Prayer to enter God’s rest

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Friday, Week-I, Year -I in Ordinary Time, 15 January 2021
Hebrews 4:1-5, 11  >><)))*> >><)))*> + <*(((><< <*(((><<  Mark 2:1-12
Photo by author, sunrise at the Lake of Galilee in Israel, 2017.

Let us be on guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed… Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.

Hebrews 4:1, 11

Thank you, dear God this Friday with Your words reminding us of “entering Your rest”, Your Sabbath!

But what is Your “rest”, God our Father?

More than a particular day of the week, it is first of all Your very presence like in paradise that our first parents have lost due to their pride and disobedience to You.

May we heed and learn from the reflections of the author of the Letter to the Hebrews of how Your chosen people, the Israelites, disobeyed you, dear God, while in the wilderness that prevented them from entering Your rest in the Promised Land of Israel, spending 40 years wandering in the desert.

Sadly, all these continue to happen in our own time when we are supposed to be disciples of Your Son Jesus Christ.

Help us O God to resist the temptations and strive hard to see you, feel you, and experience you.

Help us to be like those men carrying the paralytic who sought ways and means to see Jesus Christ, our only true hope and inspiration and consolation in times like these. It is in Jesus Christ’s coming that we are able to enter Your rest freely and truly, dear God, to experience Your love and mercy, kindness and compassion we have all taken for granted.

But, more than a place and a day, Your rest, O Lord, is heaven, Your very presence, that very moment when Jesus healed and forgave the sins of the paralytic, astounding everyone, glorifying You, saying, “We have never seen anything like this” (Mk.2:12).

Let us “rest” in You, dear God by returning to You, of being renewed in You with Your whole creation in Jesus. Amen.

Photo by author, sunset somewhere in Pampanga, 13 January 2021.

“I’ll Be Around” cover by Hall and Oates (2004)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 13 December 2020
Photo by author, Tabernacle, Gaudete Sunday, 2020.

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the third week of Advent known as “Rejoice Sunday” when our readings and pink motifs invite us all to rejoice because Jesus is coming.

And so, here we rejoice with some hard hitting old-school music with Daryl Hall and John Oates’ cover of the Spinners’ 1972 hit I’ll Be Around.

Yes, we have always preferred the original and the Spinners really did a good one that made I’ll Be Around now a classic but Hall and Oates really “kicked ass” on this one along with other hit classics from their 2004 album Our Kind of Soul.

I was watching Live from Daryl’s House the other day when their featured guest sang this and right away felt its energy but I still preferred this 2004 cover that featured the the dynamic duo’s kind of old-school music especially the signature guitar riff wrapped up in Daryl’s superb voice and performance.

I’ll Be Around was written by Phil Hurtt who clarified he was not “hurting” (pun intended) or into any emotional transition in composing the lyrics of this song that speak of the undying devotion of a brokenhearted man to his ex-girlfriend, that despite their parting of ways, he assured her that

Whenever you call me, I'll be there
Whenever you want me, I'll be there
Whenever you need me, I'll be there
I'll be around

In our gospel reflection, we have said that life is a perpetual Advent of Jesus – he had come, he will come again at the end of time, and he continues to come to us in our lives, among peoples and events.

And in this perpetual coming of Jesus, he needs us as new John the Baptist who shall guide others because “there is one among you whom you do not recognize” who could be Christ after all!

We find this song joyful, upbeat, and very much like the role of John the Baptist, the Lord’s Precursor and Awakener preparing the way of Jesus Christ even in our own time when this Season of Advent has become a parable of our life (https://lordmychef.com/2020/12/12/advent-a-parable-of-our-life/).

So, let us rejoice amid the pandemic, Jesus continues to come to bless us, to save us!

Uploaded to YouTube by LOGONDOR (83,138 views as of 18 June 2015); [Merlin] Absolute Label Services (on behalf of U-Watch Records); CMRRA, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc., Warner Chappell, PEDL, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, LatinAutor – Warner Chappell, Sony ATV Publishing, LatinAutorPerf, and 3 Music Rights Societies

Blessedness springs from brokenness

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Week XXVI, Year II in Ordinary Time, 03 October 2020
Job 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17   |||+|||  >><)))*> <*(((><<   |||+|||   Luke 10:17-24
Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul Spirituality Center, La Trinidad, Benguet, 2017.

God our loving Father, another week is closing and another is coming. Thank you for the many blessings you have given us, most especially for those blessings that have come our way through many trials and sufferings.

Like Job, if not for my many brokenness, pains and disappointments, I would have never been this strong and so blessed. Looking back to those days of trials, I am so grateful to you like Job, O God, in opening my eyes to so many wonderful things I cannot know nor even understand!

I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know. I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you.

Job 42:3, 5

I pray in a very special way today for people going through very rough times of crises, those diagnosed with cancer, those who have lost a loved one, and those whose business have hit rock bottom due to the pandemic.

Keep us all faithful to your call, God, for true blessedness is not found in doing but in being in you through your Son Jesus who told us “Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Lk.10:20). Amen.

Nang mabuksan ang langit

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-29 ng Setyembre 2020
Martes, Kapistahan ng mga Arkanghel San Miguel, San Gabriel, at San Rafael
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14     >><)))*>   +   <*(((><<     Juan 1:47-51
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, pagbubukang-liwayway sa Lawa ng Tiberias, Israel, Mayo 2019.

At sinabi ni Jesus sa lahat, “Tandaan ninyo: makikita ninyong bukas and langit, at ang mga anghel ng Diyos ay manhik-manaog sa kinaroroonan ng Anak ng Tao.”

Juan 1:51
Batid namin Panginoon
 noon pa mang kami'y 
Iyong tinubos sa kasalanan
 nabuksan na ang langit 
upang kami ay makalapit sa Ama 
na bukal ng buti at bait;
Ngunit ang masakit sa langit 
hindi kami makatingin 
dala nitong mabibigat na pasanin
mga kasalanan aming inaamin;
Kaya sana Iyong dinggin
aming dalangin at hiling
ngayong kapistahan ng tatlong Arkanghel
na palaging nasa Iyong banal na piling.
Kay San Miguel Arkanghel
kahulugan ng pangalan 
ay "Sino ang katulad ng Diyos?" 
kami sana'y bigyan, O Jesus, ng tapang
labanan kasamaan at kasalanan 
upang makapanatili sa Iyong banal na harapan;
Bigyan Mo rin kami, Jesus ng Iyong lakas 
katulad ni San Gabriel Arkanghel
na ang kahulugan ng pangalan 
"Diyos ang aking lakas" 
upang Iyong mabuting balita aming maipahayag
lalo na ngayong panahon na ang daigdig
ay manhid sa kasalanan at kasamaan;
Gayon din naman, Panginoon
batid ninyo minsan dala ng aming karamdaman
hindi lamang pangangatawan nanghihina 
kungdi pati puso at kalooban 
Ikaw ay aming tinatalikuran
kaya naman sana Inyong mapagbigyan
sa pamamagitan ni San Rafael Arkanghel
na kahuluga'y "nagpapagaling ang Diyos"
sana'y gumaling o maibsan hirap at tiisin
ng mga may sakit, hipuin kanilang
puso at kalooban upang paghilumin.
Itulot po Ninyo, Panginoong Jesu-Kristo
na katulad ni Nataniel 
kami ma'y walang pagkukunwaring 
tumalima at sumunod 
sa Iyong tawag bilang alagad 
upang maakay ang marami pang iba
palapit sa langit na Iyong binuksan
upang kami ay maligtas ngayon at magpasawalang-hanggan.
AMEN.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Love is being present – and a present, too!

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Cornelius (Pope) and St. Cyprian (Bishop), Martyrs, 
16 September 2020
1 Corinthian 12:31-13:13   ///   Luke 7:31-35
Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul Spirituality Center, La Trinidad, Benguet, January 2020.

Praise and glory to you, God our loving Father!

Thank you for the rains these past three days. Thank you for the feasts of the Exaltation of the Cross and of Our Lady of Sorrows, respectively these past two days.

Most of all, thank you for the present moment!

As I prayed on your words for today, I got fixed on St. Paul’s description of love as the greatest of all your gifts:

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:7-8

I just prayed on these verbs, Lord. I do not know if I make sense. But, through them I felt your love!

Love bears all things when you keep on carrying, having someone just because you love the person, you feel a link with the person like a brother or a sister, a friend, a parent. Like you, our Father. Or Jesus our brother.

Love believes all things when you give more room, more space for something to be realized and fulfilled in a person just because you love. Like when we feel unworthy with all our sins, you still welcome us back to you, you let us “shower” and clean up to begin anew in you and with our loved ones.

Love hopes all things when you know even if things get worst, you still love us, Lord. I know some things in me and my loved ones will not get any better. Some day we shall die and everything will end. But, you will always love us, dear God, because you are love.

Love endures all things because it bears all things, it believes all things, it hopes all things. That is why love never fails.

Photo by author, Petra, Jordan, May 2019.

In all of these, Lord, I found love is everything because it is the present, the here and the now – the meaning and reality of your name “I AM WHO AM”.

All these verbs describing love are all in the present tense, not in the past nor in the future.

And that is love, always present, also a present — a gift. A most wonderful gift leading to eternity!

That is why love is the greatest!

Teach me, Jesus, to be always present in you, to you, and with you through others around me as you implied in the gospel today. Amen.

St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, pray for us!

Living in the presence of Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Martha, 29 July 2020
1 John 4:7-16 >><}}}*> ))+(( <*{{{><< John 11:19-27
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 2018.

Thank you very much Lord Jesus Christ is sending us holy women like St. Martha whose Memorial we celebrate today. Seven days ago we celebrated the feast of her younger sister St. Mary Magdalene.

How nice of you coming to visit families, even calling brothers and sisters as your disciples like St. Peter and St. Andrew, St. James the Greater and St. John, and now, St. Martha and her siblings St. Mary and St. Lazarus.

What a beautiful reminder for us today so busy with other people like friends and clients and everybody else except family: that you always come first in the family, among husband and wife, parents and. children, and siblings.

Most of all, in the life of St. Martha, you remind us of the need to be present in you and with you every time you come for a visit.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

John 11:23-27

Many times, Lord Jesus, you come to us to be present with us but we are always absent from you like St. Martha.

Like her, so often we are working for you, doing for you, so busy because of you without realizing you prefer us to be doing your work by first being present in you.

There are times, we overthink of your words and of your thoughts we forget the present moment like when you told St. Martha that her brother Lazarus would rise again: we believe in our minds than in our hearts that we look more into the future than in the present moment when our departed loved ones can be truly present with us in you.

As we keep ourselves preoccupied with so many tasks here on earth, teach us also, sweet Jesus like St. Martha that in the resurrection of the dead, we shall all be present in you and with you as the one serving us all in the heavenly banquet. May we choose wisely what is most important like her sister St. Mary. Amen.

From Pinterest.

His wounds – not his face – make us recognize Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle, 03 July 2020
Ephesians 2:19-22 >><)))*> <*(((><< >><)))*> <*(((><< John 20:24-29

Thank you very much, dearest Jesus, in founding your church upon your Apostles who were all like us: full of flaws and weaknesses, faults and failures, sins and imperfections.

Every time we celebrate their feasts, you remind us of your call to be near you like the Apostles despite our sins and inadequacies, to be sorry and make amends to return to you to be built into a dwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Brothers and sisters: You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you are also being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

Help us, Lord Jesus, to be like St. Thomas your Apostle who came but doubted, returned and saw you a week later and believed, declaring “My Lord and my God” upon seeing you.

But what did St. Thomas really see that he believed?

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and out it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

John 20:27


Through St. Thomas, you have blessed us and helped us, dear Jesus to believe in you not in seeing your face but more in seeing and feeling your wounds.

How wonderful, O Lord!

It is not your face but your wounds that enable us to recognize you and believe in you.

We will never see your face in this lifetime, Lord, but every day in our trials and sufferings, in our pains and hurts, in our wounds and woundedness, in our brokenness — there you are most present in us and among us.

Heighten our awareness of your presence, to accept pains and sufferings for your love and mercy so we may deepen our faith in you, following you always in your path of the Cross.

Like St. Thomas, may we follow you closely at your Cross, offering ourselves like you to be broken and shared so that in our wounds and woundedness, others may find healing, most especially you, sweet Jesus. Amen.

“Same In Any Language” OST Elizabethtown (2005)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 14 June 2020
Photo by author, sculpture of Jesus Christ as a homeless man sleeping on a bench at the entrance to the ancient town of Capernaum in Galilee where he grew up. May 2019.

Nice to be back, my dear readers and followers!

We have been unable to post our Sunday music since March due to demands of the ministry during this quarantine period of COVID-19 pandemic. Hoping you are all doing well, getting by each day with music.

Our featured music this Sunday should have been last week when we celebrated the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity as it talks about “l-o-v-e”, the love of God expressed in their community of Persons as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

But, any talk about love always presupposes “presence” because any one who truly loves is always present to the one he/she loves.

That is why we find Same in Any Language from the motion picture “Elizabethtown” (2005) still appropriate this Sunday of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ which is an invitation to us all to be present with everyone like God who is always present among us especially in our life’s dark moments.

Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, “Elizabethtown” is a romance-comedy starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. Though it did not measure up to Crowe’s “Almost Famous” released in year 2000, “Elizabethtown” is still a good film despite the negative reviews by most critics.

It is a story about love found in the most strange yet ordinary situation when Orlando was at his lowest point in life after losing his job as a shoe designer that turned out to be a big market flop. As he contemplated suicide, his father died and had to fly to Elizabethtown for the cremation.

It was on that flight he met and befriended the stewardess Kristen whose presence – and love – helped him overcome his darkness in life.

And that is what the song tells us, that love is the same in any language.

Anywhere there is somebody willing to listen or lend a hand, be present to anyone in need, that is love.

Sometime ago I met a Navajo
In a parking lot in Tokyo
He said everything wordlessly
Wonderlust in my eyes, he did see
Oh yea
Oh oh yea
Those postcards I sent to Birmingham
All the way from those windows of Amsterdam
I copped a gram from Dappersan
Just to fall at her man in another jam
Oh yea
Oh oh yea
Its the same in any language
A brother is a brother if there's one thing I know
Its the same in any language
Wherever you go
Oooo yea

It is the same in every language when Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51) because he gives himself as food and drink to nourish us in this life full of pains and sufferings. Jesus came and gave himself to us because of love, to give life to us. And that is what he is also asking of us, especially in this time of corona virus pandemic to share his love with others.

It’s the same in any language, even when put into music….

Why are you here?

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week X in Ordinary Time, Year II, 12 June 2020
1 Kings 19:9, 11-16 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 5:27-32
Photo by author, sunrise at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, November 2018.

At the mountain of the God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave, where he took shelter… After the fire, there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?” He replied, “I have been most zealous for the Lord , the God of hosts. But the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.”

1 Kings 19:9, 12b-14

The rainy season has started, Lord, and we have covered almost half of the year, making it through more than two months of quarantine period and here we are, before you… tired and exhausted, a bit lost, and frankly, your question to Elijah echoes within, stirring our inmost being.

Why are you here?

It is both a mystery and a gift why we are here.

Some of us have lost family and friends these past six months, some to the dreaded disease of COVID-19. Many of us have lost money and time due to the pandemic. This early, 2020 is practically gone for many of us.

Many of us are just awaiting for you, to your tiny voice to tell us what is next.

That is why we are here, Lord.

Like Elijah, we await your coming.

Unlike before when we await dates and occasions, now, we await you, O God for you alone are sure and guaranteed in coming.

Photo from NCCA.

On this day, Lord, we also celebrate our Independence Day that has become more of a festivity than a reality. Forgive us for wasting, for throwing away our country to undeserving people who have all been puppets of foreign powers with same personal interests.

Yet, one reason why we are here is also because we believe we can change our country for the best.

Help us, O God, by cleansing our hearts, purifying our desires and motivations so that we may be more faithful to you.

And that is why we are here, like Elijah.

Awaiting for you.

Please do come quickly!

Marana tha!

Amen.

St. Paul in time of COVID-19: need for pastoral communication

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 11 June 2020
Painting by Raphael (1515) of St. Paul preaching at Areopagus in Athens, Greece. From wikipedia.

With houses of worship still closed despite the opening of most business establishments, here is the final installment of reflection in our series on how the life and teachings of St. Paul may help us in our ministry during this time of COVID-19 amid a perceived government “persecution” of the Catholic Church.

There is no doubt that like during his time, St. Paul would be using modern means of communication to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ especially in this most trying time of our history, using the internet as the new “Areopagus” with social media in particular.

Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To An Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all that is in it…”

Acts of the Apostles 17:22-24

Social Communication

Perhaps before we go into our reflection, it is imperative especially for bishops and priests to be reminded anew of some important terms in communications; this is more than about names or nomenclature because for as long these terms of communications are not clear with us, all our evangelization efforts would be askewed as it is now showing with an explosion of online Masses and other religious celebrations.

First priority is to stop using the words “mass media” and even “social media” in our church communications because these are very limited in scope and context.

It is important to note that in the 2000-year history of the Church, it was only in Vatican II that we have issued a conciliar document on communication wherein the Fathers also introduced the term social communication as a new name for communications in the Church.

How sad that there are still bishops and priests using the terms “mass media” or “media” and lately “social media” when more than 50 years ago the Church through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit coined social communication to refer to “the communication of and in human society including all the ways and means used in this process” (Fr. Franz-Josef Eilers, svd, 2009 BISCOM-FABC, Bangkok).

Social communication is a very prophetic term because it is theological and rooted in God who is communication himself, sharing with us his power to communicate so we may also communicate with him and with others. Most of all, God continues to communicate with us and from that lies our task as a Church to communicate him to the world.

This is the reason why we have to keep on using this term “social communication” in our Church communications to keep us Christocentric, meaning, every communication in the Church and by the Church has Jesus as Message.

And that is essentially the kind of communication process followed by St. Paul the Apostle. In fact, reviewing his letters and the various accounts about him would show us that early, this great apostle has been into social communication, specifically “pastoral communication” that is an emerging field in Church communications whose realities have long been espoused by St. Paul himself.

Pastoral Communication

Pastoral communication is anchored on Jesus Christ, the “Good Shepherd” who sets himself as the norm and standard of our Church communications.

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.”

John 10:11, 14-15
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

St. Paul has always been very clear with this in all his communications that towards the end of his life, he had beautifully written his disciple this wonderful piece:

Beloved: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; per persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient… For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”

2 Timothy 4:1-2, 6-7

Communicating Jesus Christ is always about self-sacrifice, about giving of one’s self like our Lord and Master. In whatever form of communication we use, it is always a call to “enflesh” the Word. In short, communication is spirituality that indicates the kind of relationship we have with God. How we reflect that relationship with God in words and in deeds, in our clothings and everything is communication.

Like St. Paul, he was able to offer himself wholly to God as reflected in his writings and preaching because he was more concerned with the needs of the flock and not with his own needs.

And this is where I sadly feel our bishops sorely absent and silent except for just two, Lingayen-Dagupan’s Archbishop Soc Villegas and Manila’s Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo.

Where are the other bishops?

Business establishments are almost all opening, even dine-in restaurants and yet, until now for no valid reason, the government continues to ban religious mass gatherings except for maximum of ten persons in areas under GCQ.

When are the bishops and priests going to speak out against this and open the churches so people may be spiritually nourished?

What an auspicious time for the clergy and hierarchy to speak against this continued closure of churches as we are on the eve of our 500th year of Christianization when under serious persecution. Has the Church grown timid in the face of an unfriendly government?

Worst are some priests who seem to follow more the secular world in their digital presence but empty of Jesus Christ, concerned only with popularity measured in number of likes and shares as well as followers.

Many of us have become more of personalities than as priests and ministers, unconsciously trying to be more popular than the Lord himself that we no longer have sacrifice of the Mass but a variety show, complete with sound effects and digital characters, some wit dance numbers and raffles!

When God is displaced, then our love is misplaced, then, we lose all communications too.

Communication is more than the expression of ideas and the indication of emotion. At its most profound level it is the giving of self in love. Christ’s communication was, in fact, spirit and life.  In the institution of the Holy Eucharist, Christ gave us the most perfect and most intimate form of communion between God and man possible in this life, and, out of this, the deepest possible unity between men. Further, Christ communicated to us His life-giving Spirit, who brings all men together in unity. The Church is Christ’s Mystical Body, the hidden completion of Christ Glorified who “fills the whole creation”.  As a result we move, within the Church and with the help of the word and the sacraments, towards the hope of that last unity where “God will be all in all”. 

Communio et Progressio # 11
From Google.

Problem with online Masses and religion

Every communication presupposes presence. That is essentially the meaning of God’s “I AM” in the burning bush to Moses and the “I AM” declarations by Jesus in the New Testament, especially in the fourth gospel where we find him saying “I am the good shepherd”.

Even St. Paul in his letters always began with his standard salutations like “I, Paul…” to indicate his very presence among his “parishioners”.

However, in the digital media, presence is not so essential and can even be faked both ways, either by being “taped” or “replayed” by viewers.

And there lies the great danger of online Masses and other celebrations: whether we like or not, online religious celebrations give the impressions on people that God is a “consummable”, a product or a show that can be had when most convenient to us like video on demand or the streamed shows of Netflix.

That is why we have to open churches soon to stop these online Masses except for those in the Cathedrals and in existence long before COVID-19 that cater to the needs of the sick and elderly in their homes.

Pope Francis has always been clear with this, stressing that these online Masses and religious celebrations are very temporary due to the extraordinary situation brought about by the pandemic.

From Pinterest/Aleteia.

Imagine the problem at Corinth that reached St. Paul’s attention, prompting him to write them another letter to reprimand them but at the same time to encourage them to mend their ways. It was a problem of abusing the Eucharist when St. Paul was no longer with them.

It is the same thing happening in many of our online Masses that have become variety shows to impress viewers. Long before we got into this lockdown, many priests have crossed the boundaries without knowing they have made fools of themselves as they rely more on “likes”, on being viral or trending, dishing out shallow reflections covered with cute song numbers, litany of greetings on air, and so many other inanities that Jesus is lost in the process.

Unfortunately, many laypeople are now also having their own digital preaching or evangelization with their own “productions” taking their cue from their showbiz pastors.

If St. Paul were with us today, he would surely write again to express his dismay at the people seeking more of entertainment than having Jesus Christ.

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ. For I think that I am not in any way inferior to these “superapostles”. Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

2 Corinthians 11:3, 5-6

Church communication is Jesus Christ and his Cross as St. Paul reminds us in his writings (1Cor.15:1-3); it is never about techniques or gadgets.

Though we need to be present online, the cutting edge of real communication remains in pastoral communication that means being present with others who need us most including those without internet access, witnessing to the values of Jesus in relating with people, bringing people together into a communion and helping them find answers in their search for meaning and directions in life, in making the right choices and in living their convictions and faith.

What we are speaking of are real people, persons and lives that matter so much, more precious than goods and commodities.

Let us not fall into the trappings of this “media revolution” that made one futurologist describe our contemporary society as

Technologically Intoxicated Zone defined by the complicated and often paradoxical relationship between technology and our search for meaning.

John Naisbitt

According to Naisbitt and other experts, while people prefer quick fixes online of everything, from religion to nutrition, while at the same time fearing and worshipping technology that had blurred the distinction of what is real and fake, the more they live their lives distanced and distracted — something we are already seeing even before the coming of social distancing!

To communicate in the Church at this time is to imitate St. Paul: be present for and with the people wherein we help them find their way to God by being their companions and “co-journeyers” in life, witnessing to them the Cross of Jesus Christ with our very lives as an offering and sacrifice, not as a commodity or a show to be “liked” on Facebook and Instagram.

And, lest we forget, it is God whom people must follow and worship, not us.

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Pope Francis praying before an empty St. Peter’s Square last March 27, 2020 at the height of COVID-19 in Italy.