Holiness is being gentle

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Holy Monday, 11 April 2022
Isaiah 42:1-7   +   John 12:1-11
Photo from Pinterest.

A blessed Holy Monday to you and your loved ones!

Every year beginning with the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord until the morning of Holy Thursday, the Church has regarded since the fourth century these days as holy and sacred in commemoration of the Lord’s Passion in Jerusalem.

These days, people frown and withdraw from any discussions about holiness, believing it is just for a selected few like saints and angels, and religious men and women like priests and nuns. For many, holiness is being sinless like God.

Not really.

The word holy came from the Greek holos meaning whole or perfect; holiness is being filled with God who fills in the gaps and broken corners in us, making us whole, a person of integrity and character. Holiness is an ongoing process, never a one-shot deal. That is why Jesus said “be perfect (or holy) as your heavenly Father is perfect (or holy).”

Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images.

One beautiful aspect of holiness is being gentle, something that has become so rare in our highly competitive world today. Jesus described himself as being “humble and gentle of heart” in whom we can find rest for his “yoke is easy” and his “burden is light” (cf. Mt. 11:29).

Being gentle means being open to everyone, especially those burdened in life like the poor and the sick, the elderly, the orphans, the widowed, the marginalized.

Being gentle is to be welcoming or hospitable and caring of others instead of threatening and indifferent. Hospitality is from the Latin word hospis which means to welcome like hospital while hostility is from the Latin word hostes which means to hostage.

Just like Jesus who was prefigured as the Suffering Servant in today’s first reading described by God as one who “shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench” (Is.42:1-3).

Photo by author, Sacred Heart Center for Spirituality, Novaliches, QC, 2016.

In our world where everyone has all the means to be heard and seen loudly and clearly in high definition, gentleness has become so rare, almost extinct! Lahat na lang “mema” may masabi. What is sad is how we speak and get our messages across in every media platform, from the simple text messages to the giant tarps and screaming stickers on vehicles that are always harsh and laden with insults and sarcasms.

In this world where “size always matters” while power is expressed in force and violence, gentleness is being one with the weak and the suffering, the broken ones like the “bruised reed” that the Suffering Servant “would not break or smoldering wick he shall not quench.”

Wherever there is gentleness, there is always hospitality, there is God; without gentleness, we get hostilities like war and violence.

See the attitude of Jesus in today’s gospel, how he welcomed Mary at a dinner in Bethany who anointed his feet with a liter of costly perfumed oil and later dried them with her hair that the house was filled with fragrance. Notice the hostile attitude of Judas Iscariot pretending to care for the poor when he asked “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” (Jn.12:5).

Jesus simply told Judas to leave Mary alone with what she was doing that was a preparation for his burial soon to happen, adding, “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me” (Jn.12:8).

Very loaded words from the Lord, telling us to be gentle with everyone’s devotion and expression of faith and love in God while reminding us all how the poor must always be welcomed and cared for even after he had gone back to the Father.

Photo by author, Sacred Heart Center for Spirituality, Novaliches, QC, 2016.

Gentleness is more than offering a seat to an elderly or opening the door for a woman; being gentle is having that disposition to care for everyone, consciously guarding against hurting them physically and emotionally.

Gentleness is holiness because it is an act of loving others, of finding Christ in everyone because whatsoever you do to the least of his brethren, that you do unto him.

There is a beautiful saying I have found from an unknown author who said “if you have love in your heart, you have been blessed by God; if you have been loved, you have been touched by God.” So many among us could not know nor experience God because many of us refuse to be gentle with everyone; many could not understand nor imagine a loving and merciful God when everybody is hostile and violent.

This Holy Monday, let us examine ourselves, our attitude with others, if we have been welcoming, hospitable and caring. It costs us nothing to adjust ourselves, to be more gentle in words and in deeds – and looks, too! It could be your step closer to simple holiness as God fills you with himself in Christ who is humble and gentle of heart.

Lord Jesus Christ,
teach us to be gentle like you;
make us feel more our being human
and stop feeling superior with others,
always analyzing, always thinking
that in the process we have forgotten 
to feel the persons around us.
Make us gentle in our thoughts
and in our words.  Amen.
Photo by author, Baguio Cathedral, 2018.

God’s overflowing grace with Mary

Sharing with you our prayer on the Memorial of our Our Lady of Lourdes before the start of the pandemic in 2020.
Praying for the healing of all the sick.

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Tuesday, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick, 11 February 2020

Isaiah 66:10-14 ><)))*> 0 <*(((>< John 2:1-11

Photo of Our Lady of Lourdes in France by Arch. Philip Santiago, September 2018.

Praise and glory to you O God, our loving and merciful Father who has given us a wonderful and most kind mother in the Blessed Virgin Mary through Jesus Christ your Son.

Through Mary, your abundant blessings, O God, have flowed and continue to overflow upon us even with the completion of her mission here on earth as Mother of Jesus.

How true were your words to the Prophet Isaiah that you shall send Israel a mother who shall comfort us, a mother in whom you shall spread prosperity and blessings upon us (Isaiah 66:10-14).

When Mary came into the scene when she was…

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Dalawang makabagong santo, kapangalan ng aming Patron

Ngayong buwan ng Oktubre,
ating inaalaala dalawang Santo Papa
pangalang hiniram ay mula kay San Juan:
San Juan XXIII noong Oktubre 11
at San Juan Pablo II bukas, Oktubre 22;
handog ko ay panalangin noong ako
ay nasa Bagbaguin, sa butihin naming Patron,
San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista.
Sana sa kanya tayo lumapit at humniling
ng panalangin gaya ng dalawang
makabagong Santo at Papa!

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-22 ng Oktubre 2020

Larawan nina San Juan Pablo II at San Juan XXIII kasama isa sa mga matandang imahen ng aming Patron San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista sa likuran ng aming simbahan sa Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan.

PANALANGIN KAY SAN JUAN APOSTOL AT EBANGHELISTA KAUGNAY NG MGA BAGONG SANTO NG SIMBAHAN: PAPA JUAN PABLO II at PAPA JUAN XXIII(Bahagi ng aming mga Panalangin sa Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan mula nang itanghal bilang Santo ang dalawang naturang dating Santo Papa noong 27 Abril 2014, Linggo ng Dakila Awa ng Diyos.)

Minamahal naming Patron na Banal, Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista po ang inyong ngalan! Ngayo'y aming ipinagdiriwang sa buong Simbahan dalawang bagong Banal: Kapwa sila pastol ng kawan, nang manungkula'y pangalan mo ang hiniram. San Juan Beinte-tres nang sa kanyang katandaan tuladmo, Sinikap maging…

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1917 Fatima Apparition: When “last” is not “the end”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Last Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, 13 October 2021
Romans 2:1-11   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 11:42-46
From Pinterest.com.

Today we remember the “Miracle of the Sun” when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared for the last time to Lucia Santos and her two younger cousins canonized as Saints recently, Francisco and his sister Jacinta Marto, 104 years ago at Fatima, Portugal.

An estimated crowd of 70,000 made up of believers and unbelievers alike as well as skeptics and hecklers have witnessed the phenomenon, verifying its veracity with sworn accounts at how the Sun “danced” or zigzagged in the sky and then careened to the Earth while emitting radiant colors that lasted for about ten minutes.

It was the sixth and last apparition of the Blessed Mother to the three children that began on May 13, 1917.

Page from Ilustração Portuguesa, 29 October 1917, showing the people looking at the Sun during the Fátima apparitions attributed to the Virgin Mary. From en.wikipedia.org.

And even though the Fatima feast is officially celebrated every May 13, many churches and devotees around the world have continued to celebrate the October 13 apparition not only due to the dancing Sun miracle but most of all because it was on this date when the Blessed Mother introduced herself as the Lady of the Rosary, telling the children how World War I would soon end, and that was when the Virgin Mother said “People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!”

In 1957 during her last interview while already a cloistered Carmelite nun, Sr. Lucia revealed how during that last apparition to them (her two cousins have died in 1919 and 1920 during the flu pandemic), the Blessed Virgin Mary looked very sad and never smiled to indicate the gravity and seriousness of her messages to them.

Amid the many interpretations of the events of October 13, 1917, Fatima has remained so popular and very significant to this day because of its truth and relevance to our own situation and experiences from the not-so-distant-past.

In the light of our readings today in relation with our being under the patronage Our Lady of Fatima as a University and a Medical Center, let me share with you two things for reflections.

First is to see the last apparition of October 13, 1917 not as the final one but the beginning of the unfolding of more revelations and realizations for us. In fact, Sr. Lucia continued to received private visions while in the convent as a nun in 1925 through the 1930’s.

One problem with the common perception of many people even up to now with the last apparition of Fatima is to equate it with the end of the world, of worldwide catastrophe that have instilled more of fear and even controversies that included doubts of the Vatican allegedly not fully revealing the Third Secret despite assurances from the visionary herself, Sr. Lucia who said before her death in 2005 that all Fatima Secrets have been fully revealed.

From the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.

The Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima not to scare us 
but to inspire us to turn away from sins, 
to be converted and be holy 
so that the world may truly find peace in Jesus her Son.

If we take the Fatima apparitions as a whole, we find in it more of messages of hope and joy for us in the world. The Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima not to scare us but to inspire us to turn away from sins, to be converted and be holy so that the world may truly find peace in Jesus her Son.

The last things do not necessarily mean destruction but also signal new beginnings, new undertakings, new opportunities for us even in the midst of trials and difficulties like this pandemic. There is nothing we should be afraid of or worried with except that we be converted to lead holy lives.

The last apparition at Fatima in 1917 was meant to usher in new hopes for us to become better persons who build stronger families and more vibrant church communities.

Unfortunately, it is still far from being realized even 104 years ago have passed as we have not yet learned or have refused to heed its lessons. In that case, we and not God nor Jesus nor the Blessed Mother are to be blamed at why we are going through all these difficulties and miseries we are into in this modern age.

Let us make today the beginning of our conversion and transformation in Christ Jesus with the help of the Blessed Mother. It is in this aspect where we wish to propose our second reflection for 104th anniversary of the last apparition at Fatima by confronting our true selves amid the many criticisms hurled against us by believers and unbelievers alike.

In our first reading today, we find St. Paul criticizing his fellow Jews who felt so entitled with God as his “chosen people”, reminding them that “there is no partiality with God” (v.11) in terms with his judgments that are based on the truth and on our deeds, not on our affiliations nor practices.

By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works, eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.

Romans 2:5-8

How unfortunate that such feeling of entitlement continues to our own time among us in the Church, especially with those in the clergy and those who feel holier than others, giving more emphasis on things of the world that feed on the ego to gain some sense of importance or dignity, and relevance.

If Jesus were with us today, he would have surely addressed today’s woes in the gospel (Lk.11:42-46) to us for we have forgotten the more weightier things like proclaiming the gospel than politicking, being poor and simple than being rich and powerful so preoccupied with the ways of the world on the pretext of being modern or adapting to the present situation when in fact are seeking comfort and fame, of being served than serving others.

Photo from vaticannews.va, 13 May 2017.

At Fatima, the Blessed Mother had revealed to the three children at her last apparition how the devil has been working, infiltrating the church to mislead her priests and bishops into sins.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI admitted to reporters in May 2010 at Fatima, Portugal that the Third Secret “has permanent and ongoing significance… that could be extended to include the suffering the Church is going through today as a result of the recent reports of sexual abuse involving the clergy.”

Like St. Paul in our first reading today, we are invited to examine our very selves – especially us priests and bishops – to face squarely the criticisms of many against us after years of hiding in authority and influence.

At Fatima 104 years ago today, we are invited by the Blessed Mother to be focused more in revealing God’s will as experienced and prayed in the the Sacred Scriptures than taking sides in politics and going down to the worldly debates of issues.

At Fatima 104 years ago today, we are invited to stop acting like judges who know all as if we are the favorites of God.

At the last apparition in Fatima 104 years ago, it is very interesting how two elements prevailed on that day: rains and the Sun.

The rains have soaked wet the people and the whole area for two days, October 12-13, signifying the call for inner cleansing and purification of our hearts and person.

And when the Sun “danced”, the people were astonished how their clothes where dried along with the whole surroundings as if it had not rained the previous day after witnessing the spectacular display of colors and light.

May we see more of the light of Jesus Christ in our lives so we may be cleansed and ready to work for another day of conversion and holiness. Amen.

Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us.

Photo by Ms. Mira Mandal Sibal, August 2021.

Thank a woman today

Sharing with you our prayer last year on this Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, 15 September 2020
1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31     || + ||     John 19:25-27

“Mater Dolorosa” also known as “Blue Madonna” (1616) by Carlo Dolci. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, in giving us the Blessed Virgin Mary to be our Mother too, to join us and accompany us in this life journey especially when there are pains and sufferings like when she stood by you at the foot of the Cross on that Good Friday.

As we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, we remember also and pray for all the women in our lives, specially our mother and sisters, the wife of every spouse, our teachers, the nuns, and all those women who somehow “completed” our lives.

Because of…

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Panalangin sa karangalan ng kaarawan ng Mahal na Birheng Maria (at nating lahat!)

Sharing with you a prayer we composed last year at the start of this pandemic in honor of the Nativity of Mary. Have a blessed day!

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-08 ng Setyembre 2020Kapistahan ng Pagsilang ng Mahal na Birheng MariaRoma 8:28-30   >><)))*> + <*(((><<   Mateo 1:18-23

Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa aming Parokya, Pasko 2018.

O Diyos Amang mapagmahal sa amin, kay sarap isipin at namnamin pagdiriwang ng pagsilang ng Mahal na Birheng Maria na Ina ni Hesus at Ina din namin. Sa unang tingin marahil tatanungin bakit ang kuwento sa ebanghelyo ay pagsilang ng Kristo? Ngunit sa dakilang karunungan po Ninyo, O Diyos Ama dito Mo ibinalot kagandahan at kabutihan hindi lamang ng kapistahan kungdi ng katotohanang hatid nito: Dumating si Hesus na Anak Mo sa pamamagitan ng dalawang mabubuting tao ayon sa plano at kalooban Mo: si Jose na mula sa angkan ni David na lahi ni Abraham naging esposo ni Maria na siyang Ina ng tinatawag naming Kristo. Dahil dito, hinatian Mo kami O Diyos…

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Praying for holiness in the world

Reblogging our prayer last year as we honor St. Maximilian Kolbe on this date.

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II

Friday, Memorial of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Priest and Martyr, 14 August 2020

Ezekiel 16:1-15, 60, 63 >><)))*> || + || <*(((><< Matthew 19:3-12

From companionsofstanthony.org

“The most resplendent manifestation of God’s glory is the salvation of souls, whom Christ redeemed by shedding his blood. To work for the salvation and sanctification of as many souls as possible, therefore, is the preeminent purpose of the apostolic life.”

From the Letters of Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Office of Readings

Praise and thanksgiving to you our loving Father for a holy saint in our modern time, St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe whose memorial we celebrate today. His offering of his life in place of another prisoner at Auschwitz in 1941 was a fitting cap for his life of dedication in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in words…

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A holy déja vu?

Reblogging our reflection/prayer on this Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul last year when COVID-19 struck us.

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II

Monday, Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles, 29 June 2020

Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11 >><)))*> 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18 <*(((><< Matthew 16:13-19

Photo from americamagazine.org.

As I prepared to celebrate today’s Solemnity of the two pillars of the Church you have established, Lord Jesus Christ, that image of your Vicar and St. Peter’s successor, Pope Francis delivering his extraordinary Urbi et Orbi message last March 27, 2020 before an empty St. Peter’s Square flashed into my mind, something like a deja vu.

It is a holy deja vu, Lord, of St. Peter’s experience in prison on a Sunday night…

In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them… he proceeded to arrest Peter also – it was the feast of the Unleavened Bread –…

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Humihiyaw ba ang puso?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, ika-02 ng Hunyo 2021
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com
Hindi lamang minsan tinanong sa akin
sa isang panayam ng mga kabataan
alin daw ba ang dapat nilang pakinggan:
sigaw ng puso o sigaw ng isipan?
"Trending" ang tanong
at ang mabilis kong tugon
palagi nilang unang pakinggan
sinisigaw ng kanilang mga magulang!
Matapos ang tawanan
aking pinagnilayan at binalik
sa kanila isa pang katanungan:
ang puso ba ay humihiyaw
sa paghahayag ng kanyang kalooban?
Hindi ba maging kanyang pagtibok 
sadyang napakahina, tayo ay hinihimok 
taimtim na sa kanya makinig?
Kung ang puso ma'y 
humihiyaw, isinisigaw
kanyang nilalaman
marahil wala tayong
masyadong alitan
at mga kaguluhan
dahil sa bawat pintig ng puso
naroon tinig ng pag-ibig na dalisay.
Naalala mo ba una mong pagsinta
first love kung tawagin
ngunit kay hirap limutin
kakaibang naramdaman
sa lilim ng katahimikan
iyong iniingat-ingatan
na huwag mabunyag at malaman?
Noong bata pa tayo
at wala pang kamuwang-muwang
sa kalokohan at kasinungalingan
bulong ng puso madaling napapakinggan
ngunit sa ating pagtanda
puso atin nang tinuturuan
sariling kagustuhan
siyang laging sundin at pakinggan.
Humiyaw man ang puso
parating pabulong
hirap niyang maiahon
katotohanang ating binaon
naghihintay ng pagkakataon
pawalan katotohanang naroroon
pagdating ng panahon.
Sa tuwing ika'y nasasaktan
sa salitang sa iyo binitiwan
masakit dahil ito ang katotohanan

na noon mo pa alam
ngunit ayaw mong pakinggan
puso mo ay tinalikuran
kaya ika'y babalikan
ibabaon sa katotohanan.
Larawan buhat sa Google.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit

It has been a year, 366 days to be exact, since I started publishing my blogs here on a daily basis.
I find this poem written almost a year ago still relevant today.
Thank you and God bless everyone!
Stay safe too.

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 15 April 2020

Photo by Mr. Chester Ocampo, Immaculate Conception Seminary chapel, 2014.

It was three in the morning
my day was earlier than usual calling
while kneeling I began praying
I could not believe the words coming
for they are meant before sleeping:
"Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit."

Since the beginning
of this quarantine
there is this feeling
seeping within, asking
what is happening
but scared when answering.

It is reality now biting
reminding me of one thing
that is so intimidating
haunting me ever since
not just of dying
but of being alone.

I know it is the Easter season
but there must be a reason
why this is going on:
I have never felt alone
until I have grown old
when there is nobody home.

When Jesus died on the cross he was alone but never…

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