December 15, 2018

"Pope Francis stresses the merciful God and the forgiving God... For a priest to even hint that the person might not be in heaven is grossly wrong."

Said the Rev. Charles Rubey, founder and director of Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide, quoted in "Bedford family calls for priest to be removed after funeral" (Toledo Blade).

The parents of an 18-year-old boy who committed suicide are publishing lashing out at the Rev. Don LaCuesta at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Temperance, Michigan, who presided over the funeral service and spoke about suicide as a sin.

The mother, Linda Hullibarger said: "He basically called our son a sinner, instead of rejoicing in his life. It’s not OK... He needs to be held accountable."

The Catholic Church  used to deny a Christian burial to suicides. But:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church in its current edition acknowledges mitigating factors that “diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.... 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.”...


Danno said...

Held accountable?

What does she (the mom) think this is, libtard political correctness?

Darrell said...

Her son will be held accountable.

Ann Althouse said...

"Held accountable?"

I know.

Why not forgive him and let God decide what to do with him?

alanc709 said...

God is also a just God, depending on God's mercy alone is foolish in the extreme.

Mark said...

Actually, presuming upon the mercies of God is itself a grave sin (the sin of presumption) and a denial of mercy to the deceased. The whole purpose of the funeral Mass is to PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF THE DECEASED, that God will graciously admit him or her into His embrace. God doesn't have to, you know.

Mark said...

As for suicide, it is at the other end of the spectrum from the sin of presumption. With suicide, there is the sin of despair -- which is a sin against hope, God's providence and God's gift of life. And since it is invariably the very last act a person makes, there can be no repentance of that grave sin.

Wince said...

Everyone gets a trophy, and eternal life in paradise.

Mark said...

In recent times, incidents of suicide have increased dramatically, to crisis levels. Why? Because the increase in social acceptability and because suicide is contagious. One person killing themselves ends up encouraging or influencing another person to kill themselves.

So in addition to this mortal sin of killing one person (themselves) they are responsible for the death of others. The sin that is called scandal. And what was Jesus' response to those who lead others to harm and/or to commit evil? He said it was better that they hang a millstone around their neck and be thrown into the sea.

Yes, suicide (which is basically Latin for self-murder) is a gravely evil act. Not one that is likely to get you to the head of the line for heaven.

Fernandinande said...

It's nice to recognize a load of hokey bullshit as such.

Derek Kite said...

Yes those who commit suicide do enormous harm to their family and friends. It is as selfish and self centered act as you can imagine. They indeed need forgiveness.

narciso said...

Because suicide is a grave sin, against not only the body but the soul.

policraticus said...

You can hold that suicide is a sin and that God is both just and merciful to allow for grace. I don’t know how this priest expressed himself, he may have been awful and lacking in charity and compassion, but it important to remember that Christians are all sinners.

The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21

PackerBronco said...

"Why not forgive him and let God decide what to do with him?"


Actually, what the Church would do is pray that God forgive him his sins and not presume anything.

However, I guess that pointing out that suicide done with full intention is a sin is just not a polite thing to do.

I would not be surprised if purgatory is full of very polite people.

J. Farmer said...

The tack I have seen a lot of sincere Christians take on this issue is that the question of who goes to heaven or not is purely a matter of God's will and is not for human's to say one way or the other.

Mark said...

instead of rejoicing in his life

When the last act of your life -- an act that will ultimately define who and what you are -- is to kill a human being, then that is nothing to celebrate, but to condemn. Whatever else he may ever have been, he is a killer.

A killer of himself, and accessory by his example to the killing of the next person who engages in self-murder, just as sure as if he were to physically push them off the ledge himself.

I'm not wholly without sympathy. Did this guy have issues? Possibly, probably -- like many of us. I can understand the depths of pain and despair that would lead someone to contemplate it. But misplaced and false compassion do not help, they only reinforce the destructive feelings, beliefs and actions. It only gives permission to the next person with suicide ideation to go through with it.

BamaBadgOR said...

You mean I don't have to fight in a crusade to go to heaven now?

AlbertAnonymous said...

Mark said:

“And since it is invariably the very last act a person makes, there can be no repentance of that grave sin.”

I was always taught that God’s time is different than man’s time and that we don’t know what repentance and mercy can occur between a person’s act to commit suicide and that person’s actual death. In man’s time they may be the same moment so that suicide is literally your last act and thought (though not always as some suicides are not even instantaneous in man’s time). But in God’s time, who knows what occurs betweeen that last earthly act and the judgment. I’d like to think these people receive a great comfort in that instant (which God allows to continue for longer than an earthly instant) so they can truly feel God’s mercy and love like never before and have their instantaneous repentance and loving embrace (should they choose to accept it).

I love the image of God’s Grace as a gift: You you don’t have to accept it, God would never force it on you, but because the Gift is sooo big, you have to drop everything else you’re carrying around (all your baggage of every kind) in order to accept it.

William said...

Can racists still be buried in consecrated ground? What about neo-Nazis? Our definition of unforgivable sins vary with the age in which we live.

PJ57 said...

This is a difficult issue. Having felt the temptation that the self-immolation and ostensible release from earthly pain which could be achieved through suicide, I can say honestly that I do not think any suicide is fully or in some cases even partially in control of his or her actions. On the other hand, I agree with the points of some of the commentators that suicide does enormous harm to those left behind, has a selfish element of ultimate narcissism, and is contagious among certain populations. I'm sure the decline in the stigma of suicide has led to more suicides and the damage they cause.

But I do think two things are undeniably true. Our presuming to understand the grace of God or how that might be bestowed in the case of any suicide is presumptuous -- and I am a Catholic, not a Calvinist. And that in discussing this subject, we should try to act with love towards one another, brothers and sisters, and not with the contempt I see in some of the responses above.

Blessed Christmas to all.

AlbertAnonymous said...

J Farmer said:

“...the question of who goes to heaven or not is purely a matter of God's will and is not for human's to say one way or the other.”

Oh we have a say in it. Both for others (that’s why we pray for the living and the dead) and most certainly for ourselves. I think it was Fulten Sheen who, when told by a woman that she didn’t believe in hell, said to her “you will when you’re there, ma’am.”

God has great mercy and Love and wants us all to be with him in paradise. But he will not force that on us. That would not be free will or love. He loves us so much he will let us choose eternal separation from God if that’s what we really want. He really wants us to choose him tho, and gives us seeming endless chances to do so.

John Michale said...

Take a break from your busy schedule and head to Spade Skin Care (Redondo Beach) for a full day of spa services.

Roger Sweeny said...

We all know God is a nice guy and lets everybody in (yes, even Hitler).

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William said...

My study of theology leads me to believe that molesting choir boys is a far greater sin than committing suicide. The authorities in the Vatican have a different view on the subject.

cyrus83 said...

Note the Catechism is still calling suicide a sin, otherwise there wouldn't be a need for repentance. Without repentance, it is a damnable offense, assuming it was done with sound mind and willful intention.

A funeral may seem like a bad time to note this truth, but presumably the priest would like to keep others from making the same mistake. If a funeral is nothing but happy gas about how great a person was, it's not really a service to either the deceased (who if not in hell is almost certainly in need of prayers), or the living, with the whole All People Go To Heaven mentality, which is contradictory with a just God.

wild chicken said...

Did the priest say the guy was going to hell? I didn't see that. If he reminded them the Church holds suicide to be a sin, and why, then he did the right thing. The pain to loved ones, the life-denial rather than life-affirming, the sheer lack of gratitude,the spur to more suicides.

We're here to buck each other up, not depress the hell out of everyone.

Good priest. Glad to know we still have some.

RBE said...

Suicide post by Ann Barnhardt. Always thought provoking.

Mark said...

I was always taught that God’s time is different than man’s time and that we don’t know what repentance and mercy can occur between a person’s act to commit suicide and that person’s actual death.

It's true that this is possible. But let's not presume that to be so or grasp at straws in other ways.

It's also true that people who survive a bridge jumping report that half-way down they said, "Oh shit, what did I do?" And it's true that most suicides involve a fair amount of depression mental illness that clouds their ultimate true will.

But let's not use any of those possibilities for someone suicidal to then think, "Well, God will forgive me and I'll be in heaven, so I might as well get it over with and end it all now."

Mark said...

Our definition of unforgivable sins vary with the age in which we live.

No, there is -- and has been -- only one unforgivable sin. The sin of not accepting God's forgiveness, which is in effect blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Either because forgiveness is not sought because of the belief that certain acts are not sins (e.g. mom's attitude in this case) or that the person simply does not care, or because of the belief that the sin is so great that the Spirit will not or cannot forgive it.

Because the person never seeks nor accepts reconciliation with God, it does not happen. It is "unforgivable" not because God refuses to forgive, but because the person refuses to be forgiven.

AlbertAnonymous said...

Agreed. Those are possibilities to ease the pain of the family and friends of those who commit suicide. Not too hard for a priest to confirm the teaching on suicide and also comfort the family and friends.

I attended the funeral (gosh 25 years ago) of my friends brother who killed himself. Catholic family. Parents’ obvious paIn (both in losing their son and in struggling with the teachings about his eternity) was absolutely heartbreaking to see/be around. It’s eased over 25 years but you can still see/feel their pain.

Shouting Thomas said...

This family should remove itself from the Catholic Church, instead of asking for the removal of a priest calling sin a sin.

They might try the Episcopal Church, which is now just about entirely a gay mafia outfit. Half the former populace of the Episcopal Church walked out in the schism that handed the church over to the gay mafia, but not to worry.

They gay mafia is partying hard with the inherited fortune of the church in the process of dismantling it. Literally. I encourage you to read the story of how the gay mafia has looted that church.

This is, of course, Althouse's ulterior motive, the destruction of traditional Christian practice and theology.

Shouting Thomas said...

As an addendum, I'll add that proper enforcement of Church discipline has worked for the Catholic Church,

Buckling under to Althouse's odd combination of Oprah therapy, gay worship and Marxist feminism has failed completely in the mainline Protestant churches. That, of course, was Althouse's goal.

The mainline churches split in two, with the traditional churches adding "evangelical" to their name to distinguish themselves from Althouse's religion.

But a whole lot of traditional families just walked out of the gay worship, Marxist feminist churches and abandoned religious observation.

While the head count is also down at Catholic churches, the church hasn't suffered the devastating gay/feminist schism that Althouse would like to visit upon it. So, attendance at services is roughtly twice that of the splintered mainline churches.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

During her life Monica was widely regarded as a "living saint." Yet, her son Augustine did not presume upon God's mercies. This is an important lesson for us today in this age when we go to funerals and find people assuming that the deceased (even miserable Aunt Bertha who everyone knew was an awful person) is automatically in heaven. Augustine said of his recently deceased mother --

Now that my soul has recovered from that wound, in which perhaps I was guilty of too much worldly affection, tears of another sort stream from my eyes. They are tears which I offer to You, my God, for Your handmaid. They flow from a spirit which trembles at the thought of the dangers which await every soul that has died with Adam. For although she was alive in Christ even before her soul was parted from the body, and her faith and the good life she led resounded to the glory of Your name, yet I cannot presume to say that from the time she was reborn in baptism no word contrary to Your commandments ever fell from her lips. . . . and however praiseworthy a man's life may be, it will go hard with him if You lay aside Your mercy when You come to examine it. But You do not search out our faults ruthlessly, and because of this we hope and believe that one day we shall find a place with You. . . .

And so, my Glory and my Life, God of my heart, I will lay aside for a while all the good deeds which my mother did. For them I thank You, but now I pray to you for her sins. Hear me through Your Son, who hung on the cross and now sits at your right hand and pleads for us, for He is the true medicine of our wounds. I know that my mother always acted with mercy and that she forgave others with all her heart when they trespassed against her. Forgive her too, O Lord, if ever she trespassed against You in all the long years of her life after baptism. Forgive her, I beseech You; do not call her to account. Let Your mercy give Your judgment an honorable welcome, for Your words are true and You have promised mercy to the merciful. If they are merciful, it is by Your gift; and You will show pity on those whom You pity; You will show mercy where You are merciful.

I believe that You have already done what I ask of You, but, Lord, accept these vows of mine. . . . By the strong ties of faith Your handmaid had bound her soul to this sacrament of our redemption. Let no one tear her away from Your protection. Let not the devil, who is lion and serpent in one, bar her way by force or by guile. For she will not answer that she has no debt to pay, for fear that her cunning accuser should prove her wrong and win her for himself. Her reply will be that her debt has been paid by Christ, to whom none can repay the price which He paid for us, though the debt was not His to pay.
(Confessions, Book IX, ch. 13)

ALP said...

Why not forgive him and let God decide what to do with him?

THIS. THIS. THIS. Religious types puzzle me. OTOH, their God is all powerful. OTOH, he needs the help of mere mortals to make these decisions.

WHICH IS IT??? Is God a capable CEO or a dumbass Middle Manager that needs an army of believers to do his job while he works on a TPS Report?

Mark said...

If someone as good and holy and pious as Saint Monica had prayers on her behalf beseeching forgiveness, how much more the rest of us need those prayers, especially if we have putatively done some great evil.

Even if one is justifiably angry, we should pray that God remember that, despite whatever evils he might have done and did do, he still is a child of God. We should pray that God’s will be done (as in all other things) -- that is, given that he is a child of God, that He forgive him this great evil if it be His will to do so and take him into heaven.

Although the evil was committed concurrent with death, we ought pray that God find whatever ember of remorse might have been present. And recall that the Lord delights not in the death of even the wicked (Ez. 18:23, 33:11).

In addition, we might also pray for our society. Too many people in this culture have made a covenant with death, they revel in killing, their consciences having been effectively killed long before.

“O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.”

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

Does God need an army of believers to do his job?

No. God -- and only God -- is how one enters into heaven (which is understandable since heaven by definition is being with God). And His will is going to be done regardless. He does not NEED our prayers. But He WANTS our prayers. He can save us without our participation, but He has chosen to desire our participation.

The Lord is the one and only savior -- but He wants this to be a group effort. He has made people to be a family. And family care for one other. They do not only care about their own personal sorry ass. And if we do not care enough to ask God to welcome someone into heaven, why the hell should He care enough?

A few measly prayers are not too much to ask ("please" and "thank you" are simple common courtesy) -- and certainly should not be the subject of mocking -- when God Himself has already done 99.999 percent of the work. Don't be such a self-centered jerk.

Freeman Hunt said...

I can understand why a priest might think it a good idea to dissuade others from suicide. That's very important. Perhaps a homily that both celebrated the young man's life and called others away from following his final example would have been better.

Shouting Thomas said...

Althouse, you're an enemy of the Catholic Church.

Your religion is paganism, with a hefty dose of witchcraft and women's magazines advice columns.

I'm not going to pretend that you have good intentions.

You and your fellow Marxist feminists intend to destroy the Catholic Church. The Church will probably survive intact thru my lifetime. I'm 68. If I'm still alive when you've succeeded in bringing down the Church, I think I can count on the Orthodox Church surviving long enough to serve me through my life.

Solzhenitzn left a legacy there that you won't be able to destroy in your lifetime. The Orthodox Church experienced the full implementation of your ideology and has no illusions about your intentions.

Shouting Thomas said...

Now, for the rest of you meatheads.

The Catholic Church is not a therapeutic consortium tasked with enhancing your self-esteem and making you feel good.

Go somewhere else if that's what you want. You've got plenty of choices there, don't you?

Saint Croix said...

They might try the Episcopal Church, which is now just about entirely a gay mafia outfit.

We in the Episcopal church love Christ. We are neither gay, nor a mafia. You're welcome to visit my church, or any other Episcopal church, if you doubt this.

If I'm still alive when you've succeeded in bringing down the Church, I think I can count on the Orthodox Church surviving long enough to serve me through my life.

Althouse has said many, many things that are highly respectful of Christ, and Christianity. I pray that the Lord will surprise her with an afterlife.

Saint Croix said...

Do you really think that Christianity is so weak a blogger from Madison can take it out?

Psota said...

If you read the linked articles...The young man's family had a beef with his football coach and managed to get the coach fired after he showed up at the funeral!

bagoh20 said...

Although suicide is usually incredibly stupid and selfish, it is not equivalent to murder. Nobody else has a controlling right to your life. That's why they can't legally take it, except in self defense. Murder is theft of the highest order, because the victim's life does not belong to you. Only you have. controlling rights to it. It is analogous to destroying your own artwork or other possessions that others may value for some reason. It is not theft or a crime, becuase they have no rights to the thing.

Religions may differ on the subject, but for me, logic makes suicide an individual right. Destroying what you own, may be foolish, self-destructive, or even hurtful to others, but it is your right.

Otherwise, we must charge unsuccessful suicides as attempted murders.
Can people who love you or who get some benefit from your life, sue your estate for loss of future benefit, or pain and suffering?

It seems wrong to me to consider a suicide and cold-blooded murder as equivalents.

n.n said...

God's religious/moral philosophy denies the right to murder. It does not discriminate by age, sex, or self. It is the priest's duty to inform the faithful of what the expectation is, not what they would choose it to be. That said, the self-abortionist may yet pay his debt in the afterlife, prove he is not a risk to others, and pass judgment.

Mark said...

It is analogous to destroying your own artwork or other possessions that others may value for some reason.

Except that you cannot reduce the human person and human life to a species of property.

Michael in ArchDen said...

I wonder why the family asked this priest to say their son's funeral Mass. My suspicion is that they didn't know the priest or the parish very well. Wouldn't surprise me if the priest didn't know the family well either...

Bill Peschel said...

"It seems wrong to me to consider a suicide and cold-blooded murder as equivalents. "

Think of it as an assault on the family. Every day, they will remember this. For the rest of their lives.

There are some who postulate that suicide is performed not just out of despair, but to hurt those who loved the deceased. It shows that their opinion, their love, did not matter.

Having been suicidal at times (I'm much better now), I felt the isolation that comes with despair. It's as if a wall went up, keeping out anyone who could touch me, who could save me. I also felt like it was a way of abandoning everyone, and leaving them without the comfort and love that I could still give them.

It's also a betrayal of life itself.

However, I also struggle with using suicide as a tool to end my suffering. Dying is not easy. It's not a comfort to see someone waste away, lose their vitality, perhaps even become demented and are no longer the person we love and who loves us.

Especially in our health care system, which we're struggling with now on behalf of my wife's parents. My father-in-law is in the ER right now, awaiting someone to put in a catheter. He's been there for more than five hours with his 80-year-old wife. It wasn't an emergency, but it was what their urologist told them to do.

This came after it was discovered that his urethra was blocked. He didn't tell anyone his was having trouble pee. His doctor didn't notice that his belly was round. His wife went to his latest visit earlier this week and had to demand that she be present to tell him of her worries, before he would do anything.

They drained nearly six liters of piss. He lost 20 pounds in one go.

So, thanks to the government and the AMA and other stakeholders, my F-i-L is in Kent County Hospital's ER because that's what the system wants him to do. And all we can do is watch.

rcocean said...


Man demands 1500 years of Christian tradition and teaching be set aside.

'cause reasons.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Look, religions have rules. They're not buffet style matters, where one gets to pick and choose what one adheres to. If one is devout, the answer is already at hand, not to be negotiated at a later date. Don't like it... become a leftist.

Mark said...

Although suicide is usually incredibly stupid and selfish, it is not equivalent to murder.

The history of jurisprudence would disagree.

There exists a "fundamental, sacred, and unalterable law of self-preservation," Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government, ch. XIII § 149, so that suicide "is an offense against nature . . . because it is contrary to [these] rules of self-preservation." Hales v. Petit, 1 Plowd. 253, 261, 75 Eng.Rep. 387, 399 (C.B. 1565). Consequently, an individual is "not [at] liberty to destroy himself. . . Every one [is] bound to preserve himself and not to quit his station willfully." Locke, ch. II § 6.

Hales v. Petit has stated the case law on suicide for over four hundred years. In it, Judge Lord Dyer stated that suicide is a grave wrong, "it is in a degree of murder, and not of homicide or manslaughter [for] murder is the killing a man with malice prepense." 1 Plowd. 253, 261, 75 Eng.Rep. 387, 399 (C.B. 1565); see also, Rex v. Ward, 1 Lev. 8, 83 Eng.Rep. 270 (1672) ("a felo de se is a murderer in the highest degree"); Toomes v. Etherington, 1 Wm. Saund. 353, 85 Eng.Rep. 515 (1675).

A person's life "cannot legally be disposed of or destroyed by any individual, neither by the person himself nor by any other of his fellow creatures, merely upon their own authority." 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 129, ch. I (1765). All other common law commentators agree, "No man hath the absolute interest of himself." 1 M. Hale, Pleas of the Crown 411 (1736) (suicide is homicidium sui-ipsius, a felony against a man's self); 1 W. Hawkins, Pleas of the Crown 68, ch.27 § 4 (1716).

Indeed, the common law of reason cannot permit suicide because it is an act of malice per se. 1 E. East, Pleas of the Crown 229, ch.V § 16 (1803) ("Malice may also be directed to the destruction of a man's own life which denominates the party felo de se").

Mark said...

If the family objects to the priest, what do they think of Shakespeare who 400 years ago wrote --

Ay, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause . . . the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will.
-- Hamlet, Act III, sc. 1, v. 65-68, 78-80 (1601).

~ Gordon Pasha said...

Priest gives homily and mentions Last Four Things. Cafeteria catholics object. And this is news - which speaks not to this priest, but to the poor state of catechesis in general.

Mark said...

The crime of murder is composed of two evils, cause and effect. Murder is outlawed by the common law and statute for two reasons: (1) to prevent the death of the victim and (2) to prevent the act of killing. Consequently, if murder is attempted but no injury results, the actus reus is still mala in se and a great crime. Similarly, with suicide, "our Laws have always had such an Abhorrence of this Crime . . . for wherever Death is caused by an Act done with a murdrous Intent, it makes the Offender a Murderer." 1 W. Hawkins, Pleas of the Crown 68, ch.27 § 4 (1716).

This is illustrated in the case of Hales v. Petit, where Sir James Hales intentionally drowned himself. It was held that, while death was unfortunate, "the throwing himself into the water was the act that made the felony," not the effect of death, which only made the act even more evil. 1 Plowd. at 263, 75 Eng.Rep. at 402. The court noted that a coroner's inquisition determined that Hales "voluntarily entered into the said river, and himself therein he feloniously and voluntarily drowned, against the peace of the said late King and Queen." Id. at 255, 75 Eng.Rep. at 390. Consequently, the court adopted the reasoning of one of the attorneys who argued that "the act done by Sir James Hales, which is evil and the cause of his death, is the throwing himself into the water, and the death is but a sequel thereof, and this evil act ought some way to be punished." Id. at 259, 75 Eng.Rep. at 397.

In killing himself he "has offended the King, in giving such an example to his subjects, and it belongs to the King, who has the government of the people, to take care that no evil example be given them, and an evil example is an offence against him." Hales, 1 Plowd. at 261, 75 Eng.Rep. at 400.

Again -- "The law regards [suicide] as an heinous offence, though the party himself may at first view appear to have been the only sufferer: for as the public have a right to every man's assistance, he who voluntarily kills himself is with respect to the public as criminal as one who kills another. It is equally an offence against the fundamental law of society, which is protection." 1 E. East, Pleas of the Crown 219, ch.V § 5 (1803).

This right to "every man's assistance" is especially important where the family is concerned.

jimbino said...

But as understanding of the issue has evolved, he said, so has the church’s position.

Good to know that God, too, follows the 'lection returns.

Dad29 said...

The "news" story was terrible: the "reporter" stated that the kid's death was "sudden." Not suicide.

Fake news.

The priest was correct. The Archdiocese was wrong. But that's the Church of Francis I!!

The Vault Dweller said...

Suicide is terrible. While it may not be the right thing to talk about it at the funeral mass, it is right to talk about how bad it is. Suicide doesn't stop the pain it merely shifts it to other people. It is a Christian ideal, to endure pain, misery, and suffering if by doing so it prevents others from having to experience it. Suicide is a grave sin, and it needs to be more viewed that way. Not in any sort of effort to shame those who take their lives, but to imbue in them a sense of duty of dealing with their pain.

chillblaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BarrySanders20 said...

BUMBLE BEE said...
Look, religions have rules.

And hats. Religions have rules and hats. Hats and rules. Point out that grown men prancing around in hats and costumes looks ridiculous and get shunned. Not so bad as getting smited though.

Theranter said...

Mark, thank you for your posts, they are excellent.

For the non-Catholic's (and/or poorly catechized) here, in a nutshell, the funeral Mass is not supposed to be a celebration of life. See all Mark's posts for further explanation.

buster said...

Does it make sense that someone might deliberately commit suicide knowing that it is a grave sin, and yet sincerely begging God's forgiveness for being unable not to do it?

Dad29 said...


But if it comes to clear ideas and the intelligent meaning of things, then there is much more rational and philosophic truth in the burial at the cross-roads and the stake driven through the body, than in Mr. Archer's suicidal automatic machines. There is a meaning in burying the suicide apart. The man's crime is different from other crimes -- for it makes even crimes impossible.

And, historically:

Remote crossroads were chosen as burial sites because they usually marked the boundaries of a town or a parish. Those who committed suicide were posthumously excommunicated, so there was no place for them at the local graveyards.

The parents here have a serious problem with Entitlement Syndrome--for themselves, not for their son. They have no right to demand Rainbows and Sparklies from the priest; as a matter of Church discipline (now ignored at nearly 100%), the homily at a funeral should be about living so that one's soul will be brought to Heaven, and praying for the deceased to that end.

As Mark so clearly teaches above (thanks!!) we can HOPE that the young man asked for, and God granted, pardon for the sin. We dare not presume it, either for him, or for ourselves.

Mark said...

Humbly happy to help in a small way.

Rosalyn C. said...

I thought the Jewish God was supposedly vengeful and the Christian God, no relation, was the God of Love and forgiveness. Didn't we get that important point clarified a few days ago in the post about the non-Kosher lesbian comic? The Jews are/were all hung up on details and following rules, Jesus said, forget about all the rules? Seems like we got a lot of blow back today by Christians who insist that in no way does God forgive suicide, straight to hell you go, no heaven, case closed. Sounds a little angry to me.

Lydia said...

Rather than the celebration of a life, here's what the Catholic Church's 1989 Order of Christian Funerals says the funeral rites are all about:

At the funeral liturgy the community gathers with the family and friends of the deceased
– to give praise and thanks to God for Christ’s victory over sin and death,
– to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion,
– and to seek strength in the proclamation of the paschal mystery.

Through the Holy Spirit the community is joined together in faith as one Body in Christ to reaffirm in sign and symbol, word and gesture that each believer through baptism shares in Christ’s death and resurrection and can look to the day when all the elect will be raised up and united in the kingdom of light and peace.

PJ57 said...

The spirit of charity seems to be absent from many of the comments above. Must be the season!

I've always enjoyed the irony that killers of multitudes like Napoleon and Mussolini, to name but two, received church funerals (Napoleon's quite grand) while poor suicides were banished from both church and sacred ground.

robother said...

Were there other 18 year old (friends, acquaintances) of the deceased in attendance? Would a "Suicide is Painless" sermon be a kindness to them? I mean, even apart from any Catholic theology.

RobinGoodfellow said...

We had friends who lost a baby to crib death. This was before the baby was baptized. Their Catholic priest told the mother that their baby was in hell because she hadn’t been baptized.

Simon Kenton said...

There is always a certain amount of bitter commentary when police are called to a suicidal subject and end up shooting them to death. The point is that such a person has already made it clear they are willing to, planning to, take a human life. In enough such cases, they have deliberately planned on suicide by cop, and in a few, have the berserker or Alamo mentality: They'll get me eventually but I'm taking as many as I can with me. The training is that you may use deadly force to save life or avoid serious injury to self and others. Suicide is a painful example of intended deadly force.

PJ57 said...

Robin, I doubt that. In traditional Catholic teaching, limbo is the home of unbaptized babies, a borderland for those who died without baptism washing away their original sin. The degree of felicity or privation of those in limbo was debated by medieval scholars, but I'm not aware of any who thought unbaptized infants go to hell.

Maillard Reactionary said...

"The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.”

It is well that they should do so, given the load that they themselves carry with their lefty, lying, selfish, cruel, and homo-excusing ways.

I agree with the family member in this anecdote. That priest is a moron. My wife dealt with a similar moron one Easter Sunday morning when a young woman with a family (present), dying of cancer in the ICU, was assured by a local RC Padre that it was "God's Will" that this was taking place.

Overhearing this, she invited him out into the hall, closed the door, and put that assh*ole up against the wall and told him that he was too young and too stupid to be a priest, and that if he ever showed up again in her ICU, she would have him thrown out by security. "Now get out of my sight." He was happy to comply with her kind suggestion.

She then had the task of reassuring the poor soul in the bed that it was just the failure of her body, not her's or anyone's fault, and certainly not "God's Will", that she was dying. While also apologizing for the poor show put on by the jackass that had showed up in response to her request.

Make of this what you will, but for myself the old Stoic way makes more sense.

Molly said...


I imagine God understands the despair that might drive someone to suicide better than that priest does.

If it be argued that despair is unforgivable, because it is an expectation of being damned and a repudiation of God's grace, I think the response might be that in every suicide of the type we are discussing here (not counting suicide terrorists, etc.), the despair is an aspect of mental confusion and profound mental illness.

I think it is that consideration which has informed the Catholic Church' change of position on suicide, from saying that it is always hell-worthy, to saying that it's in God's hands, not ours.

Someone forgot to tell the presiding priest at this funeral, however.

Mark said...

Seems like we got a lot of blow back today by Christians who insist that in no way does God forgive suicide, straight to hell you go, no heaven, case closed. Sounds a little angry to me.

Sounds like you need some reading lessons -- or a little good faith. No Christian here has suggested anything of the sort.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Not enough information about the sermon - it could discuss suicide being a sin, without indicating that it would keep you out of heaven.

Rick M said...

publishing = publicly?

Nancy Reyes said...

Mark is right.

Traditionally, physician groups suggested to the press not to romanticize or even publicize a suicide, because it encouraged others to kill themselves. By removing the stigma, and even romanticizing such deaths (e.g. 13 reasons why), the idea of suicide is normalized, going from a forbidden act to one that is considered rational and even good (a similar argument can be made for the rash of school shootings after one is publicized...)

Not just teenagers are vulnerable to the suggestion they act on such impulses: "assisted suicide" is being suggested as a moral alternative in the pres and movies, in effect propaganda to instruct the handicapped and elderly they should kill themselves rather than be a burden to their families.

PackerBronco said...

Reading through the posts attacking Church teaching on suicide, I can only shake my head. Many people, it seems, have -at best - a 2nd grade understanding of theology.

PackerBronco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
narciso said...

it is the fruit of an insane world, now why would someone merit heaven, it is only by god's grace, if one confessed ones sins, then possibly,

Mark said...

Regarding unbaptized babies -- or any other unbaptized person -- it is NOT the teaching of the Catholic Church that they are necessarily in hell. Just as we do not presume upon God's mercy that someone is automatically in heaven, neither do we presume that they did not receive that mercy. Rather, we prayerfully entrust the person to the mercies of God.

Also, "limbo" has never been Church teaching, it was always only some speculation by some theologians who wanted to reconcile the necessity of baptism with an all merciful God.

Rather, what the Church understands and teaches is that the Lord is a loving God of infinite Divine Mercy who delights not in death and wants to see all people to be "saved," that is, to be with the One who is Life itself. To that end, Jesus gave humanity the sacrament of baptism -- and this is the ordinary way of receiving certain graces that are absolutely necessary for reconciliation with God. Notice I said "ordinary" and that I said "graces." What is necessary is that the person receive the graces of baptism. Usually that is by and through baptism by water. But not always and not necessarily.

For example -- Has St. Joseph been saved? Has St. John the Baptist been saved? Was the thief on the cross saved? Were the innocent babies slaughtered by Herod in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus saved? And what about the virtuous people of the Old Testament?

None of them received sacramental baptism -- not even John the Baptist -- but we have never doubted that they are now with God. Although none of them formally received the sacrament of baptism, they each did receive the benefit and effect of baptism. While we are usually expected to resort to the methods the Lord has given us for our salvation, God is not bound by the sacraments or any "technicalities." He can give the grace of baptism to those who have not been baptized by water.

The Church has long taught that the baby or other person who intended to be baptized, but who died before it could happen, has received such graces. God is not going to say in such cases, "Sorry, it's out of my hands."

For those who did not have any formal intent, it is a more open question. But it is a question of the person's heart (if they are at the age of discretion). Is there some unspoken, unrealized desire for union with the good? Because God will do everything that He can to make sure that the person has eternal life. That is, after all, why that person was created. God does not create anyone for death. From our perspective though, we do not, we cannot presume upon God. Rather, affirming our faith that He is a God of mercy, we pray for the souls of the unbaptized babies and unbaptized adults, we pray for Christians and non-Christians, and entrust them to God.

Mark said...

Here's the Catechism on the subject --

1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."62 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"63 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

gerry said...

The Son of God did not die in vain.

tim maguire said...

I can forgive the mother. She is wrong, but she is in mourning. She just lost her son.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ ALP - you might read up a little on Christians who have actually written on the subject of free will and God's sovreignity. You might not agree with them, but it would at least prevent you from making silly all-caps comments.

To the OP, I have always been impressed with CS Lewis's analogy in The Great Divorce,that the doors of Hell are all locked - from the inside. “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”

Phil 314 said...

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Shouting Thomas said...

Althouse's Marxist feminism and gay worship is the orthodoxy of the educational, governmental and corporate world.

I pay taxes to school systems that indoctrinate my kids and grandkids in her ideology from elementary through post grad school.

The Catholic and Mormon churches are the last major dissenting organizations standing.

Althouse, as I told her long ago, is the oppressor. She and her comrades are unwilling to leave any refuge for dissenters from the official orthodoxy.

Muzovir said...

First blog comment anywhere... My ex-wife committed a suicide a couple of years ago. It is a hard thing to still have love for someone (perhaps still clinging on to the good memories of 10+ happy years together) while at the same time realizing the evil she was capable of (my divorce is something I would not wish upon my enemies).

While I know that was not her intent, her suicide freed the children (back then 11 and 8) to thrive again after years when she would stand athwart their growth (pulling others down is, sadly, a way to feel good about your own failings sometimes). Put differently, only after the suicide did they become free again to pursue their God-given potential.

Is it callous of me to think that suicide has an upside (the many downsides I live through each day)? And if so, does this give a measure of comfort for her soul?

chillblaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dad29 said...

the despair is an aspect of mental confusion and profound mental illness.

Either 'confusion' or 'illness'--take your choice.

If 'confusion,' Catholics can agree wholeheartedly; the man was confused as to right action and right order--IOW, that he does not "own" his life, God does.

If 'illness', we have a problem, for Satan loves to work behind a screen. That's where "mentally ill" comes in very handy--for him. We allow the erasure of evil by implying that Person X, Y, Z (pick your crime) is wired incorrectly. In fact, Person X, Y, Z has allowed Satan to work through him.

That, by the way, is difficult for me to accept, too. I'd rather think well of someone, and excuse sin by ascribing 'mental disease' than simply call a spade a spade.

Renee said...

We're all sinners. Would like to know more, but it seems grieving parents took the priest's word out of context and the media is running with it.

Bad Lieutenant said...

12/15/18, 12:56 PM
Shouting Thomas said...
Althouse, you're an enemy of the Catholic Church.

Not quite. Althouse does not think that way. She, Alinsky-like, does not think in terms of masses or institutions but of persons, identities. Because she's such an Induhvidual, don't you know.

Althouse hates God, and wants Him to die. So badly that she is even willing to betray her declared anti-suicide sentiment in order to, as you clearly realize, take the RCC down a peg. Islam, New Age, pagans, shamans, equivocal West-Civ skin-suits, are all mud convenient to her hand to throw, hence she only despises them between times. RCC is not her enemy per se, it's an opposing army in the war. RCC stands between her and her foe. If it turned she would love it. She loves any sign that it is turning, e.g., Bergoglio.


Your religion is paganism, with a hefty dose of witchcraft and women's magazines advice columns.

Althouse's religion is Althouse. Anything greater than Althouse is heresy to be annihilated.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Another Madison prof weighed in on the matter

BTW, I have not found Ann's comments on religious topics to be offensive, even when I have thought them wrong. My preferred practice is liturgical Protestant with evangelical theology but not culture, if that pins down my biases for everyone.

Sydney said...

“We heard he was talking about suicide,” Mr. Hullibarger said. “We looked at each other, and said, ‘What is he doing? We didn’t ask for this.’”

“It was his homily,” his wife added. ”It was what he wanted. He said nothing about what we asked him to say.”

Mr. Hullibarger approached the priest during the sermon to ask that he end it, but he said the priest did not acknowledge him. The couple said they had to again intervene in order to share their own reflection before the recessional hymn, which they had also previously discussed. They asked that Father LaCuesta not accompany them to the cemetery after the service.

Sounds like things got a little rowdy. Some thoughts re: the testimony of the parents such as it is:
1) It is the priests homily. You don't get to dictate homilies to priests giving a mass. Not a wedding. Not at a funeral. If you want to dictate things then have a service at a funeral home, not a mass, which is a sacrament.
2) It is my understanding that the Catholic Church discourages eulogies. At least, that's want the funeral prep guide said that I picked up a couple of weeks ago to plan my own.
3) They just said he "mentioned suicide." There is no detail at all in the story or in their words as to what he said about suicide or about their son. He just mentioned it. I am sure everyone at that funeral knew the deceased was a suicide. So, what difference does it make if he mentioned it?

In another version of this report, I read that the parents were upset because talking about suicide made their son seem as if he were a sinner. What kind of lifelong Catholics don't know that we are all sinners? We even have a special sacrament to help us with our sins. we are supposed to avail ourselves of God's grace through that sacrament often.