God knows what is best

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, 15 July 2021
Exodus 3:13-20     ><)))*> + <*(((><     Matthew 11:28-30
Photo by author, Assumption Sabbath, Baguio City, January 2019.
Your words today, O Lord,
are very encouraging,
so reassuring in these days
when many are languishing
of having that feeling something 
is not right, unable to move
and make progress in life
and in one's self due to this pandemic.
Like your people in Egypt during 
the time of Moses,
we feel alone and abandoned,
trapped and imprisoned.
Therefore, we pray dear God,
that you awaken in us that courage
and deep trust in you
fill us with your very self
or "enthusiasm" from "en-theos"
to forge on in this life amid 
the many darkness and difficulties
we encounter right now
whether at home or at school,
in our office and community
in our country where we have so 
many pharaohs lording over us!
"Yet I know
that the king of Egypt will not
allow you to go unless he is forced.
I will stretch out my hand,
therefore,
and smite Egypt by doing all kinds
of wondrous deed there.
After that he will send you away."
(Exodus 3:19-20)
You really know what is best
for us, O God our loving Father!
Even before any problem happens
or trial comes to each of us,
you have already prepared us
a long time ago how we can handle
or deal with any crisis, even sending us
the right persons who can help us
to overcome every obstacle 
and difficulties that come our way.
Problem is we always turn away from you,
we always forget you.
Jesus said:
"Come to me,
all you who labor
and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you
and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble
of heart; and you will find rest
for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy,
and my burden light."
(Matthew 11:28-30)
Let us come to you,
dear Jesus, in all humility;
like St. Bonaventure whose 
memorial we celebrate today,
may we learn to balance
what we know and what we feel,
of what is in our mind and 
of what is in our heart
so we may follow the path 
to your mysteries of wisdom and love.
Amen.

Keeping our eyes open

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday in the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time, 29 May 2021
Sirach 51:12-20     <*(((><  +  ><)))*>     Mark 11:27-33
Photo by author, Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto chapel, Baguio City, 2019.

Let me join Ben Sirach in praising you today, O God our loving Father as I take his parting words in his beautiful book as my prayer to you too on this blessed and beautiful Saturday:

I thank the Lord and I praise him;
I bless the name of the Lord.
When I was young and innocent,
I sought wisdom openly in my prayer.
I prayed for her before the temple,
and I will seek her until the end...
In the short time I paid heed,
I met with great instruction.
Since in this way I have profited,
I will give my teacher grateful praise.
(Sirach 51:12-14, 16-17)

O dear God, how sad at how so many people these days seek wisdom and knowledge outside of you. They think you have nothing to do with it, without realizing you are all-knowing and truly the fount of wisdom and knowledge.

May we imitate Ben Sirach and all the saints and wise men of the world who found and learned much wisdom and knowledge from you in prayers.

How sad at how some people supposed to be learned and yet still blind to the reality that so many times in this life, not everything can be planned nor calculated nor be fool proof. There are so many other things that can happen in our lives, for better or for worst, without us really knowing and so prepared how to deal with the severe blows and beatings we receive especially from others whom we trust and expect so much.

It is only your Divine wisdom that can truly teach us how to deal and go on with life’s many questions and difficulties we might never answer nor understand.

Give us the grace of humility to come to you through Jesus Christ your Son in our prayers to cultivate a spiritual life which is a relationship centered on you, not on us or anybody else. Give us the grace of humility most especially to keep our eyes wide-opened to your coming, to your prodding, and to your words of wisdom that run contrary to what we think and believe as true.

Help us not to fall into the shameful errors of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Jerusalem who were so blinded with pride and intellectual arrogance that they have refused to open their eyes to your working and coming in John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.

Photo by Emre Kuzu on Pexels.com

Jesus said to them, “I shall ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?” — they feared the crowd, for they all thought John really was a prophet. So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” Then Jesus said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Mark 11:29-33

Have mercy on us, dear God especially on those who continue to insist on their arrogance and pride because their ego have been badly hurt and bruised that no light of reason can open their eyes to see the bigger beauty of life you offer in following your “unconventional wisdom”. Amen.

Loving and knowing

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 10 September 2020
1 Corinthians 8:1-7, 11-13  >><)))*>  >><)))*>  >><)))*>   Luke 6:27-38
Photo by author, dusk at my parish, July 2020.

Thank you, dear Jesus, for the grace of being together again with our family and relatives at this time of the pandemic. Your words from St. Paul today are so timely as we now spend more time together at home due to shortened work periods while kids have online classes.

But, despite these grace-filled moments in the pandemic while being together again with our family, frictions happen because we have never been truly at home with each other. We always forget the fact that love of one another is more important than being right.

Brothers and sisters: Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. If anyone supposes he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him.

1 Corinthians 8:1-3

Oh yes, Lord! We are sometimes surprised at how fast we have grown in age with our parents and siblings. And yes, how we have grown apart too from each other, still carrying those sentiments and memories we have had when younger.

Purify us, Jesus. Heal our memories. Enable us to let our love flow to others specially those dearest and closest to us. Remove all emotional blockages in our hearts and mental blocks in our minds that prevent us from being kind and understanding, and be more spontaneous and more sincere with everyone.

Make us realize that the more we know, the more we must be loving and understanding.

Photo by author, Malagos Garden Resort, Davao City, 2018.

Let our knowledge make us “holier” because to know what is right always leads us to being more loving as we heed your words in the gospel today, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Lk.6:31).

Inspire us to reflect further on these words by St. Bernard about spiritual life so that it may soothe our souls and calm our minds:

The whole of the spiritual life consists of these two elements. When we think of ourselves, we are perturbed and filled with salutary sadness. And when we think of the Lord, we are revived to find consolation in the joy of the Holy Spirit. From the first we derive fear and humility, from the second hope and love.

Office of Readings, Wednesday of 23rd Week, The stages of contemplation by St. Bernard

We pray in a very special way today, Lord, for our family and relatives, for those we live together at home. Amen.

New heart, new person in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church, 20 August 2020
Ezekiel 36:23-28 >><)))*> || + + + || <*(((><< Matthew 22:1-14
Photo by author, an oasis at the Dead Sea area, May 2017.

Thank you very much, dear God our Father in bringing us closer to you more than ever through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thank you for “taking away our stony hearts and giving us natural hearts” (Ez.36:26) as you have promised your prophet Ezekiel in the Old Testament.

Thank you for inviting us always into your “wedding banquet”, revealing to us your wonderful plan of being with you in eternity.

Forgive us, too, O merciful Father when despite our new and natural heart in Christ, we refuse to follow your Spirit within us to totally change our ways, when we forget to realize that for every gift from you is our responsibility to nurture and make this bear fruits in our lives.

Like the man who came to the wedding banquet not dressed for the occasion in the parable by Jesus, we always miss the chance of being truly one with you in loving charity when we fail to seek knowledge to serve you in others.

May we keep in our hearts these beautiful teachings by St. Bernard whose memorial we celebrate today that like him, may we nurture your gifts through constant studies and prayers:

There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge: that is curiosity.

There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others: that is vanity.

There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve: that is LOVE.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

Lord Jesus, please take away our stony hearts and give us natural hearts that beat with firm faith, fervent hope, and unceasing charity and love. Amen.

What does it take to believe in God?

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Monday, Easter Week VII, 25 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 19:1-8 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> John 16:29-33

Stained glass in our parish of the appearance of Jesus to Thomas Didymus. Photo by author, April 2020.

If you ask me Lord, or even anyone for that matter, I may never be able to answer completely and satisfactorily that question: what does it take to believe that you are God?

The disciples said to Jesus, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.”

John 16:29-30

As I prayed on your words today, dear Jesus, I wondered on what was it that you must have told the apostles that they realized you knew everything that you do not need anyone to question you that finally convinced them to believe you came from God?

Could it be that as you neared your Passion and Death, the more they felt your love?

As I have told you, if you or anyone asks me how I have come to believe that you come from God, that you are the Son of God, I cannot give any precise answer except that I have felt your love.

Love is your only distinction that enables us to believe in you.

Before we believe, before we know, we first felt loved.

Love is your simplest language, Lord, because you are love.

You are able to love us all because you know everything.

And that is why you love.

So unlike us.

When we have known the other person, usually, we stop loving. But not you: the more you know, the more you love.

Mary Magdalene knows it so well, she from whom you have driven out seven demons!

For that great love, I thank you dearest Jesus, for loving me so immensely through my parents and siblings, my relatives and friends, through all the people you have sent me to experience your love.

Photo by author, 2019.

When you called me to the priesthood, the first I really felt was your love, of how much you love me that I felt so special.

Before priesthood came, there was your love first.

That continues to these days. That feeling of being loved despite my sins and shortcomings make me believe you are from God, dear Jesus.

I am sure when St. Paul laid his hands on some disciples in Ephesus to receive the Holy Spirit, what they must have really felt to be so inspired and energized in doing their mission is your immense love.

Give us the grace to remember, to recall these many moments you felt us your love that we usually take for granted or disregarded.

Once we have retrieved those loving memories in you, give us the courage Jesus to share this love you pour on us daily, especially at this time of the pandemic when all we long for is a little love from one another: a smile, a pat on the shoulder, an encouragement, a kind word, a sweet voice calling our name.

Teach is to be more loving on this last Monday of the Easter Season, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Prayer for knowledge

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Week XXII, Year I, 05 September 2019

Colossians 1:9-14 ><}}}*> ><}}}*> Luke 5:1-11

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, Atok, Benguet, 01 September 2019.

Brothers and sisters: From the day we heard this, we do not cease praying for you and asking you that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:9-10

Once again, you struck me today Lord through St. Paul’s letter to pray for another important grace we badly need these days — “knowledge”.

In this age of Google and Wikipedia, we have taken the gift of knowledge for granted, confusing it with information that often has no meaning and depth. As a result, we have “smart phones” and stupid people who justify everything without any qualms and sense of self-respect and decency!

Remind us, Lord, that knowledge is more than being reasonable and logical; knowledge is embracing the truths of faith, of seeing you in everything.

Like Simon Peter, bless us Lord with the gift of knowledge to enable us to make right judgments regarding earthly things and how they are related with eternal life and holiness.

Like Simon Peter, may we learn to set aside our human knowledge and expertise to take the leap of faith in casting the net into the deep upon your instructions after a night of catching nothing.

What a great gift of knowledge you have given Simon that day when he realised you are “Lord” and he is a “sinful man” (Lk. 5:8). Most of all, in obeying instructions from a carpenter like you, Lord!

Fill us with your knowledge, Lord, to realise the truth of Albert Einstein’s words that “everything in this life is a miracle”! Amen.