Rebellious people, merciful God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus, Martyrs, 13 August 2020
Ezekiel 12:1-12 >><)))*> |+| >><)))*> |+| >><)))*> Matthew 18:21-19:1
Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul Spirituality Center, La Trinidad, Benguet, 2018.

Praise and glory to you, our merciful Father always waiting for us to come home to you. Thank you for being patient with us who always rebel against you, turning away from you to be on our own.

Sadly, whenever we rebel, it is not you whom we hurt and inflict pain with but those dearest to us like our family and friends who truly love us. We are like the people of Jerusalem who have become callous and indifferent, cold and distant from you, O God, who truly cared for them.

The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house; they have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house.

Ezekiel 12:1-12

So many times, loving Father, we have become like that debtor in Christ’s parable whose debts were written off by his master and yet could not do the same to a fellow debtor who owed him with a lesser amount.

Both that debtor in the gospel and the rebellious house of Israel in the first reading share the same sin and evil attitude of refusing to recognize your goodness and mercy you have given them that we are equally guilty of today.

So many times in our lives, Lord, this same attitude of being rebellious and unmerciful are the main reasons that destroy our many relationships because we have separated ourselves from others.

Teach us through Jesus Christ to always live grateful to your abounding love and kindness, mercy and forgiveness to us, Father, so we may always share these same blessings with others.

Touch our hearts like you have moved the first anti-pope, St. Hippolytus who sought forgiveness from the Pope he had earlier rebelled against, St. Pontian after they were both sent to hard labor on the island of Sardinia during the persecution by Maximus Thrax.

What a beautiful twist of fate that you still brought them together, Lord to share in witnessing to your truth and mercy.

We pray today for those who have rebelled against you, O God, uttering all kinds of blasphemies against your most Holy Name not realizing that the more they rebel against you, the more they have become distant from us the people they are supposed to serve.

Open their eyes and their ears so they may see and hear the sufferings of the people in this time of pandemic. Amen.

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, May 2020.

Generous and cheerful

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Lawrence, Martyr and Deacon, 10 August 2020
2 Corinthians 9:6-10 >><}}}*> // + \\ <*{{{><< John 12:24-26
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

Dearest Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous and cheerful too, because sometimes our generosity is filled with sadness or bitterness as it is comes from having excess of anything that we have. Worst, it is only when we are forced to become generous by others or due to circumstances.

True generosity is always borne out of joy when our only reason in giving and sharing is due to our faith in you — that no matter what happens to us, you will never abandon us, Lord, providing whatever we need in this life.

Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8

Most of all, generosity with cheerfulness is always a choice, a decision freely made in imitation of you, Jesus Christ like St. Lawrence your deacon. Those who give or share anything with a heavy heart, if given the choice, would rather keep whatever they have to remain like a grain of wheat without dying.

Like St. Lawrence, teach us generosity that is naturally human and divine, that like him while being roasted alive, he had the sense of humor to ask his persecutors to turn him so that his grilling may be perfect and even. Amen.

“Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, Deacon” by Hipolito de Rioja (16th c.); from commons.wikimedia.org

Praying for prophets and martyrs

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church, 30 June 2020
Amos 3:1-8, 4:11-12 >><)))*> <*(((><< >><)))*> <*(((><< Matthew 8:23-27
First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church photo from ucatholic.com.

As we remember today, O Lord our God, the courage and fidelity of the first martyrs of Rome, we also pray for more martyrs and prophets who may inspire us to be your witnesses in this troubled time.

Or better still, make us one!

How sad that until now, we live in a time so similar with ancient Israel and ancient Rome where many of us turn away from you to worship money and other false gods, blinded by the material wealth and prosperity around us.

Many of us have become greedy and unjust in our ways to others especially the poor and marginalized.

Send us a prophet, Lord, like Amos who would dare to speak your words of truth, warning people who have gone astray.

The lion roars — who will not be afraid! The Lord God speaks — who will not prophesy! I brought upon you such upheaval as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah: you were like a brand plucked from the fire; yet you returned not to me, says the Lord. So now I will deal with you in my own way, O Israel! And since I will deal thus with you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.

Amos 3:8, 4:11-12

Increase our faith in you, O God, while at the middle of this great storm of COVID-19 pandemic worsened by many social upheavals happening around the world and right in our country.

Sometimes, we feel like the disciples of your Son Jesus, so terrified with the violent storm going on with waves almost swamping us.

Forgive us, Lord, when we panic because we sometimes feel that you do not care at all that we are perishing in the storm while you are “sound asleep”.

Fill us with your courage, sweet Jesus, to give witness to you like the martyrs of Rome who chose death than be one with the modern Neros of our time who lie and mislead many others into evils and sin. Amen.

Red Wednesday in our Parish last November 2019.

Holiness is for everyone, in all seasons

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, Martyrs, 22 June 2020
2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15, 18 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 7:1-5
Photo by Dr. Mai Dela Peña, Tokyo, 2018.

Today we praise and thank you O God for two great saints of modern time who remind us that holiness is for everyone in all seasons because you are always relevant in every age, in every nation.

St. Thomas More and St. John Cardinal Fisher, two great men who taught us more than 500 years ago the need for us to be faithful to you and your Church than with the modern world and its modern thoughts, of the need for us to fight and oppose all forms of tyranny of men especially of those in power that always have impact on everyone especially those with less in life who take the brunt of such sinful excesses.

Both men were martyred because of their refusal to go with England’s King Henry VIII’s divorce from his first wife and eventual break from Rome and the Pope.

Both men, especially St. Thomas More who was a diplomat-lawyer and a family man, showed us that though we are in this world, we are not of the world; though we are citizens of the city of man, we are first of all citizens of the city of God.

How sad that we have refused to learn the value of their lessons of obeying you, our loving Father in heaven above all.

In fact, it was also the problem with Israel in the first reading when its capital city of Samaria fell into the hands of the Assyrians due to the people’s infidelities to God.

May we realize that every time we turn away from you O Lord, we turn away also from one another and go on our selfish own ways in life that further divide us apart and bring us into destruction and ruins.

Through St. Thomas More and St. John Cardinal Fisher, help us O Lord to examine our very selves, to see our own wickedness and shortcomings so we may effectively fight tyranny and deceit in this modern time. Amen.

From Pinterest.com.

Timely reminders from St. Paul in this time of pandemic

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companion Martyrs, 03 June 2020
2 Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12 ><)))*> + <*(((>< Mark 12:18-27
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, April 2020.

We thank you, most loving God our Father, for the grace of perseverance and patience in this time of the pandemic. We thank you for the gift of trusting in your love and mercy despite all the sufferings and hardships our people have been going through amid the callousness and insensitivity of our leaders in government who have allowed to open offices, factories, and malls without providing adequate transportation while keeping all houses of worship closed.

May they heed, O Lord, the reminders of St. Paul to Timothy:

“I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:6-7

We pray for more courage for our leaders in government so they may not cower in fear to the threats of COVID-19 when there are so many measures to control its spread which they should have taken long time ago but have failed to do so for reasons only they know.

Give them courage to stand up to their superiors, to admit their faults and failures instead of being so concerned in building their image as strong and capable that deceive no one.

Remind us all, O Lord, that we own nothing in this life. Everything is yours even the power and authority we have that must be tempered with genuine love and concern for the people and most especially with self-control.

How sad, O Lord, that until now, there are people who insist on possessing persons like the Sadducees who cannot accept resurrection of the dead because they are stuck into the belief couples “own” each other:

“At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her.”

Matthew 12:23
From ShareCatholic.com

One of those who thought of owning people was the pedophile King Mwanga of Uganda who persecuted the Christians in 1885-1887.

Inspire us, Lord, with the examples of St. Charles Lwanga and companion martyrs who remained pure and chaste, choosing tortures and death than to give in to the sexual perversions and immoralities of King Mwanga.

Their martyrdom became the seeds for the growth of Christianity in Uganda.

Help us to lead holy lives, Lord, amid the many sufferings we have to endure especially at this time of pandemic worsened by those who do not seem to care at all about you and spirituality, of the elderly and the sick, of the poor and needy among us.

Keep us all strong and let us not be perverted by the corrupt among us, always bearing our share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from you, O God. Amen.

In life and in death, one commission

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Memorial of St. Pedro Bautista and companion priest-martyrs, Week 4, Year 2, 06 February 2020

1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12 ><)))*> 0 <*(((>< Mark 6:7-13

Our merciful God and Father, on this memorial of your great priest-missionaries and martyrs – St. Pedro Bautista, St. Paul Miki and companions who have also worked in the Philippines – we pray today in a very special way for our dearly beloved mentor and brother priest, the Rev. Fr. Danny Bermudo.

We are not complaining, Lord, but year 2020 is a very tough year for many of us, right into January that continues to this month of February with many deaths and sickness, problems and trials not only in our own circles of family and friends but also in our country and the whole world in general.

We trust in you, O God, and can clearly see now in your readings especially that essentially, in life and in death, we are commissioned only to one thing — be faithful to you and your instructions, Lord.

While nearing his death, King David perfectly said it to his son and heir to the throne, Solomon:

“I am going the way of all flesh. Take courage and be a man. Keep the mandate of the Lord, your God, following his ways and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, wherever you turn…”

1 Kings 2:2-3

In a similar manner, at the start of his ministry, Jesus said the same thing while sending the Twelve two by two with authority over unclean spirits: leave everything behind in life and solely be focused on you, Lord, so we may fulfill your work and mission.

Photo by author, 2019.

Thank you, O God, for the gift of Fr. Danny who taught us in his classes and most especially in his personal way of being our seminary formator to always be faithful to you and your laws; to always be good and holy like you, our Heavenly Father.

In words and in deeds, in life and in death, Fr. Danny lived out his life totally for you, Lord, dying after fulfilling his mission and ministry of celebrating the Eucharist.

Bless Fr. Danny, O Lord, and may we carry on his lessons until our death like him. Amen.

The other side of Christmas

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Feast of St. Stephen, First Martyr, 26 December 2019

Acts 6:8-10, 7:54-59 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 10:17-22

From The Holy Orders of St. Stephen. Seated in blue is Saul who would alter become known as Paul; at the upper right corner is Jesus Christ appearing to our first martyr of the Church.

How blessed indeed is your birth and coming to us, Lord Jesus Christ! You became like us human so we can become like you, divine!

And now, a day after we celebrated your birthday with joy, you have deepened this joy in us by being one in you, one with you in your humility and love to offer one’s self totally like our first martyr in the Church, St. Stephen.

As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Acts 7:59

You give us the spirit of love and courage, the spirit of truth and justice, the spirit of mercy and forgiveness, the spirit of self-surrender to be one with you, sweet Jesus.

Teach us to be like St. Stephen to be able to give back to you this same spirit from you as we continue to follow you amid so many forms of persecutions. Amen.

Confessing Jesus Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Feast of St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companion Martyrs, 20 September 2019

1 Timothy 6:2-12 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 8:1-3

St. Andrew Kim Taegon, first Korean priest with his lay associate St. Paul Chong Hasan with 113 other Koreans died as martyrs between 1839 and 1867.

Thank you very much Lord Jesus for this wonderful Friday… not because it is the end of another week of work and studies but most of all, to remind us in this modern time how we must still confess our faith in you with the feast of the first Korean martyrs led by their first native-born priest St. Andrew Kim Taegon and his lay associate St. Paul Chong Hasan.

Every time we think of Korea, first things that come to our minds are their modern technologies and their very hip K-Pop culture.

How beautiful to reflect that deep in their modernity are the blood spilled and values instilled by their early Christians who have truly followed St. Paul’s admonition to St. Timothy.

But you, man of God, avoid all this. Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:11-12

Amid the modern life we now have, remind us always Lord like St. Paul that our fulfillment lies in you alone who is coming back again at the end of time. As we await for your return, may we live out our faith in you amid the changing times, always holding on to things of the above and eternal that never change and shall remain the same.

Like your women companion in your ministry, teach us Jesus to remain simple in following you without much fanfare and pomp pageantry. Amen.

Photo by James Lucian on Pexels.com

Making God present in a world where God is absent

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Friday, Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, 09 August 2019
Deuteronomy 4:32-40 >< )))*> <*((( >< Matthew 16:24-28
A 1970 stained-glass window of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross by German artist Alois Plum at the Herz Jesu Church in Kassel, Germany. She holds a book symbolising her learning, wears a Star of David as a sign of her Jewish roots, and is consumed by flames to refer to her martyrdom at the Nazi gas chambers of Auschwitz. Photo from Google.

Praise and glory to you O Lord our God! Indeed, there is no other God except you as Moses reminds us in today’s first reading:

“Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with his strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the Lord, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? All this you were allowed to see that you might know the Lord is God and there is no other.”

Deuteronomy 4:32-35

And yet, O Lord, still many refuse to believe in you especially when hard times come upon us like wars and persecution.

This month of August, you gifted us with two great saints martyred at the gas chambers of Auschwitz: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, also known as St. Edith Stein whose memorial we celebrate today, and, St. Maximilian Kolbe whose feast is on the 14th.

Both are modern saints whose lives and times are very close and similar with our generation. Both saints have made you present, O God, at a time when many people thought and believed you were absent.

“Those who seek the truth seek God, whether they realize it or not.” St. Edith Stein.

Born from a devout Jewish family, you showed your presence in the life of St. Teresa Benedicta with your gift of superior intellect. Although she had openly declared her being an atheist at the young age of 13, you never stopped “seducing” her in searching you in her studies of philosophy, giving her a rare chance to work closely with the leading thinkers at that time.

Slowly, she found you in her studies and in the Church that she converted to Catholicism!

And when you have caught her, O Lord, the more you inflamed her heart to seek you and be one with you by becoming a Carmelite nun through the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

You have revealed so much truths to her, O God, reaching its highest point in giving her the grace to join your Son Jesus Christ in losing her life as his witness in the gas chambers in 1942.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Matthew 16:24-25

In our present age, so many people are also thinking that you do not exist, Lord; some have already stopped believing in you, having themselves as the measure and standard of what is true, moral, and decent.

How sad that in this modern age when we are supposed to have advanced in our knowledge and thinking, we have remained so inhuman in our dealing with one another: wars and genocides of peoples continue while the weakest members of the human race, those old and sick and those helpless in their mother’s wombs, are murdered for the sake of economic well-being. How wonderful in having a woman saint so accomplished in life like St. Edith Stein when until now women are disrespected and regarded inferior to men.

Give us, Lord, the same clarity of mind and firmness of will and heart in standing for what is true like St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross so that we may also make you present in this world. Amen.

Growing in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Thursday, Feast of St. James the Greater, 25 July 2019
2 Corinthians 4:7-15 >< )))*> <*((( >< Matthew 20:20-28
St. James the Greater. From Google.

Praise and glory to you, O God our loving Father! In sending us your Son Jesus Christ, you have shown us the path to you is being truly human, accepting our weaknesses and sinfulness by relying in your mercy and forgiveness.

Thank you for the gift of St. James the Greater, one of the Twelve Apostles who started out very much like us in the beginning as a sinner than a saint. He had shown us a wonderful path of growing in faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We always remember him as the brother of your beloved disciple, sons of Zebedee also known as “sons of thunder” for their quick temper like proposing to scorch a Samaritan town that have refused to allow you to pass through on your way to Jerusalem.

Together with his brother again but this time with their mother, they were so proud to support her request that they be seated at your left and your right in your Kingdom, claiming they could drink from your cup of suffering (Mt.20:20-28).

But, after witnessing your Transfiguration and your Agony in the Garden, everything changed in our beloved St. James the Greater.

Transfiguration by Raphael, From Google.

At the Transfiguration along with his brother and St. Peter, St. James the Greater witnessed your divine glory with the two greatest prophets of Israel, Moses and Elijah.

He must have not understood it so well at that time, including your command not to speak about the event until you rise from the dead.

But what a beautiful first-hand lesson about your divinity, O Lord, for St. James the Greater!

Agony in the Garden by El Greco. From Google.

Then, on the night before you were betrayed, he was again with the two privileged disciples to witness your Agony in the Garden.

This time, you have given St. James the Greater a first-hand lesson about your suffering and humiliation about to happen on the Cross.

Like in the Transfiguration, St. James the Greater may have not fully understood the meaning of the Agony in the Garden; but, it must have helped him discern the balance between your divine splendor and humiliation. Most of all, he had witnessed your humble obedience unto death to the Father.

These two distinct paths would finally merge into one after the Pentecost when St. James the Greater became the first bishop of Jerusalem.

And true to his bold claim when he was still young and ambitious, he became the first Apostle to suffer martyrdom by drinking your “cup of suffering”, Lord, when King Herod Agrippa had him killed with the sword (Acts 12:1-2).

St. James the Greater, so many people have found peace and solace, growth and maturity in faith in Christ in their pilgrimage to Compostela, Spain. Like them, help us to follow your path to Jesus Christ that is filled with so many difficulties and sufferings. Amen.