God’s invisible hand

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Sixth Week of Easter, 18 May 2023
Acts 18:1-8   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   John 16:16-20
Photo by author, sunrise in Tagaytay, 08 February 2023.
Praise and glory to you,
Lord Jesus Christ!
You never fail to surprise us
with your goodness and
generosity as your invisible hand
guides us through this life.

How wonderful that 
very often in life, 
we find fulfillment and
realization of our dreams
and plans in places we never
find conducive for any kind 
of success; but your invisible hand
proves us otherwise, like Paul 
finding rejection and resistance 
in the sophisticated city of Athens yesterday
only to find acceptance and affirmation 
in the seedy and immoral
city of Corinth where ironically
your gospel took roots!

Many times, Jesus,
we are baffled with your ways
and your words like your
apostles in the gospel today;
like them, we are so afraid 
to ask you even for clarifications
because we surely do not
know much!

There are times, Lord,
even the person we take for 
granted turn out to be the
one who would help us
in our needs.

Indeed, your invisible hand
is always present guiding us,
leading us Lord to green pastures,
to fulfillment; many times
your invisible hand pats our
backs and shoulders to comfort
and assure us; sometimes, 
your invisible hand spank
us, reprimanding us in times
we turn away from you;
let us remember that
whether you are patting our
shoulders or slapping us,
it is always your loving
and graceful 
invisible hand, 
Lord,
Amen.

Roots

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 10 April 2023
A photo-reflection of our rootedness in God while at the Sacred Heart Novitiate last March 20-22, 2023.
In the lush rolling hills of Novaliches
that is now fast disappearing are
23 hectares of pastureland and mini forests 
inside the Sacred Heart Novitiate
of the Society of Jesus.

Thank God it had opened
anew its doors to retreatants like me
wishing to have a "vacare Deo"
or vacation in the Lord.
A retreat
or a vacare Deo
is a return to our roots,
God.

While preparing for the formal
start of my retreat last March 20,
I felt the roots of the many trees
speaking to me
 in this Bethel of mine
where like Jacob in
Genesis 28:10-19,
I met God.
Sometimes,
I wrestled with Him
like Jacob too
in Peniel/Penuel
(Gen. 32:23-33).
How interesting
the words "true" and "truth"
along with its cousin "trust"
came from the old English
"treowe"
for tree.
According to experts,
the Anglo-Saxons worshipped trees
they called "treowe"
because they evoked firmness
and solidness;
the more rooted is the tree,
the more firm does it stand.
Like truth.
Whatever that is true, firmly standing
like a tree or treowe always has extensive 
network of roots, creating linkages
and interconnections from which came
that image of the 
"family tree".
When there are interconnections,
linkages,
there are relationships.
People with the most
wonderful relationships
are also the truthful ones
because they are trustworthy.
Reliable.
Like God.
Our root.
Our rootedness
who connects us with
everyone.
When we are rooted
and grounded in God,
nothing can ever disturb us
like a big, big, tree.
We can withstand all storm,
bear the sun's heat
remaining firm
and aglow
 with God's majesty
in daytime and in darkness.

Lovelier than the tree,
thank God
for creating me.
Hallelujah!

Lent is trusting God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent, 31 March 2023
Jeremiah 20:10-13   >>> +++ <<<   John 10:31-42
Photo by author, 20 March 2023, Sacred heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City.
God our loving Father,
I am a sinner;
forgive me for always turning 
my back from You,
for refusing to love
like Jesus Your Son;
but, despite my being a sinner,
You know very well how I love you,
You know everything about me,
how I strive repeatedly
because I trust in You.
I believe in You!
Like the psalmist,
I sing this day,
"I love you, O Lord,
my strength...
In my distress I called
upon the Lord
and cried out to my God;
from his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him
reached his ears"
(Psalm 18:2, 7).
Like Your prophet Jeremiah,
I could hear people, 
even those closest to me, 
denouncing my efforts to be
just and loving,
living Your precepts;
I could hear their whispering,
"on watch for any misstep of mine"
(Jeremiah 20:10).
Worst, 
like Jesus Christ,
some have tried harming me
with their words and deeds!
Sometimes, I feel so low,
so sad how good would be
rewarded with evil by some.
But I trust in You, 
dearest Father;
let me witness
Your love and mercy,
justice and kindness
despite my sinfulness
and weaknesses.
Be my strength and
my surety.
Amen.

Our venial sins

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Fifth Week of Lent, 30 March 2023
Genesis 17:3-9   >>> +++ <<<.  John 8:51-59
Photo by author, 2017.
Your words today,
dear God our Father
remind me of my venial sins,
the most common sins I take for granted
because they are "small", too little and 
not fatal like mortal sins.
Unfortunately, there is something sinister
with venial sins being the most common of sins,
repetitious to the point we get discouraged
and even depressed of the need for
conversion,
to break free from
our cycle of venial sins.

"For what?"
"Para que?"
"Ganun din naman, uulit din!"
Abraham was already 99 years old
when You, O God, formalized with him
Your covenant to become the father of all nations; 
how good he was not discouraged 
to the point of being depressed, 
giving up Your plans, Father,
waiting for Isaac's birth
because he was very old,
perhaps even sinful.
Merciful Father,
forgive me when I act like
the people who tried stoning Jesus 
when He said "before Abraham came to be, 
I AM" (John 8:58); don't let me get to that
point that whatever You say would mean nothing
to me because of my repetitious venial sins;
do not let me be discouraged, God,
because discouragement indicates
I trust more myself than You, O Lord.
Amen.

Our first task

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 19 March 2023
Monday, Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of Blessed Virgin Mary
2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16 + Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22 + Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 20 March 2023.
Praise and thanksgiving to you, God our Father
for the gift of calling me like St. Joseph
to bring your Son Jesus into the world
despite my many fears and doubts,
inadequacies, weaknesses 
and sinfulness, 
you entrusted me 
with the same task you gave St. Joseph 
of making known your Son
as “God Saves” - Jesus.

…the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home… She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:20, 21
Remind me always, dear God,
of this first task you gave us 
your beloved children
to make known to everyone 
that Jesus came to die on the Cross 
to show us “God saves” - 
that we are so wrong to think
you are domineering and ruthless God,
that you are not a God hungry of power,
that you are not insistent, and demanding God,
most of all, you are not a God who competes
with us your mere creatures like everyone thinks
from Adam and Eve down to us today.
Photo by author, Chapel of Holy Family, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 2014.
Teach me to be silent, 
trustful of you, O Father, 
like St. Joseph not bothered at all
of how things would turn out 
with my task to make people realize and
experience Jesus Christ;
give me the courage and obedience 
of St. Joseph to do as you have
tasked me to witness this great mystery 
and wonder of your love
because “God saves”.
Amen.

Lent is getting nearer to God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Second Week of Lent, 09 March 2023
Jeremiah 17:5-10   >>> +++ <<<   Luke 16:19-31
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2022.
God our loving Father,
let me come to you closer,
let me get nearer to you
in Jesus Christ present
among the sick and suffering,
among those we take for granted,
in those we have forgotten
in our family, in the church,
and in the society.

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.

Luke 16:19-21
Yes, O Lord Jesus,
your parable continues to 
happen among us today
despite our many technologies,
we have grown more apart
from each other not only in
physical distance but worst
even in heart as being kindreds in you.
Indeed, what you had told Jeremiah
is most true even today, 
"More tortuous 
than all else 
is the human heart,
 beyond remedy;
who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9)
but you alone, O Lord!

Cleanse our hearts,
incline our hearts to you,
dear Jesus;
let us be nearer to you
than anyone or anything else;
let us trust in you alone
for it is in you only is
found life and its fullness
here and the hereafter.
Amen.

Lent is choosing God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday after Ash Wednesday, 23 February 2023
Deuteronomy 30:15-20   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 9:22-25
Everyday you bless us,
O God, with that great power
to choose freely what we desire
best for us; but, many times, we make
the wrong choices that often lead us
to more pains and emptiness,
sadness and that feeling of being
lost.
Most of all,
we choose sin,
we choose evil,
than choosing good,
than choosing you, O God.

Moses said to the people: “I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: 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. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land that the Lord swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20
So many times
we make the wrong choices
when we insist on what we like
without really knowing what it is;
we make wrong choices
when we choose to disregard
you and your ways, Lord;
worst, we make the wrong choices
because we reject our very selves!
What a tragedy
when we ourselves refuse
to believe in ourselves,
in our worth,
in our possibilities
because we have lost all hope
in life, in you, and in others
due to failures or disappointments
or frustrations in life;
we choose wrongly when we
avoid pains and sufferings,
when we refuse to choose
the Cross not realizing
it is the one that truly leads
to life and prosperity
because every suffering,
every pain
leads to maturity
that make us better
and more open to
life and prosperity.
These 40 days of Lent,
let us choose you, Jesus
including your Cross;
let us choose people and
things outside of ourselves
because you have chosen to
care us and all our needs;
let us trust you 
so we may always choose you
because the times we choose
wrongly in life,
when we choose people
and things that are seemingly
favorable to us,
that is when 
we do doubt you,
when we do not 
trust you.
Amen.

Jesus,
King of Mercy,
we trust in you!

The gift of “today”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the First Week of Ordinary Time, 12 January 2023
Hebrews 3:7-14     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Mark 1:40-45
Photo by Mr. John Ryan Jacob, Liputan Island, Meycauayan, Bulacan, 10 January 2023.
The word "today"
resonates so clearly this day
in your words, O Lord our God:
indeed, let us not harden our hearts
if today we hear your voice;
let us not be like your people at 
Meribah who quarreled and rebelled
against you for lack of water in the
desert; let us not be like your people 
in Massah where they failed your test
of faith and trust, even Moses who
struck the rock twice instead of once
as you have commanded him.
Meribah and Massah continue to exist
today right in our hearts when we rebel
against you and those above us like 
our parents and teachers, 
our elders and superiors
and leaders in the Church;
until now we refuse to heed your
voice,
recognize your presence
in Jesus Christ in every
here and now,
in each day,
in the TODAY.
Forgive us, merciful Father,
let us hold on to faith to be
"partners in Christ"
by finding him, loving him,
and serving him in the
here and now.
Like that leper,
let us have that complete
trust and faith in you, Jesus,
waiting for you each day,
in every TODAY to tell you,
"If you wish, you can make me
clean" (Mk.1:40) because you
have always been present with
us in all our lives, especially in
our pains and sufferings;
you always have that compassion
for us that always, your grace appears
most when we are in our crosses.
And for that, we praise and
thank you,
dear Jesus!
Fill us with your Spirit,
make us enthusiastic like
that leper in every TODAY
to proclaim you saving presence.
Amen.

Praying to face, embrace every “end”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr, 22 November 2022
Revelation 14:14-19    ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   Luke 21:5-11
Photo by author, 18 November 2022.
Many times, O Lord Jesus,
I find it very amusing 
that despite our facing 
of so many "endings" 
each day in our lives, 
we are still bothered
and afraid of the end,
always wishing how things
especially the most wonderful
and memorable ones to
remain and never end;
every day the sun sets,
tasks and work are
completed,
songs and movies are seen
until the end,
yet, we refuse to embrace
this reality of the end.

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here — the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Luke 21:5-6
As you teach us today of the
certainty of the end, 
you remind us too, 
Lord Jesus,
that YOU are our only
security and surety
in this life;
everything, 
everyone 
will end
but only YOU shall remain;
give us the grace to cultivate
your gifts of faith and trust in you,
Lord Jesus;
like St. Cecilia whose memorial
we celebrate today,
may we muster all our courage
to be firm in our giving witness
to you dear Jesus every day,
every moment of our lives
for your judgment comes
surely as John had seen
in his visions;
in the same manner
as we end our prayers with
firm faith in eternal life in you,
may we befriend every ending
as your blessing leading us
to new beginnings in you.
Amen.
Photo by author, 16 November 2022 in Pulilan, Bulacan.

Daily presentation to the Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog 
Monday, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 21 November 2022
Revelation 14:1-3, 4-5   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 21:1-4
Lord Jesus Christ,
as we enter today this final stretch
of the current liturgical calendar,
you gave us the Memorial of the 
Presentation of your Blessed Mother
as an occasion for us to present ourselves
to you fittingly like her.
Help us to always remember your love
and mercy, Lord, so we may remain on track
on your path of humility and obedience
like Mary; may we always remember
your call to holiness and to mission
being sent like you by the Father;
may we always remember like Mary
to be always truthful and clean in our lips.

These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and then Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished.

Revelation 14:4-5
Help us imitate, dear Jesus,
that poor widow at the temple area
who gave everything she had - 
"two small coins" - into the treasury box;
grant us the grace to be like her,
to be like your Mother Mary,
to be like your grandparents St. Joachim and St. Anne
who offered their whole lives, 
their whole livelihood to God
because they believed,
they trusted, and hence,
they loved without measure.
Amen.