus
when we especially your ordained
priests live so detached from you,
when we have forgotten your priesthood
is for others, not for us; when we think
more of our comfort and well-being,
enslaved by the lures of the world,
from flesh to the latest gadgets and 
even way of life.
Forgive us, Jesus
when we especially your ordained
priests forget the very essence of
your victimhood as Priest, 
offering your very self, flesh and blood,
to nourish the people when we escape
and deny all kinds of pains and sufferings,
or the Cross itself.
Continue to pray for us, 
Lord Jesus Christ, 
our Eternal Priest that like you,
we your disciples especially us
your ordained priests may 
imitate you, live like you,
suffer like you so that we may rise
to new life like you.
Pray that we may fulfill your prayers
for us in words and in deeds.
Amen.
Photo from gettyimages.com.

Beauty and blessedness at sunrise

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 05 May 2022
Photo by author, sunrise at the Lake of Tiberias (Galilee) in Israel, May 2019.

Our gospel last Sunday spoke of the Risen Lord’s third appearance to his disciples at the Lake of Tiberias. No one, except the beloved disciple recognized Jesus standing at the shore after he had told them to cast their net to the right side of the boat that led to their plentiful catch of fish.

When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.

John 21:4-7
Photo by author, sunrise at Lake of Tiberias, May 2017.

I love the way it is narrated. What a wonderful interplay of realities, of John the beloved recognizing Jesus standing at the shore upon seeing the many fish caught in their net!

The story speaks of the beauty of every sunrise many of us seem to take for granted, of how so many of us miss the beautiful sight and silence of the morning. It is a story of every new day filled not only with promises but in itself a blessing we can surely experience when we first recognize Christ present in us.

That is perhaps one problem with us who always prefer spectacular sights and events to find God.

Unlike sunset, sunrise does not have radiant displays of colors and shades. It is very simple which is the lesson of Easter to us, of how our great God comes to us in the simplest moments of life. Recall too that Jesus was born in the middle of the darkest night of the year when everyone was asleep and rose from the dead very, very early in the morning that no one had seen! And here lies one of the wonderful mysteries in life – the hiddenness of God!

It is in God’s hiddenness that we can find him not because he is hiding but inviting us to be hidden in him too. That is the beauty of sunrise when you have to wake up early to see the beauty of life unfolding, awaiting something we are totally unaware of what is going to happen next. It is easier to wait for the sunset because you have been up and going the whole day; you just have to stop and pause for a while to await the sun going down.

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, sunrise at Atok, Benguet, September 2019.

Sunrise is different. It is like awaiting a total stranger, compared with sunset after we have befriended the the day about to end.

Every morning when we wake up, we do not know what is in store for us. Some people are excited, others are not while the rest simply got the blues or too lazy to work and study that they would rather sleep more.

Maybe that is why sunrise is more subdued with its hues and shades. Like God, sunrise is so kind, very accommodating with everyone, no spectacular display of colors so that one could buy his own time on whether to go out and move or snuggle more in bed, alone or with somebody else.

Like a beloved someone or God himself, sunrise looks soft and calm, reassuring everyone the day ahead would be just fine for us all.

Its light is so gentle, though bursting filled with life but never insistent to the eyes, so gentle. This we feel in our favorite word and activity every morning – breakfast – which came from the literal “breaking of fast” the night before by the monks in the monasteries. We can feel this gentleness of sunrise in that Christian hymn Morning Has Broken, whether you sing it or listen to Cat Steven’s cover or to its original Gaelic Scottish tune. And along this line, we find sunrise as the sweetest breaking of all in Angela Bofil’s 1981 love song Break It To Me Gently.

Photo by author, sunrise at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, November 2018.

Sometimes, sunrise can be a bit wild, bursting with light that can penetrate one’s soul with its light traveling so fast, eager to cover the whole surrounding with the good news of life coming.

Think of the Beatles’ 1969 Here Comes the Sun with its lovely guitar introduction, assuring everyone, especially your beloved “little darling” that “it’s all right” with “smiles returning to the faces.”

Photo by author, sunrise at Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

That is the most beautiful part of catching the sunrise when all is silent with you all alone, listening to Jesus whispering, “Little darling, it’s all right” because whatever had happened yesterday, with all your sins and mistakes, are all forgotten and forgiven. Today is a new beginning, like what he told Peter in last Sunday’s gospel when he asked him thrice, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Photo by author, sunrise at Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep… And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”John 21:17, 19

John 21:17, 19

It is said that whatever one feels in describing the sunrise is one’s perception of love – warm and refreshing, joyful and so alive, filled with hopes and raring to go.

Sunrise is beautiful because it is when we experience closest with our truest self, with those most faithful and loving to us, and most of all, with God, our very root and being. Every morning is the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy of each of us becoming a John the Baptist whose name means “graciousness of God.” This we pray every morning in the Benedictus (cf. Lk.1:68-79):

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us, 
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
     shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

May you be blessed every morning, every day of the week. Amen.

Photo by Ms. Jing Rey Henderson, sunrise at Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, 27 April 2022.

Easter is making our lives whole again in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Second Week of Easter, 28 April 2022
Acts 5:27-33   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 3:31-36
Photo by author, 20 April 2022.
Lord Jesus Christ,
in this season of Easter,
help me make my fragmented
life whole again in you.
So many times, I feel like 
the many members of the
Sanhedrin in the first reading
today demanding so many things
from myself that I fail to obey God;
grant me the courage like of Peter
and the Apostles who boldly declared,
"We must obey God rather than men"
(Acts 5:29). 
Like Nicodemus in the gospel,
I am still afraid to come to you
in broad daylight, still hiding in the
night because I am afraid of what
people would say and tell about me
in being faithful to you, in being one
with you.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.

John 3:36
To believe in you, dear Jesus,
is to enter into a relationship with
you at the center; to believe in you
is to live and abide in you, Lord.
And that is why our lives are fragmented:
we are so divided and broken because
we follow the world, not you; we are
easily tempted and enticed to the 
many lures of pleasures the world
offers that only leave us more empty,
and more lost.
This season of Easter,
help me go back to you, Lord,
in prayers and silence;
let me focus on you again.
Amen.

Praying for joy and wisdom

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Cyril, Bishop and St. Methodius, Monk, 14 February 2022
James 1:1-11   ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*>   Mark 8:11-13
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, 2019.
So many people today, O Lord,
are so busy and excited, being  
Valentine's day, a day of the heart
when sweethearts speak sweet 
nothings, giving flowers to
express their love to their beloved.
I can't blame them, O Lord,
for being taken for a ride in this
highly commercialized world that
has become more stressful;
people have been suffering from
so many forms of difficulties and 
trials that for many, they try to 
escape momentarily.

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4
Teach, O Lord, to consider it true
joy and a blessing in disguise every
trial we go through in life; inasmuch as
we greatly dislike inconvenience and 
sufferings, failures and powerlessness,
poverty and sickness, may we recall 
yesterday's Beatitudes, that true
blessedness and joy come from going
through these difficulties that bring out
the best in us through time than the 
instant gratifications and feel-good 
offered by the world.
Grant us the wisdom to appreciate
the trials that come our way, producing
in us the depth and maturity that lead 
to fulfillment and perfection; may we
stop looking for outward signs like 
those Pharisees who kept on debating
with Jesus without any intentions of 
being open to find and accept him.
Amen.
Brothers Saints Cyril and
Methodius,
Pray for us!

Malapit sa Diyos, naglalapit sa Diyos

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-02 ng Pebrero 2022
Kapistahan ng Paghahandog kay Jesus sa Templo
Malakias 3:1-4 ><}}}}*> Hebreo 2:14-18 ><}}}}*> Lucas 2:22-40
Larawan mula sa crossroadinitiative.com.

Ngayon ang ika-40 araw mula ng Pasko ng Pagsilang ng Panginoong Hesus sa Bethlehem, Kapistahan ng Paghahandog sa Kanya sa Templo ng kanyang mga magulang na sina Maria at Jose.

Bukod tangi lamang itong salaysay na matatagpuan sa ebanghelyo ni San Lucas sapagkat ibig niyang ipakita noon sa kanyang mga mambabasa at mga taga-sunod na pumarito si Hesus para sa lahat ng tao, hindi lamang sa mga Hudyo.

Una itong pinagdiwang ng mga Kristiyano sa Jerusalem at lumaganap sa Silangan noong taong 500 kung saan ito tinawag sa wikang Griyego na “Ypapante” na ibig sabihi’y ang “Pagtatagpo” nina Hesus at ng dalawang matanda sa templo na sina Simeon at Anna.

Mula Silangan, umabot ang pagdiriwang na ito sa Europa na nakilala bilang kapistahan din ng Paglilinis ni Maria o “Purification of Mary”. Sa France, nagkaroon ng seremonyas ang mga Kristiyano ng pagbabasbas at pagsisindi ng mga kandila bago pumasok ng simbahan bilang pagkilala kay Hesus na tanglaw ng mundo ayon sa pahayag ni Simeon sa templo, “Liwanag itong tatanglaw sa mga Hentil, At magbibigay-karangalan sa iyong bayang Israel” (Luc. 2:32).

Kaya nang makarating sa Roma ang tradisyong ito noong taong 800, ito rin ang ginawang seremonya ni Papa Sergio I kaya tinagurian itong Candelaria (kandila). Makalipas ang mahigit isang libong taon noong 1962 sa Vatican II, ibinalik sa tunay na pangalan ito bilang Kapistahan ng Paghahandog sa Templo ngunit pinanatili ng mga obispo ang tradisyon ng pagbabasbas at pagsisindi ng mga kandila upang ipakita na si Hesus ang tunay na liwanag sa mundo sa aakay sa atin pabalik sa Diyos.

Kuha ni G. Cristian Pasion, Pasko ng Pagkabuhay, 2021.

Mahalaga na ating mapagnilayang muli at makita sa panahong ito na si Hesus ang tanging liwanag sa ating buhay na tumatanglaw sa gitna ng maraming artipisyal na mga ilaw, mga ilaw na ang binibigyang liwanag ay mga tao at kung sinu-sinong ibig na maging sikat o ibig kilalanin.

Ito yaong mga artipisyal na ilaw ng mga kamera at media na ang pinakikita o ang tinatampok bilang “highlight” ay mga karangyaan, kapangyarihan, katanyagan at mga kapalaluan sa mundo.

Inaanyayahan tayo ng kapistahang ito na tularan sina Simeon at Anna na inabangan buong buhay nila si Hesus na siyang tunay na liwanag ng ating buhay na dapat din nating hanapin, lapitan at sundan.

May isang tao noon sa Jerusalem, ang pangala’y Simeon. Matapat at malapit sa Diyos ang lalaking ito at naghihintay sa katubusan ng Israel. Sumasakanya ang Espiritu Santo na nagpahayag sa kanya na hindi siya mamamatay hangga’t hindi niya nakikita ang Mesiyas na ipinangako ng Panginoon.

Lucas 2:25-26

Bukod sa tanging si San Lucas lamang ang may kuwento ng tagpong ito, mayroon din siyang ginamit na kataga na hindi ginamit ng sinumang manunulat ng Bagong Tipan o maging ng alin mang aklat sa buong Bibliya.

Ito yung salitang naglalarawan kay Simeon bilang , “malapit sa Diyos” na sa Inggles ay “devout”.

Alam na natin yung salitang “righteous” o “matapat” na ginamit din ni San Mateo upang ilarawan si San Jose bilang taong matuwid o banal na tumutupad sa mga batas at alituntunin ng kanilang relihiyon.

“Simeon’s Moment” ni American illustrator Ron DiCianni mula sa  http://www.tapestryproductions.com.

Ngunit iyong “malapit” o “devout” sa Inggles o “deboto” sa pangkaraniwang pananalita, tanging si San Lucas lamang ang gumamit niyon sa buong Bibliya. Apat na ulit niya itong ginamit: minsan sa ebanghelyo na ating napakinggan at tatlong ulit sa ikalawang aklat niyang sinulat, Gawa ng mga Apostol.

Mas maliwanag ito sa Inggles nang tawagin ni San Lukas ang mga Hudyong pumunta sa Jerusalem noong Pentecostes bilang mga “devout Jews” o “mga taong palasamba sa Diyos” (Gawa 2:5); tinawag din niyang mga “devout men” o “mga taong may takot sa Diyos” yaong mga naglibing sa ating unang Martir na si San Esteban (Gawa 8:2); at sa pagsasalaysay ni San Pablo ng kanyang pagbabalik-loob, ginamit na salita muli ni San Lucas sa kanyang kuwento upang ilarawan si Ananias bilang “a devout observer of the law” o “taong may takot sa Diyos” (Gawa 22:12).

Alalaong-baga, para kay San Lucas, ang isang “devout” na tao, o wika nga natin deboto ay isang taong malapit sa Diyos dahil siya ay mayroong takot sa Diyos kaya tumutupad sa Kanyang mga utos! Hindi lamang sila matapat o faithful kungdi mayroong malinis na puso at laging handang tumupad ng buong tapang sa kalooban ng Diyos.

Kaya nga sa ating mga Pinoy, ang deboto ay taong malapit, yaong mayroong matalik na ugnayan sa Diyos at sa kapwa!

Sila yaong mga kaibigang maaasahan, mayroong sariling kusa at hindi naghihintay na pagsabihan pa kung ano ang gagawain. Mayroong sariling-palo katulad nina Simeon at Anna na kusang naghihintay, lumalapit sa Diyos at Panginoon.

“Presentation at the Temple” painting ng Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna noong 1455; hawak ni Mari ang Banal na Sanggol habang si San Jose naman sa gitna ay nakatingin kay Simeon na mayroong balbas na puti. Larawan buhat sa wikipedia.org.

Nadadalisay ang ating pagiging malapit sa Diyos sa isang buhay-panalangin na kung saan mayroong disiplina sa pagdarasal na hindi lamang mga salitang inuusal ng bibig kungdi sinasapuso.

Masdan paanong sinabi ni San Lucas sina Simeon at Anna na palaging nasa templo nananalangin. Higit sa lahat, ang pananalangin ay kaisahan sa Diyos kaya nabatid kaagad ng dalawang matanda na dumating na si Hesus sa pag-uudyok sa kanila ng Espiritu Santo.

Katulad din yan ng pagkakaroon ng matalik na kaibigan: palagi kayong nag-uusap, nagbabahaginan at nag-uunawaan kaya mayroong kaisahan.

Ang pagiging malapit sa Diyos o deboto ay hindi lamang pagaalaga at pagkolekta ng mga imahen at aklat dasalan kungdi pumapaloob sa kalooban ng Diyos na siyang sinasabi ni propeta Malakias sa unang pagbasa na biglang darating ang Panginoon sa kanyang templo na siyang ating mga sarili.

Gayun din naman, ang taong malapit sa Diyos palaging malapit sa kapwa, lalo na sa mga maliliit at nahihirapan sa buhay gaya ng mga may-sakit at kapansanan. Pagmasdan paanong kinilala ni Simeon mga magulang ni Hesus sina Maria at Jose. Binigyan niya ng halaga kanyang mga kapwa-tao hindi lamang ang Panginoong Hesus.

Ang tunay na kaibigang matalik ay yaong naglalapit sa atin sa Diyos at kabutihan, hindi kasalanan at kapahamakan. Nakakatagpo natin si Hesus sa ating mga kapwa tao gaya ng sinasabi ng may-akda ng sulat sa mga Hebreo na ating napakinggan.

Higit sa lahat, ang taong malapit sa Diyos o isang deboto ay puno ng tuwa at kagalakan. Damang-dama ang tuwa at galak nina Simeon at Anna nang makatagpo at makalong si Hesus na sa sobrang tuwa nila sila’y handa nang mamatay.

Iyon ang tunay na palatandaan ng malapit at nakatagpo sa Diyos: puno ng tuwa na anuman ang sapitin sa buhay, hindi niya alintana ang mga takot at pangamba, maging kamatayan sapagkat ito ang maghahatid sa tunay na paglapit at pagbuklod sa Ama kay Kristo Hesus. Amen.

Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Santo Niño Exhibit sa katedral ng Malolos, Enero 2022.

Each of us an “Emmanuel” too!

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Day 3, 18 December 2021
Jeremiah 23:5-8   ><}}}*> + <*{{{><   Matthew 1:18-25
Photo by author, Baguio Cathedral, January 2018.

We have just concluded the “Year of St. Joseph” last December 8 but it seems due to the pandemic, we have not celebrated truly enough to realize the virtues and person of the most silent character in the New Testament, St. Joseph.

We find no story in the gospels with St. Joseph either speaking or conversing with anyone at all. At least the Blessed Virgin Mary conversed with the angel during the Annunciation and spoke to Jesus her Son upon finding him at the Temple and at the wedding feast at Cana. St. Joseph was totally silent and most of all, could sleep soundly despite the tremendous stress he must have gone through! Truly a man of great faith and trust in God!

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.”

Matthew 1:18-20
Photo from vaticannews.va, December 2020.

Notice how Matthew presented the climax of his genealogy not only with the coming of Jesus Christ at the end but also in his lineage to St. Joseph he described as “a righteous man” and addressed by the angel in a dream as “son of David”.

In him we find that expression “silent water runs deep” so very true. Imagine the maturity and deep spirituality of St. Joseph being called as a righteous man or a holy man which for the Jews is one who obeys the Laws of Israel.

But in this scene of the Annunciation of Christ’s birth to him in a dream, Matthew goes deeper into what is to be holy as more than obeying the the Laws but most of all, abiding by the will of God always as described in many instances in the Old Testament like the Book of Psalms. If holiness were simply an adherence to the Laws, St. Joseph would have not decided to silently leave Mary found pregnant with a child not his; in their laws, she would have been shamed in public which St. Joseph avoided in trying to leave her silently. For him, higher than the letters of the law was the welfare and well-being of Mary and her Child that until then he did not know was the Christ.

At the same time, here we find the deep spirituality of St. Joseph: compared with Mary to whom the angel appeared and spoke in person while with St. Joseph, the angel appeared only in a dream. He had a more difficult situation discerning whether his dream was real or not, which we all experience upon waking up from a dream so real!

Only a man with deep spirituality, so attuned with God like St. Joseph could perceive the divine in fact while at the same time discern it as very true the will of God that “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus” (Mt.1:24-25).

Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago, mosaic of the Annunciation to Joseph at the Shrine of St. Padre Pio in San Giovanni di Rotondo, Italy, 2017.

In a very concise manner – like our very silent saint and foster father of Jesus – Matthew presents to us in this short story of the Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus to St. Joseph all the critical and essential elements about the mystery of the Incarnation.

As we have reflected yesterday at the genealogy, Matthew now goes deeper into the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises of God. This he beautifully presented also through the person of St. Joseph, a reminder of the need for us to be vessels of God’s graces and instruments of God’s works.

St. Joseph showed in this brief scene the true meaning of holiness, of being whole by seeking to find ways to bring into unity their laws and love and persons, something which Jesus Christ would keep on elaborating in his entire ministry, like his favorite expression “Sabbath was created for man, not man for sabbath.”

See how he tried to give more importance to Mary whom he loved so much that he was intent in not putting her to shame and harm. And upon listening and discerning the angel’s message to him in a dream, he obeyed everything, showing us the unity of the laws in love long before Jesus came to show it on the Cross himself. In accepting God and Jesus, St. Joseph had to take Mary; and in taking Mary, Jesus came into the world.

Here we are challenged by the example of St. Joseph that we too become an Emmanuel in the sense that in our lives, we become the sign that God-is-with-us specially in this time of the pandemic and with coming elections next year. We need to pray more deeply and be attuned with God for his divine will that always takes unexpected turns, so different from our own ways and methods.

Photo by author, 15 December 2021.

To be an Emmanuel like Jesus and St. Joseph, one has to be definitely pro-life, one who values life and every person, regardless of his/her status in life.

Like St. Joseph, let us learn to be silent for God and be louder with our actions, always choosing and standing for life and for every person’s dignity.

Like St. Joseph, he chose from the very start the value of Mary as a person which is the hallmark of Jesus as Emmanuel, the God who became human to be with us because it is good to be human. Amen.

Any World (That I’m Welcome To) by Steely Dan (1975)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 21 November 2021
Photo by author, Singapore, 2018.

Please suspend any judgment yet for our choice of music this Sunday: I have waited so long for this inspiration to come in my prayers since we started this blog on music linked with the gospel.

Yes, I have always been a big fan – a Danhead – of Steely Dan since my elementary days in the mid-70’s and thanks to YouTube and the internet, the more I have come to love their music now that I am a priest!

Though I must confess that I have never learned nor fully understood their lyrics until now, I have always been faithfully in love with their music that is brusque and sophisticated at the same time yet charming and mysterious.

Just Google the meaning of Steely Dan, the band is essentially the duo of the late Walter Becker and Donald Fagen whose ability to gather the best musicians in itself is a stroke of genius.

Next to prayers, Steely Dan music has been my best antidote against all the blues, worries and fears since this pandemic began last year. And when burdens are so heavy that I feel so down, this is the Steely Dan tune I liked most at this time as it spoke so well exactly how I would always feel:

If I had my way
I would move to another lifetime
I’d quit my job
Ride the train through the misty nighttime
I’ll be ready when my feet touch ground
Wherever I come down
And if the folks will have me
Then they’ll have me

Any world that I’m welcome to
Is better than the one I come from

From their album Katy Lied released in 1975, Any World (That I’m Welcome To) speaks so well of our longing to go to another world where everything fits us right — the kind of feeling we tend to have when our plans do not happen, when everything seems to be wrong and out of order.

Like all their songs, Any World is loaded with philosophical musings by Becker and Fagen that words could not sufficiently express and that is why they always have to improvise and innovate in their music and instrumentations that sound so sublime, filled with enigma.

But, where is Jesus Christ and our celebration today of Christ the King in this music which many of my elders used to frown when I was growing up (and discerning my vocation)?

The inspiration came to me while praying on the first reading, on the “vision” of the prophet Daniel of the “Son of man” or Savior God sent to save us, Jesus Christ. Instantly, I remembered the last stanza of this song:

I think I’ll go to the park
Watch the children playing
Perhaps I’ll find in my head
What my heart is saying
A vision of a child returning
A kingdom where the sky is burning
Honey I will be there
Yes I’ll be there

Any world that I’m welcome to
Is better than the one I come from

And when we try visualize the gospel from John of the trial of Jesus before Pilate, the more we wish we are in any world where we are welcomed to! How ironic when we continue to put God on trial, always questioning him for all our woes, doubting his love and presence, his kingship, his very person in Jesus Christ (https://lordmychef.com/2021/11/20/jesus-truly-our-king/).

And that is where I find the genius and “spirituality” of Becker and Fagen: their music like Any World not only tells us of our deep longings but also at the same time of our convictions that there is something better, something good coming despite all the problems and darkness we have in life.

Yes, it will be pushing too hard to speak of faith and religion with Steely Dan music but, as I have cautioned you at the start, suspend any judgment and get the feel of Becker and Fagen in the second stanza of this great song:

I can hear your words
When you speak of what you are and have seen
I can see your hand
Reaching out through a shining daydream
Where the days and nights are not the same
Captured happy in a picture frame
Honey I will be there
Yes I’ll be there

Any world that I’m welcome to
Is better than the one I come from

Who else can understand us so well, who can see everything in us and most of all would be there? That must be Jesus, truly our King who died for us to make this a better world for us!

Have a blessed Sunday!

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.com.

“Praying” to “pray”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XXX, Year I in Ordinary Time, 27 October 2021
Romans 8:26-30   ><)))'> <'(((>< + ><)))'> <'(((><   Luke 13:22-30
Photo by Ms. Eunice Vergara in Victoria, Laguna, 2020.
Thank you very much, dear God
for the grace of being able to pray,
of being able to reach out to you,
to listen to you, and be with you;
indeed, "we do not know how to 
pray as we ought, but the Spirit
intercedes with inexpressible 
groanings" (Rom. 8:26).
How silly and sad when so often
we believe so much in ourselves
that we pray on our own abilities
that we always demand you to take
cognizance of this feat, not realizing
we are merely responding to you
who has always been communicating 
with us ever since!
So many times, we pray and tell
you so many things that we need, 
asking and demanding you for everything
forgetting that prayer is more of
simply being with you, listening to you
because you know everything we need.
And so, dearest God our loving Father,
today I pray that you let me pray often,
that I grow deeper in my relationship with
you because that is what prayer really is;
let me not be concerned with other things
like numbers and quantities, of whether
many or few will be saved like that man 
in the gospel today because 
what really matters is I strive to grow 
in knowing you, loving you, and
obeying you so that in the end, 
I am conformed to you and in you 
through Jesus Christ your Son. 

For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

Romans 8:29-30
I pray, O Lord, that my life
becomes a prayer in itself,
a oneness in you,
now and forever.
Amen.

When the spirit is willing but flesh is weak…

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. John Paul II, Pope, 22 October 2021
Romans 7:18-25  ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Luke 12:54-59
Photo by author, 2019.
Thank you very much, 
dearest God our Father 
for knowing me so well like
St. Paul, of how I constantly have
to wage that battle against evil 
deep within me.

Brothers and sisters: I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.

Romans 7:18-21
There is an ongoing war deep within
each one of us between what is right
and good and what is wrong and evil;
there is always that inner struggle that
even if we know the right thing to do,
sometimes we choose what is wrong 
and sinful not simply because we are weak
as humans; like St. Paul, we are not 
offering an excuse to you but ask for
your grace for us to be responsible 
to our decisions and actions for it is 
only in admitting our guilt and sinfulness
can we truly see and follow you.
This inner battle between good and
evil within us are in fact the very roots
of the bigger wars and strife we have
among nations and peoples, of the more
pernicious indifference and self-centeredness
we choose daily in the face of widespread
poverty and hunger, corruption and deceptions
not only in our streets but also right in
our own homes and houses of worship.
Send us your Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus
to enlighten our minds and our hearts
to be able to read spiritually the things
happening in us and around us, 
that we may be able to judge for
ourselves what is right.  
Let us grow in the courage and wisdom
of St. John Paul II, your great Pope who
lived and served us with great example of
his life waging war against the many evils of
our time, standing for what is true and good,
your voice in this wilderness, telling us to
"be not afraid" to love like Jesus your Son
with Mary his Mother.  Amen.
From Twitter.com.

Losing to win, lesson of Our Lady of the Rosary

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, 07 October 2021
Acts 1:12-14   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Luke 1:26-28
Photo from canningliturgicalarts.com.

This feast of the Holy Rosary has its origin in the victory of Christian forces against the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Lepanto Bay in 1571 that decisively stopped the Moslems from occupying Europe.  The first Dominican Pope, St. Pius V attributed that victory to the recitation of the Holy Rosary.  Popularity and devotion to the Rosary eventually grew and spread when subsequent other victories in various parts of the world, including the Philippines’ La Naval were attributed to our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. 

In our gospel today, we find the key behind every victory attributed to the praying of the Holy Rosary:  it is when we “lose” that we actually “win”!  After explaining to her the plan of God, Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  Then the angel departed her (Lk.1:38).  In a sense, Mary was a loser— she “lost” herself to God and eventually became an instrument for our victory in the salvation through her Son Jesus Christ.  The Lord Himself was crucified, another “loser” in a sense but truly a victor because in dying on the cross, Jesus Christ resurrected on the third day and won over death and sin.

Sometimes it can happen we feel at a loss, when we have lost in some battles in life when later on, we find out we have actually won

Some may have been bullied while in school. Or, sometimes we fail an exam or flunk a semester but eventually we graduated, now have a career, a wonderful family.

In business, sometimes investors and entrepreneurs may go bankrupt before hitting gold.

That’s how it is with life. Win or lose, in the end, it is always a win. Especially when we in God.

When we choose to be like Mary, to submit ourselves to the will and plans of God, we must be ready to endure so many sufferings and hardships in life that sometimes we feel like we are at the losing end.  When we try to be patient, when we try to understand, when we forgive, when we bear all the pains because we love, that is when we win as we lose ourselves and begins to be filled with Christ Jesus like Mary in the gospel. 

True, a lot often we lose so many battles when we try to stand for what is true and good but in the end, we actually win the war against evil.  That is the greatest victory Christ had gifted us, first His Mother Mary:  salvation.  Hence, we find in Marian prayers and hymns the requests for the Blessed Mother’s prayer for us sinners to be saved from hell and be brought to her Son Jesus Christ in eternity.  That’s the final victory we all hope for in praying and living out the Holy Rosary with Mary. 

But first, lose yourself to Jesus.