The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest, 27 September 2022
Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23 ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'> Luke 9:51-56
Thank you again,
dear God our loving Father
in keeping us safe from the
powerful super typhoon that
hit us Sunday evening;
most of all, thank you in giving
us that faith within us like Job
when we go through storms in
life, sometimes so violent and
devastating like the real ones.
Bless us, O God, to be like Job:
to have that grace of crying out
our hearts, of venting out our pains
and even anger when like him,
we curse the day but never you:
Job opened his mouth and cursed his day. Job spoke out and said: Perish the day on which I was born, the night when they said, “The child is a boy!” Why did I not perish at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?
Job 3:1-2, 3
Help us realize, dear Father,
these little "deaths" we go through
daily in life like sickness and loss of
loved ones are the realities of life
itself that prepare us for our eternal
union in you that would surely come
on our Death with a big D;
we are indeed "being-towards-death"
beginning on the day of our birth when
we have to cry out loud and kick hard
to be alive!
It is through our pains and sufferings
that we become truly human,
when we feel with others in
empathy and sympathy,
when we stay with others
when we strive to be like
Jesus in raising up others
by being "resolutely determined
to journey to Jerusalem" (Lk.9:51)
to face death that have inspired saints
like your servant Vincent de Paul
who worked so hard for the sick,
the abandoned, and the poor,
inspiring other saints in the
We pray for everyone
going through darkness,
battered by storms in life
to keep their faith,
that it is okay to cry and
complain because it is really
difficult; most of all,
remind us, Jesus, that
without pains and
sufferings in this world,
then this life would be
so dull, even meaningless
because that is when we
are totally by ourselves,
utterly selfish because we can
only find life's meaning in others,
never in our selves.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 23 November 2021
I recently attended the 30th anniversary to the priesthood of my classmate from high school seminary who’s dying of a rare kind of cancer. Due to my being “mababa ang luha”, tears easily rolled from my eyes before the Mass started when I saw his mother sobbing as we brought him to his designated “lazy boy” at the altar.
This may sound weird but I must insist, I was not crying during that Mass for Fr. Sammy; just teary-eyed because everything was so touching.
In attendance were five of us classmates from the minor seminary, four priests and one lay, Fr. Sammy’s twin brother, Sannie. Main celebrant was our former prefect of discipline, Msgr. Albert while the homilist was the youngest in our class (1982) now our Vicar-General, Msgr. Pablo who recalled our high school seminary days when we were so young at 13-16 years old, and so thin, except me!
That was when more tears rolled from the corner of my eyes, making me wonder if there was any difference between shedding of tears and crying: my sight was never blurred without any need for me to wipe away my tears so often, and unlike in sobbing or crying, there was no gasping for air nor runny nose. I just felt there was a magical stream at the corner of my eyes overflowing with crystal-clear waters that felt so good as I reminisced our high school days.
But, I knew it was a lull in the storm… and soon, our dams of tears would surely break loose when the inevitable happens. For now, let’s not talk about it and just go back to my real topic, the shedding tears and crying.
Across the city of Jerusalem and way up from the Garden of Gethsemane is the Church of Dominus Flevit (the Lord Wept) whose roof is shaped like tears. It is the site believed to be where Jesus wept over Jerusalem for its coming destruction that eventually happened on the year 70 AD.
Notice that Jesus did not simply cry; he wept!
The Bible tells us that Jesus also wept was at the gravesite of his friend Lazarus whom he later raised to life (Jn.11).
How touching it must have been to see our Lord Jesus weeping, so human and most of all, so loving to his friends and for us all.
And that is what tears express, the deep love within us for one another, an outpouring of our love that look like beads of prayer.
While tears do come from ducts near our eyes that are automatically secreted when something foreign gets into our eyes to cleanse them, tears ultimately come from the soul that are deposited into the heart to cleanse and heal its wounds and scars left when we gave a part of ourselves in love. In the same manner, tears express our inner desires for love and acceptance, understanding and kindness, mercy and forgiveness, and most especially, for God and a loved one.
According to scientists, the chemical composition of tears vary depending on the emotion expressed why we cry; but, whether they are tears of joy or tears of sadness, tears are always a grace from God as they cleanse our eyes, our hearts and souls so we may see clearly everything in life, specially the face of the persons next to us or even far from us, whom to love, whom to trust, whom to believe again.
To be able to cry or to simply shed tears
means we are still alive,
that our heart is still beating,
still aching because we love.
Is there really a distinction between shedding tears and crying? I really do not know but what I am certain of is that tears are the most unique expressions of our human emotions that come from the deepest core of our being that when they flow in our crying and weeping, our whole body and very selves are fully involved. No wonder, crying can also be the most beautiful and eloquent prayer to God when our heart is overwhelmed with pain and sadness, even grief, or joy and happiness which our mouths cannot say but only our hearts can see.
That must be what Eric Clapton have felt when he wrote Tears in Heaven in 1992 following the tragic death of his four year old son Conor who accidentally fell from the 54th floor of their apartment in New York City.
To be able to cry – or to simply shed tears – means we are still alive, that our heart is still beating, still aching because we love and longing for love.
May our tears pave the way for beautiful smiles and joys in the heart in the days to come! Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXXIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 19 November 2020
Revelation 5:1-10 >><)))*> + <*(((><< || >><)))*> + <*(((><< Luke 19:41-44
Thank you, dear Jesus, in joining me in my tears, in my crying. I have been crying a lot lately for so many reasons. And what a wonderful feeling to cry because so often, it has become my prayers too, even my food for the soul.
In the first reading, St. John “shed many tears because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to examine it” (Revelation 5:4); while in the gospel, you wept over Jerusalem as you drew near the city for refusing to recognize and accept you as the Messiah (Luke19:41).
In both instances, tears express the deep love within us for one another, an outpouring of love that have become like beads of prayers.
Thank you dear Jesus for enabling me to cry like you for it means that my heart is still beating, my heart is aching because it is loving.
Tears do come from ducts near the eyes but they come from the soul longing for you, Lord, forming in the heart, secreted from those many scars left open whenever we give away a part of ourselves to somebody else out of love.
Tears are always a grace from you as they cleanse us inside, clearing our eyes of the many blurs so we may see your face among the persons next to us.
Bless us as we cry, O Lord, that our tears may eventually pave the way for smiles and joys some other day when like your prayer for Jerusalem, we may recognize your visitation in the many trials and tests we endure for our loved ones. Amen.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 22 September 2020
Lately I have been watching old movies that I wonder why I still cry even if I have seen them more than twice before at the cinema and cable TV. It seems that my being born with “mababa ang luha” (easy to cry) is getting more “mababa” as I get old.
Tears are a gift from God, the most beautiful prayer we can ever express courtesy of the Holy Spirit because when we run out of words for our pains and sadness or when we are overjoyed, he makes us cry to heal and comfort us or complete our joys, assuring us of his loving presence.
That is the reason why we call “home” in Tagalog as “tahanan”: home is where we “stop crying”, that is, “tahan na” because that is where we find all the support we need in times of crisis. Indeed, home is where the heart is.
True to its function, tears cleanse us physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have read two decades ago that researchers at a university in the US have found the chemical composition of our tears differ if we cry because of pain and sadness or due to joy and laughter.
Is it not wonderful and amazing how we take for granted crying and tears without realizing its chemical process within that can transform our very selves?
Tears and crying mark our life's coming to full circle.
When I was five years old, I saw the picture of a newborn baby crying in the Book Section of the Reader’s Digest. I asked my mom why the baby was crying. In her usual motherly way of explaining things, she told me that if the baby cries upon birth, it means he/she is alive; if the baby does not cry, he/she is dead.
“Kapag umiyak, buhay; walang iyak, patay.“
My young mind easily absorbed her words that would remain to be one of the most profound lessons I had ever learned about life at a very young age. As I grew up watching TV and movies, I would always sigh with relief whenever I heard the sounds “uha-uha” because the story would surely be nice and not tragic.
Imagine the great inverse that happens with crying and tears to signal the coming to the outside world of life of another human, of how we have to cry to be alive from then on until we die when it becomes our family and friends’ turn to cry and shed tears for us when we are gone.
But there is something more deeper than this great inverse on crying in life and death I had learned only in 2013 through my best friend Gil, a classmate in our minor seminary.
It was late February of that year on the 40th day of the death of his youngest sister Claire when he was diagnosed with cancer. We could not believe the news because Gil was the most health conscious in our “band of brothers” from high school who never smoked, rarely ate meat, and was active in sports like golf and badminton. Unlike most of us, he was never overweight, looked so healthy in our mid-40’s.
Imagine the hurt within him that every time we would visit him, he would cry not really in pain but more on the why of getting cancer. We tried visiting him as often as we can to cheer him up and lift his spirits specially after his surgery when his chemotherapy sessions began.
By September on that same year, we all had to rush and visit him at Makati Med one Sunday afternoon when informed by his Ate Lily that doctors have given up on him. His cancer cells were “ferocious” and nothing could be done anymore except to wait for the inevitable.
That was when I noticed the greater inverse about crying when Gil had finally accepted his condition and life direction, that was when he was most joyous and peaceful too while we were the ones so sad and worried, crying. How our roles were reversed with Gil now telling us to stop crying – tahan na – which we used to tell him months earlier! (Gil died peacefully the following Sunday, 22 September 2013.)
I noticed it happening so many times with some friends and parishioners I have come to love in my ministry, those I have pastorally cared for some time after being diagnosed with serious conditions like cancer.
Yes, I have cried despite holding my tears for them while administering the Holy Viaticum and Anointing of Oil. The patients in turn would just glance at me, so dignified and calm like Mary our Lady of Sorrows as if trying to comfort me with their sweet thank you.
As I prayed on those experiences, I realized how life comes to full circle through our crying and tears.
I believe that patients cry when they start undergoing treatment of their sickness due to fears and uncertainty of what would happen next to them; later as they come to terms with their condition, they stop crying because they already knew where they were going, of what was coming next.
We who would be left behind cry and begin to shed tears at thoughts of their dying because admittedly, we are actually the ones more uncertain of where we are going to or how our lives would go through when our loved ones are gone.
That is the greatest pain we feel in the death of a beloved when we grapple with the realities of the many uncertainties of life without them.
And that is why we need to love as much as we can our family and friends while still alive. This quarantine period of the pandemic are grace-filled moments to shower them with our love and presence we have taken for granted for so long as we pursued many things in our lives.
Tears and crying lead us to heaven.
Death and sickness, like life, become a blessing if we are filled with gratitude not regrets because we have truly loved. When a beloved is gone and we begin to cry, the tears wash away our pains of losing them, cleansing us within to leave us with all the beautiful memories and love we have shared. Then, every remembering becomes truly a re-membering, making a lost loved one a member of the present again.
When we cry, tears polish the love we have shared with everybody until later when our time comes, our visions are also cleared of what is going to happen next, of where we are going. Crying becomes wonderful and truly a grace after all not only in sharing and being one with the grief and pain of another in the present but sooner or later, in having a glimpse of the life after.
In the Gospel of John (11:1-44), we find the story of the raising of Lazarus whom Jesus loved so much that he wept – not just cried – at his death. Jesus raised him up back to life, his final miracle – or “seventh sign” according to John – to show he is the Christ before his own Resurrection at Easter after his “final hour” of Crucifixion on Good Friday.
From then on, Christ sanctified crying and tears to enable us to see beyond pains and hurts, even death especially if you have truly loved.
Sometimes in life, it is always good to let those tears flow, like love even if it is painful, to have a good cry and real cleansing inside. A blessed day to you!
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 17 June 2020
Today is my mother’s 81st birthday and my father’s 20th year of death.
Since June 17, 2000, we have “stopped” celebrating my mother’s birthday as she ordered that date to be remembered more as my father’s birth into heaven.
So many things have happened in our lives as a family, most especially with me as a man and a priest being the eldest.
Yes, I always dread this date, feeling at a loss until now at how to behave or what to say when I come home. There is always a “drama” we have to go through when we get together, with a lot of “dead air” moments during Mass and later at the dinner table.
Though somehow they have lessened in these past 20 years, the sadness is still there.
I thought time heals.
But the pain remains. And the more it gets painful.
Lalong bumabaon, as we say.
Since her 61st birthday, Mamu as she preferred to be called when the apos came, she had “stopped” living because my dad was really her life. We believe her sorrow contributed to her stroke in December 2004.
Growing up until I have become a priest, I have always seen my father preparing coffee and breakfast daily for her. She had in fact forgotten how to cook or learn new dishes because my father was a superb cook — that is why we all have gout in the family.
Most of all, as I would always tell my students before, since childhood until I have become a priest, dad never ate his meals without Mamu at his side or at least to personally tell him to eat because she had gone to a party or some prayer meeting.
Every Sunday after my Masses in a nearby town, I would visit my father’s grave and surely find fresh flowers and candles earlier placed by my mom and sister’s family.
After praying and blessing his gravesite, I would talk to him, telling him, “Dad, there are 365 days in a year. Why did you die on June 17, 2000?”
It took my father more than a year before answering my question.
Yes, he spoke to me in his usual deep, whispering voice I heard from within as I looked down on his grave, “Nick, I died on your mother’s birthday so you would love her more like I have loved her.”
Tears swelled in my eyes and eventually rolled down my cheeks that I almost watered the grass on his gravesite!
It was a very tall order that until now, I really do not know if I have fulfilled.
Mothers are like God
God cannot be everywhere that is why He created mothers.
Every Thursday I come home to visit Mamu on my day off, as well as during special occasions and gatherings like birthdays of my siblings and pamangkins.
Sometimes I ask myself if I have loved my mom that much as my dad had wanted me to.
This comes strongest to me when going to a sick mother in my parish to anoint with Holy Oil or when presiding at a funeral Mass of a deceased mother; I would listen intently to the “thank you speech” of a son or a daughter and marvel at how great his/her love for the deceased parent.
As a priest, I have always been with so many mothers but not so much with my own mom. But one thing I have experienced since my father died on my mother’s birthday 20 years ago is the life that continues to flow from her very self and presence which flows unto me and spills even up to my parish and community.
She’s from the “old school” who had taught me a lot about sacrifices, of keeping things in order like telling me after lunch that while resting, I should mop the floor and dust off the jalousies of our windows downstairs. Resting meant doing something worthwhile like removing cobwebs at ceilings; so, you can just imagine what is housecleaning for her!
Another thing I have learned from her is harimunan wherein you try to save little amounts of money with things you may forego like instead of taking tricycle, I walked for three kilometers or instead of buying soda, drink from the water fountain at school.
The only lesson that I have refused to learn from her which I now admit I should have taken into heart is the art of bargaining or asking “tawad” in the “palengke” (market). It is a gift from God I think reserved for mothers.
One important lesson I have learned from Mamu came via a picture I have found in a copy of a Reader’s Digest. I was five years old then while scanning the new copy of my dad’s magazine, I saw the picture of a baby crying so hard after being delivered.
I asked her why the baby was crying and her explanation had stuck into my mind since then that later as a priest I realized it so existentially true! According to her, when a baby is born crying, that means she/he is alive; if the baby does not cry, that means she/he is dead.
So simple yet so deep.
When we cry, we are alive.
And sometimes, to be alive, we have to cry. A lot.
And I believe that is why mothers continue to give life to us despite the passing away of their husband because they are the ones who cry a lot.
Mothers cry in silence, alone because they are the ones who can truly feel the flowing of life, the slipping away of life.
In a few hours I will be coming home and I could already visualize and feel my mother’s crying on her birthday.
As much as possible I hold my tears, praying that in God’s time, we would just be the ones crying so that finally, Mamu would no longer be crying.
But, that’s another thing I dread so very much…I hope not yet that soon because I really do not know how life will be for me and my siblings.
Thank God for all the Mothers who have given and nurtured our lives even in old age.
And when our quarantine period was extended for the second time before the end of Holy Week last month, I began praying again Psalm 42 every night for that is when I truly long for God so much, most of the time lamenting to him our situation, my condition of being alone in my rectory.
This is the first time I felt like this, so different from those so-called “desolation” or “dryness” because I could feel God present in my prayers but… he is not “fresh”.
Like the deer longing for streams of water, my soul longs for God too.
Not just like the water we buy from a filling station but exactly what the deer yearns for — fresh water that is refreshingly cool not only on your face but deep into your body when sipped amid the burbling sounds of the spring, babbling through rocks and branches of trees with the loamy aroma of earth adding a dash of freshness in you.
Admittedly, sometimes I wonder if I still know how to pray or if I still pray at all!
I can feel God present but he is like someone stacked there in my mind, in my memory, in my ideas shaped by my years of learning and praying.
What I am longing for is a God so alive, so true not only in me but also in another person.
And that is when I realized, most likely, my parishioners must be longing for God too in the same way — the God we all come to meet and celebrate with every Sunday in our little parish, among the people present who are so alive, so vibrant, so true, so touching.
Psalm 42 is believed to have been sang by David when he was prevented from coming to the tent of God either during the reign of King Saul who plotted to kill him or during the revolt of his own son Absalom when he was already the king of Israel.
Like David or the psalmist, I miss celebrating Mass with my parishioners.
And maybe it is safe to assume that two or three of my parishioners are also feeling the same way with me and David, saying these to the Lord:
My tears have been my food day and night, as they ask daily, “Where is your God?”
Those times I recall as I pour out my soul,
When I went in procession with the crowd, I went with them to the house of God,
Amid loud cries of thanksgiving, with the multitude keeping festival.
If there is one very essential thing this pandemic has brought back to us in our very busy lives, it is most certainly God. And if ever this is one thing people need most in this time of corona virus, it is spiritual guidance and nourishment from God through his priests.
Of course, people can pray and talk to God straight as the Pope had reminded us before Holy Week.
But, human as we are, we always experience God and his love, his kindness, his mercy, his presence among other people who guide us and join us in our spiritual journey. They are special people like friends or relatives or pastors with whom they can be themselves, let off some steam, get some rays of light of hope and encouragement.
And that this is why I try to keep in touch with my parishioners in various ways in this time of corona: even I myself can feel so low and dark despite my prayers and very condition of living right here in the house of God who can still feel alone and desolate, even depressed.
If I – a priest – go through all these uncertainties and doubts this in this time of quarantine, how much more are the people, the beloved sheep of Jesus the Good Shepherd?
Why are you downcast, my soul; why do you groan within me?
Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.
After our Mass this morning when we set out to distribute the Holy Communion, there was a little drizzle. It did not last long that I just wore a hat and left my umbrella in the rectory.
There were about 30 people who waited for us to receive Holy Communion, most of them along the main highway that stretched to about 2 kilometers. Some families gathered with a little altar at their front gate while a waited a couple waited in a gas station along our route.
In less than 20 minutes, we have completed our mission and as we headed back to the parish, the rains fell again, this time stronger than before.
My driver commented, “The weather cooperated with us, Father”1
I just nodded my head to him inside his tricycle but deep inside me, I felt joy because God answered my prayer, my lamentations for he was crying too, – for me and his people.
May this lamentation be an answer to your lamentations during this pandemic of COVID-19.
Continue with your lamentations to God our Father for this very act of crying out to him is the working of the Holy Spirit he had sent us through our Lord Christ Jesus. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe, Tuesday of Easter Octave, 14 April 2020
Acts 2:36-41 ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< John 20:11-18
Lord Jesus Christ, you know very well how on this blessed season of Easter, so many of us are crying, weeping due to the threats and deaths brought about by corona virus worldwide.
Yes, it is the saddest Holy Week and Easter for many people in recent history.
But behind all these sadness, deep inside us, many have experienced your more meaningful presence and coming this Easter amid our tears of sadness, of weeping because this is also the time we have missed you so much, we have sought you so much.
How lovely, O dear Jesus, to contemplate the two occasions in the gospel today when Mary was asked why she was weeping.
Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there… And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”
We cry, we weep whenever we lost someone or something so precious and valuable like the people we love – or even hardly knew – due to COVID-19.
Give us the grace of tears and realization that in this life, the most beautiful reason we can have in weeping, in crying is that of losing you, dearest Jesus. It is the most beautiful reason for us to cry and weep at this time of the corona virus as it leads us back to you like Mary Magdalene!
Like the listeners of Peter on that Pentecost day, “cut us in our hearts” and may we be like Mary Magdalene desiring only you, searching for you, longing for you alone for in you is our fulfillment in life.
Let us not waste our tears on trivial things and most specially “toxic persons” to help us move forward in your new directions in life amid this pandemic of COVID-19.
At the same time, we pray today for those crying and weeping for varied reasons, too, that they may see you soon to experience comfort and assurance in you. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us in your sermon on the mount that “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt.5:4).
Thank you for blessing our crying, our weeping and most of all, thank you very much for crying with us, for crying for us: “As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it” (Lk.19:41). In our first reading today, your beloved disciple John “shed many tears because no one was found worthy to open or examine the scroll” (Rev.5:4).
Thank you for the gift of tears, Jesus. I pray for those crying, especially those who cry in silence, those who cry alone. Crying is praying. Tears are some of the sweetest prayers we can all offer to you because when we cry, we are blessed to be truly poor and helpless before you, relying only to your saving and healing powers. When we cry, we are so blessed because we can sympathize and suffer with those who are suffering. When we cry, our tears cleanse not only our eyes but also our hearts, slowly washing away the pains and hurts sins have left in us.
The world refuses to cry, trying to hide or cover pains and hurts including sins with pleasures and other forms of diversion. I pray also for them, Lord Jesus, that they may stop hiding their tears because when we refuse to cry, we deny your Holy Cross.
Give me the grace, Lord Jesus Christ, to see things as they truly are. Let me sympathize with those in pain and suffering, to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15) that together, you may all comfort and console us with your abiding love and mercy, might and presence.
Let us join the choirs in heaven saw by John to sing the new hymn, “Worthy are you to receive the scroll and break open its seals, for you were slain and with your Blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth” (Rev.5:9-10). AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.
*Photo by the author of the church Dominus Flevit (Latin for “the Lord wept”) with roof shaped like tears outside Jerusalem taken in April 2017. It is believed to be the site where our gospel scene today took place.