Opening to God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Friday, Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I, 12 February 2021
Genesis 3:1-8     <*(((><<   +   >><)))*>     Mark 7:31-37
Photo by author, Pililla Wind Farm in Rizal, 07 January 2021.

Listening to your words as the day unfolds, dearest Lord, I have realized that not all “opening” is good after all. Sometimes we want to open so many things in ourselves that only lead to opening to sin and evil, instead of opening to truth and peace and justice found only in you.

Teach us, O God our loving Father, to open only to you and completely trust you in your opening to us because it is when we start opening other possibilities like gaining more knowledge, more life, more of ourselves that we actually start closing out from you like in the story of the fall of man.

The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. When they heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:6-7, 8
Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul Spirituality Center, La Trinidad, Benguet, February 2020.

So many times in life, dear God, we cannot accept other’s openness because we are so closed to ourselves. There are times that instead of going out into the open, we hide from you as if we can conceal what is exposed and open.

Open our eyes to see you in ourselves, to see ourselves in you and in others too.

How funny that in the gospel today, your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, healed a deaf man by opening his ears. And in doing so, he first “took him off by himself away from the crowd” (Mk.7:33), then healed him by looking up to heaven, groaning with the word “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”).

Ultimately, Lord, it is always easy to open our eyes and see or, open our ears and hear without really opening ourselves, opening our hearts that connect all senses into our whole being.

What matters most which we all pray today is to open us, O God, to you completely so that we may see and listen with our hearts inclined to you. Amen.

Becoming a lamp of Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, 28 January 2021
Thursday, Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Hebrews 10:19-25     >><)))*>   +++   <*(((><<     Mark 4:21-25
Photo by author at Petras, Jordan, May 2019.

Our loving God and Father in heaven, thank you very much in sending us your Son Jesus Christ as our Eternal Priest who has enabled us all to approach you “with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water” (Heb. 10:22).

In becoming our Eternal Priest with his great sacrifice on the Cross made present day in, day out in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, you have filled us with more of your love, O Father to become also your gift, your light, your blessing to others through Jesus Christ.

Like your “Angelic Doctor”, St. Thomas Aquinas whose feast we celebrate today.

Here is a great saint of your Church who truly listened to Jesus Christ, heeding his admonition,

“Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Mark 4:21-23

Teach us to be truly humble before you, Father by becoming who we really are, a lamp of your Son Jesus Christ like St. Thomas Aquinas.

Let us be a lamp who would not hide but let Christ’s light of love and kindness, mercy and compassion shine on those suffering in pain especially the poor and needy.

Let us be a lamp who would not hide but let Christ’s light of wisdom and knowledge, moral certitude and courage shine on those in darkness and cowardice.

Let us be a lamp like St. Thomas Aquinas making you present O God, the real Truth – Veritas – of this life in Jesus Christ. Amen.

From the Ear to the Heart

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Wednesday, Third Week in Ordinary Time, 27 January 2021
Hebrews 10:11-18     >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>     Mark 4:1-20

Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for being deaf, for refusing to listen to you, for not having the ears to hear your calls. Twice you called out on the crowd gathered before you in the gospel today, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow… Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear” (Mk. 4:3, 9).

So many times in life, we have forgotten the essential use of our ears which is to hear and listen so we may understand. Most of the time, our ears have been reduced to mere decorations of our head to hold eyeglasses as well as be stuffed with ear plugs or covered with headsets to be deadened by sounds we prefer to hear and listen to.

Make us realize anew that our ears were shaped in such a way to look like our heart when put together so that the more we hear and listen to you and others, the more we love.

So many things begin with our ears.

And so often, from the ears, they go to our hearts to be processed.

From hearing to listening to loving.

It is only with a listening heart that we can truly see you passing by everyday in our lives like the Sower sowing to us the seeds of love, the seeds of the kingdom of heaven.

Moreover, cleanse our hearts, remove so many other things not supposed to be there that distort our perceptions of you and of others.

May we realize too that in our refusal to listen to you, so many people have also stopped listening to us, your disciples, especially when we speak more of our words, more of our thoughts, than of your Word and Holy Will.

As you open our ears and hearts to your Word, dear Jesus, teach us to be patient too like our Father, the Sower, to never give up sowing your seeds of the kingdom of God even if nobody listens to us. Amen.

Van Gogh painting of “The Sower” from wikimediacommons.org.

Silent listening

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM, 08 December 2020
Genesis 3:9-15, 20   >><)))*>   Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12   >><)))*>   Luke 1:26-38 
Photo by author, Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Malolos City, 08 December 2019.

Glory and praise to you, O God our loving Father! In your eternal love you have desired to restore us to our original state in you as pure and holy by sending us Jesus Christ our Savior who was born by his immaculately conceived Mother, Mary of Nazareth.

Brothers and sisters: Blessed by 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.

Ephesians 1:3-4

On this most joyous day of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, I pray only for one thing: that like the Blessed Virgin Mary we may recover the value of silent listening in our world that has become so noisy. In the streets, in vehicles, in homes and everywhere including houses of worship, people are always plugged into something they only want to listen to. Worst, many people have come to refuse and even fear unconsciously silent listening.

How amazing, O Lord, that “silent” and “listen” are both an anagram of exactly same letters for these words perfectly go together: we need to be silent in order to be able to listen. And when we learn to listen in silence, then we become trusting and obedient too like Mary, something we need so badly these days of too much materialism and individualism.

How unfortunate and tragic, O Lord, that in our world today, we care to listen not only to the loudest sounds we can hear but ultimately to voices that would please and massage our ego like in the story of the fall of man.

Silent listening is heeding your call to enter into a communion in you when we have to lose ourselves and trust you entirely like Mary. She was willing to make time for you, to leave everything behind in order to silently listen to the angel announcing the birth of Jesus.

Forgive us when we refuse to “make” time of silent listening for you and even our neighbors because we are afraid of silence in the first place; we are so afraid to hear our true selves speaking, that we are all your servants, that we are mortals, that we are limited, that we need you inasmuch as we need others too. We prefer the noises of the world that make us feel we are in control of everything, even of our very selves when we are not.

We think that silence is like waiting when we have to be empty, not realizing that silence is a fullness when we are able to listen to so many voices and sounds, even the most faintest we disregard but often most valuable like your voice deep within our hearts that asks us to do what is good and avoid what is evil; the feeble voice of our true selves desiring meaning; and, the silent cries of the voiceless among us, of those living in the margins, the poor, the sick, the old, and the children.

In silent listening, Mary was able to grasp so much in your fullness that she gave her fiat after listening to the good news from the Archangel Gabriel:

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Luke 1:38

As we prepare for your Second Coming, dear Jesus in this season of Advent, give us the grace of silent listening like Mary so we become more sensitive of your presence within us and especially among the poor and suffering. Amen.

Photo by author, Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Malolos City, 08 December 2019.

Aral ng COVID 19, VI: disiplina ang gamot sa sakit natin

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-11 ng Agosto 2020
Larawan kuha ni Bb. Anne Ramos, Abril 2020
Habang tumatagal itong quarantine 
lalong ipinakikita hindi COVID-19
ang kalaban natin kungdi ating sarili din;
matagal nang sakit na hindi kayang gamutin
nakaugat nang malalim sa katauhan natin
kawalan ng disiplina kay hirap sugpuin.
Sa gitna ng kawalan ng maaasahan
sa pamahalaang abala sa kapalaluan
ayaw pakinggan mga paraan ng nakakaalam
disiplina nating mga mamamayan
ang pinaka-mabisang sanggalang
laban sa virus na galing sa Wuhan.
Tingnan, pag-aralan, at tularan
pamamaraan ng mga bansa kung saan
paglaganap ng COVID-19 ay nalabanan
laging matatagpuan dalawang bagay magkasabay:
mahusay at magaling na pamahalaan
disiplinadong mga mamamayan.
Masunurin ang turing sa taong may disiplina
na nagmula sa wikang Griyego na discipulos,
taga-sunod o alagad; sa wikang Latin, 
dalawang kataga ang pinagsama
"ob audire" na ibig sabihin "makinig na maigi"
kaya sa Inggles "obedient" ang isang masunurin.

Ang taong may disiplina
 masunurin sa tuwina
laging nakikinig sa mga sasabihin
upang kanyang tuparin 
mga ipinagbibilin
 ano mang atas na kanyang gawain.
Kung ating lilimihin lalim
ng kahulugan ng disiplina
ito rin ang siyang dahilan
upang ating matutuhan
kahalagahan ng pagtitiyaga
at paghihintay na atin nang tinalikuran.
Pagkaraan ng mahigit limang buwan
lahat na lamang sa atin ay dinaraan 
sa paspasan, pag-aagawan, at pagdarayaan
kaya hanggang ngayon wala tayong patunguhan;
kung bawat mamamayan mayroong disiplina
baka sakali tinablan ng kahihiyan mga kinauukulan
wala na silang dahilan sa kanilang kapabayaan 
dahil sila unang nagkulang sa disiplinang kinakailangan
hindi nila tayo maaring sisihin 
nagkulang sa pagsugpo sa COVID-19.
Larawan kuha ni Bb. Anne Ramos, Marso 2020.

Listening to God, Speaking for God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 02 July 2020
Amos 7:10-17 >><)))*> >><)))*> >><)))*> Matthew 9:1-8
Photo by author, Bible Sunday, January 2020.

Again, O God our loving Father, we pray that you send us prophets especially in this time of so many “spokespersons” who do not know how to listen, like Amaziah the priest at Bethel and the scribes in Capernaum.

Like many of our public figures and even some of us priests who speak a lot in public these days, we all claim to be speaking the truth, speaking for you.

But to speak is always a gift from you, a sharing in your power that whatever you speak happens like in creation and in Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh presented today in the gospel healing a paralytic by simply speaking the words of forgiveness and then telling him to rise and walk.

How funny that in your words today, dear God, are two groups of people claiming to be speaking for you and yet too far from your words and realities, Amaziah and the scribes; and on the other hand, another group, that of Amos and Jesus, claiming nothing for themselves but doing everything in your name.

Teach to be like Amos and Jesus your Son, to speak and do only your Holy Will.

Amos perfectly explained the giftedness of being your prophet:

Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor have i belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'”

Amos 7:14-15

Make us realize, Lord, that to speak for you, we must first listen to your voice, wait and listen to your words.

To be your prophet or spokesman is to never harbor evil thoughts on others.

And most of all, like Amos and Matthew, to be your prophet means to leave everything behind especially fame and honor in order to follow you — even to the Cross! Amen.

With God at every step of our way

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Tuesday, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, 21 January 2020

1 Samuel 16:1-13 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 2:23-28

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

The Lord said to Samuel: “How long will you grieve for Saul, whom I have rejected as king of Israel? Fill yor horn with oil, and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among is sons.” But Sameul replied: “How can I go? Saul will hear of it and kill me.” To this the Lord answered: “Take a heifer along and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I myself will tell you what to do; you are to anoint for me the one I point out to you.” Samuel did as the Lord had commanded him.

1 Samuel 16:1-4

How many times have I found myself, O God, in the same situation as Samuel? You know very well how I felt so afraid to do your work, so fearful for my reputation and most especially of other people who might harm me in doing your work.

But what really makes it so difficult in obeying you, O God, is when I doubt if you are the one truly speaking to me, when I doubt myself if I get it right from you to do something opposite the way and thoughts of most people.

Oh… how sweet it is to remember those days when I just threw myself to your will, when I just did and say whatever you willed!

It was very scary, Lord, but we did it!

You did it very well, every step of our way!

Thank you, so much, O God! Thank you!

Send us your Holy Spirit to center our lives in your Son Jesus Christ like the disciples “who began to make a path picking heads of grain one Sabbath day” (Mk.2:23) and the Pharisees lambasted them.

Surely, the disciples would have not done that without seeking permission from Jesus. And even if Jesus had allowed them to go and pick heads of grain, I am sure there were some who still doubted him giving the permission to do it!

So nice that they trusted Jesus, like the young and lovely St. Agnes who remained adamantly faithful to him in the face of death. May I be given that same faith and courage today, Lord, to find you in every step I take. Amen.

Lessons in prayer

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Wednesday, Week 1, Year 2, 15 January 2020

1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 1:29-39

Photo by author, Grotto chapel, Baguio City, January 2020.

Thank you very much, O God, to your inspired words today that teach us some important lessons about prayer especially at this time of calamity from Taal Volcano’s eruptions.

Once again, you remind us to always have you first in every situation:

Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told Jesus about her.

Mark 1:30

Forgive us, O Lord Jesus especially in this time of social media, we have adored and followed our smartphones as our new gods, replacing you in prominence and importance.

Forgive us that upon waking up, the first thing we do is immediately check our messages, count our likes than kneel and thank you for the gift of life.

Teach us to be like Simon and his companions to always think first of you.

Most of all, teach us to center our lives in you through prayers like Jesus your Son who always went out of the way to pray before and after every ministry.

Give us that attitude of being open to you, of willingly presenting ourselves before you to listen and obey your words, O Lord, like Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

1 Samuel 3:10

Today we pray for all travelers whose work have been seriously affected by Taal’s eruptions as we continue praying for the people of Batangas and Cavite affected by the calamity. Amen.

To listen like St. Francis of Assisi

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Friday, Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, 04 October 2019

Baruch 1:15-22 ><)))*> 0 <*(((>< Luke 10:13-16

One of the scenes from Benozzo Gozzoli’s series of frescoes from the life of St. Francis (1450) that captures the saint’s “Sermon to the Birds” and the dedication of his basilica at Assisi. Photo from Google.

Praise and glory to you, Lord God our loving Father for this week about to close with the celebration of another great saint, Francis of Assisi.

Two things I wish to thank you in giving us St. Francis of Assisi.

First is his total dedication in listening to you alone.

St. Francis accomplished so much for you and had so much impact not only to the Church but for the whole world until now because he intently listened to your voice, to your calls, and to your instructions.

It does not really matter if he got your words literally or figuratively speaking like when he was praying inside San Damiano chapel and heard your voice saying, “Go, Francis, and repair my house, which you see, is falling into ruins.”

Or, when St. Francis finally found his vocation in life after listening to Matthew 10:9 in the Mass and felt you Jesus speaking directly to him to go preach the kingdom of God without extra clothes and money that right after that, he threw everything away to preach penance, brotherly love, and peace.

How ironic that in this world of modern means of communications, the more we have become fragmented than ever because we have lost the values of silence, prayer and listening to self, others, and you, O Lord.

Jesus said to them, “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

Luke 10:16

Teach us, dear Jesus to be poor and empty like St. Francis so we may always open our ears and our hearts to seek your voice, to listen to your words, and most of all, to follow your will.

From Be Like Francis at Facebook.

Second thing I am so grateful with you Lord in giving us St. Francis is his deep sense of gratitude to you that he was able to see our universal brotherhood in you God our Father.

Did he really preach to hundreds of birds and told them to be thankful to you dear God for their freedom and for your care to them? I believe it must be true because where there is gratitude, there comes peace and serenity that attract than dispel people and animals alike.

Teach us to be grateful with whatever we have, Lord because the moment we learn to thank you and anyone here on earth, then we we realize our being one. In his gratitude for your wonderful gifts to him, St. Francis not only embraced you Jesus on the Cross but also saw everyone as family with brother Sun and sister Moon, brother Wind and sister Water. And even cousin Death.

Again, O Lord, in this age of affluence, the more we feel empty and lacking as we tend to acquire more of material things. Teach us to repent for our sins like St. Francis and Baruch in the first reading, to acknowledge everything we have including our sins.

It is only in being thankful that we are able to realize who truly reigns in us like St. Francis. Amen.

When Listening Is Most Important

stjosephinebakhita
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Friday, 08 February 2019, Week IV, Year I
Hebrews 13:1-8///Mark 6:14-29

            Today O Lord we thank you for one of the most unique saints of modern time, St. Josephine Bakhita who had taught us the importance of when and how to listen.  Her life proved that indeed, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb.13:8) for you never abandoned her, always speaking to her on many occasions through the many people and events of her life. 

            Teach us to emulate St. Josephine Bakhita who chose to listen to your voice within her, in her conscience to do what is good, to desire only your will.  Despite the many sufferings she had endured as a child sold to slavery from Africa that she had forgotten her name, she chose to listen to her conscience that had remained pure and clean.

              So unlike Herod who loved listening to the preaching of John the Baptist though he would always be perplexed because he refused to accept them.  Most of all, Herod preferred to listen to the words of the people around him, especially the daughter of Herodias than listen to his conscience that led to John’s beheading.

          O Lord Jesus, so many times I confuse your words with the words of the world.  Grant me a clear conscience that I may always pursue your holiness.  Amen.  Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.