Imitating, praying with Mary in 2023

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Eighth Day in the Octave of Christmas, 01 January 2023
Numbers 6:22-27 ><}}}}*> Galatians 4:4-7 ><}}}}*> Luke 2:16-21

A blessed Merry Christmas everyone! Our Mass on this first day of 2023 is not for the new year but in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God because her Son Jesus Christ is true God and true Man. Of all human beings, she is therefore the best model for us to follow in welcoming every new year.

First thing we notice with Mary is her prayerful silence at the birth of Jesus Christ, the very new year in humanity when henceforth, time is reckoned in relation with his birth that is why we have those initials BC for “Before Christ” and AD for “Anno Domini” or “Year of the Lord”.

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Luke 2:16-19

I come from the town of Bocaue in Bulacan known as the “fireworks capital” of the Philippines and I have never liked our manner of ushering every new year with a bang. Even the Chinese are ashamed at how we overdo our fireworks and firecrackers during the new year. What I hate most are the human lives lost every year because of pyrotechnics.

Life always begins in silence. Destruction comes in loud noises just like what we do every new year with fireworks and firecrackers. It is Jesus Christ who drives out the evil spirits from our lives and the world since he came to the world more than 2000 years ago and here we are, calling all the evil spirits back!

In my former parish, we used to have a Holy Hour after our Mass of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in the evening of December 31. Like Mary, we pray in silence to Jesus to thank him for all that have happened the past year, for everything, whether good or bad.

Let Jesus come and dwell in our hearts tonight and tomorrow. Pray with your family and loved ones. Pray by yourself.

Secondly, like Mary, let us treasure all our memories of the past year in our hearts, both the good and the bad ones especially the people who have touched us and hurt us too.

Silence is the door through which God enters our heart and soul, enabling us to have that meaningful awareness of Jesus in us and among us, helping us to see the larger picture of life with its many realities. One of my favorite writers, T.S. Eliot wrote in his very long Four Quartets that “tragedy occurs when we have the experience but miss the meaning”. Very true!

Most of all, it is in silence where we grow deeper in faith, hope and love of God because silence is the domain of trust. That is why saints and monks and every holy person of high level of spirituality are lovers of silence. Silent people are the most trusting ones to God and to others.

I have been dwelling this week on that scene when the shepherds came with all their noises and talks while Mary sat in silence along with St. Joseph, the patron saint of silence.

What was Mary thinking or praying? Was she asking for a better year in their lives after all the trials and difficulties she and Joseph have in having Jesus?

I don’t think she prayed for a better year ahead like many of us wishing in Facebook that 2023 would be better.

If we have Jesus Christ in us like Mary, every year, every day is always the best. If I may say so, every today becomes the least joyous days of our lives in Christ. Read and pray the gospel to see how the lives of Mary and all the other disciples went through the most wonderful and spectacular experiences in having Jesus.

Like Mary after giving birth to Jesus, she never prayed nor wished for a better year despite her being the Mother of God because nothing is better than living each day in Christ our Savior.

It is useless and futile to get all those lucky charms nor consult fortune tellers on what is in store for us this 2023. Mary knew nothing at all what was in store for her in giving birth to Jesus, much less in following him as his foremost disciple. All she was certain at that time time was the name to be given to her child, Jesus that means “God is my savior”.

Jesus is still and will always be our only certainty in life – day in, day out in every year. Let us not lose Jesus. Like Mary, let us treasure him in our hearts where he dwells. Let us pray with Mary:

Lord Jesus Christ,
on this passing of 2022
as 2023 comes, make me silent
in you, trusting you like your Mother
and our Mother too, 
the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Thank you for everything; 
despite the many disappointments
and failures, trials and sufferings, 
hurts and pains amidst the more 
joys and laughters I have had from
people you have given me this 2022,
teach me to trust you more that everything
in the past year indicates more better days are ahead!
I pray only for one thing this new year
as your disciple, Lord:
like Mary, let me love and trust you more,
never let me leave you,
keep me at your side even 
at your Cross.  Amen.

Christmas is being grateful

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Fourth Week of Advent, Seventh Day of Christmas Novena, 22 December 2022
1 Samuel 1:24-28     ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>     Luke 1:46-56

Christmas is a call for us to be grateful. Only a grateful heart can truly be emptied and be filled with Jesus Christ. A heart that truly praises God is first of all a grateful heart. Mary’s song, the Magnificat is a both a song of thanksgiving and gratitude to God for all his wondrous blessings to her and to mankind in general.

Yesterday we heard how Mary hastily went to visit her cousin Elizabeth in Judea to share with her the Good News she had received, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. After being praised by Elizabeth, Mary responded today not by praising her cousin as we would always do; she instead praised and thanked God.

Again, we hear today wonderful stories of women – not just two like yesterday but three! – who were so blessed by God, thanking and praising God for blessing them with sons: Hannah in the first reading for her son Samuel who became one of Israel’s greatest prophet, Mary pregnant with Jesus Christ while visiting her cousin Elizabeth who was sixth month pregnant with John.

See how Hannah as a sign of her gratitude to God through the priest Eli who promised to pray for her to conceive a son gave Samuel at a very young age to serve in the Lord’s altar. The same is true with Mary in singing the Magnificat when she reaffirmed her fiat to God, of being his ever-faithful handmaid doing his will always.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.”

Luke 1:46-49
Photo by Mr. John Ryan Jacob, 20 December 2022, Paco, Obando, Bulacan.

Gratitude is a virtue that works great wonders for everyone because it makes us live in the present moment. A grateful person is one who lives in the here and now, not in the past nor in the future. Look at the structure of Mary’s Magnificat that is in the present tense.

When our heart is filled with gratitude, we have no time to complain and nurse old wounds and pains in the past but simply learn from them and move on with life. Living in the present moment means making things happen, working hard on our dreams and aspirations to become a reality, exactly what the Magnificat is telling us! How are we going to continue God’s wondrous works like Mary? By remaining faithful to Jesus Christ all the way to his Cross on Good Friday.

People who refuse to be grateful in life are busy wishful thinking of how things should be or would be, always looking at the future as a fantasy that would just pop out of nowhere instead of working for it in the present moment.

Unknown to many, gratitude is the fount of all good vibes in life, enabling us to be more positive than negative. It helps us accept the reality we are into – whether it is good or bad.

And that is when we start growing and maturing as persons when we learn to accept our present realities.

Most of all, gratitude disposes us to more blessings and grace from God because a thankful heart is always the one that seeks relationships, with God and with others. See that Mary did not sing her Magnificat while with the angel Gabriel after announcing the birth of Christ nor after he had left, right in the comforts of her home. Mary went in haste to Judea to celebrate and thank God’s gifts with her cousin Elizabeth.


People who go out of their way to say thank you, 
to express gratitude are person-oriented. 
They see more the persons 
not just the kind deeds done to them 
and beautiful gifts given them. 

Very often, people thank us priests especially for praying for them, enlightening and guiding them. That is why people lavish us with all kinds of gifts. Every time people thank me, I tell them, “kami po ang dapat magpasalamat sa inyo kasi lumalago kami kay Kristo!” In my 24 years as a priest, I have realized that the more faithful we are in serving God through his people, the more we are blessed and hence, the more we must be grateful!

People who go out of their way to say thank you, to express gratitude are person-oriented. They see more the persons not just the kind deeds done to them and beautiful gifts given them. When we say thank you, when we let others know of how grateful we are, we recognize their personhood that is why we reach out to them, trying to connect with them and befriend them. Or, to keep our ties alive and strong. As the old song says, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

Remember the ten lepers healed by Jesus Christ on his way to Jerusalem?

Only one returned – a Samaritan – to thank Jesus. He was the only one who was “saved” when Jesus told him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you” (Lk.17:19).

Photo by Mr. John Ryan Jacob, 20 December 2022 in Paco, Obando, Bulacan.

Gratitude is a very practical virtue, “the parent of all virtues” according to the Roman scholar and statesman Cicero. It is the one virtue we need to recapture and reacquire in this time to make through the many challenges and trials this pandemic has brought us. Instead of complaining and being so sorry with the plight we are into due to COVID-19, let us start counting our many blessings in life to see the vast opportunities and lessons this crisis has given us. In fact, the more this pandemic has persisted, the more blessings we can find that we must be thankful too.

Because of the pandemic, we have learned to cherish more one another as we come to value persons and life again more than things. There are so many things we have to be grateful in life during this time of the pandemic, perhaps even more than the sufferings and trials we have gone through as it opened to us new views and perceptions about life itself.

Most of all, it had brought us back to the grounding of our being, to God who is life himself, the source of all good things we have long forgotten and now remember. And rightly praise and thank. That is why I keep on telling everyone, God willed Christmas 2022 falls on a Sunday so we may personally, face-to-face celebrate together. And thank him through the people he has given us! Let us pray:

My soul also proclaims 
your greatness, O Lord Jesus Christ
like Mary your Mother!
Thank you for the gift of life
with all of its pains and hurts
that have strengthened me,
for all the joys that have enriched me.
Most of all, for the call to serve you.
Who am I, O Lord, to be called
and visited by you?
Many times I have failed you
yet you keep on coming, still calling me,
still believing in me, still trusting me.
What else can I say except 
thank you from the bottom of my heart.
As your birthday approaches,
as my gift to you dearest Jesus,
enable me to remain faithful to you
like Mary your Mother and our Mother too
even up to your Cross.  
Here am I, Lord, send me.
Amen.
Photo by Mr. John Ryan Jacob, 19 December 2022 in Paco, Obando, Bulacan.

Joy & mercy in the gift of life

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, 08 December 2022
Genesis 3:9-15, 20 ><}}}*> Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12 ><}}}*> Luke 1:26-38
Photo by Rev. Fr. Gerry Pascual at Palazzo Borromeo, Isola Bella, Stresa, Italia 2019.

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

Luke 1:26-28
Praise and glory to you, God our Father
for the gift of life, for the gift of salvation
in Jesus Christ through Mary's Immaculate Conception!
Every joy in the gift of life,
in the gift of every person
is also a gift of your great mercy:
wherever there is life,
there is joy,
there is grace,
there is mercy.
How lovely to keep in mind
that "joy" in Hebrew is "raham, rahamin" -
the same word for "womb" that is why
in describing "joy" to his disciples on the night
before he was arrested, Jesus used the
image of a woman in the pangs of childbirth:
"When a woman is in labor,
she is in anguish because her hour 
has arrived; but when she has given birth
to a child, she no longer remembers the pain
because of her joy that a child has been
into the world" (John 16:21).
So many people are sick at this very moment,
some are awaiting death, some are alone;
many people are hungry, barely surviving
in life every day amid the world's waste
of food and water;
many children are dying too without even
seeing the light because they are seen as
burdens to one's dreams and goals,
thinking only of themselves,
of their rights,
of their body.
On this day as we celebrate
the beginning of the coming of Jesus to us
in the Immaculate Conception of his Mother,
remind us anew that every life is from you,
O God:  what must prevail is your will,
your beautiful plans, not ours;
teach us to trust you like Mary.
Loving Father, make our joy complete
in your Son Jesus Christ;
make us realize and experience
the many spiritual blessings you have
bestowed on us in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3);
let us take a rest today,
rest in the real sense like Sabbath
when we return to you in Paradise
obedient not like Adam and Eve; 
most of all, may we recall in the story of Dimas,
we enter Paradise on the Cross with Jesus when 
amid all pains and sufferings,
like the Blessed Mother Mary staying behind,
we may firmly say to you, 
"I am your servant, O Lord.
Be it done unto me
according to your word."
Amen.
Photo by author, 07 December 2022.

From “dance” to “guidance”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, 105th Year of Final Apparition at Fatima, Portugal, 13 October 2022
Ephesians 1:1-10   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   Luke 11:27-28
Photos from pinterest.com.

Today we commemorate the 105th year of the final apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal where over 70,000 people witnessed the “Miracle of the Sun”.

It was raining the whole previous night until noon of October 13, 1917 when people made up of believers and unbelievers alike with skeptics and hecklers at the sides came to Cova Da Iria to await the Virgin Mary’s reported apparition to three young children, Lucia Santos and her two younger cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto. The Blessed Virgin began appearing to the three children at the site on the 13th of May of that year and had promised to appear for the sixth and final time on that October 13, promising a great miracle to everyone. By noon, she finally appeared to the three children and after conversing with them, the sun “danced” or zigzagged the sky emitting radiant colors before careening down to Earth.

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.

Many people cried in fear, begging for mercy as the spectacular occurrence seemed like the end of the world that nothing of such kind was ever experienced nor recorded in history.

The dancing of the sun lasted for about ten minutes before it stood still, shining brightly with warmth that dried the people and nature soaked in rain the night before until that noon.

From then on, devotion to Our Lady of Fatima grew and spread worldwide until the Church recognized the apparition as authentic so that even its official feast was set on May 13, devotees have kept October 13 very special.

The eldest of the three children, Lucia became a Carmelite nun and provided so many useful information to later investigations and studies of the Fatima apparitions. She died on the 13th of February 2005, a few months ahead of the great St. John Paul II who had a very special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima after surviving an assassination attempt on the 13th of May 1981. Sr. Lucia’s younger cousins, as promised by the Lady to them in one of her apparitions, died earlier and have been canonized as saints recently.

Photo by author, April 2022.

Dance as expression of union

Lately I have been observing with great interest and appreciation how our young generation had been “borrowing” the music we grew up with from the 70’s to the 80’s into new level of dance steps via TikTok that are so coool and grooovy!

From the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive to EWF’s September and Groove Tonight to Patricia Rushen’s Forget Me Nots and Puff Daddy’s spin of Sting’s Every Breath You Take, generation gaps are being bridged, even closed with these endearing dance reels in social media.

Latest video I have been watching over and over these past two weeks is by a group of young Asians dancing to a James Brown 1973 funk song recorded by Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s. that is so funky and spunky. So fantastic! You may catch the fever and get the funky feel in both Instagram and YouTube in the link below.

The choreography is superbly modern and contemporary with dress and colors so 70’s yet as you watch the video, you do not feel lost or alienated because you feel a sense of belonging, of oneness unlike most modern music videos.

From YouTube.com.

Dance is a non-verbal communication that expresses our relationships and social interactions as a people, as a culture and as a society which we refer to as social intercourse. At the same time, dance is, generally speaking in the animal kingdom which includes us humans, the expression of gender roles in mating process or sexual intercourse. Notice how the many dance moves in the 70’s and 80’s expressed the promiscuity wrongly promoted by the so-called sex revolution.

Of course, sex is good, sex is holy.

But, it is more than an act or a part of the body! What the sex revolution of the 70’s until now missed greatly is the fact that sex is the totality of the person. Sex was created by God to bring humans into unity, into a communion and oneness with him and with others within his plan found in the sacrament of marriage. Not just according to human plans like same sex marriage nor union.

That noble union is the deeper meaning of a dance, of dancing – whether with a partner or by one’s self – it is always communicative of our higher aspirations of communion with God and others!

It is perhaps the reason why the sun “danced” on October 13, 1917 – it was God’s longstanding invitation for us mankind to dance with him, to follow his steps as taught to us by his Son Jesus Christ repeated by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima. Notice how in our second reading, it was also the message of St. Paul to us through the Ephesians.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…

Ephesians 1:2-5
Photo from vaticannews.va, 13 May 2017.

Guidance: God + u and i dance in life!

Like during that time of 1917 in Fatima and the whole world, life was very difficult with the First World War still raging in Europe. People could not find meaning as they found the world so chaotic like today with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, wars in various parts of the world, rising costs of living and so many other difficulties and sufferings in life.

But, like St. Paul, the Blessed Mother at Fatima reminded us of an alternative vision of the world found in Jesus Christ, of the need to renew everything in Christ who had “bestowed on us every spiritual blessing” we need in this life. Despite our sinfulness, God still “chose us in Christ to be one in him” here in this life and in eternity, offering us salvation and fulfillment when we turn away from our sins and evil ways to follow Jesus.

If we reflect deeper into the miracle of the sun in Fatima 105 years ago, the great miracle was not really the sun dancing in the sky but how did the three little children so poor without higher form of learning believed in the promise of our Lady of the Rosary, that a great miracle would happen that day?

Clearly, the three children were guided by the Blessed Mother, most especially by the Holy Spirit! It was their faith that was so outstanding that like Mary, they believed the words spoken to them would be fulfilled as our gospel today told us (Lk.11:28) which were the same words spoken by Elizabeth to Mary at the Visitation (Lk.1:45)!

When we allow ourselves to be guided by the Blessed Mother and by the Holy Spirit, miracles happen in our lives: problems and sufferings are overcome, life becomes fruitful and fulfilling in God. And that is the meaning of the word GUIDANCE:

God
U and
I
D
A
N
C
E 
in life!

May we pray to imitate the three children’s faith in Fatima – that of Sr. Lucia, St. Francisco and St. Jacinta so we may follow the GUIDANCE of Jesus Christ with his Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary as we dance our ways into the many difficulties of this life like in 1917. May we dance with Jesus and Mary in prayers and faith, hope and love. Amen. Have a blessed Thursday!

Photo from cbcpnews.net, 13 May 2022, at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.

To come in peace and goodwill despite the chaos and darkness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, 105th Anniversary of the Last Marian Apparition at Fatima, 13 October 2022
Ephesians 1:1-10 ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> Luke 11:47-54
From cbcpnews.net, 13 May 2022, at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.
God our loving Father,
thank you in sending us
your Son Jesus Christ
who in turn gave his own
Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary
as he died on the Cross
to be our Mother too!
How wonderful
that in her last apparition
at Fatima in Portugal
105 years ago today,
she came bringing peace
and good will like when
Jesus was born more than
2000 years ago; it was the 
same message that St. Paul
brought to us through the
Ephesians as he described
Your magnificent plan
for us in Jesus Christ.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…

Ephesians 1:2-5
Forgive us, merciful Father
in the name of Jesus Christ 
Your Son, in refusing to accept
this beautiful offer you have 
given us expressed clearly 
105 years ago today in Fatima,
Portugal by the Blessed Virgin Mary
who introduced herself as 
"the Lady of the Rosary";
despite the miraculous dancing 
of the sun, many still refuse to
believe and heed her call 
to return to You in Jesus Christ
through conversion,
of turning away from sins
and following the path of holiness,
of being filled with You.
Give us the grace that
like Mary in Fatima,
may we show others 
an alternative vision of
the world wherein 
all things are restored in
Jesus Christ by bringing
the light of your truth
against the world's 
darkness of lies and fake news;
like Mary at Fatima
may we lead people back to
you through the Sacraments 
especially the Holy Eucharist and Confession
instead of worshipping 
and adoring the modern gods
of gold and glamor the world 
offers so easily but treacherously.

Purify our devotion to Mary that
is rooted and focused on Christ
so we may instill hope and joy 
to so many people today 
in despair amid the harsh
realities of this life due to
the ongoing pandemic
with the persistent problems
of war and violence, 
poverty and inequalities, 
and lack of respect for life
and dignity of every person
regardless of color, belief,
and gender.
Be patient with us,
God our Father;
with Mary whom you
have sent to us in Fatima,
may we find our way
back to you in Jesus Christ
along with the conversion of
sinners and unbelievers
including our brothers and
sisters who profess to believe
in you but promote a culture
of death, leading a life
of evil and sin contrary to
your vision of living
in communion with you
in Christ.
Amen.
Our Lady of Fatima,
Pray for us!
Photo from pinterest.com.

Finger of God, power of God, power of love, miracle of the Rosary

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, 07 October 2022
Galatians 3:7-14   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   Luke 11:15-26
Photo by author, April 2022.
God our loving Father,
thank you in making us 
experience your saving power
in the most unusual manner;
the imagery is most unique
like when Jesus used again
that Old Testament expression
"finger of God":

But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, the the Kingdom of God has come upon you.

Luke 11:20
How lovely is that imagery of
"finger of God" as the power of 
God to drive out demons; the
only other instances "finger of
God" was used were in the
Book of Exodus when the 
Pharaoh's magicians admitted
the plagues were the works of 
"the finger of God" and secondly
to describe how the Ten Commandments 
were written by the "finger of God"
on two tablets of stone; 
and now, Jesus described
his driving away of a demon 
from a possessed man as work
of the "finger of God".
In all instances, O God,
your power so great is so
unlike of what we know 
of worldly power that is
threatening and menacing; 
was it coincidental, dear God,
that the most powerful prayer
instrument we now have is the
Holy Rosary that is literally found
on our fingers too?

As we pray the Rosary with our
lips and fingers, suffuse us
with your power that loves and
heals, forgives and cares;
may we "imitate" what the
mysteries of the Rosary "contain" 
by following Jesus like Mary
in all his joys and sufferings,
glory and light.

Like during the time of Christ,
we are being attacked in all fronts
by many detractors who refuse
to acknowledge the Holy Rosary is
a Christocentric prayer that contemplates
the life of Jesus our Savior 
through the face of Mary his Mother;
as we meditate the life of Christ
through the Rosary beads 
with our fingers, 
let us experience
your great power anew,
your power to love
and care especially 
the sick and suffering,
the lost and forgotten
so that in the end,
may your power
triumph over the
evils of the world
expressed in dominance
and manipulations,
lies and character
assassinations,
and disrespect for
life and persons.
Amen.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary,
Pray for us!
Photo from canningliturgicalarts.com, painting of the Battle of Lepanto Bay with our Lady of Victory or Rosary.

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.