Saturday, November 7, 2009

Because love conquered death, despair cannot erase hope

Just about every year someone I know commits suicide. Not a few times they have been people close to me, even touching my own family. Other times it has been people I have come to know in various other ways. It is always indescribably sad and scary. I cannot imagine how bereft of hope a person must be to take her/his own life.

I learned this morning that a parishioner sought relief from suffering in death last night. In the face of such a great tragedy, we are comforted by these words from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives" (par. 2283). So, I ask your prayers this morning for her to Our Lady of Sorrows, who is so full of grace and love for us, especially her wayward and lost ones. I also ask you to pray for her husband and two young daughters. She suffered from really devastating depression for a long time. Hence, let us also invoke the intercession of St. Dymphna on her behalf.

I'll end this post by noting that "[w]e are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for [God's] honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of" (par. 2280). Life is the supreme gift of love given us by God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All the factors involved in any suicide are known to God and God alone, thus we commend Billy to God's mercy and pray for her, even as we comfort those she left behind. Especially in the face of tragedy and devastation, we are to be heralds of hope, witnesses to the infinite mercy and love of God, "who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all" (Rom. 8:32). In this same verse, in light of the fact that God not only gave his Son up for us, but raised him from the dead for us, St. Paul asks rhetorically "will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" The only way to bear our suffering and to allow God to use it for our salvation and that of the whole world is to unite whatever we suffer with the sufferings of Christ Jesus. Otherwise, we are liable to succumb to despair, which is the most devastating weapon in the arsenal of our enemy, who "prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour," even when we factor in depression and other natural causes (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus Christ gives us hope by giving himself for us and to us. He is our hope.

It is weird that preaching, teaching, and blogging about the role suffering plays in our salvation has been laid so heavily on my heart this past month or so. It is a message that needs to be heard, understood, and put into practice in our lives.


  1. Oh no - I'm so sorry! How indescribably awful for her family. I'll add her to my prayers.

    Is her family at the cathedral - I mean, if they need something more temporal right now, could we drop something off there?

  2. Sonetka:

    I am trying find out if Paul and the girls need anything. I am sure they will. So, I will try to organize a few people, including you, to provide it.


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