The glory of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XIX, Year II in Ordinary Time, 12 August 2020
Ezekiel 9:1-7; 10:18-19, 22 >><)))*> || + || <*(((><< Matthew 18:15-20
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, sunrise at lockdown in our Parish, March 2020.

Almost daily in my prayers I give you praise, O God, without really bothering myself to dwell on what is the meaning of your glory, of that scene from the first reading that says:

Then the glory of the Lord left the threshold of the temple and rested upon the cherubim… They stood at the entrance of the eastern gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was up above them. Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, and the wheels went along with them, while up above them was the glory of the God of Israel.

Ezekiel 10:18, 19b-20

It is so difficult to imagine of your glory, O God, when I am in dirt and sin.

Your glory is your purity.

Cleanse us, merciful Father of our many sins and iniquities that have darkened the world and our very lives with evil and sin.

At the same time, teach us to be like you in Christ Jesus, full of mercy and forgiveness for those who sin because every time we are able to bring back a sinner to you, the more we see and experience your glory.

Most of all, keep on purifying us so that our gathering together becomes your indwelling, fulfilling Christ’s words

Photo by author, sunset in our parish church, April 2020.

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

Matthew 18:20

Lord Jesus, more sinister than all the dirt of sin and evil in us and around us today is our refusal to stand against the immoralities going on.

Worst, O Lord, is our attitude of always “moving the lines” when some people cross the boundary between what is right and wrong, good and evil, decent and indecent.

Forgive us and bring us back to your path, Lord, when truth and morality have suddenly become relative for us without realizing how these have muddled our relationships with you and with others, hiding your glory among us. Amen.

Ang kinawawang Diyos ng kawawang tao

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-16 ng Abril 2020

Larawan kuha ni G. Raffy Tima ng GMA-7 News nang sumabog ang Bulkang Taal, Enero 2020.
Hindi lamang minsan
sumagi sa aking isipan
nakalulungkot nating kinagawian
Diyos ay ating kinakawawa 
kapag may masamang karanasan
Siya ating pinagbibintangang
tayo ay pinarurusahan
kulang na nga lang
lahat ng kasamaan inatang
lahat ng sisi sa Kanyang pangalan.
Kinakawawa natin ang Diyos
sa tuwing siya ang tinuturing pinagmulan
ng bawat kalamidad at kasawian;
madalas idahilan pa ng karamihan
sa pagaakalang mabuting katuwiran
na mga ito ay pagsubok lamang
ng Maykapal na hindi ibibigay  
kung hindi malalampasan
gayong Siya ay purong kabutihan
paanong ipaliliwanag iyan? 
Kinakawawa natin ang Diyos
katulad noong kanyang kapanahunan
nilalapastangan at pinasasakitan
gayong tao ang may kasalanan
at palaging nagkukulang
katulad doon sa ilang nang tuksuhin ng diyablo
hinahamon Kanyang katuwiran
pati katarungan bakit Niya
pinababayaan mga kahirapan
at hindi pakinggan mga karaingan?
Ang mahirap maintindihan
Diyos ang laging tinatawagan
sa maraming pangangailangan
ngunit kapag napagkalooban
Siya ay kinalilimutan, tinatalikuran
habang ating inaangkin
lahat ng husay at galing
sa nakamit na katanyagan
at magandang kapalaran
na tila baga wala Siyang kinalaman?
Kay laking kabalintunaan
kakatwang kahangalan
at sukdulang kayabangan
nating mga nilalang
na Diyos ay kalimutan at talikuran
sa paniniwalang lahat ating makakayanan
pati kamatayan pilit iniiwasan
mga kamay ng orasan pinipigilan
habang hinahatulan sinong may karapatang mabuhay
sanggol sa tiyan at mga tinotokhang!
Lingid sa ating kaalaman
na pinalabo ng ating kapalaluan
sa bawat kalungkutan at kahirapan
pagtitiis at kabiguan
Diyos ang higit sa ating nasasaktan
sa pagpanaw ng maski isa lang
Siya ang labis nahihirapan
dahil sa ano mang ating kalagayan
Diyos ay palagi tayong sinasamahan
pilit naman nating iniiwan at sinusumbatan.
Sakaling tayo ay dumaraan
sa kahirapan at ano mang kagipitan
hindi ito nagmula sa Diyos
dahil Siya ang kabutihan;
gayon pa man ating maaasahan
lahat ng ating nararanasan 
Kanyang nalalaman
hindi Niya papayagang magwagi 
anumang dalamhati bagkus Kanyang titiyakin
mga ito ay humantong sa ating luwalhati.
Hindi ang Diyos ang kawawa
sa tuwing atin Siyang kinakawawa
sa salita at sa gawa
kungdi tayong kanyang mga tinubos
pagkatao natin ang nauubos
dangal nati'y nauupos
sa tuwing aasta tayong boss
gayong tayo ang nabubusabos
nitong kapalaluan nating lipos
na sana ay maubos, matapos kasabay ng corona virus.
Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

Lent is about God, not us

40 Shades of Lent, Ash Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Joel 2:12-18 + + + 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 + + + Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

From Google.

We begin today the Season of Lent, the 40 days of prayers and fasting, contrition and alms-giving in preparation for Easter Sunday. It is the only season in our liturgical calendar that starts on an ordinary day, Ash Wednesday when we are reminded of that basic truth in life we have always evaded: that we all die and go back to God.

“Remember man that dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

In this age of social media where many practically live in media making known to everyone everything happening to them from confinement to hospital to drinking coffee somewhere or simply saying “thank you” to someone just beside for a gift they have received, the more we need this blessed season to recover the essential realities in life like our true self and God.

So unlike Adam and Eve who went into hiding after their fall, modern men and women have shamelessly flaunt everything they think they have that actually indicate what they lack – depth and meaning, sense and respect.

Ash Wednesday enables us to find anew our bearings in life that must be centered in God, our very life and meaning of being and existence.

Life is a daily Lent.

From Google.

St. Benedict tells his followers in his Rule that “the life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent”. And this is also very true for every Christian who follows Jesus Christ as Lord and Master.

Our life is a daily Exodus from darkness into light, from sin into grace, from failure into victory, from slavery into freedom when we experience the Paschal mystery of Jesus Christ even if we are not aware of it.

And the sooner we become aware of this reality, the better for us because that is when we find more meaning in life, the deeper our existence becomes.

Pope Francis tells us in his Lenten Message this year that “Jesus’ Pasch is not a past event; rather, through the power of the Holy Spirit it is ever present, enabling us to see and touch with faith the flesh of Christ in those who suffer.”

Life is all about God. This life we live is a sharing in his very life and the more are aware of this reality and link, the more we discover its beauty because we get to know God more in Jesus Christ who have come in flesh and blood for us.

“Brothers and sisters: We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

2 Corinthians 5:20

To be reconciled to God is to be one in God in Christ Jesus through daily conversion. This we achieve through the many sacrifices and corporal and spiritual works of mercy during this season. Fact is, these pious practices are meant to be done even outside the Lenten season so we never lose sight that life is all about God, not us.

From Google.

Lent is a journey into our hearts, and into the heart of God, too!

In these 40 days of Lent, we try little by little to “rend our hearts, not our garments to return to the Lord our God” (Joel 2:13) through prayers and sacrifices. These are done not for others to see but primarily for us to find and meet God waiting for us always to experience his love and mercy, his life and his fullness right in our hearts.

Like in our gospels these past two weeks when we reflected on the “education of the heart”, it is the truth of the heart that is being worked out in Lent. It is our heart that must be strengthened and converted by all these religious practices of the season.

It is in our hearts where God dwells and resides though we often try to bury and disregard.

All these fasting and abstinence, confessions and alms-giving as well as other works of mercy are meant to create a space in our hearts for God and for others. Without the proper attitude in our hearts, everything then becomes a hypocrisy that neither deceives God nor fools humans.

See how Jesus in the gospel which is also a part of his Sermon on the Mount which we have been reflecting these past three Sundays of Ordinary Time have painstakingly reminded us to guard against pleasing humans than God.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.”

Matthew 6:1

It is not that we are encouraged to give alms, pray and fast to get rewards from God that Jesus is telling us to practice these pieties but in order to be more focused with the Father. Ultimately, getting into heaven is the reason why Jesus came to save us, to assure us of this reward of being with the Father eternally. There is nothing else greater than that.

This is why Lent is all about God, not us.

From Google.

In our journey to him this season, both as an individual and as a community, Lent enables us to free ourselves from our strong individualistic drives within so we can truly experience conversion in the midst of a community of believers.

The more we see God, we see our sinful selves, and that is when we are converted and renewed in Christ.

This is always marked with a deep realization that we are not alone, that there are also others suffering with whom we must share with God’s rich mercy and love rather than keep these for ourselves alone.

That is what that ash on our forehead reminds us, of God who loves us all, dwelling within each one of us, renewing us, loving us, and most of all, forgiving us. Amen.

A poem after reviewing my life

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 04 February 2020

Photo by author, St. Paul Spirituality Center, Mt. Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet, 04 February 2020
My life may be rife
with so many strifes
causing me to struggle, 
be pained leading into fruition
making life golden.
When I reviewed my life and see 
the past so vast and also fast,
then I realize my life 
is not all mine but His, Divine.
Here in my life
I can see within
where it is going; 
calming, assuring and so promising
the Divine leading me to final joining 
for my life is really in HIM.
Amen.
Photo by author, St. Paul Spirituality Center, Mt. Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet, 04 February 2020

Objective of Prayer

40 Shades of Lent, Thursday in Week-1, 14 March 2019
Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25///Matthew 7:7-12

God our loving Father, if there is one thing we wish to tell you today, it is the Psalmist’s song for today, “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.”

So many times, we felt like “Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish” with no other recourse but to you O God. We know our limits and our weaknesses as well as sinfulness, yet, you keep on trusting us, giving us so many responsibilities and missions in life. Not because we are great or so good but simply because we trust in you.

Teach us to discover anew that in prayer, our lone objective is You alone, O God: not things like money and wealth, power and honor. It is you alone whom we seek, whom we ask for, whom we knock doors for.

Give us the grace to strive to for your Person for you are more than a concept.

Give us the grace to experience your Person as you are not according to our belief or imaginations.

Just to feel your presence O God is more than enough for especially when we are in great need. Stay with us, remain in us always. Amen.

Images from Google.

When prayer becomes like rain and snow

40 Shades of Lent, Tuesday of Week-1, 12 March 2019
Isaiah 55:10-11///Matthew 6:7-15

May our prayers, O God, be like rain and snow that soak and soften earth to allow seeds and plants to grow, bloom and bear fruit.

Soak and soften our hearts hardened with pride and sin with your love and divine mercy that we may eventually go back to you. Soak and soften our hearts, O God, with our prayers that we may recognize others as brothers and sisters in you our Father. Soak and soften our hearts with our prayers, O God, that we may learn to forgive others as you forgive our sins.

We have so many things to learn about prayer, O God. And perhaps, the most important of these is to keep in mind that every prayer is a God-centered activity, not man-centered. Indeed, even before we pray to you, you already know what we need; we pray so that we may know what we need most, and that is you as a Person, not as a concept but as our Father.

Like Jesus your Son and our Savior, may we always be attentive – docile – to your words O God our Father for man does not live by bread alone. Amen.

Images from Google.

Face of God, Face of Man

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Monday, 04 March 2019, Week VIII, Year I

Sirach 17:19-24///Mark 10:17-27 

Good morning Lord Jesus Christ. It’s the Monday rush again, as well as the Monday blues.  So often on Mondays, we feel like that young man in the gospel coming to you, praying and pleading to you with our life’s many concerns and baggages.

And you are always there present with us and for us, never failing to look at us full of love and compassion.

What a lovely scene we fail to recognize because our faces fell as we hurriedly went away sad from you.  We never bothered to even look at you because we are so occupied with our very selves!

Allow us to pause a little, to glance at your loving face, especially those going through many difficulties like medical procedures of surgery, chemotheraphy, dialysis, or physical theraphy.  We pray also for those burdened with so many problems with their very self or family members, with work and career, with finances and everything.

You know very well, O Lord whats eating us up inside, what’s bothering us as you could always see our sad faces so focused on the darkness within us and around us. Give us the grace to just turn a little and look at your face, see your glow, and feel the warmth of your presence.  In that way, we can slowly return to you and completely trust in you again.  Amen.

Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

To See More of God, We Need to See More of What is Good

DSCF1437
Shifen Waterfall in Pingxi District, New Taipei City, Taiwan.  Photo by the author, 29 January 2019.

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Tuesday, 12 February 2019, Week V, Year I
Genesis 1:20-2:4///Mark 7:1-13

            Everyday O God we praise you in our prayers and most especially when we see your majesty in nature.  You never fail to remind us of your presence in your wonderful creation as we have heard in the first reading today (Gen.1:20-31).  Indeed like the psalmist, we always exult of “how wonderful your name in all the earth” (Ps.8).

            However, too often like the Pharisees and some scribes in the gospel today, we tend to look for what is missing or lacking that we perceive to be not good:  When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands (Mk.7:1-2).

            Like those Pharisees and scribes, we “nullify the word of God in favor of our tradition that we have handed on.”  And yes,  Jesus, it is so true with us today like the Pharisees and scribes, “we have many such things” (Mk.7:13).  We make so many rules and precepts, traditions and beliefs that eventually supersede your Laws and worst, have even replaced you O God!

            Forgive us O Lord in worshiping traditions and other practices than You.

            Forgive us O Lord in disregarding persons, the crown of your creation, and giving more importance with our beliefs and other concepts so detached from You.

            Teach us O Lord to see more of you our God and Creator by seeing more of what is good around us and among us.  Amen.  Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

Continuing the Work of Christ

PhilipFatimaSunscreen
Sunset at the main plaza of Fatima in Portugal by my former student at ICSB Architect Philip Santiago during his pilgrimage there October 2018.  Used with permission.

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Thursday, 07 February 2019, Week IV, Year I
Hebrews 12:18-19, 21-24///Mark 6:7-13

            Lord Jesus Christ, thank you in bringing God closer to us, in enabling us to experience of belonging to him as our loving Father unlike in the Exodus when his presence was a fearful spectacle that made even Moses “terrified and trembling” (Heb.12:21).

            Thank you Jesus for being our mediator with God whose love and mercy we have experienced in you.  Let us not be distracted with so many things of the world like food and clothing, fame and wealth, and other allurements that feed on our ego and blind us from you.

            Give us the faith and courage to make God present in this world among the poor, the sick and the sinful.  Let us continue your work of bringing joy and salvation, mercy and forgiveness, healing and life.  Amen.  Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.  

What a Loving God We Have

sunset-and-wheat-field-1440x900-960x350
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Tuesday, 22 January 2019, Week II, Year I
Hebrews 6:10-20///Mark 2:23-28

            O God!  You are so loveable and so loving!

           You are the truest lover of all… so “nakaka-in-love” and so “kilig” as we say.  You are so undeniably real, so personal, always my loving Dad, the only one who truly knows me and would always do things just to let me rest and have a break from all my worries and burdens in life.

          As I prayed today’s readings, I could feel your strong presence that made me wonder what the author of the Letter to the Hebrews must have experienced when he wrote “God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones” (6:10).

          What he had written has always been true.  So many among us at this very moment or past days are feeling so low, crying in silence, grappling with anger within while bearing all the pains of the continuing lack of love and respect, kindness and concern, even civility by some of those around us who feel so entitled in this world.  Then out of nowhere, you are suddenly here beside me, coming like a lover, embracing me, hugging me, or simply touching me softly or just   tenderly glancing at me full of love and affirmations.

              Sometimes like the Twelve we get so tired and hungry following Jesus that we would pick the heads of the grain while passing through a field on the Sabbath when the holier-than-thou people around us would object like the Pharisees saying that is unlawful to do on a Sabbath (Mk.2:23-24).  But Jesus would readily defend us because you are “not unjust so as to overlook our work and the love we have demonstrated for your name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones” (6:10).

              Thank you, dear God.  Thank you.  Help us to persevere in doing what is good in your sight, in fulfilling your will no matter how difficult it may be.  Let us never doubt that you can never be outdone in kindness and generosity.  Amen. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

Photo from Google.  During my prayer period, I remembered the song “Like a Lover” that partly inspired me in writing this prayer.  Good morning vibes and hope you love it!