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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It is where we stand that matters most, not where we sit

Sharing with you another blog from 2019 about Feast of Chair of St. Peter and where we sit.

Christ_washes_apostles'_feet_(Monreale)During His Last Supper, Jesus rose from His seat to wash the feet of His apostles to show them what position is all about:  loving service to one another.  See in this icon from Google there are only 11 apostles present; Judas left the Last Supper to “unseat” the Lord.  Above is the word “mandatum”, Latin for “command”, Christ’s command for us to love by leaving our seats of power and comfort to stand with Him at His Cross.

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 22 February 2019
If you are a Catholic and a regular Mass-goer, most likely you always follow the “Roman seating position” – that is, you always sit at the back, avoiding the front seats even in other gatherings outside the church.

According to Msgr. Gerry Santos who used to give us retreats and recollections while we were seminarians, the “Roman seating position” is…

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We are all brothers and sisters in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Tuesday, Week-I, Year-I in Ordinary Time, 12 January 2021
Hebrews 2:5-12   +   >><)))*>  +  <*(((><<   +   Mark 1:21-28

Praise and glory to you, O God our Father in giving us your Son Jesus Christ. Not just as Savior but as a brother by suffering and dying for us.

What a great mystery You have revealed to us when Jesus could have just come and simply be our brother through a declaration from You when He was baptized at Jordan; but, He chose to obediently go through Passion and Death.

So often, we take this so ordinarily without realizing its deeper meaning that Your glory and our salvation should be brought about by Jesus becoming one of us but that He should go through so much pain and suffering on the cross, not to mention the indescribable humiliation He went through.

You know so well, O God, how we see sufferings as punishment but in Jesus Christ you have shown and taught us that in fact it is a source of Your abounding grace.

In “subjecting” all things to him, he left nothing not “subject to him.” Yet at present we do not see “all things subject to him,” but we do see Jesus “crowned with glory and honor” because he suffered death, he who “for a little while” was made “lower than the angels,” that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering.

Hebrews 2:8-10

How sad that like in Capernaum during His time, we are amazed, wondering, asking: “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him” (Mk.1:27).

Help us, O God, to embrace this beautiful mystery and reality of Jesus Christ’s coming that through His obedience to You even in suffering and death, He is able to help us, consecrating us to You because we are His brothers and sisters in suffering and death. Amen.

Our Origin and Mission in Jesus Christ

Sharing with you our reflection last year on the genealogy of Jesus by Matthew. May it deepen your Advent preparations so you may also find your mission in life.

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe-2
17 December 2018
Genesis 49:2, 8-10///Matthew 1:1-17

            Surely today after our Simbang Gabi, all attention would be on the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant with everybody rooting for our bet, memorizing the names and answers of almost every candidate from all over the world.  I have never seen any episode of Miss Universe or any beauty pageant in my entire life but from what I have read and heard, our intense interests with beauty contests is our way of coping with the harsh realities in our nation of crooks and corrupt officials that we try to identify with the beautiful and glamorous.  As you examine every candidate later on TV, try remembering our reflection on this second Simbang Gabi which is also about names and origins and mission.

            Today we begin…

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Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see?

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe-1 for the Soul 
by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Advent Week-III, 16 December 2020
Isaiah 56:1, 3a, 6-8     >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>     John 5:33-36
Photo by Ms. Jonna S. De Guzman, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan (06 December 2020).

At the start of our “Simbang Gabi” also known as Misa de Gallo and Misa de Aguinaldo, let me confess to you first how I have been a “Scrooge” for sometime, but, not exactly like that character in Charles Dickens’ novel “A Christmas Carol”.

Yes, I have always “hated” and avoided playing those popular Christmas songs that have commercialized and trivialized this blessed celebration. They really get to my nerves when I hear those songs portraying Christmas as the time to have a girlfriend or boyfriend or worst, that Christmas will never be complete without a ham or “quezo de bola”. That is why here in our parish, I have totally banned the playing and singing of many commercial Christmas songs both English and Filipino except those sung in our Masses.

Thanks to COVID-19! In my efforts to brighten my life this pandemic, I have been listening again to some, real Christmas songs we grew up with like those by Bing Crosby, Jerry Vale and our all-time favorite, the Ray Conniff band that my parents used to play on the phonograph not so long ago. One song that stands out these past days with me is Crosby’s “Do You Hear What I Hear” that speaks so well of our gospel scene today when John sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one “who is to come or should they look for another?” (Lk.7:18).

And Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

Luke 7:22-23
From Facebook.

Christmas is accepting the unexpected

“And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

That final sentence by Jesus speaks so much also for us during this time of pandemic when we have to “expect the unexpected” or simply accept things we do not expect.

Most likely you must have seen and even shared this very popular quotation above that has gone viral at Facebook. It is so true! Just be thankful with what you have, especially the people dearest to you, the gift of life, and of course Jesus Christ whom we do not recognize coming in our lives.

We have decided in our parish to have simple and less Christmas decors inside our church this year to show the people that we need to learn having only the essentials in life by removing the many trimmings of Christmas so we may rediscover Jesus Christ in our simplicity and emptiness.

I have been saying Christmas 2020 will definitely be the most difficult Christmas we shall ever have – maybe the darkest, the bleakest but at the same time, the most meaningful! There may be less of material things this Christmas but more of God and spiritual things like love and kindness, mercy and forgiveness, joy and peace. See https://lordmychef.com/2020/11/23/surely-there-will-be-christmas-2020/

Surely there will always be Christmas every year 
but after 2020, may our Christmas be for real: 
less hugging and kissing but more loving and caring; 
less laughing and merrymaking  
but more of rejoicing and comforting; 
less having and buying 
more giving and sharing; 
more sacrificing more striving for justice and peace; 
less clapping, 
less "liking", 
less "trending" 
more praying, 
more kneeling 
to Jesus our Savior and everything! 
People kneeling along our streets during our Christ the King celebration at the parish, 22 November 2020.

Quality vs. quantity

The key is vigilance — of being alert not only of the coming of Jesus but of his very presence among us even amid this pandemic and many difficulties of this year. Jesus is telling us on this first day of our Simbang Gabi like what he told the disciples of John to be alert, observe how in the midst of this pandemic so many good things still happen among us that cannot be measured in quantity but felt deep in quality.

Every time somebody feels better, rediscovers his/her sense of meaning in life and mission while going through a difficult illness, that’s Jesus present among us!

When neighbors start to forgive and be kind to one another, that is Jesus among us!

If people start to come together and break all artificial barriers among them like race, color, creed, status, or whatever – that is Jesus among us!

Most of all, when we in the parish, in this church gather as one in faith, hope and love making this truly the house of the Lord as Isaiah prophesied, offering the Jesus we have in our hearts with each other, then the Lord has truly come!

Let us examine our selves, our lives how God has blessed us this difficult year. Stop whining, stop complaining of so many things that are so superficial. Go deeper for that is truly Christmas. Then, we shall know the meaning of Christ telling us, “And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me” which, I think, is also not far from what Bing Crosby was singing in 1963:

Do you hear what I hear?
Said the night wind to the little lamb
Do you see what I see?
(Do you see what I see?)
Way up in the sky, little lamb
Do you see what I see?
(Do you see what I see?)
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite
Photo by author, Advent 2019.

*Piece of trivia from wikipedia about this song: “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is a song written in October 1962, with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne.[1] The pair, married at the time, wrote it as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis.[2] Regney had been invited by a record producer to write a Christmas song, but he was hesitant due to the commercialism of Christmas.[3] It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists.[2]

Of Blessings And Curses

A blog I have published two years ago about the pagan diviner Balaam who was supposed to curse the Israelites but ended up blessing them as they entered the Promised Land. May this piece enlighten you more on today’s first reading (Monday, Third Week of Advent) about his prophecy of the coming Christ. A blessed Monday to everyone!

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 08 November 2018

            Events and news reports during the recent long weekend reminded me of the story in the Old Testament of a pagan prophet named Balaam who was commissioned to curse the Israelites while encamped at the plains of Moab, ready to enter the Promised Land 40 years after their Exodus from Egypt.  It is a story filled with humorous twists and turns that instead of cursing the Israelites, Balaam blessed them and even prophesied the coming to them of the Savior Jesus Christ.  It is a funny story like the movie “Shrek” with a talking donkey.

             When Balaam was riding his ass (pun intended) on his way to Moab to curse the Israelites, an angel of the Lord with a sword drawn stationed himself on the road to…

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The priest is always a radical

Time flies so fast…glad our first priest from the parish, Fr. RA is still a radical – rooted in Christ – as his priest! Blessed happy anniversary, Fr. RA, Fr. LA, and Fr. Howard!

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 10 December 2019

Homily for the First Mass of Rev. Fr. Roel Aldwin C. Valmadrid, First Priest from our Parish of St. John Evangelist, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan

In my 21 years of priesthood, I have found so many descriptions and interpretations of being a priest. But there is only one priesthood we all share — the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.

And that is why, every priest has to be a radical like Jesus.

From the Latin word radix which means “roots”, a radical is someone who is always rooted, grounded in being as we say in philosophy.

A priest is a radical because he always has to be rooted in Jesus Christ, our Eternal Priest. He alone is our model and everything in our lives and ministry. Everything and everyone must be seen in relation with Jesus Christ.

I am the…

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Advent is for (en)lightening

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Advent Week-II, 09 December 2020
Isaiah 40:25-31   >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>   Matthew 11:28-30

Great and wondrous indeed are your works, O God our loving Father! Despite the harsh weather of the cold season, you continue to let our flowers bloom in vibrant hues of violets and blues, the colors of Advent to remind us of your coming that is both enlightening and lightening for us.

May the violets and blues of Advent reassure us of your love as you enlighten our minds and our hearts of your power and strength that save us from our moments of weakness and weariness; your knowledge is beyond scrutiny for you know everything.

Clear all our doubts on you, Lord, and make us come back to you, renew our relationships with you to enable us in doing more good things in this life.

Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31
Photo by author, Advent 2019.

At the same time, lighten up our loads, Lord, especially in these trying times of pandemic. Your words today are not only enlightening but also very lightening, even so sweet with your gentle promise of being one with us in our sufferings.

Jesus said to the crowds: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Matthew 11:26-30

May your words push us further to go and come out in the open to meet you this Advent in our selves and among one another. Amen.