Holding on to God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 16 July 2020
Isaiah 26:7-9, 11, 16-19 >><)))*> + <*(((><< Matthew 11:28-30
Photo by author, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel of the Holy Family, Guiguinto, Bulacan, 08 December 2019.

Your words today, O God our Father, are very comforting and consoling, so reassuring of your love and mercy for us sinners, giving us new life in you as we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Like the Israelites living in exile because of their own making when they turned away from you in sins worshiping false gods, we also admit our sinfulness and failures in standing up for what is true and just, in being faithful to you.

Help us to rise again, heavenly Father, breathe into us your life-giving Spirit specially at this time we feel so down and crushed not only by COVID-19 pandemic but by public officials concerned only with their well-being and whims forgetting the people they are supposed to serve.

We conceived and writhed in pain, giving birth to wind. Salvation we have not achieved for the earth, the inhabitants of the world cannot bring it forth. But your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise; awake and sing, you who lie in the dust. For your dew is a dew of light, and the land of shades gives birth.

Isaiah 26:18-19

If there is anything we would want to have these days, it is rest, O Lord.

A lightening of our load and burdens.

But why another yoke, Jesus?

Forgive us Jesus when we feel negative with yoke because they always portray to us images of slavery and oppression. Open our eyes, Lord, as we come closer to you to take your yoke because you not only help us carry our burdens but most of all, your yoke gives us direction in our path back to the Father.

May your Blessed Mother of Mount Carmel help us to hold on to God in this hour of darkness in our lives as individuals and as a nation. Amen.

Photo by author, Our Lady of Mount Carmel of the Holy Family, Guiguinto, Bulacan, November 2019.

Our Mother, Our Home

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Wk. X, Yr. II
Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, 10 June 2019
Genesis 3:9-15, 20 >< }}}*> <*{{{ >< John 19:25-34
From Google.

As we resume the Ordinary Time today Lord Jesus, remind us not to take this longest period in our liturgical calendar lightly because it is “ordinary”. It must have been your will when you instructed Pope Francis last year to declare every Monday after the Pentecost as the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

Thank you Lord for reminding us today to always relive and fulfill the words you have spoken as you hung upon the Cross:

When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

John 19:26-27

How wonderful that in one of your final acts before your death, you ensured an adoption arrangement for your mother whom you would leave behind when you finally ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.

But more than that, you are also teaching us that Mary as the image of the Church is also our home, that like the beloved disciple, we have to take her home we may come home to her.

Give us that grace in this Ordinary Time as your disciples that we take Mary your Mother as our Mother too, both as an individual and as the Church. What a great honor to be like your beloved disciple that you entrusted your Mother to us. May we be your true disciples always in loving union with you like Mary.

To love Mary and to protect her is to love and protect your Church O Lord that is now under attacks more than ever in history.

Forgive us for the many times we have wounded and hurt in so many instances the Church in the same manner we have done with our own mother.

Teach us to be like you, a faithful and loving son, who thought until the end at your brink of death the safety and security of your Mother and of your Church. Amen.

Mary, Mother of the Church. From Google.

Visit and surprise us, Lord!

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Friday, Easter VI
Feast of the Visitation of Mary, 31 May 2019
Zephaniah 3:14-18 >< }}}*> <*{{{ >< Luke 1:39-56
Bronze Statues of Mary visiting Elizabeth at the patio of the Church of Visitation, Ein-Karem, Israel. Photo by author, April 2017.

Like the Blessed Virgin Mary in today’s feast of the Visitation, I rejoice in you O God:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

Luke 1:46-49

And like her cousin Elizabeth, O Lord, I also wonder:

“And how does this happen to me, that (the mother of) my Lord should come to me?”

Luke 1:43

You always surprise me, O Lord, whenever you would come to visit me and do great things for me that people recognize you in me.

Of course, it feels good, Lord, when people affirm us for doing your work.

Problem is, fear creeps into us the moment we see the great tasks and mission you have for us. That is when we start wondering why visit us, Lord or why choose us, Lord? Then, we look at others, telling you they are better than us in doing your work.

And that is when we walk away from you, or worst, if we remain, we pretend to be doing your work.

Give us the grace of humility like Mary to accept and own our blessedness from you, of being chosen by you for a specific work and mission. Give us the grace to walk and live in the truth of being blessed like Mary to share you, Jesus, with others.

Visit us always, Lord, to surprise us of your great works in us so we may visit others too to share you with them.

Like Mary, let us welcome you in your every visitation to us.

Most of all, like Mary, let us always believe your words would be fulfilled in us, O Lord. Amen.

Church of Visitation at Ein Karem, Israel. Photo by author, April 2017.

A Lenten Christmas?

40 Shades of Lent, Solemnity of the Annunciation, 25 March 2019
Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10///Hebrews 10:4-10///Luke 1:26-38

The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord is a Christmas celebration outside the Christmas cycle. Since the middle of the sixth century, it has always been celebrated on March 25 that falls within Lent except when Ash Wednesday comes early February like in recent years that it occurs within the Easter season.

What is very interesting with this Solemnity of the Lord is how its gospel from Luke is proclaimed in Advent and Lent, two major seasons that are similar in varying degrees with its violet motif and with its penitential character that is a call to conversion. Both Advent and Lent invite us to create a space within us so we may receive Jesus Christ in us like the Blessed Virgin Mary. Angel Gabriel continues to come to us, bringing Jesus Christ. But, does anybody willing to listen to the angel to receive the Son of God like Mary?

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

Luke 1:30-31, 35

Yesterday in our third Sunday of Lent, we reflected the Lord’s call to conversion by repenting our sins and changing our life directions in Him. Conversion is finding Jesus in our very self so we may also find Him in other persons and in the events of our lives. This can only happen when there is a room for Jesus in us like Mary. We simply have to create that space in us by emptying our hearts of our pride and other sins so the Holy Spirit may overshadow us to make us God’s presence. It requires a lot of trust on our part in God and His power. How sad that in this age of great technological marvels, we continue to be like Ahaz in the first reading who entered into secret alliances with Israel’s pagan neighbors trusting in their military might than with God. Like Ahaz, we often pretend not to be tempting or testing God with signs from Him yet, the fact is our hearts are so far from Him. Conversion is taking two or three steps backward so that we can allow God to do His works in us. Problem is we have never truly allowed the Holy Spirit to overshadow us with God’s power to be His presence in the world. We are always afraid even ashamed at what others would say. Or sometimes, we are always in great hurry that we cannot wait for God to accomplish His work in us.

A very dear friend last week texted me with a prayer request for her surgery today. She specifically asked me to pray for her doctors that the Holy Spirit may guide their hands in removing cysts in her pancreas. What I liked most in her request is the fact that she herself is an accomplished doctor under the care of perhaps the best doctors in the country in one of the leading hospitals in the city. Imagine her deep faith and complete trust in God! Here is a lady doctor, a woman of science so busy with her profession and family yet always making – not finding – time for God in her prayers especially the Sunday Mass.

I am always amazed by people like her who always have that glow in their face exuding with deep joy and peace within borne out of their deep spirituality. One can always feel in them the transforming power of the Holy Spirit that despite their weaknesses and shortcomings, Christ is seen and experienced among them.

Jesus did not merely come on the first Christmas over 2000 years ago. Most of all, Jesus does not come only every December 25. Jesus comes to us every day throughout the whole day which is the reason we pray the Angelus in the morning, at noon and in the early evening. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us of this reality of Christ’s coming by offering Himself as our perfect sacrifice to the Father. He is real and truly transforms us into better persons if we are willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work like Mary. Today’s solemnity of the Annunciation falling on the driest and most humid season of the year during Lent reminds us of how God continues to stir us into opening to Him, creating a space for Him to let His Spirit overshadow us not only to change us but also the world around us.

In what instances of your life do you feel God stirring you to do something for Him but you feel afraid or inadequate like Mary at the beginning of her conversation with the angel? Listen first to God or His angel by emptying yourself, creating a space for Jesus Christ. Then imitate Mary in her fiat or expression of faith by praying, “I am the servant of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word.” Amen.

A Filipino painting on the perimeter wall facing the front of the Basilica of the Annunciation at Nazareth, the Holy Land. Photo by the author, April 2017.

Meeting Jesus in 2019 with Mary

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The Lord Is My Chef New Year Recipe
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, 01 January 2019
Numbers 6:22-27///Galatians 4:4-7///Luke 2:16-21

            One of my favorite sayings came from the waiting the room of our former family dentist Dr. Eddie Calalec of Meycauyan, Bulacan that says, “Time is fast for those who rush; Time is slow for those who wait; but, Time is NOT for those who love.”  We all complain of time being so fast.  Everybody is always in a hurry.  According to an elderly man I have talked to a couple of years ago, time moves so fast these days because people are always busy.  He explained that before, time was so slow because after farming earlier that day, they just waited for sunset and for time of harvest.  Life was so laid back at that time that truly time was so slow.  But life is not about time being fast or slow but of love.  The Church rightly celebrates today not the New Year which is time; remember that we celebrated the new year in the Church calendar last first Sunday of Advent.  Today we are celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God to celebrate her great love for Jesus that we hope to emulate this 2019.

             Mary embodies the whole meaning of that saying “TIME is not for those who love” as she presents to us not only the first but the perfect disciple of Jesus who loves Him so much.  St. Paul beautifully expressed in the second reading when time is not because of love which is “the fullness of time” (Gal.4:4).  When we love, there is fullness of time as if everything is suspended in animation, everything is frozen.  Every man who had courted any woman knows this very well of how time freezes when conversing with a beloved, not realizing the passing of time.  Old couples experience the same thing and so are good friends who could “waste” time together doing nothing, saying nothing to one another that after a few hours are all surprised at how long we have been together.  Time and space cease to bound people who truly love.  And that is why“if you want to be eternal, then, love” like God.

             People who love are always in haste not to do things or accomplish tasks but to be with their loved ones.  Luke tells us how “The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger” (Lk.2:16) after a heavenly host of angels proclaimed to them the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ.  We also heard from Luke during our Simbang Gabi after the annunciation of the birth of Jesus when “Mary set out and travelled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah” (Lk.1: 39).  This is the kind of haste – to come quickly to meet God, to be with a beloved, dear one – that is slowly fading away among us in this crazy world always on a mad race.  Everybody is rushing, running around, multitasking to accomplish so much that deplete us of energy even of time to be with our loved ones.  Many parents are guilty of this who turn nights into days making money to send their kids into expensive schools because of love; yet, when you ask them to attend a school meeting, to get the card of their children, they send the grandparents or nannies because they are busy at work.  More so with God as seen in the steady decrease of Mass attendance with people coming in late and then rushing to leave for meals and other things.  And admittedly, this is partly because so many priests are also in a rush to celebrate more masses and sacraments sadly for the wrong reasons and most of all, many of us could not share Jesus in homilies because we could not even come to Him for prayers.  It is simply a case of lack of any concern for God despite professions of faith or belief in Him.  Would we be like the shepherds if a host of angels appear tonight or today to tell us where Jesus Christ is?  Would we go in haste to find God, to meet God?  Would we be in haste to be with our loved ones, really?

         In this age of instant connections and social media via modern communications, actual meetings and coming together person to person have been replaced by mediated interactions.  We hardly experience anyone’s presence anymore that relationships have become superficial without any depths and meaning at all.  There is always the TV and the gadgets to entertain everyone, forgetting the tremendous blessing of everyone’s presence.  In the first reading we heard how God instructed Moses and Aaron to bless the people whenever they gather because every human presence is a blessing, a gift or a present.  And the highest blessing we can all have is the presence of God among us in Christ Jesus!  Mary as the Mother of Jesus is teaching us today that God is always present within us and with one another.  Let us not waste our time rushing for so many things that we only realize the giftedness of everyone most especially of our very selves when we are already old or sick.  Mary as the Mother of God and our Mother too shows us the need to always be in haste to meet Jesus right here inside us for He is here to stay with us, to be with us for the next 365 days of 2019, come rain or shine, no matter what.  AMENFr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

Photo of another painting by Bulakenyo visual artist Aris Bagtas depicting Mary with the child Jesus in lively colors, going out perhaps to meet the rainy new year.  Used with permission.

Advent is Looking Back – and Forward – to God’s Goodness

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The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe-7
22 December 2018
1Samuel 1:24-28///Luke 1:46-56

          Mary’s prominence lies not only in giving birth to Jesus Christ but more of her being His perfect disciple, the first Christian, the first receiver and doer of the Word who became flesh in her womb.  After sharing Christ with Elizabeth in the Visitation, Mary now sings the Magnificat like the song of Hannah in the first reading when she was gifted by God with the child Samuel despite her barrenness.  It is very amazing that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the only person who has appeared most – five times – as a cover of the TIME Magazine.  Likewise, her Magnificat is said to be the only poem that has been set to music more than any other in the whole history.  Almost every great musician has worked on Mary’s canticle like Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi and Rachmaninoff while for over a thousand years it had been sung or recited in the evening in monasteries around the world following St. Benedict’s rule in the sixth century. The Magnificat is a song of praise and thanksgiving to God, Mary’s own experience of God not only in her own life but also in her cousin Elizabeth who was barren and old yet conceived a child to become the Lord’s precursor, John the Baptizer.  At the Visitation, Elizabeth praised Mary but when it was Mary’s turn to speak, she praised God instead of Elizabeth contrary to common gesture of returning her favour because it was very clear with her that every gift is from God, and the greatest gift we can all have from God is His Son Jesus Christ whose birthday we celebrate on Tuesday.

            What is so remarkable with the Magnificat is its Advent flavor:  it is not only a praise and thanksgiving to God for all the wondrous things He had done to Mary and to us all but also a song of looking forward to more blessings to come from Him!  That is what Advent is all about, a looking back to the first Christmas and a joyful waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!  This is very evident in her opening lines, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.  For he has looked upon his lowly servant.  From this day all generations will call me blessed:  the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name” (Lk.1:46-49).  It is definitely a fruit of her prayer or gestational silence we mentioned the other day like what Elizabeth did.  Mary took into her inmost being the message of the angel to rejoice as a highly favored one of God, acknowledging the work of grace in her despite her stature in life.  Again we find here some strong Jewish flavors of which Mary must be aware of like the expression “the Almighty has done great things for me” which has strong roots in the Old Testament experience of the Israelites and their prophets when God saved them from Egypt and so many trials.  Think of the great things God has done to you also and rejoice!  Look back to the past 12 months and here we are, still together although some badly beaten with some even bruised in life but like Mary and Elizabeth meeting together, there are so many reasons for us to celebrate and thank the Almighty for the great things He had done to us.  And the most wonderful blessing next to God is the gift of family and friends around us, like the two cousins, a beautiful imagery of two pregnant women rejoicing together, celebrating life as they looked back in their personal lives and in their nation’s history the many good things God had done to them since the time of Abraham.

           The Magnificat shows us too that most of the things Mary mentioned have not happened yet:  “He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.  He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit.  He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.  He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.  He has come to the help of servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever” (Lk.1:50-57).  These are a mixture of images from the Old Testament about the things God had done to Israel and to the two cousins but at the same time mention other things that would happen only upon the completion of Christ’s mission.  This is to show us that Mary’s Magnificat is also about the perfect presence of God in Jesus Christ in our lives who is the “same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

             Last year I was privileged to join my former colleagues at GMA-7 News as their chaplain on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land – all for free with everything in first class!  On our flight back to Manila, we met some OFW’s and one of them was so ecstatic in meeting Ms. Jessica Soho, making a commotion like crazy at the Ben Gurion Airport which is noted for its strict security measures.  A female security officer caught our attention and held us for a while as she checked our papers and passports.  Making things worse, the crazy OFW kept telling the officer to let us go because Ms. Jessica is a celebrity in our country.  That got the Israeli’s blood boiled and turned her attention to me, the only man in our group, asking me to go with her to their office.  That was when the three women of GMA News stood for me – our SVP Ms. Marissa Flores, Ms. Jessica Soho, and newly retired VP Ms. Kelly Vergel de Dios – telling the airport official that I am their friend, a friend for over 30 years, explaining how I used to work with them until I resigned and became a priest.  I felt my world stopping momentarily like in a dream sequence:  everything happened so fast!  There was the possible delay and a lot of interviews but I also felt God’s strong arm holding me, also tenderly caressing me with His mercy when I heard the three veterans of news defending me.  It was the final blessing I got from God during that pilgrimage when the three women of GMA-7 News were like Mary and Elizabeth reminding me how God had worked in our lives all these years.  It was like a Magnificat moment for me that until now I can recall the sweet smile that incident had left me.  Try praying the Magnificatstarting tonight as you thank God for the many wondrous things He had done to you despite the many trials you have also gone.  Thank God for the faithful and wonderful friends who have visited you to see His plans for you and most of all, be open for more blessings to come from Him this Christmas.  Let us pray for the many great women who have changed our lives, the Marys and Elizabeths who visited us and brought us closer to Jesus Christ.  AMEN. Fr.NicanorF.LalogII,Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan

*Photos by the author:  above are the bronze statues of Mary and Elizabeth at the Church of the Visitation; below, our group photo during our Holy Land Pilgrimage last April 2017.

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Mary Is the True Miss Universe

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The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe-5
20 December 2018
Isaiah 7:10-14///Luke 1:26-38

            Allow me to join the jubilation over our very own Ms. Catriona Gray’s winning of the Miss Universe 2018 title last Monday in Thailand.  As usual, I did not see it but cannot resist checking the news as everybody talked about her beauty and grace, and most especially her intelligence.  Though I have not seen the other candidates and their performances, I am very convinced she rightly deserves the title especially with her answer to the final question given her.  One quality I like most with Ms. Gray is her being filled with enthusiasm that was very evident with the way she projected herself, exuding with good vibes and life.  Enthusiasm is from two Greek words “en theos” that mean to be filled with God – like the Blessed Virgin Mary who is “full of grace and the Lord is with her” (Lk.1:28).

            On this fifth day of our Simbang Gabi we hear the second story by St. Luke of how the first Christmas happened.  He tells us how six months after announcing to Zechariah the coming of their son John, the angel Gabriel went to Nazareth to announce the good news of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary who was betrothed to St. Joseph.  Unlike Zechariah who doubted the angel’s message, Mary was more open with her response by asking how it would all take place.  And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk.1:35).

            Last Monday we have reflected how St. Matthew ended his story of the genealogy of Jesus Christ with Mary to show her as the new beginning of everything in the world.  Through Mary’s giving birth to Jesus, we now share with Him one common origin in faith who is God as our Father so that despite our many sins and failures, we are given with a fresh start, new opportunities in life daily.  St. Luke bolsters this today with his account of the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary.  As a Jew, Mary must be totally aware of the words of the angel about herself being “overshadowed by the Most High” like in the Old Testament stories of God’s presence in the cloud during their journey in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt.  Even Moses could not enter the tent when “the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Ex.40:34-38).  To be filled and overshadowed by the presence of God is to be to be possessed by God and eventually to be transformed by God.  Remember how in the movie “The Ten Commandments” when the face of Moses was transformed after meeting God.  The three synoptic gospels record a similar incident of God’s presence in a cloud hovering with Jesus during His transfiguration at Mount Tabor witnessed by Peter, James and John.  The two great prophets of Israel were there, Elijah and Moses conversing with Jesus when a cloud overshadowed them with a voice declaring “this is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”

          Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us how the apostles were all terrified at the sight of the Transfiguration.  And we can also surmise how terrifying it must be to experience God’s presence, to be filled with God.  But that is how grace works!  After seeing our own limitations and yet we are still able to forge on, to achieve greater things, it is God working in us.  This is the reason that St. Luke tells us how the angel greeted Mary during the annunciation using the Greek words “kaire” which is to rejoice and “charis” or “karis” for grace:  “Hail (or rejoice), full of grace!  The Lord is with you” (Lk.1:28).  Wherever and whenever there is grace, surely there is rejoicing. We rejoice in the winning of Ms. Catriona Gray as Miss Universe because it is indeed a grace she had received as an individual and for us as a nation plagued with so much sufferings and miseries.  The late American spiritual writer and monk Thomas Merton rightly said, “We live in a time of no room, which is the time of the end.  The time when everyone is obsessed with lack of time, lack of space, with saving time, conquering space… The primordial blessing, ‘increase and multiply’ has suddenly become a hemorrhage of terror… In the time of the end there is no longer room for the desire to go on living.  Why?  Because they are part of a proliferation of life that is not fully alive, it is programmed for death” (Raids on the Unspeakable, pp. 70-72).

         Advent is the time to get real, to stop pretending.  Advent is the time for us to finally admit our own limitations, to create a space in our hearts and in our lives to let God fill us, to let God possess us.  Like Mary, can we allow God’s power to hover over us and do the same to renew our lives in welcoming Jesus Christ?  Like the question posed to Ms. Gray, think of the many instances in your life where you have learned your most important lessons in life and most surely like her, these were also the moments we have faced or seen many hardships and sufferings yet, instead of being down, they have inspired us, they have transformed us into better persons.  It is here where I admired most Ms. Gray when she said how the slums of Tondo made her look among the poor children for beauty, to see the silver linings, and still be grateful.  What a beautiful soul indeed – something like our Blessed Virgin Mary who told the angel, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  Let us now open our hearts to God so the Holy Spirit may hover us, fill us with Jesus Christ.  AMEN.  Fr.NicanorF.LalogII,Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, .Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan

*Photo by my former student at ICSB, Arch. Philip Santiago, mosaic of the Annunciation to Mary at the San Giovanni Rotondo Church, Italy, October 2018.  Used with permission.

Advent is Answering God’s Call

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The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe-Prayer
Wednesday, 12 December 2018, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10///Luke 1:39-47

            Thank you very much, O loving Father, in giving us in this season of Advent the wonderful feasts of Mary and the saints who inspire us to always create a room for your Son Jesus Christ in our hearts.

            On this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we remember your wondrous way of calling the Blessed Virgin Mary, her cousin Elizabeth, and St. Juan Diego for your specific mission.  All were “ordinary” people just like most of us.  Mary was a young maiden from an obscure town you have chosen to be the Mother of Jesus Christ while Elizabeth her cousin was already old and barren when you blessed her to conceive the Lord’s precursor, John the Baptizer.  Like these two women of simplicity and humility was St. Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian who became the visionary of Guadalupe.

               Like Elizabeth, I always ask myself and, you, O Lord my God, “how does this happen to me that you my Lord should come to visit and call me (Lk.1:43)?”  St. Juan Diego also asked the Blessed Mother to call somebody else for her mission but she replied, “My little son, there are many I could send.  But you are the one I have chosen.” 

               Loving Father, please bear with me if I always ask you with many whys, always unbelieving in my abilities to do your work and fulfill your mission.  Help me to keep following you, cover me with your mantle of grace and protection like the Blessed Mother as seen by John, “a woman clothed with the sun” (Rev.12:1) so that like her I may “to give birth to Christ” (Rev.12:2) to this  world deeply in sin, totally forgetting you.  Wrap me also like St. Juan Diego with your mantle of love and affection so that from my words and deeds would come the fragrant blooms of your kindness and charity in serving others.  AMEN.Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II,Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria,Bulacan 3022.

*Photos from Google.

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Presence of God, Absence of Man

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The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe-Prayer

Saturday, 08 December 2018

Solemnity of Immaculate Conception

Genesis 3:9-15, 20//Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12//Luke 1:26-38

        God our Father, on this most joyous Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I join St. Paul in praying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.” (Eph. 1:3)

        Praise and thanksgiving to you our Father in heaven who has always been present among us, never leaving our side and in fact went out to seek us since the fall of Adam:  After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, the Lord God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” (Gen.3:9)

        Since that day, we have always been hiding from you, running away from you that the gap had widen so much that you have to send us your Son Jesus Christ to be born like us, become like us except in sin so we may be one with you again.

        Yes, O God, we have always been absent from you when you are always present with us and in us though we always refuse to recognize you.  In your infinite wisdom and in all eternity, you chose Mary to be immaculately conceived so she may be the worthy vessel of your Son Jesus Christ.

        Give us the same grace of Mary to be always present in you, present for you and your will.  Give us the courage to say “be it done unto me according to your word” (Lk.1:38) so that we may become your presence too.  Give us that emptiness of Mary, of always having a room in our hearts for the Holy Spirit to come upon us and overshadow us with your power to become your presence in this world now so empty of values and meaning, so full of pride and sin and hatred.

        Dwell upon us O Lord and fill us with your grace.  AMEN.Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II,Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria,Bulacan 3022.

Prayer of Presentation of Self to the Lord

presentation_of_mary
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe-Prayer
Wednesday, 21 November 2018, Memorial of the Presentation of the BVM
Revelation 4:1-11///Luke 19:11-28

            Lord Jesus Christ, the skies are hazy today.  There’s a typhoon down south of our country.  The readings for today are so beautiful and yet we also celebrate the memorial of the presentation of your Mother to the temple.  So many things are in my heart, in my mind.

            Thank you Lord for accepting me into your family of disciples (Mt. 12:46-50).  Thank you Jesus in calling me like John the Beloved to see of the things to come, to see the four winged creatures symbolizing the evangelists (Rev. 4:1ff).

             It is always good to serve before you, to help others in need, to touch others with your love and kindness, mercy and forgiveness.  These past two days, I have prayed for more love, life and conviction from you to follow you more closely.

             As we celebrate today the memorial of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I pray for the grace to wholly offer myself anew to you.  I am a sinner.  Like the people gathered before you during your time, I sometimes refuse to believe in you, to accept you.  Like that servant in your parable today, I have kept the gospel in myself, I have not used it wisely and have not prospered so well to bear fruits in me and in others.

              Cleanse me, Jesus, my Lord and my God.  You are the Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Like your Mary your mother and our mother too, cleanse me and give me the grace of docility, of humility, and fidelity to be like her, the “daughter of Zion” prophesized by Zechariah so that you may dwell in me and your kingdom come in me.  AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.

*Photo from Google.

LMC