Our Lord Jesus changed water into wine. Our modern age seems to be striving to change His wine into water. You will discover shortly this blog is to tackle a difficult subject that has plagued me for many years. I do not expect people to agree with my suggestions (I cannot call them conclusions because I struggle with a great many questions), but I want to address an issue that for some time has been troubling. Increasingly–and that is not to say it has not been occurring to one degree or another all my life–the Catholics seem to be taking a queue from our Protestant brothers and sisters and re-interpreting the Bible to suit our modern sensibilities. A once Protestant to Catholic convert recently wrote a book about marriage after death. It appears his aging mother, who lost her husband, does not want to accept the idea that in heaven they will not be married. So this faithful son, to the premise of what comforts her, picked through the Bible to assure her that, rather than rising like angels neither married nor given in marriage as Jesus preached, she would have her wish. I applaud his love for and desire to make his mother feel better, however, I think what he does was not only wrong, but dangerous. The Bible is, and should be, a source of comfort, yet in only as much as it is a source truth and instruction, as best we humans may understand, in the ways of, and the expectations put upon us by a loving God who is concerned with our salvation, redemption, and calling us home to him.
When Comforting Becomes Comfort
One is forbidden to judge another. Judgement is the purview of God alone. One is, therefore, unable to sanctify or condemn another. We are, however, called upon to discern moral and immoral behaviour in line with the Law, the Scripture, and the Teaching of Christ. Some elements of each of these are difficult for humans to accept and many laws have been twisted, strained, contorted, bent, broken, shattered what have you to justify what society wants to do at any given time in its history. Take for example the death penalty which Pope Francis recently called “inadmissible”. Listening to Catholic Radio, I was amazed at how many American Catholics were infuriated at losing the right to execute another person. They all (perhaps for the first time in their lives) hurried to the Old Testament to say: SEE! SEE! GOD ORDERS US TO KILL! How happy we are to punish others but would have our transgressions overlooked and/or justified.
On the other side of the coin, we seek to comfort ourselves and others by redefining everything so as not to offend another or to write off painful emotions with “what is want to be heard.” In the past, addictions were weaknesses that had to be overcome. One had to admit they were weak in the face of whatever substance and by an act of will and with the Grace of God battle it into submission. Now, addiction is a disease and we need a pharmaceutical treatment, or the help of a psychologist to reorganize our brain, and sometimes trade one addiction for another. Rather than go into twenty-five different examples, I want to bring up a particularly painful topic because of it I have first hand experience. It is no my desire to hurt or offend anyone, but this goes to a core belief: the sanctity of human life. I wish to speak of the mortal sin of suicide, openly and honestly. A man I grew up with and who was a brother to me in every way but blood, killed himself and I have been since that time wondering, shall we say, about his “eternal status,” and praying that he not be damned, when all theological indicators are that he has, by an act of his own will, eternally separated himself from God.
Suicide Rates are Becoming Epidemic
Quoting from an article by Julissa Treviño:
The suicide rate is the highest it’s been in decades, the latest warning sign of a worsening public health issue in America that needs far more attention.
According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47,000 Americans died by suicide in 2017. Put another way, the suicide rate was 14 people in every 100,000 — up 33 percent from 10.5 people per 100,000 in 1999.
The Beautiful, The Good, and The True
To set one’s eyes to see the beauty, the goodness, and the truth in this world; to absorb these things into one’s heart, and to pursue them with all one’s being is the mission God’s has given each one of us. One’s challenge is to discern the gifts one has received by the Grace of God, employing them in this quest. Dying to self, submitting wholly and completely to God’s Will, as did the Blessed Virgin and our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ, is a death to self, more formally known as self-mortification. This is a “martyrdom in living” in which one’s body is not killed, rather it becomes a living sacrifice remaining in this earthly realm until the Father calls one home. While one lives it is for one to seek the good, the beautiful, and the true and when finding elements of them to share them with all. Sometimes people are killed in this pursuit becoming martyrs for their faith. Martyrdom may occur when a person refuses to deny the good, the beautiful, and/or the true in order to save one’s life. Never should one pursue martyrdom as an end unto itself.
Martyrdom Pursued is Folly
One who pursues martyrdom thinking it a way to Heaven or paradise is deluded. This one pursues his own will not that of God. This one seeks to fulfill his own desire and would think killing, or being killed by provoking another to violence solely to that end, or dying in the course of murdering other people (such as do suicide bombers), is not a martyr. This one is a murderer of self and/or others. This one does not defend the Kingdom of God, does not carry out God’s Will which is Love and Life, and does not convert one to believe in God. These fanatics turn people away from God by seeking their own glory. God is the God of the living. Since God’s gifts include being and life, to willfully destroy these gifts is akin to spitting in the face of God and rejecting Him fully. Murder and suicide are grave sins and it is a most dangerous thing for one to judge them permissible under circumstances contrived to make oneself or one’s neighbor feel better.
A Morality Based on Comfort is a Wicked Thing
Frequently in a misguided belief one is being graciously merciful (and in so doing seek to avoid uncomfortable feelings of one’s own), one leads astray oneself and others. Considering suicide, one must first ask: Is life sacred? If the answer be yes should not life be God’s purview alone? Who is one, being not creator to life but recipient, to destroy it?
Life is the Love of God holding all things in existence. Is one to chisel away at creation thinking one may improve upon it? Making oneself a better judge of the universe than God? Does one think to purify? Such judgement brings equal judgement. An eye for an eye in the New Covenant does not mean taking one’s neighbor’s eye in recompense for his own, rather it seems to suggest one can not deceive or (if you will) “blind” another spiritually and remain in truth or “seeing”. One cannot kill and remain in the life promised us by Jesus. When one kills another deliberately and thinks to justify the killing, being unrepentant, thinking it to be right and good, surely this one will suffer the second death because one has claimed a prerogative of God alone and informed God that one intends to retain this privilege for oneself. This is to take pride in the Fruit of Original Sin.
Is One Not Cleansed of Original Sin in Baptism?
Although one may have been cleansed of Original Sin in Baptism, when one claims God’s prerogatives as one’s own birthright, one holds the attitude of the children of Cain who were not cleansed by God’s water but were utterly erased by the flood. God sent a clear message: If man claim life to be his jurisdiction, let death be his milieu and destruction his inheritance. To master either life or death one must tame the other and man is capable of neither. How can one master life if one cannot overcome death? How can one overcome death not having mastered life? Only Jesus accomplished this and it will be Jesus who redeems us. No exercising of personal will can save us from the pit.
Salvation resides in being one in the sacred and mystical Body of Risen Christ and this means dying to self and being born-anew in the Living Christ. Dying to self is not killing one’s body, rather to die to oneself is to give one’s life to God (not for God, God does not barter), to God and to have no will of one’s own to even consider imposing on another, and since killing be an act of self will (as God holds all things in being and therefore does not kill); dying becomes something separate and apart from killing. A drinking from the cup as opposed to drowning in the flood.
So What Has all This To Do With Suicide?
I have become weary with apologetics designed to make those left behind feel better and I am one of these “left behind”. I cannot say myself whether one who has committed suicide is redeemed or damned. I do not know and redemption and damnation are reserved to God alone, as are life and death and to seek to operate judgement in these spheres, lest one be God, is grave error.
It would be comforting to me to say: He who commits suicide is not in his right mind and therefore will not be held culpable, because one who was very dear to me took his own life some thirty years ago and I still at times pain over the loss and am often plagued by the idea this rejection of God has left him outside redemption. It would be nice for me to think of his hopelessness and despair as not being sins, rather symptoms of an illness that stole his life prematurely but can this truly be the case? If so, when we consider any sin–the nature of sin being abhorrent to us and loathsome to God–would we not consider the commission of any transgression of one as not being in one’s right mind?
Take for instance a panicked robbery in which the perpetrator kills another. Is one to assess culpability by saying: Since this robber was over come by desire, greed, addiction, and/or what-have-you, he is not responsible for his actions as he was clearly not in his right mind? Further, would it be right and correct in the eyes of God for that perpetrator to remain unrepentant because, at the last, his mind was under siege of forces that he was either unable or unwilling to resist?
If a person, intending evil, commits an evil can later come to God, repent, and be saved; why should it not follow that one who does not intend an evil, but commits an evil–even unwittingly–refuses to repent it saying: I have committed this evil, but it is right and correct to have done so because I misjudged the circumstances, so I will not repent and ask God’s forgiveness, since, after all, it was merely a mistake and I am, therefore, beyond God’s Judgement? Shall this man be saved? Will he in his self-proclaimed innocence and self-righteousness take, in the end, Heaven by storm?
Life is Painful–Sin Remains Evil
Adversity and pain may provide reason for sin but ne’er will it bestow justification on an evil, for evil cannot be justified and this is why we must appeal to God’s Mercy and ask His forgiveness which God is predisposed to give by virtue of His Divine Nature, yet a man who denies any wrong doing is in no need, by his own estimation, of God’s Mercy and in this denial rejects God.
Not knowing the state of mind of another at the precise moment of one’s death, can we assume one who has taken his own life, all evidence being to the contrary by the very act of mortal sin, to have accepted the will and mercy of God in his absolute final moment when it was a lack of faith in God’s Mercy and a rejection of God’s Will that brought him to his unhappy end?
O that one might obtain Heaven by killing oneself! If one were, under such circumstances, a person of faith would not this be the fulfillment of our faith? To kill ourselves as quickly as possible after Baptism rather than piling sin upon sin on our souls for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, . . . years? And should one kill an attacker in defense of oneself, will said attacker, regardless of his intent be guaranteed Heaven, for after all, who in his right mind would desire to harm, maim, rape, and/or murder another person?
It’s not All Good, Dude
Recently, I watched a movie called “Luther” about Martin Luther’s attempt at reforming the Catholic Church. Many of Luther’s criticisms of the Church were true and correct and let us hope such things have been since weeded out. There were, however, other parts of the movie that were rather disturbing and I believe theologically indefensible. One such moment, when overcome with sorrow (rightfully so) at the suicide of a child, Luther declares the child to be a victim overcome by the devil, much like one overcome by robbers. I understand what he was getting at but I cannot agree and here is why: If one is able to justify sin by saying “the devil overcame me at a time of vulnerability or weakness, then there is no Original Sin. Since the “Adam and Eve Defense” of “she made me do it, and the serpent made me do it” did not exonerate our first parents before God, it would be an exercise in futility to assume such an argument would hold water now. God did not accept this argument and the fruit of this sin was death.
Sadly, suicide seems almost en vogue in modern pop culture and this nonchalant approach to life, to the mission God has given us, to the love God holds us in is, in my estimation, a short road to perdition. This manner of thinking must be quashed. All rational people must resist the temptation to render self-destruction “okay”. Whether the motivation be depression, despair, hopelessness, sorrow, anguish, pain, fashion, drama, life being challenging, hard, or unfair. Good thinking people should never concede to make this behavior acceptable, warrantable, good, or justifiable. One must never be led to think that suicide is a solution to anything and that if one commits suicide there are no eternal repercussions. To allow the redemption of every murderer of oneself in the interest of comforting those left behind is to say suicide is acceptable in the eyes of God and it is a grave and mortal injustice to endorse this line of thinking. We must never accept suicide, we must never exonerate suicide, and we must never commit suicide.
No more thin-blooded sentimentality. Life is a beautiful struggle toward Heaven and not everyone who says “Lord! Lord!” will be let in.
Life is precious.
Murder is murder.
Whether we kill others, or ourselves, or the unborn the Commandment holds: Thou shalt not kill.
To kill is not our right, it is not justifiable, and we must repent and beg God’s Mercy even if we so much dare as to consider it; for it is in a man’s heart his evils are both born and borne.
God’s Mercy is infinite. We are free. God does not impose Himself, even in mercy. Reject God, and well. . .the Bible tells us the outcome.
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us sinners. Pray for our redemption Lord, so that all souls may go to Heaven.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, save me, I am yours.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, pray that I be given the strength to live a holy life and to grow in goodness and grace.
May Almighty God bless you; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
(C) Copyright 27 January 2019