Tag Archives: suicide

A broken tree bears fruit: Christians tackling suicide

Warren and Vann“In God’s garden of grace, even a broken tree bears fruit,” Rick Warren of Saddleback Church said. Indeed. Rick and his wife Kay are collaborating with a variety of organizations, including the Catholic Diocese of Orange, to begin a serious ministry to those plagued with mental illness. The Garden tended to by God and His Church recognizes the presence of Mercy among broken branches and exposed roots. Read about the initiative here.

Rick and Kay lost their son to suicide. And is an alarming number of people who take their lives, even in the clergy. In 2013, a newly ordained priest in the Harrisburg Diocese took his life after years of darkness that he could not bear. In the last a few years I have been sad over hearing of priests facing death by their own hands. The Christian response is not to run away from death by suicide but to face it squarely in the face. The question of suicide has to be discussed and worked on in broader Christian community as a matter of faith and human ecology. To absent from this widespread darkness is tantamount to pastoral negligence.

The collaboration of the three sponsors is linked in this website: Mental health and the Church.

The goal of the Saddleback Church, the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Orange County and the Diocese of Orange is to engage in a sustained campaign to tackle mental health issues in their faith programs and from the pulpits in America. Recently, a gathering worked on topics like “Christianity and Depression,” “How to Launch a Support Group and Counseling Ministry in your Church,” “Suicide Prevention: Saving Lives One Community at a Time” and “Food and The Body: Three Steps to Healing Eating Disorders through Community.”

Erika I. Richie of the O.C. Register said, “Warren and Vann say they not only want to help those suffering, they want to empower church leaders. The goal is to equip pastors and churches nationwide in ways that will bring professional help and relief for those tortured by mental illness.”

The Catholic Information Service of the Knights of Columbus have a booklet, “Coping with a Suicide: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Response” which I would thrown in the mix of resources available.

The Door-to-door death opens wider

“I do not want to live on as a shadow of myself” and “I also don’t want to be sent off to a nursing home … If I have to decide myself, please abide by my wish” or “How much longer will my life be liveable in dignity?”

Such are the thoughts of a Catholic priest and theologian, Father Hans Kung, now 85. If you don’t remember the protagonist here, let me remind you. Father Kung is famous for his relentless agitation for ecclesial reform, even it may be said reduction. With all the reforms and renewal happening following the Second Vatican Council, where this Swiss priest theologian was an adviser/expert arguing for a decentralized church authority, a married priesthood and contraception and abortion etc. The Church did not adopt these ideas. Since 1960, Kung has been a professor at Tubingen but he taught there without a license to teach Catholic theology since 1979. But as John Paul said, he didn’t remove Kung’s baptism. It was Kung, as you may remember, got the young theologian named Joseph Ratzinger his first job teaching. Soon after being elected the Roman Pontiff, Pope Benedict invited Father Kung to dinner.

A friend posted a disturbing story of Kung thinking about ending his life. I am shocked that a Catholic priest would consider such. I can’t help but be sad for Kung and others who believe suicide is a dignified way to go to the next life. Here is the article that talks about Father Kung’s consideration of suicide.

This a long way of saying that the issues of euthanasia and the people considering this way of living and ultimately dying.

The Telegraph’s writer Tim Stanley wrote about a distressing embrace of euthanasia in an article “Door-to-door death units: Belgium and Holland abandon humanity as they embrace euthanasia.”

Stanley’s article is worth reading in detail and is provide you some grist for the mill of prayer today. He paints an ever crisis of being human, and the beauty of living. Stanley many of the fears people face when considering suicide as a reasonable option. Though living is not easy for some people.

Despair is real; depression and addiction is a crisis of the separation from reality as it is given. There is a fundamental recognition of need to live with dignity in each person; there is a capacity in each to love and to be loved; to be in relationship with others and with God. That is, we are hardwired to live in community with more than just the self. But suicide rejects this dignity and become encounter with selfishness and hopelessness; it rejects the fullest sense of freedom.

We are now seeing a growing trend of people voting in favor of euthanasia. It is now legal in countries like Belgium, Switzerland , the Netherlands, Luxembourg and four states in the United States of America. Connecticut and Massachusetts are among the states who have already proposed making assisted suicide legal. The desire for acting in favor of death is being entertained more and more. We are now facing squarely the fruit of the philosophy of nihilism now so linked to secularism and its standard of judgement.

Father Paul Archambault, 42, RIP, remembered

On my mind and
in my heart I have been thinking a priest who died on 3 July at his own hand.
Father Paul Archambault, 42, priest of the Diocese of Springfield, MA, had his demons with which to struggle in this
life; his struggle is not unlike the rest of humanity, that is, a struggle to
live with great humanity tensions between grace and sin. I didn’t know Father
Paul; I am nonetheless moved by his hasty act and struck by his death at this
young age, one that I share with him. Father Paul’s desperate act of suicide is
bewildering and saddening. My reflections lead me to say that sometimes we are
consumed by sin (or some other weakness) and forget that there is Friendship
beyond all others really cares for us. Nevertheless, Christ is present to
sustain us when we can’t remember that He’s offered us the Hundredfold.

John Lessard, former pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Holyoke and
friend of Father Paul, delivered the words noted below at the funeral at Saint
Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Northampton on July 12.

What is our response to
this tragic end of a priest? First, I would suggest that we beg the Holy Spirit
to preserve us from nihilistic temptations. Suicide is a mis-understood act
that many are tempted, even priests. In a week’s time I know of one other
priest who attempted suicide and lived. And over the years, I have known four
priests to have committed suicide. Second, cast an eye of mercy on those who
struggle with the temptation to permanently end their pain and suffering. What
are the distinguishing characteristics of Christ’s presence in these events?
Third, pray for priests. Fourth, be a good friend to others, particularly

Let us help each other see the Face of Christ. Let us also pray for
each other, and at this time all those who mourn Father Paul Archambault. Also, I would also caution against defining a person exclusively by some of his or her actions. We are more than one or two actions.

are a few paragraphs. For the rest of Father Lessard’s address, you may
read it

Paul Archambault.jpg

So,  it is with the Sacrament of Holy Orders of the Priesthood. Grace. Not magic.
And a man who enters into this unique and tremendous Sacrament, much like
married people, does not become immune to anything but rather can count on his
troubles to increase as the evil enemy fights with all his might to take down a
priest. The Sacrament of Holy Orders does not prevent sickness or illness of
any kind, does not cure what was already there. And we must understand that
true sickness, whether it be of body or of mind is sickness; it is not
.  A couple of years ago, a dear friend was diagnosed with breast
cancer. Would it possibly ever cross one’s mind to blame her for her cancer? Of
course not. If we are to love one another, care for and about one another as
Christ not only asked us to do but commanded us to do and tells us our
salvation rests largely upon fulfilling that command, we must put aside any and
all silliness and ignorance that prevent us from seeing illness for what it is,
no matter what that illness is
. Would we blame a man with Parkinson’s disease
for his chronic illness? Of course not.  Do you blame the child who
develops leukemia? The thought is absurd and ludicrous, isn’t it?  And as
with cancer or any other malady of the body, so with illness of the mind
sometimes treatments cure, sometimes they are very successful for a number of
years, sometimes they are partly and briefly successful, sometimes they fail

Read more ...

Teen suicide: how do we cope?

The tragic death of Michael Blosil, 18, son of Marie Osmond, the other day brings light to the sad reality of teen suicide. Noted by friends and family of the Osmonds, Michael had been battling the demons of depression.

The seriousness of the problem is seen in the statistics by the National Conference of State Legislatures:
19.3 percent of high school students have seriously considered killing themselves.
14.5 percent of high school students made actual plans for committing suicide.
900,000 youth planed their suicides during a major depression episode.
The Center for Disease Control said that suicide is the third leading cause of teen deaths between the ages of 15 and 24 behind accidents and homicide. And it is the fourth leading cause of children age 10-14.
For those interested in the subject, the Catholic Information Service published a booklet on suicide, Coping with a Suicide: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice. You can also listen to the booklet as a download.
This booklet provides a helpful look into defining suicide and it helps the reader to identify the signs while giving some helpful resources.
May the saints lead Michael into paradise.

Coping with a Suicide: 2 events bring to mind the need for love

A friend of mine in Utah asked for prayers for the soul of a young woman, wife, and mother of 2, who took her own life after struggling with depression. Today, Bishop Walsh mentioned the New York University student who leaped to his death on Tuesday. Billie and Andrew are in need of prayers.

The NYU student’s mom started a blog to her process her unconsolable grief.
Pray for this tragedy to stop. Bring your petition to the BVM so that she can assist those considering such a deed, the grace to change their mind.
A handy resource may be of assistance for those who want to help people understand suicide:

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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