You are a Horrible Person, Part II

My post about depression and the suicide of Robin Williams drew some negative reaction which I would like to address. First, let me quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 2281 and following [emphasis mine]:

2281    Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282    If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283    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. 

Also, I’d like to share the following message by Fr. Apostolos Hill, who says it better than I ever could:

5 thoughts on “You are a Horrible Person, Part II”

  1. As someone who has found great liberation in the truth of her teachings (in no small part because of the suggestions of the author of this blog years before its establishment) I find the notion that you’d be considered a heretic for believing that very teaching as a bit of a misrepresentation of Holy Mother Church? The excerpts cited here clearly support the beliefs espoused at the end of the previous entry. Perhaps a better beginning to that final paragraph might have been, “It might seem to some that the Church has always had ambivalent feelings about those who die by their own hand.”? I know…..everyone’s a critic. I’ll retire to my glass house now.

    1. I guess I was referring more to how the Church has traditionally viewed suicide. The new catechism does take a—how shall I say it?—more “enlightened” approach based on what we know now and more emphasis on the mercy of God. It wasn’t that long ago that suicides were denied Christian burial, rites for the dead and were presumed to be condemned to hell. I’ve even read some punditry in the wake of Robin William’s death that said it’s high time we re-stigmatize suicide. I personally believe this attitude is hateful and contrary to Christian moral teaching.

      I still may be a heretic for believing that Holy Mother Church sometimes gets it wrong, while the Holy Spirit never does.

    2. P.S.
      Just to be clear: I am not saying that all suicides are equal. I remember watching a documentary about a woman in France, who at 72 years of age decided that she’d lived all the life she cared to. She didn’t want to grow old, become infirm, or possibly demented. She therefore methodically planned her suicide for a particular date and time. By her own admission, she had no faith in God or a life beyond this one. For her, this was it. Her rejection of her life WAS a rejection of God.

      However, even in this case, I would not care to pass judgement, although at the time I was appalled by her callousness. My point is that none of us knows what happens at the moment of death. I have found St. Faustina’s diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, a great comfort in this regard. In it she describes how our Savior reaches out to the despairing soul, even to the last nanosecond, looking for any small hint of turning or good will, at which point He takes the poor soul in his arms to save them.

      My namesake Dismas had no time for reparations as he hung on a cross waiting to die and yet, Jesus—without hesitation—invited him, neigh, guaranteed him a place in paradise. Not because Dismas was a good man. He wasn’t. It was because Dismas finally turned to the Lord with good will, humbly sorrowful for his misspent life. We should strive here and now to amend our lives and live like true disciples of Christ, always hoping in His great mercy to save us when we fall. Our failures are never news to Him.

  2. I think it’s important to draw a distinction between discipline and teaching. The Church has never taught anything contrary to what you’re describing as your personal belief. The eternal disposition of any of our souls is determined by God alone and by whatever manner our end may come it wouldn’t disqualify us from the limitless Mercy of He Who Created Us.

    1. I don’t want to get in a fraternal pissing match here, but according to the catechism promulgated by Pius X it states:

      “Q: Why does God, in the Fifth Commandment, forbid the taking of one’s own life or suicide?
      A: In the Fifth Commandment God forbids suicide, because man is not the master of his own life no more than of the life of another. Hence the Church punishes suicide by deprivation of Christian burial.”

      The Baltimore Catechism, the one most universally taught pre and post-Vatican II states:
      “Q. 1274. What sin is it to destroy one’s own life, or commit suicide, as this act is called?
      A. It is a mortal sin to destroy one’s own life or commit suicide, as this act is called, and persons who willfully and knowingly commit such an act die in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of Christian burial. It is also wrong to expose one’s self unnecessarily to the danger of death by rash or foolhardy feats of daring.”

      Otherwise I agree with you that, ” The eternal disposition of any of our souls is determined by God alone and by whatever manner our end may come it wouldn’t disqualify us from the limitless Mercy of He Who Created Us.”

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