From the rising to the setting of sun

40 Shades of Lent, Friday, Week-V, 03 April 2020

Our parish at sunrise, 01 April 2020.
Sunrise…
… sunset.
From the rising to setting of the sun
My heart sings of the many blessings God brings in 
every beginning and 
ending of each day.
And so daily I pray 
God will stay 
so I may share 
his light, his life, his love 
to everyone I pray.




After my “private Mass” (Missa sine populo, i.e., Mass without people) in one of these lockdown days I have lost track counting.

Pamilya natin sa COVID-19

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-01 ng Abril 2020
Pamangkin.
Ibig sabihin ay "para namang akin":
mga anak ng iyong kapatid
kaya para mo na ring
anak sila kung ituring.

Pinsan.
Ibig sabihin ay "kapisan"
sa higaan o sa banig
doon sa bahay na matanda
dahil magkakapatid inyong mga magulang.

Kapatid.
Ibig sabihin ay "kadugtong" 
na kung wala ang isa 
ikaw ay "patid"
at tiyak nag-iisa.

Kabutihan din sa COVID-19
mayroon tayong quarantine
kaya't asikasuhin pamilya natin
linangin at buhayin
pagsasamahang nakalimutan na yata natin.

Let truth set us free

40 Shades of Lent, Wednesday, Week-V, 01 April 2020

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< John 8:31-42

After my “daily Mass without congregation”, 31 March 2020. Photo by author.

O God our loving Father, thank you very much for this brand new day you have given us. Thank you for another day to be better, to be safer, and most of all, to be more faithful , truthful, and loving to you.

Grant us the same courage you have given the three young men cast into the hot furnace after refusing to worship the pagan idol of their pagan captors.

King Nebuchadnezzar said: “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? Who is the God that can deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter… But even if our God will not save us from the white-hot furnace, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship your golden statue which you set up.”

Daniel 3:14, 16, 18

O dear Lord, people are wondering why we still pray, why we celebrate the Mass even our churches are closed, and why or what are we doing when we bring the Blessed Sacrament around our parish.

Many are asking where is our God in all these sickness and deaths caused by COVID-19.

Many are like King Nebuchadnezzar trying to put down the Church founded by your Son Jesus Christ, wondering what we are doing in the midst of this pandemic.

Merciful Father, you know us very well as your children.

Give us the perseverance and fidelity to keep on doing what we have always been doing in hiddenness without much pomp and pageantry and other public relation stunts.

Let our silent works for you and in you continue so that people may know you truly exist, you are among us even if you do not give tangible signs of your presence or proofs of your power.

Let us remain in your Son Jesus Christ so we may always know and follow and most of all, stand by him who is Truth himself because “the truth will set us free” (Jn.8:32). Amen.

Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, kids kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament we have “motorcaded” around our parish last March 22 and 29, 2020.

Ang walang katapusang pagdaing

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan

Martes, Ika-5 Linggo ng Kuwaresma, 31 Marso 2020

Bilang 21:4-9 ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< Juan 8:21-30

Ang eskultura ng ginawang ahas na tanso ni Moises sa tikin sa lugar kung saan mismo nangyari na ngayon nasa pangangalaga ng mga Paring Franciscano sa Jordan. Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Mayo 2019.
Batay sa salaysay ng aklat ng buhay
nainip mga Israelita sa paglalakbay sa ilang
nang sila ay dumaing, nagreklamo
kay Moises ng ganito:
"Kami ba'y inialis mo sa Egipto
upang patayin na ilang na ito?
Wala kaming makain ni mainom!
Sawa na kami sa walang kwentang pagkaing ito."
Bakit nga ba hindi na naubos 
ating mga reklamo
lalo na kapag mayroong krisis
walang mintis yaring mga bibig
walang hanggang daing
tila hindi aabutin, napakamainipin
nakakasakit na ng damdamin
pati Diyos sinusubok, hinahamon natin?
Kung inyong mapapansin 
yung talagang walang makain
hindi na makuhang dumaing
tanging isipin saan hahanapin
kanilang isasaing, lakas ay iipunin
sa pagbabaka-sakaling dinggin
dalanging tulong dumating
kanilang hahatiin at titipirin.
Ang masakit na kapansin-pansin
ngayong panahon ng COVID-19 
marami sa mga daing ng daing
sa Facebook pinararating!
Akala mo walang makain
bakit nasa harapan ng computer screen?
Katulad nilang nagmamagaling
ibang natulungan may reklamo pa rin!
Magandang pagkakataon 
kaloob nitong COVID-19 sa ating panahon
mabuksan puso at kalooban sa katotohanan 
"Hindi lamang sa tinapay nabubuhay ang tao" 
na kung uunahin natin si Kristo
makikilala natin bawat kapwa tao
ka-patid at ka-putol na dapat bahaginan 
ano man mayroon ako.
Madalas sa maraming reklamo
puso ay sinarahan, pinanlalabuan ang isipan
bibig ang laging binubuksan, hindi mawalan ng laman 
pinababayaan kaluluwa at kalooban 
tiyan lamang nilalagyan
kaya walang kahulugan ni katuturan
ano mang karanasan hindi mapagyaman
kaunting hirap at tiisin, puro daing at hinaing.

Prayer for justice in time of corona

40 Shades of Lent, Monday, Week-V, 30 March 2020

Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 ><)))*> + <*(((>< John 8:1-11

“Ecce Homo” by Murillo from fineartamerica.com.

Our loving Father, today I pray in a very special way for all people who have been maligned, especially for those whose reputation have been destroyed in public by false accusations, those put to shame in our family and community by harsh words.

Like those two women in our readings today, Susana in the Book of Daniel and the woman caught in adultery in John’s gospel, these people unjustly accused in public or “in their face” are surely suffering so much in the loneliness of their homes, of their room in this period of lockdown.

Most especially, Lord, I pray for those languishing in jail especially those for crimes they did not commit.

But Susan cried aloud: “O eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be; you know that they have testified falsely against me. Here I am about to die, though I have done none of the things with which these wicked men have charged me.” The Lord heard her prayer.

Daniel 13:42-44

Comfort, O God, those crying for justice.

Give them patience and perseverance, trust and confidence in Jesus Christ your Son who have come “to proclaim liberty to captives” (Lk.4:18b).

Grant them a healing of memories.

Most especially, I pray O God, that Jesus may touch them today with the same gentleness and love, mercy and forgiveness without any condemnation except to go and “sin no more” (Jn.8:11). Amen.

Conversing with God in time of COVID-19

40 Shades of Lent, Sunday Week-V, Year-A, 29 March 2020

Ezekiel 37:12-14 +++ Romans 8:8-11 +++ John 11:1-45

Photo by Ms. Anne Ramos last March 22, 2020 during our procession of Blessed Sacrament in the Parish when a rainbow appeared at the horizon.

Once again as we near the closing of our Lenten journey, Jesus does another “sign” or miracle — his last and grandest in anticipation of his coming Passion, Death, and Resurrection: the raising from death of his friend Lazarus.

What is so beautiful in this story is how the evangelist involves us his readers and hearers into a conversation with Jesus unlike last Sunday at the healing of a man born blind where the characters conversed only among themselves.

The raising of Lazarus to life is more engaging because it is deeply personal and intimate as it involves friends dearest to Jesus — exactly like each one of us! And that is why it is also very timely as we go through the ongoing lockdown due to COVID-19.

When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

John 11:4

My dear family and friends, Jesus assures us today of the Father’s love and healing, that he would save us from the deadly corona virus. Come and let us converse with him with the sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary.

After my “private Mass” (Missa sine populo) during the Solemnity of the Annunciation, 25 March 2020.

Presence of Jesus

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

John 11:21-22

Twice do we hear this line in this very long story of the raising of Lazarus when Mary repeated it upon meeting Jesus later at the entrance of their town of Bethany.

And like Martha and Mary, we always say it to Jesus too as if he ever leaves us alone!

“Lord, if you had been here…”

Jesus is always with us.

We are the ones who always leave Jesus behind.

We always have so many other things to do, so many other people to meet that we have no time to truly pray and most of all, celebrate the Sunday Mass every week.

It is my hope that following the suspension of the “public Masses” due to lockdown, people now realize the value of the Holy Eucharist which is the “summit” of our Christian life where we are nourished by the words of God and strengthened by the Body and Blood of Christ.

Photo from Forbes.com via Facebook, 2019.

Long before we were told to observe “social distancing” in this time of pandemic, we have long been distant from one another and from God.

How ironic that these modern means of communications were invented to bring us closer but have actually brought us farther apart! Most often, we are close enough with someone miles across the seas but too distant and cold to persons physically near us, even seated beside us.

Let us spend more time with our family and most especially with God in prayer during this enhanced quarantine period to be the presence of Christ with one another. Let us remember Fr. Patrick Peyton’s expression, “The family that prays together, stays together; a world at prayer is a world at peace”.

Remember: the most wonderful and enriching relationships we can have are those rooted in Jesus Christ who is always present in us.

Jesus is perturbed and deeply troubled

While praying over this long gospel, this photo by Raffy Lerma kept on flashing in my mind, showing me how Jesus must have reacted upon seeing Mary weeping over the death of her brother Lazarus.

He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept.

John 11:33-35

Like our gospel today, Lerma’s photo of a mother crying over her son lost to “tokhang” at the height of this administration’s war against drug in July 2016 is very conversant, so moving like the Pieta by Michaelangelo in Rome. In fact, the government doubted the veracity of the photo, claiming through its trolls it was merely “staged” or “drawing” as we say in journalism. The photo is authentic because the event truly happened. And continued to happen before this lockdown.

What I like most with this photo is the composure of the mother. You can feel she was deeply sad and troubled, weeping without the hysterical theatrics or palahaw in Tagalog that we see in many instances like funerals.

Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Quiapo, January 2020.

Multiply that to the highest degree and we get the image of Jesus “perturbed and deeply troubled, weeping” at the death of his friend Lazarus.

There is the gentle yet firm mastery by Jesus of the situation, of the loss and tragedy.

No hysterics nor theatrics. Pure and all-encompassing presence.

It would be the same mastery and composure Jesus would exhibit at his coming Passion and Death, reaching its highest point on Easter.

Here we find Jesus Christ truly human, truly Divine. Yes, he was perturbed and deeply troubled; he cried and wept not because of weakness but rather more of strength, of being true and determined in overcoming not only his coming Passion but most of all, our own setbacks and losses.

Have faith, my dear reader. Jesus is surely “perturbed and deeply troubled, weeping” again with us in this time of the corona pandemic. Step back and let him be himself in being one with us; then, wait and see what he is going to do next for us.

Photo from theguardian.com, 19 March 2020 reporting how a “generation has died” in Bergamo, Italy struggling with 1959 deaths from corona virus that has overwhelmed the nation’s funeral sector.

Jesus joins us in death so we can rise to life in him

Today is not a beautiful day to die, especially for victims of COVID-19. No wakes. No Masses. Just simple blessings after cremation. If ever possible.

The scenes from Italy are deeply disturbing that has become the new epicenter of corona pandemic. According to a report last Monday, the obituary page of a local newspaper had increased tenfold in a week, listing up to 150 deaths daily! More disturbing is the fact that “death and mourning happen in isolation”.

Our readings this Sunday speak a lot about death symbolized by graves.

But not on a morbid sense like a defeat or a loss; rather, as a victory, a raising to new life!

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.

Ezekiel 37:12-14

Ezekiel proclaimed these words of the Lord to the Israelites during their Babylonian Exile when they lost everything and everyone, including God as they thought have forsaken them for their sinfulness. This prophecy is finally fulfilled in Christ’s coming and victory over death on Easter.

In calling back Lazarus to life, Jesus shows us in this scene his tremendous power over death and defeat, agony and pain, sin and evil. It is a prefiguration to a grander scale of his own Resurrection on Easter after the Good Friday.

And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

John 11:43-44
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News. Used with permission. Seen here from atop the GMA Network Center in QC is Mt. Samat in Bataan with the Memorial Cross visible, across the Manila Bay, taken on 26 March 2020.

Do you believe this?

Jesus is calling us to have faith in him, to believe in him especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic. And like his question to Martha which he repeated twice, the Lord is asking us the same question today:

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?

John 11:25-26

Do you believe in him, Jesus the Christ?

Good things have also been happening lately in this two-week old lockdown.

Families are again getting together, staying together. Finally we now have more time than ever to converse once again as husband and wife, children and parents, brothers and sisters.

Some people have rediscovered God and are back to praying again, to believing again.

Even Mother Nature is said to have taken a big break during this lockdown, giving us spectacular views never seen before due to cleaner air, less pollution and congestion in the cities.

These are all conversations going on – thanks to COVID-19!

Let us join the conversations with our loved ones, with nature, with our self, and with God.

Below is one of my favorite photos this week taken by GMA-7 reporter Mr. Raffy Tima. Again, another photo conversing with us, like Jesus in the story of the raising to life of Lazarus.

See the Memorial Cross on Mt. Samat in Bataan?

The raising of Lazarus is the “sign” or miracle as the other evangelists would say, that prefigures the definitive victory of Jesus on the cross.

Like the sisters of Lazarus, believe in Jesus who is awakening us today amid the threats or crosses of corona virus to bear all these sufferings, to passover like him to the life that bodily death cannot touch “through his Spirit dwelling in us” (Rom. 8:11). Amen.

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.