Living Now

I live because You died,
Not in guilt,
But in the freedom of Love.

Choices are arrayed before me,
Multiplied by the days of my Life.
With the breaking
Of each New Day,
I rise forever
To choose You,

With the breaking
Of the Bread,
With the Lifting Up,
With the Cross before my eyes
I am a witness
Of the Resurrected One.

You Christ upon the altar,
You, Christ, living anew
In me,
Walk the Earth again
Leaving now my footsteps.

©2012 Joann Nelander

One Last Prayer

If I should die today,
What have I to say?
Perhaps just one last prayer.

Grant that my heart
Should leap and quicken,
Catching sight of You
Coming from afar.

With Your Father,
You have wooed, and waited,
Sent Your Spirit
Into my dry bones,
Raising me from dust
Once again
And, now, forevermore.

Here I am, my Hallowed three.
The Bridegroom cometh;
Come for me.

(c) 2012 Joann Nelander

What happens when I die?

What happens when I die?

Prayer for a Dying Friend

Please pray for Deacon Ken Hill who is now facing his last hours:

We commend to Thee, Lord, the soul of Thy Deacon, Kenneth Hill, and we pray Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, that as in mercy to him Thou became man, so now Thou would be pleased to admit him  to the bosom of Thy patriarchs. Remember, Lord, he  is Thy creature, not made by strange gods, but by Thee, the only living and true God; for there is no other but Thee, and none can equal Thy work. Let his soul rejoice in Thy presence, and remember not his  former iniquities. For although he has sinned, yet he  has always firmly believed in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; he has had a zeal for Thy honor, and faithfully adored Thee as his God, and Creator of all things. Remember not, Lord, we pray Thee, the sins of his youth, but according to Thy great mercy, be mindful of him in Thy Heavenly glory. Let the heavens be opened to him, and the angels rejoice with him. Let the archangel St. Michael, whom Thou didst appoint the chief of the heavenly host, conduct him. Let the holy angels come out to meet him, and carry him to the city of heavenly Jerusalem. Let blessed Peter the apostle, to whom God gave the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, receive him. Let St. Paul the apostle, who was a vessel of election, assist him. Let St. John the beloved disciple, to whom the secrets of Heaven were revealed, intercede for him. Let all the holy apostles, who received from Jesus Christ the power of binding and loosing, pray for him. Let all the saints and elect of God, who in this world have suffered torments in the name of Christ, intercede for him; that he may be admitted into the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with Thee and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, world without end. Amen.Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary

May Mary the most merciful Virgin Mother of God, kindest comforter of them that mourn, commend to her Son the soul of this His servant , that through her maternal intercession, he may overcome the dread of death and, with her as guide, joyfully reach his longed-for home in the heavenly fatherland.R. Amen.

Prayer to St. Joseph

To thee I have recourse, St. Joseph, Patron of the dying; and to thee, at whose blessed death watchfully assisted Jesus and Mary, by both these dearest pledges I earnestly recommend the soul of this servant  in the sufferings of his last agony, that he may by your protection be delivered from the snares of the devil and from eternal death, and may merit to attain everlasting joy. Through the same Christ our Lord.R. Amen.

Fix Me Up by Zach Sobiech

 

“Fix Me Up” Lyrics
Tell me something you never told before
Before I walk through the door, I adore you, I adore you
I do, I do
Smile with me and cry with me
I won’t ever tell a soul
Hold my hand
I’ll squeeze it back
And I’ll never let go
Never give up, never look back
I won’t give up I’ll keep on trying
Dry your tears up, all your crying
Cannot fix me up my darling
Fix me up my darling
Twisty, turning winding path
I could listen to your laugh
As we tiptoe on these humble truths
I don’t want to lose you
Show me how to love deeper than the surface, my friend
And you can show me what it means to have purpose
And I’ll tell you again
Never give up, never look back
I won’t give up I’ll keep on trying
Dry your tears up, all your crying
Cannot fix me up my darling
Fix me up my darling
Woh Woh Woh….. Hold on
Don’t you lose hope the sky’s not falling
Please just listen ’cause I’ll be calling
Stay with me just one more moment
I know you’re in pain just please don’t show it
One more moment, please
It’s too late I’m afraid I have to leave
[Repeat]
Promise me, promise me that you’ll…
Never give up, never look back
I won’t give up I’ll keep on trying
Dry your tears up, all your crying
Cannot fix me up my darling
Fix me up my darling

Who really died?

Who really died?

I never saw
The light of day.
Black descended,
Of a kind
I knew not,
And then no more.

How did I know you?

All I knew was you.
You flavored my becoming,
Your genes, my genes,
Your feelings,
Emotional rhythms,
Touching me
By blood connection.
All this,
And then no more.

How did I feel you?

Warmth, gentle rocking
To and fro.
I felt you,
Heart-sounds surrounding me,
Pressing me,
Impressing me.
You whooshed at times
And hummed.
And then no more.

How did I leave you?

I knew anguish
As once I knew you,
Your blood feeding mine,
I knew as parting,
Leaving behind mother
As gift withdrawn,
And bid goodbye.
Too young for endings,
Too soon to die,
And then no more.

How now and by and by?

Sorrow and black
And then the Light.
New Day, as womb,
Enfolded me.
Life ended
To begin again.
And I behold
The Face of God.
I live,
And still I wait for you,
Knowing in love,
And there is yet more.

Who really died?

©2013 Joann Nelander

One Last Prayer

If I should die today,
What have I to say?
Perhaps just one last prayer.

Grant that my heart
Should leap and quicken,
Catching sight of You
Coming from afar.

With Your Father,
You have wooed, and waited,
Sent Your Spirit
Into my dry bones,
Raising me from dust
Once again
And, now, forevermore.

Here I am, my Hallowed Three.
The Bridegoom cometh;
Come for me.

© 2012 Joann Nelander

 

Shared at Poetic Picnic week 36

"Everything Is Ready Now" – Towards Living

Because Lent leads us to think about the Last Four Things, it is a good preparation for life as it is for death.  A little more than a year ago, Richard John Neuhaus died, Jan. 8, 2009.  On that day First Things reprinted an article he published in 2000, Born Toward Dying.(Read here) It recounted his near death experience, which became for him as much a confirmation of life as it was a preparation for death.

Neuhaus recalls the children’s nighttime prayer  “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take.”

“Death is the most everyday of everyday things. It is not simply that thousands of people die every day, that thousands will die this day, although that too is true. Death is the warp and woof of existence in the ordinary, the quotidian, the way things are…..Every going to sleep is a little death, a rehearsal for the real thing.

Neuhaus surveys our way with death from reticence and silence to “processing”, even to commercial exploitation. Whether your own or a loved one, he writes:

“The worst thing is not the sorrow or the loss or the heartbreak. Worse is to be encountered by death and not to be changed by the encounter.”

Neuhaus writes of his own encounter(summarized):

The days in the intensive care unit was an experience familiar to anyone who has ever been there. I had never been there before, except to visit others, and that is nothing like being there. I was struck by my disposition of utter passivity. There was absolutely nothing I could do or wanted to do, except to lie there and let them do whatever they do in such a place. Indifferent to time, I neither knew nor cared whether it was night or day. I recall counting sixteen different tubes and other things plugged into my body before I stopped counting….

Astonishment and passivity were strangely mixed. I confess to having thought of myself as a person very much in charge. Friends, meaning, I trust, no unkindness, had sometimes described me as a control freak. Now there was nothing to be done, nothing that I could do, except be there. Here comes a most curious part of the story, and readers may make of it what they will. Much has been written on “near death” experiences. I had always been skeptical of such tales. I am much less so now. I am inclined to think of it as a “near life” experience, and it happened this way.

It was a couple of days after leaving intensive care, and it was night. I could hear patients in adjoining rooms moaning and mumbling and occasionally calling out; the surrounding medical machines were pumping and sucking and bleeping as usual. Then, all of a sudden, I was jerked into an utterly lucid state of awareness. I was sitting up in the bed staring intently into the darkness, although in fact I knew my body was lying flat. What I was staring at was a color like blue and purple, and vaguely in the form of hanging drapery. By the drapery were two “presences.” I saw them and yet did not see them, and I cannot explain that. But they were there, and I knew that I was not tied to the bed. I was able and prepared to get up and go somewhere. And then the presences—one or both of them, I do not know—spoke. This I heard clearly. Not in an ordinary way, for I cannot remember anything about the voice. But the message was beyond mistaking: “Everything is ready now.”

That was it. They waited for a while, maybe for a minute. Whether they were waiting for a response or just waiting to see whether I had received the message, I don’t know. “Everything is ready now.” It was not in the form of a command, nor was it an invitation to do anything. They were just letting me know. Then they were gone, and I was again flat on my back with my mind racing wildly. I had an iron resolve to determine right then and there what had happened. Had I been dreaming? In no way. I was then and was now as lucid and wide awake as I had ever been in my life.

Tell me that I was dreaming and you might as well tell me that I was dreaming that I wrote the sentence before this one. Testing my awareness, I pinched myself hard, and ran through the multiplication tables, and recalled the birth dates of my seven brothers and sisters, and my wits were vibrantly about me. The whole thing had lasted three or four minutes, maybe less. I resolved at that moment that I would never, never let anything dissuade me from the reality of what had happened. Knowing myself, I expected I would later be inclined to doubt it. It was an experience as real, as powerfully confirmed by the senses, as anything I have ever known. That was some seven years ago. Since then I have not had a moment in which I was seriously tempted to think it did not happen. It happened—as surely, as simply, as undeniably as it happened that I tied my shoelaces this morning. I could as well deny the one as deny the other, and were I to deny either I would surely be mad.

“Everything is ready now.” I would be thinking about that incessantly during the months of convalescence. My theological mind would immediately go to work on it. They were angels, of course. Angelos simply means “messenger.” There were no white robes or wings or anything of that sort. As I said, I did not see them in any ordinary sense. But there was a message; therefore there were messengers. Clearly, the message was that I could go somewhere with them. Not that I must go or should go, but simply that they were ready if I was. Go where? To God, or so it seemed. I understood that they were ready to get me ready to see God. It was obvious enough to me that I was not prepared, in my present physical and spiritual condition, for the beatific vision, for seeing God face to face. They were ready to get me ready. This comports with the doctrine of purgatory, that there is a process of purging and preparation to get us ready to meet God. I should say that their presence was entirely friendly. There was nothing sweet or cloying, and there was no urgency about it. It was as though they just wanted to let me know. The decision was mine as to when or whether I would take them up on the offer…………………………

Tentatively, I say, I began to think that I might live. It was not a particularly joyful prospect. Everything was shrouded by the thought of death, that I had almost died, that I may still die, that everyone and everything is dying. As much as I was grateful for all the calls and letters, I harbored a secret resentment. These friends who said they were thinking about me and praying for me all the time, I knew they also went shopping and visited their children and tended to their businesses, and there were long times when they were not thinking about me at all. More important, they were forgetting the primordial, overwhelming, indomitable fact: we are dying! Why weren’t they as crushingly impressed by that fact as I was?

Surprising to me, and to others, I did what had to be done with my work. I read manuscripts, wrote my columns, made editorial decisions, but all listlessly. It didn’t really matter. After some time, I could shuffle the few blocks to the church and say Mass. At the altar, I cried a lot, and hoped the people didn’t notice. To think that I’m really here after all, I thought, at the altar, at the axis mundi, the center of life. And of death. I would be helped back to the house, and days beyond numbering I would simply lie on the sofa looking out at the back yard. That birch tree, which every winter looked as dead as dead could be, was budding again. Would I be here to see it in full leaf, to see its leaves fall in the autumn? Never mind. It doesn’t matter.

It took a long time after the surgeries, almost two years, before the day came when I suddenly realized that the controlling thought that day had not been the thought of death. And now, in writing this little essay, it all comes back. I remember where I have been, and where I will be again, and where we will all be.

God bless you Richard John Neuhaus for being a part of my living and laying the ground work for my dying. No doubt we’ll meet someday and know each other in our depths of being;simply a glance will unleash a new joy and speak volumes of God’s mercies and designs.


The Dying of the Little Flower

From The Story of a Soul (L’Histoire d’une Ame):
The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, by Therese Martin (of Lisieux)

At last dawned the eternal day. It was Thursday, September 30,
1897. In the morning, the sweet Victim, her eyes fixed on Our
Lady’s statue, spoke thus of her last night on earth: “Oh! with
what fervour I have prayed to her! . . . And yet it has been pure
agony, without a ray of consolation. . . . Earth’s air is failing
me: when shall I breathe the air of Heaven?”

For weeks she had been unable to raise herself in bed, but, at
half-past two in the afternoon, she sat up and exclaimed: “Dear
Mother, the chalice is full to overflowing! I could never have
believed that it was possible to suffer so intensely. . . . I can
only explain it by my extreme desire to save souls. . . .” And a
little while after: “Yes, all that I have written about my thirst
for suffering is really true! I do not regret having surrendered
myself to Love.”

She repeated these last words several times. A little later she
added: “Mother, prepare me to die well.” The good Mother Prioress
encouraged her with these words: “My child, you are quite ready to
appear before God, for you have always understood the virtue of
humility.” Then, in striking words, Therese bore witness to
herself:

“Yes, I feel it; my soul has ever sought the truth. . . . I have
understood humility of heart!”

. . . . . . .

At half-past four, her agony began–the agony of this “Victim of
Divine Love.” When the Community gathered round her, she thanked
them with the sweetest smile, and then, completely given over to
love and suffering, the Crucifix clasped in her failing hands, she
entered on the final combat. The sweat of death lay heavy on her
brow . . . she trembled . . . but, as a pilot, when close to
harbour, is not dismayed by the fury of the storm, so this soul,
strong in faith, saw close at hand the beacon-lights of Heaven,
and valiantly put forth every effort to reach the shore.

As the convent bells rang the evening Angelus, she fixed an
inexpressible look upon the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, the
Star of the Sea. Was it not the moment to repeat her beautiful
prayer:

“O thou who camest to smile on me in the morn of my life, come
once again and smile, Mother, for now it is eventide!”[15]

A few minutes after seven, turning to the Prioress, the poor
little Martyr asked: “Mother, is it not the agony? . . . am I not
going to die?” “Yes, my child, it is the agony, but Jesus perhaps
wills that it be prolonged for some hours.” In a sweet and
plaintive voice she replied: “Ah, very well then . . . very well
. . . I do not wish to suffer less!”

Then, looking at her crucifix:

“Oh! . . . I love Him! . . . My God, I . . . love . . . Thee!”

These were her last words. She had scarcely uttered them when, to
our great surprise, she sank down quite suddenly, her head
inclined a little to the right, in the attitude of the Virgin
Martyrs offering themselves to the sword; or rather, as a Victim
of Love, awaiting from the Divine Archer the fiery shaft, by which
she longs to die.

Suddenly she raised herself, as though called by a mysterious
voice; and opening her eyes, which shone with unutterable
happiness and peace, fixed her gaze a little above the statue of
Our Lady. Thus she remained for about the space of a _Credo,_ when
her blessed soul, now become the prey of the “Divine Eagle,” was
borne away to the heights of Heaven.

(From the Project Gutenberg Ebook)