Prayer to deal with life’s many questions

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Feast of St. Philip and St. James the Less, Apostles, 03 May 2021
1 Corinthians 15:1-8   ><)))*> + <*(((><   John 14:6-14 
Photo by author, Pililla Wind Farm in Rizal, January 2021.

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught me in my many experiences in life that a man is known by the questions he asks, not by the answers he gives. So often, the answers we have are always wrong or simply not true at all.

But, if we ask the right questions, even if there are no immediate answers or if we do not fully grasp and understand especially your answer, it is always more than enough than everything we need to know and realize in life.

So many times, we are afraid to ask you because we think more of our selves than of the truth that would set us free. Help us imitate your apostle St. Philip who dared to ask you again something you have been teaching them – and us! – yet have not fully understood yet. It is even doubtful if he really got what you meant when you answered him during the last supper which is exactly the same thing with us until now who forget and could not master the things you have been teaching us.

Philip said to Jesus, 
"Master, show us the Father, 
and that will be enough for us."
Jesus said to him,
"Have I been with you for so long a time 
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, 'show us the Father'?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father
and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works."
(John 14:8-10) 

Give us, Lord, that same courage and humility of St. Philip to keep on asking things we cannot understand, things we cannot dismiss, things that keep on bugging us because that in itself is a grace from you so that we may know you more, so we can love you more, and most of all, follow you more closely.

If St. Philip had not asked you that question – even if you seem to have sighed in exasperation, did you, Lord? – even us until know would have not realized that you are indeed the em-bodi-ment and the in-carna-tion of the Father in human form.

On the other hand, there is another question that we most of the time avoid confronting: the need to address difficult situations in our lives that affect our interpersonal relationships and the way we live out your gospel, Lord Jesus Christ.

In writing to us a “pastoral letter”, St. James the Lesser tried answering the many questions about our practice of faith that boils down to the most essential which is to “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves” (James 1:22).

Likewise, it was St. James with St. Peter (Acts 12:17) who tried to face and resolve the questions about the difficult relations between the Christians of Jewish origin and those of pagan origin regarding the integration of Jewish practices and beliefs into Christianity during the Council of Jerusalem:

After they had fallen silent, 
James responded,
"It is my judgment, therefore,
that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles
who turn to God, but tell them by letter
to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage,
the meat of strangled animals, and blood.
For Moses, for generations now,
has had those who proclaim him in every town, 
as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath."
(Acts 15:13, 19-21) 

As we celebrate their feasts today, we ask for their intercessions, Saints Philip and James the Lesser that like them, we may also dare to ask and address questions especially when they blur our relationships and proper understanding of you and the Father so that your light, dear Jesus, may shine more than ever in our lives. Amen.

Photo by author, ICMAS-Theologate Chapel, 2020.

Prayer to rediscover the beauty of the Church

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feasts of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles, 28 October 2020
Ephesians 2:19-22   >><)))*> + <*(((><<  ||  >><)))*> + <*(((><<   Luke 6:12-16
Photo by author, Malolos Cathedral, August 2020.

Dearest Lord Jesus:

What did you pray for on the night before you named your Twelve Apostles?

Jesus went up the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:

Luke 6:12-13

What an amazing sight, a scene to behold you, Jesus who is true God and true man, praying to the Father, spending the night just to name the Twelve Apostles! Most likely, you prayed for them individually so they may be strong in their commitment to you. What an honor!

And the most beautiful part in every call you make specially with the Twelve Apostles is how you have chosen them from their so diverse backgrounds and temperaments to prove that what interests you most Lord Jesus are people or persons, not labels or backgrounds.

Remind us always, dear Jesus of this reality, of how you value each of us that you have called us to be your followers as Christians.

Open our eyes and our hearts to always have the zeal and passion of St. Simon.

His two nicknames given by Luke as a “Zealot” belonging to Zealots Party demanding the ouster from Israel of the occupying Romans and that by Mark as “Cananean” from the Hebrew verb qana for “to be jealous, ardent” both mean being filled with passion for his Jewish identity for God, his People Israel and Torah or the Laws.

In choosing Simon as an Apostle, may we be reminded of always having room in the Church for all charisms and human qualities of all peoples who find their communion in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Likewise, we pray to be like Jude Thaddeus who stood firmly by his faith in you, Lord Jesus in writing a short letter to remind the early Church of keeping their Christian identity, of not being deceived by some preachers who sowed confusion and division with their thoughts and ideas.

Pray for us, dear Jesus in this modern time when we who are in the Church who are lacking in passion and drive to make you known not only in words but also in deeds.

Pray for us, still Lord Jesus in this modern age that we may have the strength, clarity, and courage in defending and upholding our Christian identity amidst the many contradictions of the world in which we live in.

May St. Simon and St. Jude help us rediscover the beauty of our Christian faith and live it faithfully, witnessing to its beauty and truth. Amen.

From catholicnewsagency.com.

A holy déja vu?

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 – he had him taken into custody and put in prison under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. He intended to bring him before the people after the Passover. Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the Church was fervently being made to God on his behalf. Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly.” The chains fell from his wrists. The angel said to him, “Put hi on your cloak and follow me.” So he followed him out, not realizing what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.

Acts of the Apostles 12:1, 3-5, 7-9

It is happening again, Lord, when we are all in great darkness due to this COVID-19 pandemic.

How blessed are we, O Lord, here with us in the midst of this pandemic is Pope Francis, St. Peter’s successor and St. Paul’s reminder to continue in proclaiming your Gospel in season, out of season.

Keep him strong and inspired always in order to lead us through this dark 2020.

We pray, O dear Jesus, for our Church especially here in the Philippines.

Our churches remain closed, some of our leaders are under attack while some of them along with our fellow workers are so afraid, so timid, abandoning their flock in this crucial moments of tests. Others are so concerned with trivial things, pursuing positions, fame, and wealth.

Have mercy on us, Jesus in veering away from your person and your Cross.

Strengthen us your Church, Lord, especially Pope Francis and all the bishops and priests, to always be aware of the angels you are sending us to deliver us from so many dangers in this time of crisis.

May we avoid “over thinking” that results into “analysis paralysis” that we forget to focus and do the more important things at this time which is to accompany, to be one with your flock now under various attacks not only by the corona virus but the diseases of indifference and convenience.

May we your body, the Church continue to pray with confidence, remembering your own pasch that brought us to salvation as we thank you too in keeping us safe and alive since March.

Give us the courage of St. Paul to take this period of pandemic and crisis as a form of pasch for each one of us, that we may willingly die in our selves and offer ourselves to you through others as an offering through worship with our loving service to one another.

May we keep our sights focused on you alone, Lord Jesus, the Christ of the living God sent to make us one.

Like St. Peter and St. Paul, though they were poles apart in their personalities and backgrounds, they were united in serving you, working for you by seeking only your face, your voice, your will and your presence.

May we keep in mind that when we fail to know you, Lord, that is when people fail to know and meet you too like the people of your time who claimed you were one of the prophets

Yes, the situations today may be like a holy deja vu from the past but you are definitely and truly present among us in this time of crisis.

St. Peter and St. Paul, pray for us!

Amen.

St. Peter by ecclesiastical artist Willy Layug at the Malolos Cathedral.
St. Paul by ecclesiastical artist Will Layug at the Malolos Cathedral.

Urgency and Trust

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Saturday, Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, 25 April 2020

1 Peter 5:5-14 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 16:15-20

Statue of St. Mark and his symbol the lion below him at the western facade of St. Mark Cathedral in Venice, Italy. Photo from Google.

Lord Jesus Christ, as we move into the final week of April and face – with dismay – the extension of this enhanced community quarantine into May 15, the celebration of the feast of your evangelist St. Mark today gives us the much needed boost to persevere in these trying times.

In writing the first gospel account, St. Mark stressed two important things that are very helpful for us today in this time of the corona virus: urgency in proclaiming your gospel and trust in you.

It is something very similar to Stephen Covey Jr.’s concept of “the speed of trust” that when there is trust among people like in a relationship or a team, speed goes up wherein costs are minimized, productivity is increased due to trust.

Give us the grace to trust in you, Lord Jesus, so we can urgently proclaim your gospel of salvation most especially at this time when people are feeling worn out by this lockdown.

So many people are already suffering not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually.

Help us to bring them more joy and hope, healing and renewal not only through our gifts and financial aid but also with our presence and concern for them.

Let us not worry in doing your work with the assuring words of St. Peter in the first reading:

The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.

1 Peter 5:10

Like in the beginning of the gospel by St. Mark, may we always proclaim your good news Lord whenever and wherever there is a wilderness, emptiness, and weariness among peoples for you are always faithful in enabling us to fulfill your work. Amen.

Nuns bringing relief goods to remote villages in this time of Luzon-wide lockdown due to COVID-19.

Misrepresenting Jesus Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Week VI, Year II, 20 February 2020

James 2:1-9 ><)))*> 0 <*(((>< Mark 8:27-33

Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Traslacion 2020, Quiapo, Manila.

Lord Jesus Christ, today I beg you, please do not ask me the same question you have asked your apostles at Caesarea Philippi: “Who do people say that I am?”

I am not yet ready to report these to you, Lord, because I would be telling you also so many varied answers on what people say who you are just like the Twelve at that time.

But so unlike your apostles, the people’s many different answers on who you are – that are mostly wrong – are because of my own faults and shortcomings.

Yes, dear Jesus: when your apostles told you what people said about you, they merely reported what they have heard.

But, today Lord, people say different things about you largely because we your priests and modern followers have not fulfilled our mission from you. We have misrepresented you, Jesus, most of the time.

People get so many wrong ideas on who you are because we do not reflect your true self as a humble and loving servant living with the poor and marginalized.

People get so many wrong ideas on who you are because we do not reflect your true self as a suffering servant, sacrificing everything, bearing all pains for justice and truth.

Forgive us, Jesus, when most of the time, we are what your apostle St. James refer to as those showing partiality with the rich and powerful, forgetting the less fortunate among us.

I am sorry, Lord Jesus in misrepresenting you that until now, people still say so many things on who you are.

Please continue to purify me, to empty me of my pride, to fill me with your humility, justice and love so people may realize who you really are — through me. Amen.

From Interaksyon.com 2019.

Prayer to take away our fears

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Monday, Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul, 18 November 2019

Acts of the Apostles 28:11-16, 30-31 ><)))*> Matthew 14:22-33

High Altar of St. Peter’s Basilica

My dearest Lord Jesus:

It is again the start of work and studies.

How I pity Monday!

It is perhaps the most hated day of the week primarily because of the many fears it brings upon us.

Inner and outer fears that lead us to doubt our selves, our talents and abilities, even people around us.

And worst, of doubting YOU.

There are times we are like the Apostles who could hardly see you coming to us in times of darkness and storms in life.

Though you keep on calling us, assuring us of your presence, to be not afraid, we still choose to be afraid that we sink deeper into sin and evil.

Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:31

Hardly a day passes in our lives, Lord, without our experience of so many fears, doubts, apprehensions, and anxieties that drain us of so much energies to do more good things for you through others.

Some of us have long been held captive by this dark power of fear within and without that we hardly experience true freedom!

As we celebrate the dedication of the two Major Basilicas in honor of your two great Saints and Apostles, Peter and Paul, teach us to come home to your dwelling place of love and freedom, not of fear and doubts.

Teach us to be at home with you, to always find you even in the midst of darkness and giant waves of uncertainties. Amen.

St. Paul with a sword in front of the Basilica in his honor in Rome. From Google.

People, not social classes or labels

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Monday, Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles, 28 October 2019

Ephesians 2:19-22 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 6:12-16

From Google

What a glorious Monday, O Lord, we have today with the Feast of your Apostles St. Simon and St. Jude!

Whenever I think of your Apostles, O sweet Jesus, I am always filled with hope and love because they show us how you are interested with people, not with social classes or labels.

Jesus went to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Luke 6:12-16

How amazing you have called and gathered these people of different backgrounds and temperament.

Like St. Simon described as “the Zealot” who must be so passionate with his Jewish identity advocating independence yet working with the former Roman collaborator, St. Matthew the tax collector.

How they were able to overcome their many differences is a wonderful lesson for us all who tend to highlight our polarities and contrasts, forgetting that in you, Lord Jesus, we are given the grace to overcome our many conflicts in life.

But, at the same time, you call us to be men and women of integrity like St. Jude Thaddeus who minced no words in his letter against some Christians who “pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (v.4) by sowing divisions through their erroneous teachings.

May we have the courage of St. Jude to defend your teachings Lord strongly especially in this age when we try to tolerate everything for the sake of pluralism and openness and acceptance.

May St. Simon the Zealot and St. Jude Thaddeus help us rediscover the beauty of Christian faith to live it without tiring, knowing how to bear a strong and yet peaceful witness to it in Christ our Good Shepherd. Amen.

From Google.

Encountering Jesus in person

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe
Wednesday, Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, 03 July 2019
Ephesians 2:19-22 >< )))*> >< )))*> John 20:24-29
Thomas touching the wound of the Risen Jesus. Painting by Caravaggio from Google.

Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ! As we celebrate today the feast of St. Thomas your Apostle, we recall the unique grace you have given him in encountering you personally despite his weaknesses.

During the Last Supper, he dared to ask you because of his willingness to follow you:

Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:5-6

In asking you with that question Lord, St. Thomas led us to realize that “the way and the truth and the life” is a Person, not a doctrine, nor a rule, nor a plan nor a program but YOU alone, Jesus Christ.

Eventually, when you rose again from the dead and he could not believe his fellow Apostles that you have appeared to them that Easter evening, you appeared anew to them with him on the eight day.

Jesus came, although the doors were locked and stood in their midst and said “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God.”

John 20:26-28

What a grace you have bestowed on Thomas, Lord Jesus who addressed you in the most personal manner as “My Lord and my God.”

Teach us O Lord to be like St. Thomas that despite our insecurity, we dare to ask you for clarifications to realize how you would want us to encounter you personally. Most of all, to have his courage in admitting our doubts in life that lead us to brighter outcome than any uncertainty.

St. Thomas, pray for us to be strengthened in faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God! Amen.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Peter and Paul, Mirrors of the Church

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, 29 June 2019
Acts 12:1-11 >< )))*> 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18 >< )))*> Matthew 16:13-19
Statue of St. Peter at the left side of the entrance to the Minor Basilica of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Malolos City. Photo by Lorenzo Atienza, 12 June 2019.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for this Solemnity of your two leading Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul. Thank you in giving us the opportunity to confront ourselves anew of this very ironic problem we have in your Church: the difficulty of doing your work with our fellow disciples.

You know it so well, Jesus, of how often we wish to be left on our own than work with others because we have totally forgotten we are your stewards. We have forgotten how our very selves are an offering to you.

“I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have completed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”

2 Timothy 4:6-7

Most of the time, we are so concerned with our titles and ministry, programs and achievements and so many other things forgetting the most essential, YOU, “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:16).

Give us the grace of wisdom and humility, Jesus, to be in communion with your fellow workers in the vineyard as well as with the sheep of your flock, like St. Peter and St. Paul who both transcended their differences, focusing only on YOU as our bond communion.

Teach us to be like St. Peter that despite his many flaws like impetuous generosity to the point of presumptuousness with moments of being hesitant, we may have his kind of solid loyalty to you Jesus. Most of all, like St. Peter, let us not resist the Holy Spirit who upsets our convictions to lead us where we do not want to go with you and for you.

Teach us also to be like St. Paul who was so bold and daring, always asserting his backgrounds as a Roman citizen and a former Pharisee, always insisting his being your Apostle and yet very conscious of his being fragile like a pot of clay or earthen vessel of your grace. Like St. Paul, give us the courage to resolutely go outside our comfort zone to proclaim your gospel to the nations amid the pains of being torn by our own people at home.

Prevail upon us, Lord Jesus, your servants that we may give you our faith and love to be your witnesses and mirrors of your living Church. Amen.

St. Paul’s statue at the right side entrance to the Minor Basilica of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Malolos City. Photo by Lorenzo Atienza, 12 June 2019.

Love Jesus first

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Friday, 03 May 2019 Feast of Sts. Philip and James, Apostles

Praise and glory to you O Lord Jesus Christ for this first Friday in your Holy Land!

Yesterday we visited and prayed at the various sites of your ministry around the shores of the beautiful Lake of Galilee.

Here you called your first Apostles and later nearby the others who followed you like Philip and James whose feast we celebrate today.

Like us, they were seeking direction in life. That, they found in you alone, Lord Jesus – something we are rediscovering in a wonderful way these days during our pilgrimage.

So many times due to many concerns in life, we forget you are the Gospel – the Good News – who saved us all (1Cor.15:1).

So many times we forget like Philip that you and the Father are one, that whoever had seen you has seen the Father too (Jn.14:9).

Lord Jesus Christ, visiting “mensa Christi“, your table where you had breakfast with your apostles after Easter, we realized the most important thing of all of being a Christian – to be in love with your first and above all Lord!

Let us love you more deeply Lord Jesus as you well know how weak we are. Amen.

Photos by the author: above is the shore at the back of Capernaum where Jesus preached and last photo is back of church near shore where the Lord asked Simon thrice, “Do you love me?”.