Panalangin para sa napaka-sungit na panahon

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-25 ng Setyembre, 2022
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Pangasinan, Abril 2022.
Diyos Ama naming
mapagmahal,
kami ay ipag-adya 
sa lahat ng kapahamakan
at mga kapinsalaan sa 
pagdaraan ngayon ng
super-typhoon;
hindi namin mapigilang
maalaala malaking pagbaha
noong petsa Setyembre 26 din
ng taong 2009 nang manalasa ang
bagyong Ondoy; kaya't dalangin
namin ang paghupa nitong
napaka-sungit na panahon
kung tawagi'y super typhoon.
Sa mga sandaling ito
ng malalakas na buhos ng ulan
at walang tigil na paghampas
at pagbugso ng malalakas na
hangin, aming idinadalangin maliliit
naming mga kapatid, lalo't higit mga
naroon sa mga baybaying dagat at 
malapit sa ilog, yaong mga walang 
sariling tirahan, at mga nasa barong-
barong:  sila nawa ay makalikas sa 
mga ligtas na lugar hanggang 
makalipas malalakas na ulan at hangin.

Ipinapanalangin namin mga 
volunteers nasa rescue operations:
ingatan po ninyo sila sa lahat ng
kapahamakan, iligtas at pangalagaan
po Ninyo kanilang mga pamilya at
mahal sa buhay habang sila ay 
abala sa paglilingkod sa mga mamamayang
apektado ng kalamidad; gayon din po
ang mga nasa iba't ibang sangay ng
pamahalaan at mga nasa media na kumakalap
ng mga balita upang magkaroon kami ng 
tumpak na kalagayan ng mga nasalanta.

O Diyos naming makapangyarihan,
hindi man mapipigilan pananalasa ng
kalikasan, buksan at panibaguhin
aming mga kalooban upang kami
ay magdamayan, magtulungan
bilang iyong pinili at hinirang na
sambayanan; gayun din naman,
sana amin nang mapagtanto at
pangatawanan pangangalaga sa
kalikasan na aming pinabayaan
sanhi ng mga pansariling kaluguran.
Hinihiling naming ang lahat ng ito 
sa ngalan ni Hesus na Iyong Anak at
aming Tagapagligtas, 
sa kapangyarihan ng Espiritu Santo,
magpasawalang-hanggan.  
Amen.

O mahal na Birheng Maria
aming Ina, kami ay iyong
ipanalangin at samahan,
liwanagan at tanglawan
paglalakbay sa gitna ng 
kadiliman nitong buhay,
sa malakas na unos
kami ay magtiwala 
tanging kaligtasa'y 
kay Kristo lamang.
Amen. 

Mary, our model disciple, companion in the mission

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, 15 September 2022
Hebrews 5:7-9     ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>     John 19:25-27
“Mater Dolorosa” also known as “Blue Madonna” (1616) by Carlo Dolci. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
A day after celebrating
the Feast of the Exaltation 
of the Cross, you remind us today
dear Jesus of your most wonderful
gift to us, a companion and a model in
discipleship, Mary your Mother.
Being the first disciple,
Mary was the first to receive
and welcome you at your Annunciation, 
the first to truly believe in you when she 
immediately told you how the newly-wed
couple ran out of wine at Cana, 
and the first to remain in you at the foot 
of the Cross; there at the Cross as your
Sorrowful Mother, Mary taught us the most
important aspect of discipleship:  intimacy 
in you and with you in prayer.

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

John 19:25-27
As I prayed on this memorial of 
Our Lady of Sorrows, I wondered what
was your Mother Mary was doing there
at the foot of your Cross, Lord Jesus? 
More than the tears and sorrow on her
face as portrayed in arts, 
all I can see and experience 
at her most lovely face, O Lord,
is a disciple so absorbed in prayer,
so united and close with you!
How sad, dear Jesus, that many
of us have forgotten this very
important aspect of discipleship
your Mother had shown us, 
a life centered on prayer;
more than reciting prayers,
it is residing in you, Jesus!
Teach us, dear Jesus,
to be like Mary, to truly take
her like the disciple you loved
of being intimate with you and the
Father in prayers; her standing at the
foot of your Cross did not simply happen
at the spur of the moment; it was the highest
moment of her long periods of time spent in
prayers, of communing with you and in you;
many times, we only come to you when we are
standing at your Cross, when trials and 
difficulties happen but when everything is
going well, we hardly remembered you nor be
with you at prayer.
All her life, 
Mary lived her life in 
prayer in you and with you
dear Jesus; when the Pentecost
happened, she was praying 
with your disciples at the Upper 
Room awaiting the coming of the
Holy Spirit; teach us, Lord Jesus,
that discipleship is essentially
prayer; whatever we do, 
it is always borne out of prayer.
Our Lady of Sorrows,
pray for us your children,
especially your priests who are
supposed to be disciples too of
your Son to immerse ourselves
in prayer first of all because before 
all else came, there was Jesus Christ
who came first calling us,
sending us on a mission to 
proclaim the good news to everyone.
Amen.

Maligayang kaarawan, mahal na Birheng Maria, aming Ina!

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-8 ng Setyembre 2022
Kapistahan ng Pagsilang ng Mahal na Birheng Maria, Ina ng Diyos
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 2019.
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 kabiyak ng puso ni Maria
na siyang Ina ng tinatawag naming Kristo.

Alam nating sa lahat ng bagay, ang Diyos ay gumagawang kasama ang mga nagmamahal sa kanya, ang mga tinawag ayon sa kanyang panukala, sa kanilang ikabubuti. Sapagkat sa mula’t mula pa’y alam na ng Diyos kung sino ang sa kanya; At ang mga itinalaga niya noong una pa ay kanyang tinawag. Ang mga tinawag niya ay kanya ring pinawalang-sala, at ang kanyang mga pinawalang-sala ay kanya namang binigyan ng karangalan.

Roma 8:28-29, 30
Walang pa-chamba-chamba
sa Iyo, O Diyos naming Ama
katulad ng sulat ni San Pablo sa mga taga-Roma:
bahagi ng iyong dakilang plano ang aming
pagsilang at pagparito upang tawagin at piliin
kay Kristo na pumarito din ayon sa iyong plano;
kaya naman aming dalangin, 
matularan namin Mahal na Birheng Maria
sa pagiging masunurin si Kristo ay dalhin
at maibahagi sa mga namimighati at sawi;
higit sa lahat, nawa mahubog din kami
tulad ni Maria sa katauhan ni Kristo na anak niya
upang sa aming kapanatilihan
hatid niyang kaligtasan at kagalakan,
kagalingan at kaliwanagan
laging maranasan!
Maligayang kapistahan ng iyong pagsilang,
Mahal na Birheng Maria!
Salamat sa iyong pakikiisa sa plano ng Diyos
pati kami ngayon ay nalapit sa Kanya kay Kristo
na iyong isinilang at hindi ipinagkait kanino man;
Ipanalangin mo kami, Birheng Maria na aming Ina,
huwag mawalay bagkus patuloy na lumapit at kumapit
kay Jesus na aming kapatid;
katulad mo ay amin ding mahalin
at pahalagahan bawat buhay na kaloob ng Diyos Ama,
lalo na mga nasa pinakamahinang kalagayan
sa sinapupunan ng kanilang ina 
at sa mga nasa katandaan at banig ng karamdaman.
Ngayong panahon pa rin ng pandemya
aming hiling pa rin ang iyong mga panalangin
Mahal naming Ina, kami ay laging pagpalain!
Amen. 

Every birthday a small Christmas

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily), 08 September 2022
Romans 8: 28-30   ><}}}*> + <*{{{>< + ><}}}*> + <*{{{>< + ><}}}*>   Matthew 1:18-23
Photo by author, Christmas 2021 at Our Lady of Fatima University Chapel at the Basic Education Dept., Valenzuela City.
"Every birthday is a small Christmas 
because with the birth of every person 
comes Jesus Christ."  

These words by the great St. John Paul II from his 1995 encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (The Gospel of Life) is most truest today as we celebrate the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ.

It is right and proper that we celebrate her birthday today because of her coming to life and later her becoming a woman of deep faith in God, Christmas became a reality when she bore in her womb Jesus Christ our Savior.

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.
Matthew 1:18

Matthew beautifully tells us in his genealogy of Jesus Christ followed by this brief explanation of the Lord’s birth through the annunciation to Joseph how every birth, every coming of us is part of God’s plan.

Like Jesus Christ, we all came from God ultimately.

No one is an accident, nor a “chamba” as we say in Pilipino for we are not just lucky to have been born and alive but most of all, blessed. This is the gist of that beautiful alternative first reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

Romans 8:28, 30
“The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary”, a 1305 painting by Renaissance artist Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. The two babies are Mary: below is Mary upon birth wrapped in swaddling cloth and washed by attendants and then above being handed to St. Anne her mother. Photo from en.wikipedia.org.

It is part of God’s purpose and plan that we were born, from our “election” or calling, to our “justification” or redemption and “glorification” in Jesus Christ — these did not happen by chance but are parts of God’s grand design for each of us.

Every person, every life is a gift of God, so valuable and precious. That is “the good news of life” expressed by St. John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical we have cited earlier. We are all sharing in the very life of God with each one of us a sign of Jesus Christ, the Emmanuel which means “God is with us” (Mt.1:23).

But, are we with God in Jesus Christ – in our trials and sufferings, in our joys and pains, in our victories and defeats, ultimately, in our life and death?

This is something very important we must always examine in our lives, at least during our birthday if we can truly say that it is a small Christmas because Jesus comes through us!

Like Mary, we have to conform ourselves to the image and likeness of her Son Jesus Christ especially in this time when we have reduced life into mere lifestyles and every person into a commodity who can be possessed and used, then discarded just like things.

In this time of Tiktok with everyone vying to be instantly popular, would we trade our dignity as persons just to be trending and viral, doing all those inanities on camera, wearing almost nothing with all kinds of filth and obscenities spewing from our mouths?

How sad that despite the affluence we now enjoy with everything almost within reach of everyone, we have become more lost and more empty these days than before. Everything has become so decadent that the worth of life and every person is being measured in external factors so that everybody wants to be somebody else except their true selves!


Most of all, the best birthday gift we can give Mama Mary
 is to bring out the giftedness of everyone 
so that each one may find in themselves Jesus 
who was born into this world more than 2000 years ago 
by the Blessed Mother herself! 

In celebrating the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are reminded that we are all good and pleasing in our very selves. We are so good that when Jesus chose to become human like us in everything except sin, he entrusted himself to us as his carriers or bearers so that we may rediscover our giftedness as God’s beloved children.

Photo by author, La Niña Maria at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City, 07 September 2021.

Now that we are slowly going back to our “normal” ways of life with more “face-to-face” activities, may we keep in mind this great honor from God, of how he trusted us so much to bear his Son into this world like Mary by being his very sign of presence and love especially to those feeling alone and left out. Like Mary, may we bring the joy of Christ and his good news of life and salvation to those in despair, those sick, and dying inside because of bitterness and being so unforgiving not only to others but to their very selves.

It is said that whenever we greet someone with a “happy birthday”, what we really tell them is “I love you and thank you for making me who I am today”. Do we truly feel that way when we greet Mama Mary with happy birthday today?

The best birthday greeting we can give the Blessed Mother Mary today is to be like her, of being conformed in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ so that people may truly feel God is with us, that through our kindness and simplicity minus all those stunts and excitements that exist only on Facebook, people may have a glimpse of the beauty and majesty of God in us.

Most of all, the best birthday gift we can give Mama Mary is to bring out the giftedness of everyone so that each one may find in themselves Jesus who was born into this world more than 2000 years ago by the Blessed Mother herself! Amen.

Photo by author, the patio of the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem (2017) that was dedicated on September 8 sometime in the sixth century from which originated the celebration of Mary’s birth on this date since then until it spread to Rome and the whole world; the date stuck to become the basis in setting December 8 as the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary which is exactly nine months preceding her birth.

When God surprises us

Lord My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of the Queenship of Mary, 22 August 2022
Isaiah 9:1-6   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Luke 1:39-47
Photo by author,Makati skyline at sunset from Antipolo City, 13 August 2022.
It is a very busy Monday 
for everyone, O God, 
our loving Father:
it is the first day of school
for most students, 
another first day of work
with all the traffic and woes
of life slowly going back
to normal.
And I really wonder,
what could surprise us today, 
Lord, like Mary when your 
angel announced to her the
coming of Jesus Christ by
being his mother?

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

Luke 1:29
“Coronation of the Virgin” by Diego Velazquez (ca.1635/1636) from en.wikipedia.org.
On this memorial of the 
Queenship of Mary,
let us rejoice and be grateful
to you for the grace of being
favored to be up and going this day
no matter how busy we may be;
let us be surprised by the
tremendous blessings you
shower upon us like Mary
when deep in our hearts we know
we are nothing before you;
surprise us, Lord, of your 
presence, of your life, of your love,
most of all, of your trust;
enable us to say yes to your call
for us to serve you today,
to bring light in this dark world,
to share Jesus Christ like Mary
who is our "Prince of Peace and
Wonder-Counselor" (Is.9:5).
O most blessed Virgin Mary,
help us to welcome Jesus Christ
daily in our lives in order for us to
share him with everyone like you;
as the first of the human race in rank
before God's presence and as the
Mother of Christ our King, you are 
given the title of Queen not only as an
honor but an example of discipleship in
your Son Jesus.  Amen.

O, Mary Queen of heaven,
Pray for us!

The problem with our greetings

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 15 August 2022
Revelation 11:19, 12:1-6, 10 ><}}}*> 1 Corinthians 15:20-27 ><}}}*> Luke 1:39-56
Photo by author, view of sunrise from Our Lady of Fatima University in Antipolo City, 14 August 2022.

It is very rare to find in the Bible a story of two women together, conversing, blessing each other. And that rarity happens in our gospel scene today of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth in a town in Judah as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary.

What kind of greeting did Mary say that when Elizabeth heard her, the child in her womb leaped in joy, filling her with the Holy Spirit to call Mary blessed? This could have not been any ordinary greeting to elicit such a response from Elizabeth, for her to be filled by the Holy Spirit!

Luke does not tell us how Mary greeted Elizabeth who was six months pregnant at that time with John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus who was also in the womb of Mary at that time. Most likely, she must have said something too close or similar with Gabriel’s greeting to her during the Annunciation, “Hail favored one! The Lord is with you” (Lk.1:28).


As we await of that future glory, 
part of the basis for our assumption
 into heaven like Mary someday depends 
 in the way we greet others because 
that is an indication of our generosity 
and selflessness to a great extent.

Perhaps some of you are wondering why the Church is using this story of the Visitation on this Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. One reason is of course, there is no written account of the Assumption of Mary into heaven.

However, the Visitation story which includes Mary’s Canticle of the Magnificat that she sang as a response to Elizabeth’s praises reflects the meaning of the Assumption: it is a celebration of the great things that God has done for Mary and for us including which he would also do in the future like our “assumption” into heaven like we profess every Sunday in the Apostles’ Creed, “the resurrection of body and life everlasting.”

“The Assumption of the Virgin” by Italian Renaissance painter Titian completed in 1518 for the main altar of Frari church in Venice. Photo from en.wikipedia.org.

Mary became the first human to experience fully the salvation by her Son Jesus Christ, from her Immaculate Conception which speaks of our lost glory from the beginning, and unto her Assumption which promises us of the future glory we shall have in heaven.

As we await of that future glory, part of the basis for our assumption into heaven like Mary someday depends in the way we greet others because that is an indication of our generosity and selflessness to a great extent.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Luke 1:41-42, 45

To greet is to recognize God working in us, among us.  
It is thinking more of the other person and God than one's self.

Have you noticed these past several years of a silly and inane trend especially in many churches of commentators greeting the congregation with “Magandang umaga po sa ating lahat” or “Good morning to us all”?

What kind of a greeting is that?

To greet somebody is to share something with others. In the Visitation, Mary shared Jesus Christ who was in her womb to Elizabeth that even John in her womb felt him, leaping for joy.

To greet means to extend goodwill to someone, to desire blessings and good things to others.

That was the reason Mary went to visit Elizabeth; she was thinking more of her cousin who was old and barren yet pregnant for six months by the grace of God. Mary visited Elizabeth to affirm the goodness and kindness of God, to recognize that God’s plans for Elizabeth and her baby in her womb have direct correlations with God’s plans for her and her baby in the womb, Jesus.

To greet is to recognize God working in us, among us. It is thinking more of the other person and God than one’s self.

Now, how did it happen that we Filipinos have retrogressed especially in our religious gatherings as well as civic activities when those holding the mic would always say, “Magandang gabi sa ating lahat… Pagpalain tayong lahat ng Diyos” (Good evening to us all or May we all be blessed)?

Photo by author, Church of the Visitation, Ein-Karem, Holy Land, May 2017.

Keep in mind the greeter is sharing what he/she has like a “good morning” or a “blessed day”. Then why is it there are so many among us especially commentators who include their very selves when greeting the congregation, saying “good morning to us all” and other inanities?

To greet others where the greeter includes self in the greeting is like giving a sandwich or coffee to everyone yet takes a bite first or sips too! It is very much the same as replying “me too” when someone tells you “I love you”.

If you include yourself in a greeting, it is not a greeting at all but an insult, a clear sign of callous ego and selfishness to the highest degree that one cannot wait for others to be greeted back.

See the humility and wisdom of Mary: after she had greeted Elizabeth who praised her in return by calling her “blessed” – the first to call her as one – Mary praised God. Not Elizabeth.

When we greet anybody with good morning or good evening or whatever, we do not include ourselves in the greeting because the very fact we are greeting others means we have a lot of good and blessings in us. Like Mary and Elizabeth, we feel so blessed by God that we share Jesus freely to others. Like Mary, we believe and trust that God will never forsake us, will never forget us.

If we can’t even greet somebody so well and so freely, how can we be truly Christian like Mary?

Photo by author in Nazareth, Israel, May 2019.

The Solemnity of the Assumption reminds us today of that great and powerful greeting by Mary to her cousin Elizabeth that led to an encounter and revelation to happen between two women, one old and barren to bear a child with the other too young and unmarried virgin yet both bore children in their wombs by the grace of God.

And it was not just an encounter between the two mothers-to-be but also between their two infants still in their wombs!

In their greetings, God’s mighty deeds became evident, truly present and felt through their mutual exchange of believing, of saying “yes” to Jesus.

The blessedness of this celebration today is found in God’s mighty deeds now resounding in the eternal greeting Mary gives her Son Jesus in heaven.

Photo by author, sunset with the Makati skyline from Antipolo City, 13 August 2022.

Do we hear Mary’s greetings in our own greetings to one another?

Do our greetings elicit responses from others?

Do our greetings lead others to leap for joy?

Or, do our greetings annoy them because we do not greet them at all, we refuse to share Jesus because we have become too conceited?

How can we be assumed into heaven body and soul if we are so filled with our very selves, when we can’t even freely and truly give away greetings to others?

Then, it must be a case of too much presumptions, of assuming everything for us. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead everyone!

Believing, living like Mary

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 15 August 2022
Revelation 11:19, 12:1-6, 10 ><)))*> 1 Corinthians 15:20-27 ><)))*> Luke 1:39-56
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Acacias at UP-Diliman, April 2022.
Glory and praise to you,
Father, for this great solemnity
of Mary being assumed body and
soul into heaven to remind us
of our glorious future too
which she now enjoys ahead of
us all because of her fidelity and 
total submission to your will
in every stage of her life;
teach us like Mary to believe (Lk.1:45)
and live your Word who became flesh
for us in Jesus Christ.

May this faith in you prompt
us to go in sharing Jesus
with his love and mercy, 
kindness and compassion
to those doubting you, O God,
because of too much pains
and sufferings, poverty and sickness;
in this age when people believe more
in the lies peddled by social media
and advertisements, may our lives
mirror like Mary your truth and 
greatness, dear Father with our
loving service to the needy;
in this time of so many tribulations
like this pandemic with the ever growing
materialism of people that has given rise
and spawned so many social evils in the
name of wealth, power and fame,
lead us to the desert of prayers and
purification (Rev. 12:6) so we may receive 
and respond properly to the graces and 
blessings you pour upon us lavishly,
primarily Jesus whom we receive
Body and Blood in the Eucharist,
thus making us like Mary herself,
the bearer of Jesus!
Loving Father,
so many people are suffering
these days, many are about
to give up, many are so lost
that their only hope is heaven,
sometimes wishing death
as a way out, not as a way
through the Cross of Christ
who is our way, truth and life;
show us the way,
lead us like Mary
 by believing your words
and putting them into practice
so that even now,
in the midst of sufferings and
darkness, we may enable
the people to experience and
see our true destiny in eternity
while here.
Right now.
Amen.
“The Assumption of the Virgin” by Italian Renaissance painter Titian completed in 1518 for the main altar of Frari church in Venice. Photo from en.wikipedia.org.

God never sleeps nor forgets us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Friday, Dedication of St. Mary Major in Rome, 05 August 2022
Nahum 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   Matthew 16:24-28
Photo by author, September 2021.
Dearest God our loving Father:
You surely know how often we
wonder why you allow bad things 
to continue to happen in our lives,
in our community, even in our country;
so many times we feel you seem to
have forgotten us, of must have fallen
asleep unaware of the sufferings we are
going through.
You know these thoughts and feelings
we often have but today, you assure us
you are always with us, that you never
forget us nor abandon us; sometimes, you
allow our sufferings to happen longer 
because you believe in us, and most of all,
you want us to become stronger and better.

See, upon the mountains there advances the bearer of good news, announcing peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah; fulfill your vows! For nevermore shall you be invaded by the scoundrel; he is completely destroyed. The Lord will restore the vine of Jacob, the pride of Israel, though ravagers have ravaged them and ruined the tendrils.

Nahum 2:1, 3
Finally, you  have liberated Israel
from the clutches of the "scoundrel", Assyria;
perhaps like us today, the Israelites at that
time of the Assyrian conquest wondered
if it ever would end with all the evils
perpetrated by men and women alike;
but it did!  History teems with many
episodes of great countries and empires
falling, collapsing from their towers of
success and dominance, reduced to
nothingness because evil never lasts,
it is so bad that it has all the factors
contributing to its destruction and end.
Good always triumphs, always prevails.
Storms and dark nights end,
the sun always rises,
shining brightly to gladded our hearts,
drying our tears and giving us
all the chances in life.
Like the good news brought by Nahum,
may we be your messengers of good news,
of peace to those suffering for a long time
from illness and other problems in life,
including the many evils that seem to have
become so endemic in our country;
give us the grace to persevere
in following Jesus Christ your Son,
forgetting our very selves
for what profit would there really be
for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit one's life (Mt.16:25)?
As we celebrate the dedication of 
St. Mary Major in Rome today,
may we imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary
who not only bore your Son Jesus Christ
but continues to lead others to him
by being the messenger of your 
love and salvation. 
Amen.

The other half of the sky

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 06 June 2022
Photo by author, Silang, Cavite, August 2020

While reflecting last night John’s gospel for today’s memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, the song “Woman” by another John – John Lennon – kept playing at the back of my mind as I prayed over the words of Jesus calling Mary her mother as “woman” (Jn.19:26).

It is the second time, and final one in the fourth gospel that Mary the mother of Jesus was at a scene with her Son; the other instance they were together in a scene in John’s gospel was at the wedding feast at Cana where Jesus did his first miracle by converting water into wine. In both events, John tells us Jesus addressed Mary as “woman” (Jn.2:4, 19:26).

In 1980, Lennon composed “Woman” as a tribute to his wife Yoko Ono. In that lovely song, we find two instances of how John, like the beloved disciple used the word “woman” very positively. First we hear Lennon quickly declaring right after the first few notes of the song, “For the other half of the sky” to refer to women; and secondly, by starting each verse of this song with the word “woman” which he never used in the chorus that is just “ooh-ooh, well-well”.

For the other half of the sky
Woman
I can hardly express
My mixed emotions at my thoughtlessness
After all, I’m forever in your debt
And woman
I will try to express
My inner feelings and thankfulness
For showing me the meaning of success
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Woman
I know you understand
The little child inside the man
Please remember, my life is in your hands
And woman
Hold me close to your heart
However distant, don’t keep us apart
After all, it is written in the stars
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Woman
Please let me explain
I never meant to cause you sorrow or pain
So let me tell you again and again and again
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte in Atok, Benguet, February 2022.

How true were the confessions by Lennon, of our “thoughtlessness” and “childishness” in dealing with women, hurting them physically and emotionally without realizing how “indebted” we are to them in bringing us forth into this world, in nurturing us.

So true his words too that no matter how far we turn away from women, we cannot deny the fact we are always close with them, we long for them because we are meant for each other as “written in the stars”.

And most true which I like most is Lennon’s claim that women are “the other half of the sky”.

What a shame when we men think of the world as “us” and ours alone, as if the earth revolves around us, that we are not only the center of the universe but also the universe itself! No wonder we are always lost and at a loss in life.

Women as the other half of the sky tells us how we men and women complete the whole picture of reality, of how we need the feminine side and feminine touch to have a fuller grasp of life, its meaning, and its many mysteries.

This image of the woman as “the other half of the sky” I find so perfectly true with our Blessed Virgin Mary too, most especially when she stood at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ on Good Friday.

When John the beloved disciple chose to use the word “woman” for Mary as addressed by Jesus, it was the most wonderful effort to recognize the dignity and honor of women in the world especially at the very crucial moment of dying and separation of loved ones:

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

John 19:25-27

It is a scene happening daily in our lives as individuals and disciples of Christ, of how Mary addressed as “woman” signifying the Church as the Body of Christ to which we belong and we must care for always; and, as Christians, at how we disciples must obey Christ’s commandment to love one another by respecting and accepting every woman.

Photo by author, 2018.

Both man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God, with equal dignity though different in order to complement each other in coping with life’s many challenges and trials.

See how at creation God entrusted woman to man to love and care for her, to protect her which Jesus repeated to the beloved disciple before he died on the Cross. In the Hebrew language, the word for woman and wife is “ishsha” which is a play from the word for man which is “ish”. Woman came from man, woman is a part of man. Without her, he is not complete and neither shall she also be complete without man. That is why, all these talks about the battle of sexes are all insanity for we are all created to love and care for each other!

The bible tells us many instances of negative views about women along with children that they were not even counted in the feeding of five-thousand by Jesus in the wilderness. Women were never considered as reliable witnesses that is why Jesus himself corrected this by appearing first to Mary Magdalene in the gospels. Women were never seen as holy too that is why the story of Visitation of Elizabeth by Mary was a most unique scene in the whole bible of two women together so blessed by God.

As we resume the Ordinary Time in our Church calendar this Monday with a memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, let us be more conscious from now on of the dignity of women, of finding Jesus in them by making constant efforts to change the persistent wrong impressions and ideas about women since time immemorial. Whenever you look up the sky, think of those other half of you staring at the heavens, then thank God for the women he had sent you to experience his loving presence especially in these trying times. Amen.

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

In praise of women

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, 06 June 2022
Genesis 3:9-15   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   John 19:25-27
Photo by author, 2018.
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father
for all the women of the world
as we resume Ordinary Time
in our Church calendar honoring
Mary, Mother of the Church.
How wonderful to recall how
all four evangelists narrated the 
presence of women at the crucifixion
of your Son Jesus Christ:  what a 
most wondrous sight that continues 
to this day when behind every sufferings
we go through are the women who
often join and accompany us even
until death, giving us strength and 
courage, comfort and consolation.
But most wondrous, O God,
is the account of the beloved disciple
of Mary, the Mother of Jesus at the
foot of his Cross on Good Friday,
being addressed as "woman".

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

John 19:25-27
Only you, O God in your Son Jesus, 
can give that unique gift of womanhood
especially your Mother Mary;
you first called her "woman" at the
wedding feast at Cana and now here
at the Cross, when your hour had come.
What a beautiful image, dear Lord,
of Mary, of the woman in your work of
redemption so close and so near you
that is in direct contrast with the other woman
in Genesis, Eve, who turned away from you
in sin.
Bless us dear Jesus, 
to constantly repeat this beautiful
scene at the Cross, as an individual
and as a community of your disciples:
let us relive this scene in our lives
as Christians taking Mary your Mother
as well as the Church into our own homes
and most especially of respecting every
woman still ignored and taken for granted
in this time; let us remember always our
equal dignity with women as image and likeness
of God as we carry out your final instructions
of remaining one in you in love and mercy.
Amen.
Photo by author, 2019.