Keep Praying

Here I am,
Your poor one,
Your lowly one,
Your empty one,
Kneeling in adoration..

You spread out Space and Time,
Knowing You would call me forth.
And then You did.

You called to me,
Forming me from the Earth,
You Who played among the Pleides,
Stooped to play with me.

You kissed me,
With the Breath of Your Mouth,
You filled me,
Shaping me,
Empowering me,
Placing in me a formless hope.

Hope grew with the babe,
And sought with fingers of my senses.
Peeling back the covering of Mystery,
Revealing treasures hidden in the earth,
And dancing in the heavens,

Witnessed with wonder in the Night,
The Universe invited me to You,
To join You in the dance,
For which all Time and Space,
All days and all nights,
All mystery had poured forth,
With Your Cry for Light.

Your Heartbeat created the rhythms of the constellations,
The ebb and flow of cosmic seas.
Your Heart beat for Your dream of Man,
Your dream of me.

You, given as gift,
Hidden from blind eyes,
Hidden among the stars,
Spreading across Your Time,
Filling all Your Majestic Space,
Slowly whispering Your secrets,
And revealing truths,
Revealed Ultimate Truth.
You in Your Way spoke to me.

There was more than matter wrapped in my being.
Secreted without shape,
Without form,
Without stuff,
With only the power to will,
And, thereby, to Love,
To know,
And, thereby, to seek and search,
That, in living, I might come to discover You,
With me, beside me and all around me,
Waiting for me to love You.

You, Who always knew me,
And loved me,
In my ignorance,
In my blindness
And in my very being,
Even while Sin entered in to obscure Your work,
And the wonder of me,
Graced me with a soul.

I didn’t know You.
I couldn’t see You.
I didn’t know to seek after You.
Until I saw You hanging there,
Crossing the abyss,
Above the world,
Suspended and told throughout Time,

Now, at long last, I pray,
And gasp for You, my Breath.
You are the shape of me,
Saved for an eternity
Beyond gaseous matter,
And starry night,
A Day created by the One Uncreated,
And lived in the Wedding
Of Love, of soul and Spirit-being.
For this I will,
With my indomitable will,
Keep praying.

Copyright 2015 Joann Nelander

Then and Now – The Dilemma and the Dialog

It’s been fifty years, since I was first confronted by issues of life in the womb, and of choice conflicting with traditional morality. It’s an old story, but very personal, and fraught with emotional triggers. Then, I was a student nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital, where Dr. Alan Guttmacher and Margaret Sanger were being hailed as super-heroes of Womankind. In a lecture presented to student nurses in our formative years, opinions were presented as fact. The class focused on birth control, under the banner of Women’s Health. A one-sided presentation of the history of Planned Parenthood took center stage. I knew, then, the class was skewed, avoiding the issue, and immorality of abortion, which, in reality, eventually raises its ugly head in an unbiased arena.

I was silent, asked no questions, although I was aware that what was being said was not the whole, unadulterated story. The heroine, Margaret Sanger, in truth, wrote prolifically, revealing the underpinning of her eugenic philosophy. Her own words promote a foundational agenda more akin to racial cleansing, than savior of womankind. Her involvement in the Negro Project and speeches to the Klu Klux Klan should have been red flags stripping her of any moral authority. She was, and, is no hero, to at least half our Nation. Yet, fifty years, and Sanger’s own words, have not deterred Planned Parenthood from canonizing her, and striving to re-write her actual history. Then, I didn’t know her history; I do now.

You can find Sanger’s writings online, as well as ample examples of her questionable associations and eugenic thought processes. I wish I knew all this years ago, for my experience of the lecture left me feeling that my inexperience and naiveté, made me vulnerable to propaganda. I was not prepared to confront the status quo, and those in authority, even at this level, in a teaching venue.

Well, it has been fifty years, and in reading our Alumnae News, spring 2012, an article entitled, “The Past- Planned Parenthood from the Beginning” brought me back to that day and my dilemma. What bothered me most about the recent, well-meaning article was the writer’s voice that seemed to me to assume moral superiority. There is a false compassion that plays to emotionalism and worse case scenarios, and I heard it in the tone of this piece. It, yet again, presented its cast of characters as pioneer heroines, and their cause as above reproach. Yet, there are many Mt. Sinai alumnae, and millions of people in this country, who, in a just righteousness, also seek the welfare of women, desire to protect the living, the home, and the foundational fabric of society as guardians of family and the individual, and who do not agree with this stance, and suppositions made here. They are ignored in this article, as they were in the lecture of years ago.

Motherhood plays poorly, when pregnancy is portrayed as an albatross hung about its neck. For a true dialog, and the Big Picture, the voice of the other side needs to be heard by student nurses and society as a whole, for the good of women and society. It is a necessary and rational voice, lifted to oppose, what it views as a pseudo-sophisticate, myopic view presented as progressive. This other valid voice addresses life issues compassionately, while being circumspect and prophetic, speaking for, and caring for, the good of the person and humanity. It, too, takes a moral stance that is unselfish, sometimes unpopular, and honors the wisdom of cultures and the sages of present and past ages. Dismissive attitudes do no justice to truth and learning. Student nurses, and society as a whole, deserve the whole truth. Our personal humanity hangs in the balance.

I, for one, want a voice, not a label. I’ll stand with those that reject a culture, in which truth doesn’t matter, that seeks the material over life, “whose morality is only a mask, which covers confusion and destruction”1and in doing so comes dangerously close to denying the Creator of life.

Our motto, “Vota Vita Nostra”, “We devote our lives,” speaks not only to our personal decision, but to there being One, and a cause, greater than ourselves, worthy of sacrifice, and our dedication, greater even than the Mt. Sinai from which we ventured forth, will never forget, and now are carrying into this day and this hour of history. Keep it real. Keep it honest. Listen for truth with the heart of a nurse.

© 2012 Joann  Nelander

Why not?

In loving the creature,
Have you discerned the Creator?

If not,
Why not?

By Joann Nelander

God, the Fine-tuned Universe/Multi-verse

Middle-age should be a thoughtful time.  You be the judge:

(Speaking of Santa Claus) as unbelievable as those tales are from the north pole, the tales from Jerusalem leave it in the dust. Snakes that can talk, the Universe built from nothing in 7 days flat, procreation without copulation, walking on water, building a single ship to accommodate 3 million animals (1,589,361 species times two), turning water into wine, feeding 5000 people with a couple small fish a few loaves of bread, rising from the dead, etc… It certainly flies in the face of reason based on everything I’ve seen in this world, but it is firmly believed by at least a billion big humans on the planet tonight.

Just because it is the person’s will and desire to make it true, sadly does not make it truth.

I don’t doubt there is much more to this world than what we can see, hear, smell, feel, etc…. Quantum physics has gone much further and deeper than regular old atoms/matter… There are most likely many more dimensions than the four that we experience. I don’t even doubt the power of prayer or other group-think exercises.. I wholeheartedly support many of the values espoused by many of the religions of the world. I just am not buying the unbelievable stories sans proof and with so much proof against.

As to the four last things…

death — empirically it’s looming for all of us, no way around it.. is it final? not too sure — if consciousness survives to go another round, it probably has a more scientific multi-dimensional explanation.

judgment / heaven / hell — empirically haven’t seen any evidence of these, but it sure sounds like a good concept for a king to control a kingdom in the here and now. If I were the man behind the curtain, I’d be telling my subjects all about the this stuff to make sure they didn’t cause too many problems for me.”

This enlightened summation of the Bible, doesn’t actually deal with the Bible.  Nowhere here is there evidence of serious inquiry. The understanding and reflection of holy men and scholars are rather ceremonially dismissed with ridicule and from a distance of disdain. The Holy Scripture, an anthology and compilation of priestly, prophetic, scholarly and apostolic construction guided by the Holy Spirit, suffers a verbal sortie of “trash talk.” I look for a sense of respect for the sacred and fail to find it.

What I see in the derision is a sophomoric  cliff notes overview filled with disdain and a lack of true familiarity with the revealed Word of God. The foray is little more than a stylish dance of words and ego perhaps for the amusement of others. What is gained? What is lost? Knowledge? Grace? Having brushed aside the pesky gnat of Holy Revelation, the author reaches for the stars or to be more exact, to other dimensions. Though playful, the piece uncovers a well of cynicism usually reserved for the old and broken.

Does the grandeur of the Universe or a multi-verse diminish or dismiss a Creator?  Doesn’t the smallest living cell give us a sense of a plan? Doesn’t  a plan of necessity infer a planner, somewhat like finding a copy of Hamlet would point to a Shakespeare. Darwin conveniently starts with a creature with cells, so he doesn’t theorize about how they came to be- just how and/or why they might have changed.

Do untold dimensions rule out a Heaven or Hell, or increase the likelihood in the realm of the possibilities raised by new dimensions governed by rules unlike those of our own universe and time?

If the Universe, Time and the Laws that mapped out the direction of our destiny came into being with the Big Bang, what of these other dimensions, other Times and possibilities? “Eternity”, according to Dinesh D’Souza, “has become a coherent concept.” New universes, new dimensions, ergo new equations? While new stuffs and equations don’t equal life or worlds, we can dream dreams and wonder.

Stephen Hawking reveals that even he doesn’t know who or what put the fire into the stuff and equations. (“Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?” Stephen Hawking)

By reaching for fantastic and even far-fetched ideas, the question of a Creator/God doesn’t go away. D’Souza does note that while there is evidence for the Big Bang there is not an iota of evidence for the multi-verse. However, in the multi-dimensional scenario, our existence is no longer improbable. In our Universe fine tuning is necessary for us to exist. Fine tuning is of course indicative of a plan. However in a multi-verse,we are no longer privileged and unique but possible and expected to have popped up along the way. By the same token, however, with the new multi-dimensionalism, the multi-verse, emerges new laws, new realms and new possibilities. The existence of Heaven and Hell now becomes as probable as any other combination of world characteristics. The pièce de résistance… there is nothing in the multi-dimensional theory that precludes a Creator. One can still see in the grandeur of the scheme of things, the One who schemes, just as a thought reveals a thinker.

Matter which is the stuff of atheistic materialism now serves to raise questions to which we thought we had the answers. Quantum theory pokes all kinds of holes in our understanding of matter. Atheists are big on matter but are they prepared to deal with Dark Energy and for that matter, Dark Matter. Ordinary matter and energy make up only 5% of the matter and energy in the universe. If 95% of all energy and matter is made up of dark energy and dark matter doesn’t that make all arguments about matter, as atheist insists on it operation, irrelevant. How can you make any claims for it, if you can only account for 5% of it, or so asks D’Souza.

We haven’t even touched on mind, consciousness which acts as an observer of the creation about us. What are the rules governing mind which is not matter/material. Mind and consciousness do exist but they are immaterial. If you doubt that, tell me how much a mind weighs? What are its dimensions, its length and width?

In the end, Quantum Theory is not an escape from God. It, rather, gives us pause to marvel at how God has chaos under control. Which brings us back to the Bible, the very beginning, Genesis: “the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.” Genesis 1:2 “The waters” in biblical-speak refers to primordial chaos and “a mighty wind,” a poor translation of the Hebrew phrase “ruach Elohim” (literally the “wind/breath of God. ) While Science investigates Nature, God is not probed like a microbe or star dust. He is seen with the eye of Faith, keeping in mind that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor the heart of man imagined, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”1 Corinthians 2:9

Hidden Grace of the Sacrament

Thomas A’ Kempis’words in My Imitation of Christ are ever new speaking to the heart. Preparations of a soul are often given little regard in the world, so let’s draw apart from the world to consider the gift, the soul and the benefits of our Faith received:

Here in the Sacrament of the altar You are wholly present, my God, the man Christ Jesus, whence is obtained the full realization of eternal salvation, as often as You are worthily and devoutly received. To this, indeed, we are not drawn by levity, or curiosity, or sensuality, but by firm faith, devout hope, and sincere love. O God, hidden Creator of the world, how wonderfully You deal with us! How sweetly and graciously You dispose of things with Your elect to whom You offer Yourself to be received in this Sacrament! This, indeed, surpasses all understanding. This in a special manner attracts the hearts of the devout and inflames their love. Your truly faithful servants, who give their whole life to amendment, often receive in Holy Communion the great grace of devotion and love of virtue. Oh, the wonderful and hidden grace of this Sacrament which only the faithful of Christ understand, which unbelievers and slaves of sin cannot experience! In it spiritual grace is conferred, lost virtue restored, and the beauty, marred by sin, repaired. At times, indeed, its grace is so great that, from the fullness of the devotion, not only the mind but also the frail body feels filled with greater strength. Nevertheless, our neglect and coldness is much to be deplored and pitied, when we are not moved to receive with greater fervor Christ in Whom is the hope and merit of all who will be saved. He is our sanctification and redemption. He is our consolation in this life and the eternal joy of the blessed in heaven. This being true, it is lamentable that many pay so little heed to the salutary Mystery which fills the heavens with joy and maintains the whole universe in being. Oh, the blindness and the hardness of the heart of man that does not show more regard for so wonderful a gift, but rather falls into carelessness from its daily use! If this most holy Sacrament were celebrated in only one place and consecrated by only one priest in the whole world, with what great desire, do you think, would men be attracted to that place, to that priest of God, in order to witness the celebration of the divine Mysteries! But now there are many priests and Mass is offered in many places, that God’s grace and love for men may appear the more clearly as the Sacred Communion is spread more widely through the world. Thanks be to You, Jesus, everlasting Good Shepherd, Who have seen fit to feed us poor exiled people with Your precious Body and Blood, and to invite us with words from Your own lips to partake of these sacred Mysteries: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” Book 4: chapter 1

Merit for the Unborn

They will never see the light of a birth day.  Yet accomplishment will be theirs. Because God created them, because they exist, because they have mother and father, ancestors and life, because I want eternity as much for them as for myself, I pray God grant them merit and reward.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, through Whom and for Whom all things were created, I pray the blessings of mercy and forgiveness, redemption and conversion, be bequeathed to the lineage of the Little Ones soon to die; aborted, reduced, researched and materialized. Amen.

In the world to come, may you be thanked for the mercy that flowed in answer to this prayer straight  from the throne of God to your fore-bearers countless in number.  May you be embraced in eternity as you never were in life, save for the Heart of God.