Living in God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon & Korean Martyrs, 20 September 2022
Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13     <*((((>< + ><))))*>     Luke 8:19-21
Photo by Dr. Mai B. Dela Peña, Santorini, Greece, 2014.
God our loving Father,
today I offer myself to you,
everything I have,
all my plans and undertakings
because everything is ultimately
in your hands!

Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the Lord; wherever it pleases him, he directs it. All the ways of a man may be right in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who proves hearts. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Proverbs 21:1-3
Slow me down,
caution me,
and if necessary,
stop me to yield to
your Holy Will and
better plans especially
when I am overwhelmed
by my many preparations,
when I feel stressed and
compelled by people and
situations; remind me, Lord,
people and their welfare
are better than programs
and things; open my heart
and my ears to listen to your
words, to your voice always the
faintest one deep in my heart
covered by the noises of the world
and of my many confusions and 
selfish ambitions.
Like the first martyrs of Korea
whom we remember today,
grant me courage and perseverance
to hold on to what is true and good,
to remain steadfast in faith
in the face of persecutions
and trials,
ready to sacrifice and
let go of my pleasures and
comforts, so inspire others
to find and follow you, dear Jesus.

St. Andrew Kim Taegon and
companion Martyrs, 
Pray for Us!
Amen. 
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. There are now about four million Korean Catholics, one of the most vibrant in the world, ranking fourth with the most number of saints.

Love is the Spirit

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. John Eudes & St. Ezechiel Moreno, Priests, 19 August 2022
Ezekiel 37:1-14   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 22:34-40
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier in Taal, Batangas, 15 February 2014.
Your Prophet Ezechiel's vision
was perfect and continues even to
these days, God our loving Father:
many times we feel like bones left in
the graveyard, all dried up, and lifeless
because of our sinfulness.

Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord. I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord.

Ezekiel 37:12-14
Thank you, dear God,
in sending us your Son Jesus
who breathed on us your promised
Spirit who brought us back to life;
thank you, dear God, 
in giving us saints like Ezekiel Moreno
and John Eudes who both shared us
your Son Jesus Christ in their lives of
service and holiness;
thank you, dear God,
most of all for the gift of love,
the life-giving Spirit of everyone,
your very being that is why there is
life.
How sad, O God, 
that in this world that has
become so affluent, so advanced
in technologies, many people remain
lifeless like dry bones buried in their
casket of self-pity, self-centeredness,
impenitence, selfishness, and self-
righteousness refusing to experience 
your love and the love of others that
they cannot love too.
Indeed, love is your only commandment
because love is the very principle of life
that whoever refuses to love dies
and whoever loves, lives.
Amen.

True greatness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin & Martyr, 09 August 2022
Ezekiel 2:8-3:4   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.
I just find it so amusing,
dear God our loving Father,
how we have always been
fascinated since the earliest
times in knowing who is the
greatest?

The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:1-3
How sad, O God,
that in our constant search
for who is the greatest, it had
led us to more animosities,
more destruction, and worst,
more deaths like when Hitler caused
the death of millions of people during
the Second World War following his 
obsession in being the greatest.
But, in a kind of poetic justice, 
it was during those dark years of
Hitler's Holocaust when we had 
our great modern saints, St. Teresa 
Benedicta dela Cruz whose 
memorial we celebrate today and 
later next week St. Maximilian
Kolbe who both died in the gas
chambers of Auschwitz.
True greatness is in being like
a little child who is open to listening
and learning new things in you, O God;
very malleable and teachable
ready to become like what you would 
want us to become;
like St. Benedicta who was born and raised 
as a Jew who later became an atheist
in the process of her intellectual pursuits while
a young woman but eventually converted as a
Catholic by saying that
"Those who seek truth seek God,
whether they realize it or not."
True greatness is in being like
a child who is docile and trusting in you,
O God, very open and willing to "eat"
your words that are "sweet like honey"
as the Prophet Ezekiel tasted in the first reading.
Let me proclaim your Word, O Lord, 
even if it hurts those closest to me like 
St. Benedicta:  her mother was deeply saddened
with her conversion to Catholicism while she also
wrote a strongly worded letter to Pope Pius XI
asking him to denounce Hitler's Nazi regime.
True greatness, O God,
is to be small and weak,
powerless like Jesus Christ on the Cross,
suffering and dying with your people
like St. Benedicta who chose to join her
people at the gas chambers lovingly described
later by a survivor who said, "Every time
I think of her sitting in the barracks,
the same picture comes to mind:
a Pieta without the Christ."
Loving Father,
there is no need for us ask who is
the greatest among us 
because that is YOU alone; 
yet, in your majesty and power,
you have chosen us to be
the greatest in your eyes,
in your heart that you sent Jesus
to die for us on the Cross.
May we always keep that in mind
so we may be like him and your
saints.

We pray also, God our Father, 
for the victims of violence and 
exploitation these days especially in 
war-torn countries and impoverished
sectors of our society that their plight 
be finally stopped, never to happen again 
in whatever form in the future.  
Amen.
St. Teresa Beneidcta dela Cruz
(née Edith Stein),
Pray for us!

Finding God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Dominic de Guzman, Priest, 08 August 2022
Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28   ><))))*> + <*((((><   Matthew 17:22-27
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte in Atok, Benguet, 01 September 2019.
Once in a while, 
I imagine dear God
our Father what would
it be like to have a vision
of you, to find you and
your dwelling place?
Would I have the
courage and composure
of your prophet Ezekiel?

As I looked, a storm wind came from the North, a huge cloud with flashing fire enveloped its brightness, from the midst of which (the midst of fire) something gleamed like spectrum. Within it there were figures resembling four living creatures that looked like this: Their form was human… Like the bow that appears in the clouds on a rainy day, was the splendor that surrounded him. Such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.

Ezekiel 1:4-5, 28
You are always with us,
dear God, revealing your 
truth, goodness, and beauty;
you cannot be kept in any 
particular place for you are
all-powerful and in fact, 
the sole legitimate power
for everything belongs to
you as implied by Jesus to Simon
in today's gospel (Mt.17:22-27).
There is no need for me to have
the apocalyptic vision of Ezekiel
to find and see your dazzling 
majesty; just give me the humility
like of St. Dominic to passionately
seek you in prayers and studies,
following his footsteps in simplicity
of life and self-denial so that upon
finding your light and your truth, 
I may share you in Jesus Christ 
with everyone.
Amen.
St. Dominic from a detail of a fresco painted by Fra Angelico in 1441 in Convento di San Marcos in Florence, Italy; photo from commons.wikimedia.org.

Easter is being rooted in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church, 02 May 2022
Acts 6:8-15   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 6:22-29
Photo by Ms. Jing Rey Henderson in Taroytoy, Aklan, 29 April 2022.
In this Season of Easter,
help us, dear Lord Jesus 
to know you more clearly
so that we may deepen our
faith in you and eventually do
your work of loving service
to one another; so many times 
in life we seek you for selfish 
and personal reasons 
like the people you have fed 
at the wilderness.

And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw the signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”

John 6:25-27
Like St. Stephen in the first
reading, fill us with passion 
in "working for God" which is
primarily to believe in you as 
the Christ, the one he sent;
but so many times, even in this
modern age, we doubt you,
O Jesus, as the Son of God:
like those Jews, we ask
"when did you get here" -
from where are you, Jesus,
because we always doubt you
as the Son of God like our separated
brothers and sisters until now
influenced by Arianism.
Hence, it is not enough for us 
to be simply passionate like St. Stephen -
grant us the academic discipline 
of St. Athanasius whose memorial 
we celebrate today;
his sound mental acumen formed by
his deep spirituality based on prayers
made him a pillar of the Church in 
defending your truth as the Son of God.
The more he knew you more clearly,
the more he followed you closely
even if he was banished so many
times from his posts due to his rootedness
in you; most of all, in his knowledge 
and wisdom, the more he loved you dearly, 
Jesus, by serving the flock entrusted to him.  
Amen.

Keep my heart in you, Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin, 10 February 2022
1 Kings 11:4-13   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Mark 7:24-30
Photo from ABS-CBN News, medical frontliners making the heart sign, 2020.
Your words today, O Lord,
invite me to examine closely
where is my heart especially after all
the triumphs and gains I have had
lately, after being showered with
your many blessings.

When Solomon was old, his wives had turned his heart to strange gods, and his heart was not entirely with the Lord, his God, as the heart of his father David had been.

1 Kings 11:14
Keep my heart entirely yours, Lord;
I am afraid that like Solomon,
I may have also been like him
with my heart being stolen from you
by the very blessings you have
showered me with like health
and some degrees of comforts,
triumphs and successes.
I do not ask for more pains and
sufferings, dear Jesus; just keep 
my heart closest to you always
like that Syrophoenician woman in
the gospel who begged you to heal
her daughter possessed by the devil;
she was witty and wise in her answer
to you:  "Lord, even the dogs under
the table eat the children's scraps"
(Mark 7:28) that you have her child
healed. 
So many times, Lord, in our wisdom
and intelligence, we rationalise 
everything to justify what we want
and what we do like Solomon;
so many times, Lord, our wisdom
could not prevent our being ruled
by our hearts and selfish interests that
we keep on doing what we know is not
right and sinful; so many times, Lord, 
we try other paths forgetting 
that you are the only WAY, 
the TRUTH and the LIFE.
Help me imitate St. Scholastica, 
the twin sister of St. Benedict,
whose minds and hearts have 
always remained united in you,
dear Jesus that even in the end
of their lives, not even death could
separate their bodies as they shared 
just one grave.  Amen.

When evil overtakes us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest & Doctor of the Church, 28 January 2022
2 Samuel 11:1-4, 5-10, 13-17   ><]]]]*> + <*[[[[><   Mark 4:26-34
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, 25 January 2022.
Why do we always try to "imprison"
or keep you in a place, God our Father?
Why, despite our faith and knowledge
of your power and might, we insist on 
trying to entrap you in the hope we can
get away with our evil deeds or sins?
Praying over the first reading for today
on how King David committed his first 
grave sins against you, I could see myself
in him overpowered by evil during those
instances when I thought you were out
or far from my side not to see my sins:

At the turn of the year, when kings go out on campaign, David sent out Joab along with his officers and the army of Israel, and they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. David, however, remained in Jerusalem (while the ark of the covenant was lodged in tents while his soldiers fought the Ammonites, cf. v. 11).

2 Samuel 11:1
What happened with David that
after getting Bathsheba pregnant,
he tried to dupe her husband Uriah
by luring him to sleeping with his wife
that when it did not work, he had him
positioned in a battle to die and get away
with his sins?
How sad and so shameful when we,
like David, fall into a series of sins we
thought we could get under control
only to find ourselves imprisoned
in the darkness of evil.
Make us realize, Lord, the enduring
truth of your powerful and silent 
presence even in the darkest night
when nothing seems to happen:

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God: It is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise, night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.”

Mark 4:26-27
"Grant me, O Lord my God", 
as St. Thomas Aquinas would 
pray to you: 
"a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you."
Amen.

St. Thomas Aquinas,
Pray for us!

Living in the presence of God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr, 12 November 2021
Wisdom 13:1-9   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Luke 17:26-37
Photo by author, Taiwan, 2019.
God our Father,
help us distinguish the
difference between finding
you in everything and making
anything as you, an object
of worship, an idolatry.
Fill us with your wisdom 
to see you among the beauty 
of nature, on each every person
we meet but at the same time
be wise to never stop at them
that we forget you totally.

For they search busily among his works, but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair. But again, not even these are pardonable. For if they so far succeeded in knowledge that they could speculate about the world, how did they not more quickly find its Lord?

Wisdom 13:7-9
It happens often with us,
Lord, when we get so caught up
with nature or people or with
our very selves that we miss
You as the very source and
subject of our wonder! Open
our eyes and minds and hearts
to see you more.
Do not let it happen again
like what the people did with
St. Josaphat that they were so 
blinded by their culture and faith,
by their convictions and failed to see
you speaking and working through
him, leading to his murder just like
Jesus Christ your Son; while it is true
the we live in a world where everything
is touched by you, let us not miss YOU
like in those days of Noah when the flood
came and destroyed the people who 
have become so complacent with your
presence.  Amen.

Fluidity in life

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop, 11 November 2021
Wisdom 7:22-8:1   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Luke 17:20-25
Photo by author, La Union, 2018.
Today O God I am so struck
by your words from the first reading:
"For Wisdom is mobile beyond all
motion, and she penetrates and 
pervades all things by reason of 
her purity.  For she is an aura of 
the might of God and a pure effusion
of the glory of the Almighty; 
therefore, nought that is sullied
enters into her... Indeed, she reaches
from end to end mightily and
governs all things well" 
(Wisdom 7:24-25, 8:1).
What a beautiful description
of Wisdom, of you, dear God!
Someone so fluid, so natural 
like water:  everything flowing
naturally in order - so subtle yet
powerful, hidden but evident and 
felt that so often for those with 
closed minds and closed hearts,
you seem to be so far, even 
unrecognizable.

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is’. For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.”

Luke 17:20-21
Teach me to be fluid, Jesus,
like St. Martin of Tours who
naturally cut his tunic into two
to share it with a poor beggar
one cold evening; his kindness was
instinctively filled with Wisdom, fluidly
finding you among the least of our
brethren; may we have the same grace
of  St. Martin to find you among the needy
and most specially to look up to heaven
for our soul's journey back to you.
Amen.
St. Martin of Tours, Patron of my hometown Bocaue, Bulacan; photo from the Parish Commission on Social Communication.

Touched by Jesus, touching Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist, 18 October 2021
2 timothy 4:10-17   ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*>   Luke 10:1-9
Painting of “Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin” by Flemish painter Roger van der Weyden (1400-1464); photo from en.wikipedia.org.  
Of all your Evangelists, Lord Jesus,
Saint Luke is the most artistic of all,
giving us those rare glimpses with 
vivid details of your life and teachings
that began in the annunciation 
of the birth of your predecessor, 
John the Baptist to the birth and 
spread of your Church with unforgettable
characters and stories like the
Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan,
the Good Thief, and conversion of St. Paul.  
He wrote extensively like his teacher 
St. Paul, leaving us with
two volumes of your Gospel.
Though scholars could not ascertain
if St. Luke was indeed one of those 72
disciples you have sent out two-by-two
in today's gospel, his writings teem
with so many instances as if he was
with you in your preaching and 
journeys, Lord Jesus.
In his writings, you seemed to have
touched him as he narrated your
story that in the process, he appeared
like touching you all throughout!
It is not difficult to imagine that
because as St. Paul had told
Timothy today in the first reading,
it was only St. Luke who had remained
present with him in his darkest hours 
of imprisonment and trial in Rome.

Beloved: Demas, enamored of the present world, deserted me and went to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Luke is the only one with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry.

1 Timothy 4:10-11
Indeed in his writings
and maybe in his paintings too,
St. Luke had shown us that true
"communication is more than the
expression of thoughts and
indication of feelings:
at its most profound level,
it is the giving of self in love"
like what you did on the Cross,
Lord Jesus Christ
(cf. Communio et Progressio, 11).
If we could just have that grace
and discipline to rediscover
the beauty of writing in this age
of electronic media
 when our communications are fleeting
 and superficial, always in a hurry,
mediated with many other things
like images and sounds,
teach us to rediscover writing letters,
journal writing, and even painting
so we may get in touch with our
inner selves to find you there
and eventually touch you too
for you have been touching us
for so long without us realizing it.
But most of all, like St. Luke,
give us the grace and courage
to write your Gospel
with our lives.
Amen.