Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Catholic Defender ponders the question of suicide

Today, a good friend called me with a question concerning suicide. He was attending a suicide prevention class when during a break, a Protestant Chaplain was saying that committing suicide is not a damnable sin.

That hell was a creation of the Catholic Faith beginning with St. Augustine. The Church was planted at a time when Paganism influenced the nations.

It is important to note that suicide during Roman times use to be a Pagan practice. It was considered honorable to commit suicide as opposed to face embarrassment.

Due to the subject matter, I want to speak the truth on this subject, but with compassion. It is not always black and white and only God knows the heart of the person.

It is all God's judgement. In saying this, I would agree in part with the Chaplain that the Catholic Church taught suicide was an "unforgivable sin" unless there are circumstances were the individual was not in control. A sin must be a wilful act of defiance against God. Consent of the will.

This did not begin with St. Augustine, but the Apostolic age. Apostolic Authority handed down from the very beginning set the foundation of the Christian Faith.

St. Augustine was based from this Apostolic Tradition. Lets take a look at Sampson who killed himself while in the Temple of Dagon (Judges 16:25-31).

Hebrews 11:32 lists Sampson as one who did righteous because of his faithfulness. He was not a "suicide bomber", the Philistines were going to kill him and Sampson completed his mission to the very end.

During the attacks on the Twin Towers, you had people jumping off the buildings to escape certain death due to the extreme heat. These American hero's had no choice.

How terrible this was and may the Lord shine upon them his radiance and love in perfect happiness.

Jesus also taught that no greater love can man have than to lay down his life for his friends. I would often times give the example of a Soldier who dives on a grenade and by this act saves everyone who was there.

America has had Soldiers who have done that very thing who were given the Medal of Honor. There are situations where a person has sacrificed his life or took his or her life when there was no other way out.

The problem becomes more difficult when there is no apparent reason for such acts. There are just under 35,000 suicides per year, white males represents about 75% of that number. Women attempt it more often but they fail probably because the usual choice is through drugs or prescription drugs.

They are more easily found. Other cases are not that easy to understand. During my deployment to Germany, I was stationed in Schwienfurt (pig crossing) for about a year when one day I received some very bad news.

When I lived in Harrison Arkansas, I sponsored one of the teenagers for Confirmation. He was one who I had helped a number of times before I joined the Army. His Mother wrote me informing me that he went out into the barn and tossed a rope over a rafter and hung himself.

He couldn't have been 16 years old. I was shocked, this was very difficult for me. I had written him encouraging him from time to time and nothing from his letters gave any kind of indication of desperation.

The Christian Rock group "Petra" has a song called "For Annie" that meant allot to me. The song encourages us to never give up on people. When you're at Mass, we do not aways know what the person next to you might be going through.

Obviously, all we can do is place these unfortunate ones in the hands of God. That is all we can do. We should look to see signs that a person might be thinking of suicide. If they are giving things away, if they are more reserved, if they are not performing as normal, if they talk of suicide, these and other signs we must get them help. Recently we had 4 Soldiers commit suicide.

My Wife works with Soldiers at the WTU that are dealing with very tough images. Pray for them! Going back to the original question, will a person go to hell if they commit suicide? Many very well might especially if they took their life premeditatively. Jesus warns us not to kill (murder), we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

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