Thank a woman today

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, 15 September 2020
1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31     || + ||     John 19:25-27
“Mater Dolorosa” also known as “Blue Madonna” (1616) by Carlo Dolci. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, in giving us the Blessed Virgin Mary to be our Mother too, to join us and accompany us in this life journey especially when there are pains and sufferings like when she stood by you at the foot of the Cross on that Good Friday.

As we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, we remember also and pray for all the women in our lives, specially our mother and sisters, the wife of every spouse, our teachers, the nuns, and all those women who somehow “completed” our lives.

Because of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the word “woman” became so noble and wonderful again after it was marred by sin with the fall of the first woman, Eve.

But what is so striking with Mary and the word “woman” is how she was addressed in that word in the fourth gospel, beginning at the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:4) that comes to full circle at the foot of the cross.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, 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 into his home.

John 19:26-27

Lord Jesus and Mother Mary, I pray for all the women of the world, especially for those who stood by their men and children in times of trials and sufferings.

There at your crucifixion where everything was so sad with the stark realities of human sufferings and death, Mary and the other women present gave some breath of life and hope to the scene.

Photo of painting from stswithuns.org.uk.

With those faithful women led by the Blessed Mother around you at the foot of the Cross, your Passion O Lord, had a peaceful and calming ending, leading to your joyful and glorious Resurrection.

Their love and devotion, and compassion remained intact before you, O Lord after you had died. Is this also the reason you first appeared to women too on Easter? Beautiful.

These are exactly the same things the many women in the world and in our lives do when our chips are down like during this pandemic.

It is always the women who bring out the extra jolts and sparks needed to restart our lives, to jumpstart us when we are all down and desperate. Like your Mother Mary, Lord, most women are our greatest sources of inner strength and courage, and faith to forge on in this life.

How sad that we often forget to thank them and worst, neglect to recognize their presence and dignity as persons. May we imitate you, dear Jesus that in your dying moments, you remembered to entrust your mother to your beloved disciple to look after her.

O dearest Mother Mary, our Lady of Sorrows, please pray for the women we love, the women we have forgotten, the women we have used and abused for their kindness to us; so many women are crying in pain alone, some of them have been mourning for a long time after losing a beloved child or husband, a friend and a sibling, parents and those dearest to them. Soothe their pains, our Lady of Sorrows, a great woman of faith, woman of calmness, a woman for everyone. Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!

Prayer for inner strength

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XXIII, Year II, 07 September 2020
1 Corinthians 5:1-8    ///     Luke 6:6-11
Photo by Mr. Chester Ocampo, 2019.

Forgive us, loving and merciful Father, for the many times we have chosen to be silent in the face of ongoing evil around us, when we unknowingly conspire in silence against you, against life, against justice.

Both our readings today speak about this deafening silence among us in many situations when we are so afraid to speak for what is good and true.

On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?”

Luke 6:6-9

Worst than our silence in standing for life and dignity of persons is our “unwitting support” for evil and sin so as not to disturb our family and community.

Brothers and sisters: It is widely reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans — a man living with is father’s wife. And you are inflated with pride. Should you not rather have been sorrowful? The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst.

1 Corinthians 5:1-2

How true is the saying that “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing” (attributed to both Edmund Burke and John F. Kennedy).

Photo by author, Jaffa, Israel, May 2017.

Forgive us, Lord Jesus.

Strengthen us inside, make our will and our hearts strong to stand for your Gospel specially when friends and families are the ones doing what is wrong and sinful.

Strengthen our firm resolve to be consistent in living our new life in you, Jesus, that is free from what others would say about us and free to be our true selves freed from sin, free to love and be faithful to you and for others.

Enlighten our minds and our hearts with your Holy Spirit on the actions we must take and words we must say to win them back to you.

Most of all, purify our intentions that we do this out of love for you and our beloved going astray. Amen.

Jesus is here, have no fear

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 21 June 2020
Jeremiah 20:10-13 ><)))*> Romans 5:12-15 ><)))*> Matthew 10:26-33
Photo by author at Pulilan, Bulacan, January 2020.

Finally, today we can truly feel the Ordinary Time as we celebrate Sunday in shades of green with a new sequence of readings from the gospel of St. Matthew who will guide us in our journey with Jesus this year until the Solemnity of Christ the King in November.

Set after the naming of the Twelve Apostles who were sent to search for the “lost sheep of Israel”, the Lord now warns them of persecutions and dangers; hence, today until the next two Sundays, Christ will encourage his disciples including us to take on the challenges of his mission, assuring us of his loving presence and protection.

Notice how the Lord tells us three times to be not afraid of the mission:

Jesus said to the Twelve: “Fear no one… And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna… So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Matthew 10:26, 28, 31
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

The problem with our fears

Christ’s words today suit us so perfectly in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic made worst by the growing social unrests not only in our country but also elsewhere in the world that proves how the Lord’s mission remains unfulfilled in us.

Almost everywhere we hear reports of continued oppression of peoples in various forms of discrimination, disrespect and injustices.

But we do not need to look far to do our mission. We start with ourselves first — for we are the “lost sheep of Israel” in so many ways. All oppression and injustices going on around us are the reflections of what is within us that often result from our fears.

So often, the many fears within us push us to be selfish, forgetting others in the process. And that is when we start hating each other, creating this vicious circle of sufferings as the Jedi Master Yoda warned Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace.”

From Google.

We all have fears. It is normal to feel afraid especially when threatened by a grave danger or threat to life.

Being brave, having courage does not mean having no fears; on the contrary, courage is facing one’s fears in life. Cowardice, on the other hand, is refusal to face our fears.

Jesus is asking us today to face our fears with him and in him so we can be free to follow him in his mission.

Facing our fears in Jesus Christ

What are our fears that lead us to anger and hate, that immobilize us to reach out to God and others? Let us examine them in the light of Christ’s reassuring words this Sunday.

“Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”

Matthew 10:26-27
Photo by author, 2019.

Fear of not being loved and appreciated

One of the things I fear most is not being loved and appreciated, of being neglected and taken for granted.

It is a fear akin with low self-esteem or self-worth that make me afraid of others I deem as better and superior than me.

There are many contributing factors to this fear, mostly not of our own making like growing up in a very strict environment where we are not able to measure up to the expectations of those around us. Sometimes it is due to traumatic experiences that have truly hurt us inside and outside.

As I grew up meeting so many people from various walks of life, including those I looked up and admire including some personalities, I have realized that indeed nobody is perfect. No one has the monopoly of every good thing — looks and intelligence, wealth and health. We all need one another, and we are also needed. And loved as well as appreciated too!

We are all broken and lost, wounded and hurt; no need to fear anyone. What is most important is to always remember God loves us very much — no matter what.

At night before we sleep, do not just count your sins and failures; think also of the good things you have done, people you have helped and made happy. Listen to God thanking you for being so nice with someone. That is what Jesus is telling us to “speak in light” what he said to you in darkness!

Every morning when you wake up, be silent and still, pray and little, listen to God whispering to you the words “I love you… I believe in you” to inspire your for the brand new day. These are the words Jesus is asking you to “proclaim on the housetops”.

Forget those pains inflicted on us by others, in words or in deeds — they must be hurting too, feeling more unloved and unappreciated than us, more fearful than us!

Photo by Juhasz Imre on Pexels.com

Afraid of getting hurt, physically and emotionally

Another fear I always have is being hurt because I might not be able to take or absorb the pains. Worst, adjust to changes and disturbances that may result.

I was a very sickly child when growing up that I dreaded injections and other medical procedures. Aside from getting hurt, I feared that things could never be the same again, altering or disturbing what I have been used to.

But, as I aged fighting many battles in life, enduring so many pains and hurts with some help from family and friends, I have learned that pain is part of growing up. In fact, growing up becomes nicer with more pains and hurts that make us stronger and wiser with the many lessons we can learn. Most of all, pains and hurts have opened up many doorways to new beginnings that made me grow and mature as a person and as a priest.

Indeed, as the Lord had told us, do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but not the soul. It is what is inside that makes us who we really are. Replace those fears with Jesus and dare to get hurt and bruised that may destroy you outside but stronger inside.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

Fear of getting lost, of being alone.

This fear has recurred in me lately during this quarantine period when I am all by myself in my parish with no one to talk to or share whatever may be inside me.

Sometimes it is so tempting to just vanish and die than be lost and alone!

Recently I celebrated a funeral Mass for a young man who committed suicide: he came from the Visayas last February to try his luck here in our barrio to work as a helper in a small candy shop. With the imposition of lockdown in mid-March, he lost his job and had to stay with his cousins who were also laid off from work. The teenager grew homesick, getting depressed later that no amount of alcohol of their nightly drinking sessions could give him a sense of mission that he decided to hang himself on a tree while his drinking companions were all drunk.

Sad that nobody had reminded him of his mission in life that he decided to just end it all. He had forgotten not only his dreams and mission but also his parents and six other siblings in the province looking up to him.

Even if we are in our worst situations in life, for as long as we are alive, still breathing, may we never lose that sense of mission from God because that means we are important, that God believes in us in entrusting us with a mission. Truly, we are worth more than a thousand sparrows that God takes care of.

From QuoteMaster.com

Experiencing God in the midst of trials

Life is like a rollercoaster: it is something we all fear but we still keep on riding because it is so fulfilling, very liberating, so exciting. It knocks out all the fears in us, making us so aware of life, of being alive.

That was the experience of the Prophet Jeremiah in the first reading: he would always complain to God of his own inadequacies, especially his many fears for the mission and yet, he could not let go of God’s call because he is so in love with him! He could not resist God like a rollercoaster.

I really hoped the lectionary had included the first three verses to the start of our first reading today:

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

Jeremiah 20:7-9


Jeremiah was a timid man who was also hypersensitive; yet, God called him to an impossible mission. And despite a long process of purifications marked by arrests, imprisonment and public humiliations, Jeremiah remained faithful to his mission to God that later cost his life. Eventually, the more he became great after his death that he is regarded a major prophet in all three major religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

That is the joy of staying in love with God who is like a rollercoaster: he “seduces” us to come to him and then “scares” us, sometimes “hurts” only in the end to surprise us with greater things beyond our imaginations.

We come to experience God most and closest in darkness and trials where he is so real as another person to us. The key is to let go of our fears in Jesus Christ who was no stranger too to fearful situations.

It is nice to know that the greatest and holiest men and women of God were all like us — people so fearful yet brave enough to face their fears in Christ who never fails to provide us with the courage and strength needed in fulfilling our mission.

A blessed Sunday to all!

Prayer under pressure

40 Shades of Lent, Friday, Week IV, 27 March 2020

Wisdom 2:1, 12-22 ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan, 22 March 2020.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man but out of them all, the Lord delivers him.”

Psalm 34:19-20

God our heavenly Father, we come to you today, begging you for more strength, more courage, more faith in you as the pressures and stress increase and worsen due this COVID-19 pandemic the whole world is suffering with.

Like your Son Jesus Christ in today’s gospel, we can feel so strongly the tremendous pressure he was going through from his enemies in the weeks leading to his Passion, Death, and Resurrection that he could not openly go to Jerusalem.

But, still he went there in secret to continue his mission of proclaiming the good news, trusting in you, our Father in heaven, who alone designates each one’s “hour”.

So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.

John 7:30

Give us the grace, Lord, to withstand all the pressures and stress going on within us, in our family and community as we enter the second week of lockdown.

Most especially, we pray for our frontliners in health and medicine who are subjected to intense pressures by the pandemic. Some of them have lost their lives fulfilling their mission. Bless their souls, bless their loved ones left behind.

We pray, Lord, for those who have to work today so we can have food on our table, electricity and communication lines, water, and also security we have seem to take for granted these days.

May this lockdown provide us with the much needed rest to fight all the stresses and pressures we have been carrying on our shoulders for a long time.

May this lockdown be a Sabbath for us like you have envisioned in the beginning when you created everything. Amen.

Photos by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, 26 March 2020. See Mt. Samat and the 1,821 feet Memorial Cross in Bataan as seen from the GMA Network Bldg. in Quezon City across the expanse of Manila Bay. Used with permission.

Advent is the Comfort of God

marpakids2.jpg
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe-Prayer
Tuesday, 11 December 2018, Advent Week 2
Isaiah 40:1-11///Matthew 18:12-14

            I can strongly feel your words today, God our loving Father:  “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; indeed, she has received from the hand of the Lord double for all her sins.” (Is.40:1-2)

            If there is one thing I long for today, Lord, one thing I strongly desire from you is comfort.  I am so tired and exhausted.  Nobody seem to care at all for your ways or for what is good except for what is self-serving.  Deafening and maddening are the cacophony of so many voices shouting for what should be, insisting on everyone’s own idea of what is good that at the moment it is better to be silent in your presence.

              Strengthen me, Almighty God, for that is what comfort is, “cum fortis” – with strength. Give me comfort to carry on, to strive, to be patient, to bear all pains in silence so that in due time as you shall will, I may rise to strike in your perfect time my enemies who try to divide your flock.

               Like your Son our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, give me determination to seek the lost and the tenderness to carry them back on my shoulders to your fold.  AMEN.Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II,Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria,Bulacan 3022.

*Photo by Jim Marpa, 2018.  Used with permission.

LMC