Skip to comments.The Sin of Suicide
Posted on 02/26/2011 8:53:21 PM PST by Salvation
For Christians, this teaching takes on even greater depth because our Lord entered this world and our own human condition. Our Lord knew the joy and pain, success and failure, pleasure and suffering, happiness and sorrow that come in this life; yet, He also showed us how to live this life in the love of God and trusting in His will. Moreover, Jesus suffered, died, and rose to free us from sin and give us the promise of everlasting life. Through our baptism, we share a new life in the Lord. St. Paul reminds us, "You have been purchased, and at a price. So glorify God in your body" (I Corinthians 6:20).
Therefore, we must be mindful that the preservation of our life body and soul is not something discretionary but obligatory. We must preserve and nourish both our physical and spiritual life. The Catechism asserts, "Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his 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" (#2280).
With this foundation in mind, we can see why suicide has traditionally be considered a gravely wrong moral action, i.e. a mortal sin. Our Holy Father affirmed this position in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (#66). (Please note that suicide is distinguished from the sacrifice of one's life for God or another, as in the cases of martyrdom, or of offering one's life or risking it to save another person.)
The intentional taking of one's own life is wrong for several reasons: First, in the most basic sense, each human being naturally seeks to his preserve life. To take our own life defies our natural instinct to live.
Second, suicide violates a genuine love for oneself and one's neighbor-- family, friends, neighbors, and even acquaintances. Other people need us and depend upon us in ways we may not even know. When I as a priest have had to comfort the family of a suicide victim, I hope that the person somehow realizes how much he really was loved and needed. I also feel sad that this poor troubled person faced something so seemingly unbearable, insurmountable, or agonizing that he chose to withdraw from the love of God and others, and kill himself.
Finally, suicide defies the love we owe God. Sure, we all face the tough times, hardships, and sufferings. However, we are called to place ourselves in the hands of God who will never abandon us, but see us safely through this life. The words of the "Our Father" "thy will be done" must be real for us. To commit suicide is to reject His "lordship" in our life.
Therefore, objectively, suicide is a mortal sin. (Moreover, to help someone commit suicide is also a mortal sin.) Here though we must remember that for a sin to be mortal and cost someone salvation, the objective action (in this case the taking of one's own life) must be grave or serious matter; the person must have an informed intellect (know that this is wrong); and the person must give full consent of the will (intend to commit this action). In the case of suicide, a person may not have given full consent of the will. Fear, force, ignorance, habit, passion, and psychological problems can impede the exercise of the will so that a person may not be fully responsible or even responsible at all for an action. Here again the Catechism states, "Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide" (#2282). This qualification does not make suicide a right action in any circumstance; however, it does make us realize that the person may not be totally culpable for the action because of various circumstances or personal conditions.
Only God can read the depths of our soul. Only He knows how much we love Him and how responsible we are for our actions. We leave the judgment then to Him alone. The Catechism offers words of great hope: "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" (#2283). Therefore, we do offer the Mass for the repose of the soul of a suicide victim, invoking God's tender love and mercy, and His healing grace for the grieving loved ones.
Saunders, Rev. William. "The Sin of Suicide ." Arlington Catholic Herald.
This article is reprinted with permission from Arlington Catholic Herald.
And yet he makes the point that such pain or lowered insight reduces the culpability of the suicide.
There are cases where it may not be a mortal sin to commit suicide. It would still be sinful to some degree, and it would always be objectively wrong, but the suicide is not finally rejecting God.
For instance: a low-insight manic-depressive who leaves himself under the wheel of a truck is not finally rejecting God.
But imagine some prussian pessimist in the 1920s: swallowing cyanide in despair and pride. Such a man would have been finally rejecting God. A very terrible thing. The most terrible thing that can be imagined.
Good question. I'm afraid the only proper answer is through doctrinal study in His Word to understand His Plan for every believer.
There definitely are strong theological positions which assert condemnation for those who commit suicide. There also are other theological arguments asserting once saved, always saved, and the believer who commits suicide will still have eternal life, but not all the crowns which had been predestined for him/her.
I've found that by placing faith on Christ, being occupied with what He did on the Cross, manifests a true love for all mankind and obedience to the Sovereignty and Will of God the Father.
Rather than pity, compassion, or sharing the thinking processes of the person with suicidal tendencies, a far more loving and truthful approach is to focus on what God Provides and what the Cross is all about.
Those who focus upon themselves, will also be tempted to identify others who don't share their thinking, as being equally arrogant as themselves, but until one places God as the object of their thinking, they never will escape their attempts to counterfeit anything other than God as the object of their thinking.
Fear of death will not prevent dying, but it may prevent living.
The first mention of Purgatory in the Bible is in 2 Maccabees 12:46: “Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from sin.”
In Matthew 5:26 Christ is condemning sin and speaks of liberation only after expiation. “Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
Also: 1 Corinthians 3:15: If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Hope this is helpful.
And science has come so far in the past fifty years in understanding the brain. Truly amazing. So many wise comments on this thread.
Yes , I thought so too.
One of the better approaches I’ve found regarding questions on suicide is to reframe the question away from the “wrong-thinking” of the person with suicidal tendencies.
The reason they are suicidal is that they have already gone down the wrong path in their thinking, so the last thing one wants to do is join them in that quagmire.
God imputes life to the soul.
Nothing else will separate that life from the soul, INCLUDING suicide.
Thinking that one’s self-consciousness will be relieved of torment by suicide is false and self-deceptive.
The person needs to discern between the body, the mind, the soul, the source of their thoughts, and relationship of volition, all with respect to how God made them.
The very fact we have a life imputed to our soul manifests God has a Plan for our life. In order to understand the purpose and direction intended for our life, one first has to approach God by His standards to learn what He has provided for us.
There is nothing wrong is using the amenities of science, medicine, and technology to understand how our brain, bodies, and environment might effect our thinking, mind, and perceptions. There are, though, eternal consequences for our volition and behavior influenced from our thinking. Ignoring God will not solve problems of soulish torment, but may increase them.
BTW, good article.
If you know off-hand, Could you tell me what book/verses in the Bible talks about the “immaculate conception” of Mary, I’ve always been curious. Thanks!
I invite Catholics to break themselves away from posting anything from sources that mention Vatican II or post Vatican II writings, for then, they will discover the CLEAR REAL teachings of the Church.
"Why God would allow these "ambiguities" to occur in Vatican II. (and other magisterial documents)?
"Considering all that I have said thus far, especially concerning the ulterior motives of the liberal prelates and their virtual hijacking of Vatican II, I think Scripture has an answer as to why God would allow these "ambiguities" to occur. In short, there is an interesting working principle in Scripture. As a punishment for your sin, God will allow you to pursue, and be condemned by, what you sinfully desire. This is what I believe happened at Vatican II. The progressivist bishops and theologians sought for a way to push their heterodox ideas into the Church, so God allowed them to do so, as a witness and judgment against them. He would allow the Council to have its "ambiguities" so that those who would interpret them contrary to nineteen centuries of established Catholic dogma, would lead themselves into sin, and ultimately into God's judgment. Unfortunately, as is always the case, the sheep suffer for what the shepherds do wrong, and as a result, we have all been wandering in the spiritual desert of liberal theology for the past 40 years." (Article from Catholic Family News, Feb 2003, by Robert Sungenis)(1)
(1) In fact, the bad shepherds may be a chastisement for the sins of the sheep. Saint John Eudes, basing his words on Sacred Scripture, says that when God wants to punish his people, he sends them bad priests. See The Priest, His Dignity and Obligations, by Saint John Eudes, Chapter 2, "Qualities of a Holy Priest". (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1947).
The ambiguity in Vatican II is a punishment from God, the ambiguity is a snare, a siren song, to RUN AWAY FROM! My best advice to the common layman is: Do not seek any answers about the Faith from Vatican II or any theologians/sources that refers exclusively to it. Rat poison is 99% nutritious grain.
Take it for what you want but I knew I was going to loose her. I was being prepared for it months before while I was driving a rig and gone all but 4 days a month. An overwhelming feeling of something is not right at home. Not the kind like the car was tore up the kind like something bad is wrong. I end up quiting the job and took a maintenance job at a nursing home. Within two months she was gone. Two months later I'd gone back to work and taken a transfer because another facility needed a HVAC/Electrician so I took the offer.
I met a nurse aid there whom I would start dating. This is the person I'm married too now. I don't believe our prayers are always answered the way we would like. Sometimes down the road a person can look back and see that no was a good answer in the long run.
My dad has been fighting cancer for about 9 years when they told him he had about three years left. He's now on his third different type of Chemo, taking Morphine, and Hydrocodone for pain. The current round is a just recently approved drug. But he's in his 80's.
When I worked in the nursing homes we had patients we'd pray would not be there the next day because of the pain they were experiencing. A lot of them who looked healthy and had no real medical problems except fr age would surprise you though. You'd say see you tomorrow when you'd leave to clock out. They would say no I'm going home I won't be here. You come in the next day and their room was empty and you learn they had died that night. I've often wondered how they knew?
Everything must die to be reborn and even nature shows it. A tomato left alone will bloom and produce fruit. The fruit contains seed. If left alone the tomato falls to the ground and in time the plant dies. The seed lays in the ground and in the spring a plant springs up. So it is with mankind. The only way we can live is we first must die when that season comes.
Somethings just don't have easy answers. My sibling lost a spouse right before Christmas. My sibling has some serious mental problems that are compounded by several strokes. The one who died was the bread winner and like me a caregiver as well. It was an unexpected unknown heart issue. The spouse said see you after work and died that day at work. That outcome remains to be seen. Some positives is a shrink was fired and other doctors consulted. The shrink was incompetent. I knew it before anyone because that shrink had treated me once. But I can see two lives it changed for the better. Adversity is a refining tool if a person allows it.
One thing I've learned is nothing remains the same in our lives. Changes come and time usually heals most hurts & moods as long as you aren't hit too many times at once. Clinical depression I realize is not that though. My wifes been in therapy ten years and it's helped her.
The odds are I'll be going through one familiar pain again before I leave this world. Simply meaning the likelihood of being a widower again. That's just the reality of the circumstance. Twenty six years together me and her have been very blessed. Some may not look at it in that way though. Some person in the situation would dwell on what happened and let it take over their lives and rob them of happiness.
The hardest thing I’ve had to do in life is to thank the Lord for such a loss.
As the story goes, as the woman approached the confessional, she could see Saint Jean-Marie Vianney talking to the Virgin Mary...
She was distraught over the fact that her husband committed suicide, and therefore went straight to hell.
She spoke to Saint Jean-Marie Vianney about her grief. But the saint-to-be replied:
"When your husband jumped off the bridge, he made a perfect act of contrition before he hit the water. Your husband is in purgatory."
This is not to make suicide to seem like a trivial sin. But sometimes in God's mercy, people are given a second chance.
Sometimes there are other factors in the suicide that only God can see. In this case, the person may have regretted the act of suicide before doing, but might have thought it was "the only option".
God is the only one capable of seeing the whole picture.
The other example is King David in the Old Testament. Not only did have someone killed for his mistress (the mistress's husband), but King David committed adultery. Additionally, everyone probably realized the scandal that King David was involved: seduces a married woman, and then having her husband killed in battle.
Things are Black and White. But only God can see shades of gray...
In other words, it is not for us to judge, but only God.
And only God might make exceptions to serious sins and allow a soul to enter purgatory rather than go to hell...
Here late to this thread, but thought I’d pass on info about a group on facebook that prays for those who have committed or are in danger of committing suicide - It’s called Divine Mercy for Lost Souls, started by June Klins. (the term ‘lost’ means lost to the loved ones, not lost & in hell).
Excerpts from the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia; ( http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14326b.htm ) The teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the morality of suicide may be summarized as follows:
...God has reserved to himself direct dominion over life; He is the owner of its substance and He has given man only the serviceable dominion, the right of use, with the charge of protecting and preserving the substance, that is, life itself. Consequently suicide is an attempt against the dominion and right of ownership of the Creator. To this injustice is added a serious offense against the charity which man owes to himself, since by his act he deprives himself of the greatest good in his possession and the possibility of attaining his final end. Moreover, the sin may be aggravated by circumstances, such as failure in conjugal, paternal, or filial piety, failure in justice or charity, if by taking his life one eludes existing obligations of justice or acts of charity, which he could and should perform. That suicide is unlawful is the teaching of Holy Scripture and of the Church, which condemns the act as a most atrocious crime and, in hatred of the sin and to arouse the horror of its children, denies the suicide Christian burial. Moreover, suicide is directly opposed to the most powerful and invincible tendency of every creature and especially of man, the preservation of life. Finally, for a sane man deliberately to take his own life, he must, as a general rule, first have annihilated in himself all that he possessed of spiritual life, since suicide is in absolute contradiction to everything that the Christian religion teaches us as to the end and object of life and, except in cases of insanity, is usually the natural termination of a life of disorder, weakness, and cowardice.
..... The Frequency of Suicide and its Chief Causes
The plague of suicide belongs especially to the period of decadence of the civilized peoples of antiquity, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. The Christian Middle Ages were unacquainted with this morbid tendency, but it has reappeared at a more recent period, has developed constantly since the Renaissance, and at present has reached such an intensity among all civilized nations that it may be considered one of the special evils of our time.
This suicide rate obviously includes suicides attributable to mental illness, but we cannot accept the opinion of a large number of physicians, moralists, and jurists who, led into error by a false philosophy, lay it down as a general rule that suicide is always due to insanity, so great is the horror which this act inspires in every man of sane mind. The Church rejects this theory and, while admitting exceptions, considers that those unfortunates who, impelled by despair or anger, attempt their life often act through malice or culpable cowardice. In fact, despair and anger are not as a general thing movements of the soul which it is impossible to resist, especially if one does not neglect the helps offered by religion, confidence in God, belief in the immortality of the soul and in a future life of rewards and punishments.
Obviously, you've never experienced something like an intense panic attack.
I am so sorry- my prayers are with you. I lost a father-in-law and my ex (high school/college) boyfriend a couple of years apart. No-one knows the pain either faced the last couple of minutes, and I went through grieving with two sets of families (my former mother-in-law witnessed the death of her husband and will never be the same.) I hope you have gotten the support you need.
We can try our hardest to analyze everything and determine how God responds to our actions, but we can never really KNOW. Remember God sees and knows all things so I believe the end for anyone- suicide or not- is between them and God and it is not for us to know for sure what happens to those that commit suicide.
I agree that those that commit suicide do have inner demons that they cannot control. Things seem totally out of their control and they cannot see a way out of their issues. I had a suicide in my family over 30 years ago and it is not something that you can really ever deal with, because if you haven’t been in their shoes you can’t possibly understand. My prayers go out to you and all of the family and friends of the person that committed suicide in your family. I pray that you will all have the strength you will need to deal with this. Please keep close watch on those closest to that person, sometimes others see no way out for themselves when that happens in a family.
I am haunted by those pictures from the World Trade Center on 9-11 of people who jumped to their deaths rather than perish in the flames. Would they be considered suicides?
Limbo was never officially defined as Catholic Dogma. It was a srongly held theological position regarding the fate of unbaptized Children going back to the time of St. Augustine who was one its first proponents and thus since his time, it was a major theological opinion of the Church.
However, as the recent Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states, the Church can’t definitively say anything about the fate of unbaptized Children as that was never really totally revealed by Christ. The Church thus trusts in the Mercy of God and prays for unbaptized children at the Liturgy [CCC 1261, see Link attached]
Wow! Some story!
Great testimony. Thanks.
It’s the trip to heaven.
A State After Death of Suffering and Forgiveness
Purification After Death By Fire
Tradition / Church Fathers
The Early Churchs Belief in Purgatory
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I. A State After Death of Suffering and Forgiveness
Matt. 5:26,18:34; Luke 12:58-59 Jesus teaches us, Come to terms with your opponent or you will be handed over to the judge and thrown into prison. You will not get out until you have paid the last penny. The word opponent (antidiko) is likely a reference to the devil (see the same word for devil in 1 Pet. 5:8) who is an accuser against man (c.f. Job 1.6-12; Zech. 3.1; Rev. 12.10), and God is the judge. If we have not adequately dealt with satan and sin in this life, we will be held in a temporary state called a prison, and we wont get out until we have satisfied our entire debt to God. This prison is purgatory where we will not get out until the last penny is paid.
Matt. 5:48 - Jesus says, “be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are only made perfect through purification, and in Catholic teaching, this purification, if not completed on earth, is continued in a transitional state we call purgatory.
Matt. 12:32 Jesus says, And anyone who says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but no one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven either in this world or in the next. Jesus thus clearly provides that there is forgiveness after death. The phrase in the next (from the Greek en to mellonti) generally refers to the afterlife (see, for example, Mark 10.30; Luke 18.30; 20.34-35; Eph. 1.21 for similar language). Forgiveness is not necessary in heaven, and there is no forgiveness in hell. This proves that there is another state after death, and the Church for 2,000 years has called this state purgatory.
Luke 12:47-48 - when the Master comes (at the end of time), some will receive light or heavy beatings but will live. This state is not heaven or hell, because in heaven there are no beatings, and in hell we will no longer live with the Master.
Luke 16:19-31 - in this story, we see that the dead rich man is suffering but still feels compassion for his brothers and wants to warn them of his place of suffering. But there is no suffering in heaven or compassion in hell because compassion is a grace from God and those in hell are deprived from God’s graces for all eternity. So where is the rich man? He is in purgatory.
1 Cor. 15:29-30 - Paul mentions people being baptized on behalf of the dead, in the context of atoning for their sins (people are baptized on the deads behalf so the dead can be raised). These people cannot be in heaven because they are still with sin, but they also cannot be in hell because their sins can no longer be atoned for. They are in purgatory. These verses directly correspond to 2 Macc. 12:44-45 which also shows specific prayers for the dead, so that they may be forgiven of their sin.
Phil. 2:10 - every knee bends to Jesus, in heaven, on earth, and “under the earth” which is the realm of the righteous dead, or purgatory.
2 Tim. 1:16-18 - Onesiphorus is dead but Paul asks for mercy on him on that day. Pauls use of that day demonstrates its eschatological usage (see, for example, Rom. 2.5,16; 1 Cor. 1.8; 3.13; 5.5; 2 Cor. 1.14; Phil. 1.6,10; 2.16; 1 Thess. 5.2,4,5,8; 2 Thess. 2.2,3; 2 Tim. 4.8). Of course, there is no need for mercy in heaven, and there is no mercy given in hell. Where is Onesiphorus? He is in purgatory.
Heb. 12:14 - without holiness no one will see the Lord. We need final sanctification to attain true holiness before God, and this process occurs during our lives and, if not completed during our lives, in the transitional state of purgatory.
Heb. 12:23 - the spirits of just men who died in godliness are “made” perfect. They do not necessarily arrive perfect. They are made perfect after their death. But those in heaven are already perfect, and those in hell can no longer be made perfect. These spirits are in purgatory.
1 Peter 3:19; 4:6 - Jesus preached to the spirits in the “prison.” These are the righteous souls being purified for the beatific vision.
Rev. 21:4 - God shall wipe away their tears, and there will be no mourning or pain, but only after the coming of the new heaven and the passing away of the current heaven and earth. Note the elimination of tears and pain only occurs at the end of time. But there is no morning or pain in heaven, and God will not wipe away their tears in hell. These are the souls experiencing purgatory.
Rev. 21:27 - nothing unclean shall enter heaven. The word unclean comes from the Greek word koinon which refers to a spiritual corruption. Even the propensity to sin is spiritually corrupt, or considered unclean, and must be purified before entering heaven. It is amazing how many Protestants do not want to believe in purgatory. Purgatory exists because of the mercy of God. If there were no purgatory, this would also likely mean no salvation for most people. God is merciful indeed.
Luke 23:43 many Protestants argue that, because Jesus sent the good thief right to heaven, there can be no purgatory. There are several rebuttals. First, when Jesus uses the word “paradise, He did not mean heaven. Paradise, from the Hebrew “sheol,” meant the realm of the righteous dead. This was the place of the dead who were destined for heaven, but who were captive until the Lord’s resurrection. Second, since there was no punctuation in the original manuscript, Jesus statement I say to you today you will be with me in paradise does not mean there was a comma after the first word you. This means Jesus could have said, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise (meaning, Jesus could have emphasized with exclamation his statement was today or now, and that some time in the future the good thief would go to heaven). Third, even if the thief went straight to heaven, this does not prove there is no purgatory (those who are fully sanctified in this life perhaps by a bloody and repentant death could be ready for admission in to heaven).
Gen. 50:10; Num. 20:29; Deut. 34:8 - here are some examples of ritual prayer and penitent mourning for the dead for specific periods of time. The Jewish understanding of these practices was that the prayers freed the souls from their painful state of purification, and expedited their journey to God.
Baruch 3:4 - Baruch asks the Lord to hear the prayers of the dead of Israel. Prayers for the dead are unnecessary in heaven and unnecessary in hell. These dead are in purgatory.
Zech. 9:11 - God, through the blood of His covenant, will set those free from the waterless pit, a spiritual abode of suffering which the Church calls purgatory.
2 Macc. 12:43-45 - the prayers for the dead help free them from sin and help them to the reward of heaven. Those in heaven have no sin, and those in hell can no longer be freed from sin. They are in purgatory. Luther was particularly troubled with these verses because he rejected the age-old teaching of purgatory. As a result, he removed Maccabees from the canon of the Bible.
II. Purification After Death By Fire
Heb. 12:29 - God is a consuming fire (of love in heaven, of purgation in purgatory, or of suffering and damnation in hell).
1 Cor. 3:10-15 - works are judged after death and tested by fire. Some works are lost, but the person is still saved. Paul is referring to the state of purgation called purgatory. The venial sins (bad works) that were committed are burned up after death, but the person is still brought to salvation. This state after death cannot be heaven (no one with venial sins is present) or hell (there is no forgiveness and salvation).
1 Cor. 3:15 if any mans work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. The phrase for “suffer loss” in the Greek is “zemiothesetai.” The root word is “zemioo” which also refers to punishment. The construction zemiothesetai is used in Ex. 21:22 and Prov. 19:19 which refers to punishment (from the Hebrew anash meaning punish or penalty). Hence, this verse proves that there is an expiation of temporal punishment after our death, but the person is still saved. This cannot mean heaven (there is no punishment in heaven) and this cannot mean hell (the possibility of expiation no longer exists and the person is not saved).
1 Cor. 3:15 further, Paul writes he himself will be saved, “but only” (or yet so) as through fire. He will be saved in the Greek is sothesetai (which means eternal salvation). The phrase “but only” (or yet so) in the Greek is “houtos” which means “in the same manner.” This means that man is both eternally rewarded and eternally saved in the same manner by fire.
1 Cor. 3:13 - when Paul writes about God revealing the quality of each man’s work by fire and purifying him, this purification relates to his sins (not just his good works). Protestants, in attempting to disprove the reality of purgatory, argue that Paul was only writing about rewarding good works, and not punishing sins (because punishing and purifying a man from sins would be admitting that there is a purgatory).
1 Cor. 3:17 - but this verse proves that the purgation after death deals with punishing sin. That is, destroying God’s temple is a bad work, which is a mortal sin, which leads to death. 1 Cor. 3:14,15,17 - purgatory thus reveals the state of righteousness (v.14), state of venial sin (v.15) and the state of mortal sin (v.17), all of which are judged after death.
1 Peter 1:6-7 - Peter refers to this purgatorial fire to test the fruits of our faith.
Jude 1:23 - the people who are saved are being snatched out of the fire. People are already saved if they are in heaven, and there is no possibility of salvation if they are in hell. These people are being led to heaven from purgatory.
Rev. 3:18-19 - Jesus refers to this fire as what refines into gold those He loves if they repent of their sins. This is in the context of after death because Jesus, speaking from heaven, awards the white garment of salvation after the purgation of fire (both after death).
Dan 12:10 - Daniel refers to this refining by saying many shall purify themselves, make themselves white and be refined.
Wis. 3:5-6 - the dead are disciplined and tested by fire to receive their heavenly reward. This is the fire of purgatory.
Sirach 2:5 - for gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.
Zech. 13:8-9 - God says 2/3 shall perish, and 1/3 shall be left alive, put into the fire, and refined like silver and tested like gold. The ones that perish go to hell, and there is no need for refinement in heaven, so those being refined are in purgatory.
Mal. 3:2-3 - also refers to God’s purification of the righteous at their death.
Tradition / Church Fathers
I. The Early Churchs Belief in Purgatory
“And after the exhibition, Tryphaena again receives her. For her daughter Falconilla had died, and said to her in a dream: Mother, thou shaft have this stranger Thecla in my place, in order that she may pray concerning me, and that I may be transferred to the place of the just.” Acts of Paul and Thecla (A.D. 160).
“Abercius by name, I am a disciple of the chaste shepherd...He taught me faithful writings...These words, I, Abercius, standing by, ordered to be inscribed. In truth, I was in the course of my seventy-second year. Let him who understands and believes this pray fro Abercius.” Inscription of Abercius (A.D. 190).
“Without delay, on that very night, this was shown to me in a vision. I saw Dinocrates going out from a gloomy place, where also there were several others, and he was parched and very thirsty, with a filthy countenance and pallid colour, and the wound on his face which he had when he died. This Dinocrates had been my brother after the flesh, seven years of age? Who died miserably with disease...But I trusted that my prayer would bring help to his suffering; and I prayed for him every day until we passed over into the prison of the camp, for we were to fight in the camp-show. Then was the birth-day of Gets Caesar, and I made my prayer for my brother day and night, groaning and weeping that he might be granted to me. Then, on the day on which we remained in fetters, this was shown to me. I saw that that place which I had formerly observed to be in gloom was now bright; and Dinocrates, with a clean body well clad, was finding refreshment. And where there had been a wound, I saw a scar; and that pool which I had before seen, I saw now with its margin lowered even to the boy’s navel. And one drew water from the pool incessantly, and upon its brink was a goblet filled with water; and Dinocrates drew near and began to drink from it, and the goblet did not fail. And when he was satisfied, he went away from the water to play joyously, after the manner of children, and I awoke. Then I understood that he was translated from the place of punishment.” The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitias, 2:3-4 (A.D. 202).
“Accordingly the believer, through great discipline, divesting himself of the passions, passes to the mansion which is better than the former one, viz., to the greatest torment, taking with him the characteristic of repentance from the sins he has committed after baptism. He is tortured then still more—not yet or not quite attaining what he sees others to have acquired. Besides, he is also ashamed of his transgressions. The greatest torments, indeed, are assigned to the believer. For God’s righteousness is good, and His goodness is righteous. And though the punishments cease in the course of the completion of the expiation and purification of each one, yet those have very great and permanent grief who are found worthy of the other fold, on account of not being along with those that have been glorified through righteousness.” Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 6:14 (post A.D. 202).
“[T]hat allegory of the Lord which is extremely clear and simple in its meaning, and ought to be from the first understood in its plain and natural sense...Then, again, should you be disposed to apply the term ‘adversary’ to the devil, you are advised by the (Lord’s) injunction, while you are in the way with him, ‘to make even with him such a compact as may be deemed compatible with the requirements of your true faith. Now the compact you have made respecting him is to renounce him, and his pomp, and his angels. Such is your agreement in this matter. Now the friendly understanding you will have to carry out must arise from your observance of the compact: you must never think of getting back any of the things which you have abjured, and have restored to him, lest he should summon you as a fraudulent man, and a transgressor of your agreement, before God the Judge (for in this light do we read of him, in another passage, as ‘the accuser of the brethren,’ or saints, where reference is made to the actual practice of legal prosecution); and lest this Judge deliver you over to the angel who is to execute the sentence, and he commit you to the prison of hell, out of which there will be no dismissal until the smallest even of your delinquencies be paid off in the period before the resurrection. What can be a more fitting sense than this? What a truer interpretation?” Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, 35 (A.D. 210).
“All souls, therefore; are shut up within Hades: do you admit this? It is true, whether you say yes or no: moreover, there are already experienced there punishments and consolations; and there you have a poor man and a rich...Moreover, the soul executes not all its operations with the ministration of the flesh; for the judgment of God pursues even simple cogitations and the merest volitions. ‘Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.’ Therefore, even for this cause it is most fitting that the soul, without at all waiting for the flesh, should be punished for what it has done without the partnership of the flesh. So, on the same principle, in return for the pious and kindly thoughts in which it shared not the help of the flesh, shall it without the flesh receive its consolation. In short, inasmuch as we understand ‘the prison’ pointed out in the Gospel to be Hades, and as we also interpret ‘the uttermost farthing’ to mean the very smallest offence which has to be recompensed there before the resurrection, no one will hesitate to believe that the soul undergoes in Hades some compensatory discipline, without prejudice to the full process of the resurrection, when the recompense will be administered through the flesh besides.” Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, 58 (A.D. 210).
“As often as the anniversary comes round, we make offerings for the dead as birthday honours.” Tertullian, The Chaplut, 3 (A.D. 211).
“[A] woman is more bound when her husband is dead...Indeed, she prays for his soul, and requests refreshment for him meanwhile, and fellowship (with him) in the first resurrection; and she offers (her sacrifice) on the anniversary of his falling asleep.” Tertullian, On Monogamy, 10 (A.D. 216).
“For if on the foundation of Christ you have built not only gold and silver and precious stones (1 Cor.,3); but also wood and hay and stubble, what do you expect when the soul shall be separated from the body? Would you enter into heaven with your wood and hay and stubble and thus defile the kingdom of God; or on account of these hindrances would you remain without and receive no reward for your gold and silver and precious stones; neither is this just. It remains then that you be committed to the fire which will burn the light materials; for our God to those who can comprehend heavenly things is called a cleansing fire. But this fire consumes not the creature, but what the creature has himself built, wood, and hay and stubble. It is manifest that the fire destroys the wood of our transgressions and then returns to us the reward of our great works.” Origen, Homilies on Jeremias, PG 13:445, 448 ( A.D. 244).
“For to adulterers even a time of repentance is granted by us, and peace is given. Yet virginity is not therefore deficient in the Church, nor does the glorious design of continence languish through the sins of others. The Church, crowned with so many virgins, flourishes; and chastity and modesty preserve the tenor of their glory. Nor is the vigour of continence broken down because repentance and pardon are facilitated to the adulterer. It is one thing to stand for pardon, another thing to attain to glory: it is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing at once to receive the wages of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged by fire; another to have purged all sins by suffering. It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the day of judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord.” Cyprian, To Antonianus, Epistle 51 (55):20 (A.D. 253).
“Let us pray for our brethren that are at rest in Christ, that God, the lover of mankind, who has received his soul, may forgive him every sin, voluntary and involuntary, and may be merciful and gracious to him, and give him his lot in the land of the pious that are sent into the bosom of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, with all those that have pleased Him and done His will from the beginning of the world, whence all sorrow, grief, and lamentation are banished.” Apostolic Constitutions, 8:4,41 (3rd Century).
“The same divine fire, therefore, with one and the same force and power, will both burn the wicked and will form them again, and will replace as much as it shall consume of their bodies, and will supply itself with eternal nourishment: which the poets transferred to the vulture of Tityus. Thus, without any wasting of bodies, which regain their substance, it will only burn and affect them with a sense of pain. But when He shall have judged the righteous, He will also try them with fire. Then they whose sins shall exceed either in weight or in number, shall be scorched by the fire and burnt: but they whom full justice and maturity of virtue has imbued will not perceive that fire; for they have something of God in themselves which repels and rejects the violence of the flame.” Lactantius, The Divine Institutes, 7:21 (A.D. 307).
“Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth. And I wish to persuade you by an illustration. For I know that many say, what is a soul profited, which departs from this world either with sins, or without sins, if it be commemorated in the prayer? For if a king were to banish certain who had given him of-fence, and then those who belong to them should weave a crown and offer it to him on behalf of those under punishment, would he not grant a remission of their penalties? In the same way we, when we offer to Him our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, though they be sinners, weave no crown, but offer up Christ sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our merciful God for them as well as for ourselves. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 23:9,10 (c. A.D. 350).
“I think that the noble athletes of God, who have wrestled all their lives with the invisible enemies, after they have escaped all of their persecutions and have come to the end of life, are examined by the prince of this world; and if they are found to have any wounds from their wrestling, any stains or effects of sin, they are detained. If, however they are found unwounded and without stain, they are, as unconquered, brought by Christ into their rest.” Basil, Homilies on the Psalms, 7:2 (ante A.D. 370).
“Lay me not with sweet spices: for this honour avails me not; Nor yet incense and perfumes: for the honour benefits me not. Burn sweet spices in the Holy Place: and me, even me, conduct to the grave with prayer. Give ye incense to God: and over me send up hymns. Instead of perfumes of spices: in prayer make remembrance of me.” Ephraem, His Testament (ante A.D. 373).
“Useful too is the prayer fashioned on their [the deads] behalf...it is useful, because in this world we often stumble either voluntarily or involuntarily.” Epiphanius, Panarion, 75:8 (A.D. 375).
“When he has quitted his body and the difference between virtue and vice is known he cannot approach God till the purging fire shall have cleansed the stains with which his soul was infested. That same fire in others will cancel the corruption of matter, and the propensity to evil.” Gregory of Nyssa, Sermon on the Dead, PG 13:445,448 (ante A.D. 394).
“Give, Oh Lord, rest to Thy servant Theodosius, that rest Thou hast prepared for Thy saints....I love him, therefore will I follow him to the land of the living; I will not leave him till by my prayers and lamentations he shall be admitted unto the holy mount of the Lord,to which his deserts call him.” Ambrose, De obitu Theodosii, PL 16:1397 (A.D. 395).
“Other husbands scatter on the graves of their wives violets, roses, lilies, and purple flowers; and assuage the grief of their hearts by fulfilling this tender duty. Our dear Pammachius also waters the holy ashes and the revered bones of Paulina, but it is with the balm of almsgiving.” Jerome, To Pammachius, Epistle 66:5 (A.D. 397).
“Weep for the unbelievers; weep for those who differ in nowise from them, those who depart hence without the illumination, without the seal! They indeed deserve our wailing, they deserve our groans; they are outside the Palace, with the culprits, with the condemned: for, “Verily I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” Mourn for those who have died in wealth, and did not from their wealth think of any solace for their soul, who had power to wash away their sins and would not. Let us all weep for these in private and in public, but with propriety, with gravity, not so as to make exhibitions of ourselves; let us weep for these, not one day, or two, but all our life. Such tears spring not from senseless passion, but from true affection. The other sort are of senseless passion. For this cause they are quickly quenched, whereas if they spring from the fear of God, they always abide with us. Let us weep for these; let us assist them according to our power; let us think of some assistance for them, small though it be, yet still let us assist them. How and in what way? By praying and entreating others to make prayers for them, by continually giving to the poor on their behalf.” John Chrysostom, Homilies on Phillipians, 3 (ante A.D. 404).
“If the baptized person fulfills the obligations demanded of a Christian, he does well. If he does not—provided he keeps the faith, without which he would perish forever—no matter in what sin or impurity remains, he will be saved, as it were, by fire; as one who has built on the foundation, which is Christ, not gold, silver, and precious stones, but wood, hay straw, that is, not just and chasted works but wicked and unchaste works.” Augustine, Faith and Works, 1:1 (A.D. 413).
“Now on what ground does this person pray that he may not be ‘rebuked in indignation, nor chastened in hot displeasure”? He speaks as if he would say unto God, ‘Since the things which I already suffer are many in number, I pray Thee let them suffice;’ and he begins to enumerate them, by way of satisfying God; offering what he suffers now, that he may not have to suffer worse evils hereafter.” Augustine, Exposition of the Psalms, 38(37):3 (A.D. 418).
“And it is not impossible that something of the same kind may take place even after this life. It is a matter that may be inquired into, and either ascertained or left doubtful, whether some believers shall pass through a kind of purgatorial fire, and in proportion as they have loved with more or less devotion the goods that perish, be less or more quickly delivered from it. This cannot, however, be the case of any of those of whom it is said, that they ‘shall not inherit the kingdom of God,’ unless after suitable repentance their sins be forgiven them. When I say ‘suitable,’ I mean that they are not to be unfruitful in almsgiving; for Holy Scripture lays so much stress on this virtue, that our Lord tells us beforehand, that He will ascribe no merit to those on His right hand but that they abound in it, and no defect to those on His left hand but their want of it, when He shall say to the former, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom,” and to the latter, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.’” Augustine, Enchiridion, 69 (A.D. 421).
“During the time, moreover, which intervenes between a man’s death and the final resurrection, the soul dwells in a hidden retreat, where it enjoys rest or suffers affliction just in proportion to the merit it has earned by the life which it led on earth.” Augustine, Enchiridion, 1099 (A.D. 421).
“For our part, we recognize that even in this life some punishments are purgatorial,—not, indeed, to those whose life is none the better, but rather the worse for them, but to those who are constrained by them to amend their life. All other punishments, whether temporal or eternal, inflicted as they are on every one by divine providence, are sent either on account of past sins, or of sins presently allowed in the life, or to exercise and reveal a man’s graces. They may be inflicted by the instrumentality of bad men and angels as well as of the good. For even if any one suffers some hurt through another’s wickedness or mistake, the man indeed sins whose ignorance or injustice does the harm; but God, who by His just though hidden judgment permits it to be done, sins not. But temporary punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by others after death, by others both now and then; but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But of those who suffer temporary punishments after death, all are not doomed to those everlasting pains which are to follow that judgment; for to some, as we have already said, what is not remitted in this world is remitted in the next, that is, they are not punished with the eternal punishment of the world to come.” Augustine, City of God, 21:13 (A.D. 426).
“But since she has this certainty regarding no man, she prays for all her enemies who yet live in this world; and yet she is not heard in behalf of all. But she is heard in the case of those only who, though they oppose the Church, are yet predestinated to become her sons through her intercession...For some of the dead, indeed, the prayer of the Church or of pious individuals is heard; but it is for those who, having been regenerated in Christ, did not spend their life so wickedly that they can be judged unworthy of such compassion, nor so well that they can be considered to have no need of it. As also, after the resurrection, there will be some of the dead to whom, after they have endured the pains proper to the spirits of the dead, mercy shall be accorded, and acquittal from the punishment of the eternal fire. For were there not some whose sins, though not remitted in this life, shall be remitted in that which is to come, it could not be truly said, “They shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in that which is to come.’ But when the Judge of quick and dead has said, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,’ and to those on the other side, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels,’ and ‘These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life,’ it were excessively presumptuous to say that the punishment of any of those whom God has said shall go away into eternal punishment shall not be eternal, and so bring either despair or doubt upon the corresponding promise of life eternal.” Augustine, City of God,2 1:24 (A.D. 426).
“If we neither give thanks to God in tribulations nor redeem our own sins by good works, we shall have to remain in that purgatorian fire as long as it takes for those above-mentioned lesser sins to be consumed like wood and straw and hay.” Ceasar of Arles, Sermon 179 (104):2 (A.D. 542).
“Each one will be presented to the Judge exactly as he was when he departed this life. Yet, there must be a cleansing fire before judgment, because of some minor faults that may remain to be purged away. Does not Christ, the Truth, say that if anyone blasphemes against the Holy Spirit he shall not be forgiven ‘either in this world or in the world to come’(Mt. 12:32)? From this statement we learn that some sins can be forgiven in this world and some in the world to come. For, if forgiveness is refused for a particular sin, we conclude logically that it is granted for others. This must apply, as I said, to slight transgressions.” Gregory the Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], Dialogues, 4:39 (A.D. 594).
He was sent to deal with Ahab. Ahab was one of the worst kings ever to sit on the throne of Israel. . Elijah felt his mission had been a failure and was so disheartened that he wanted to die
. 1 Kings 19:3-4) It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers
In Jonah 4:9. He wanted to die on 2 separate occasions.
Now, I realize that pain can take on different faces: depression, fear, but the Lord spoke to one of my Christian sister/friends and related that Depression is NEVER from the Lord. It is ALWAYS from the enemy. When she told me that, it really helped.... since I'm prone to it.
Physical pain can usually be controlled with meds... but it is the emotional pain that, personally, knocks me down the most. I have tried, during those times, to remember that "it won't always belike this", and then to ask the Lord to shove me up deep under His mighty Wing and nestle me until I feel loved again.
You never read Song of Songs, Wisdom or Revelation??
Read them again with that mindset and you will see the Blessed Virgin Mary.
How about the first chapter of Luke?
Hail, Mary, full of grace.
But this thread is about suicide — so let’s keep it on topic, please.
I’d never heard that story before. Thanks for sharing it.
Purgatory will have cleansed the man — not from his own sin — but from how his sin affected those around him. He is merely making reparations for the harms he caused his wife and family and friends.
Only God knows — and of course, a saint who could see into the future for that distraught woman.
Realized that after I posted. I’m sorry:(
My prayers are with all who’ve been affected by depression or suicide... I can relate.
This can also put many things into gray areas such as end of natural life. I had an aunt a devout RC who in her final months gave up eating. She was elderly and lived a full life. Nothing tasted good and she lost all desire for food. I see that falling under a dismissal of ones spirit being into GOD's hands. I believe a person can literally will themselves to die even without the physical act of suicide. I also think to some who attempt it for whatever His reasons GOD denies it to them.
A person thinking of suicide needs mental health help well beyond what most clergy in any church can give or are qualified. There is a very real danger of saying the wrong thing like Brother if you only had more faith etc. This only compounds their problems and they see it as more failure on their part and give up. Even the most skilled therapist loose a certain percentage and I do know several therapist who are Christians and in their therapy use Biblical principles for healing and finding peace.
Not even preachers are exempt from falling into the despair to desire to take their own life. It's one of the most difficult things as therapist deals with.
The way to reach them is to explain the pain they leave to others first. Give them a reason to want to live not out of fear but rather they are still needed here amongst the living.
Even Christ had to step away from the world around Him as it become a bit much to deal with. He would either by himself or with the 12 retreat for a period of time to let the mind, body, and spirit rest. I learned about that the hard way when I was going to the hospital every night to see my then girlfriend. The mind in extreme fatigue can play some nasty tricks. If you don't give it rest it will literally make you. I'm Baptist myself but a Nun explained to me why I had became numb in all my feelings. She told me go home and rest and take a few days to myself. She was right.
Hey, everyone, this was a person online here at FR who was considering suicide.
Pray for this person. That’s all I can say right now.
One day we were talking and she said she had a problem that she couldn't even talk with me about and was in some distress.
I suggested to her that I take her to my church and she could go into the confessional and talk with the priest. I told her to start by telling the priest she was not catholic but needed desperately to talk with someone. I also explained to her as she knelt, she would hear the sliding of a the cubical door that meant the priest was now listening to her..
I waited out in the church. She was in there for some time, she never talked to me about it which was fine, but she also never mentioned a problem she could not talk to anyone about....I have guessed that whatever the priest told her must have helped. And she had the confidence of knowing that the priest would never talk about it outside of the confessional either...cross religions can help one another if we let it.
No. There was very intense heat above and below impact. Much more so above as heat rises. I used to be a fire fighter when I was in the Navy and know about how heat transfers work in metal structures.
Some jumpers were blown out others likely saw jumping as an only hope to live. The ones above the impact were given a death sentence the second the plane hit. Stairwells and elevator shafts in buildings that size act as giant ventilation shafts. Even if they could have gotten past the hit floors the fumes alone would have likely killed them. There are some very horrible ways to go and fire is among the worse. Jumping to escape fire would be a normal & logical response under the circumstances.
Thanks for asking. I am honored to pray for anyone who needs help.
At our wedding were several Nuns, a Priest who was the hospital Chaplain, and our preacher who officiated the wedding.
Please pass this on to people who are searching for God’s help in their lives.
My wife spent her first grade in a Catholic school. She was living in southeast Arkansas in the 1950's with her grandmother for a few years. Her grandmother put her in the Catholic school because the church ran better schools. Her grandmother was a preachers wife till preacher got caught breaking the 7th Commandment.
The church closed the school by second grade. Due either to funding or local prejudices of that day. A teacher she had in public school later tried to fail her because she thought she was Catholic. The place was close to Greeneville, MS so you can imagine what went on.
I grieve for your son, and for you. You think that because your son didn't know God, that he might have been more susceptible, but please understand that even people who know God have committed suicide.
If someone is suffering from clinical depression, or a mental illness, of which even those to whom they are close may not be aware, their belief in God may be battling against that disease. If the disease is stronger, at the time the opportunity arises, their faith may not sustain them. It's very sad to contemplate, but, there it is.
I pray you can find some measure of comfort, as time goes by.
Only God can determine that. None of us knows, for certain, because we have no idea what was going through the mind of that person, at the instant of his or her death.
Be that as it may, people should NOT be made to feel bad, or less of a Christian, if they seek medical attention for their depression. It is NOT a failing of faith or any other such nonsense. If they want to continue to pray, it may bring them some measure of comfort, but for out of whack brain chemicals, pharmacology should be considered and tried.
I don’t disagree at all...
“There are lots of great success stories in the world of mental illness. Its fine to have faith, but, a good Psychologist and the right medications and counseling works.”
If a person is experiencing true despair then there is nothing in the world that can treat it. The “success stories” you mention are just otherwise normal/stable people with a chemical imbalance.
The worst cases are a death sentence.
“But, its a liberating view for me, I control my life for the rest of my life, I have the power over my choices.”
How is the horror of this world liberating for you? Or did you simply stop caring? I am not trying to be nasty it’s just that your worldview seems so bizarre to me.
I am an agnostic and every new morning is a curse. The only reason I don’t commit suicide is out of a totally arbitrary and irrational sense of duty.