Psalm 5, Verse 8
But I, through the abundance of your mercy*, will enter into your house. I will bow down toward your holy sanctuary out of fear of you.
Psalm five is a lament contrasting the security of the house of God with the danger of the company of evildoers. The psalmist therefore prays that God will hear and grant the protection and joy of the Temple. We as Catholics have more than a temple, we have our Lord present to us in the tabernacle. His mercy is never ending.
PurgatoryPray for those detained
A widow, desperate because her husband had committed suicide by throwing himself into a river, came to Ars and met the Curé upon leaving the church. He bent toward her and told her, “He is saved.” As she made a gesture of incredulity, the saint repeated emphatically, “I tell you that he is saved. He is in Purgatory, and you must pray for him. Between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of repentance. It is the Blessed Virgin who obtained this grace for him. Remember the shrine to Mary in your room? Sometimes your husband, although irreligious, united himself to your prayer. That merited repentance and the supreme pardon for him.” Before leaving, she confided to M. Guillaumet, superior of the College of St. Dizier, a witness to the scene, “I was in a dreadful state of despair, imagining the tragic end of my husband. He was an unbeliever, and I lived only for the thought of leading him back to God. Then he drowned himself by a voluntary suicide! I could only believe he was damned! Oh! never to see him again! Yet you heard what the Curé of Ars told me repeatedly: ‘He is saved!’ I shall see him again in Heaven after all!” See the delicacy of Jesus and of the Blessed Virgin! A person did some good which he had forgotten, but they had not forgotten, and at the right moment they made use of it, if I may put it that way. Jesus makes use of everything to save us. How astonished we will be in Heaven when we see that! Some make Him a judge who strikes men down and seeks revenge, whereas in fact He seeks to save us by all possible means.
Nothing is irreparable for Jesus and for Mary
According to the New York Times, suicide rates are at their highest level in 30 years. I have rarely come across a person these days who has not been touched by a friend or a family member who has committed suicide. How are we as Catholics to deal with these tragedies? Many of us wonder where the soul of our loved one ends up. Is there hope for our loved ones who took their own lives?
Lessons from the Catechism
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states;
· 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. ccc 2281
But the Catechism goes on to say;
· …Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. ccc 2282
· 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 salutary repentance. The church prays for persons who have taken their own lives. ccc 2283
This means there is hope. If God can provide salutary repentance, then there is definitely hope.
Suicide Hits Home
I was 17 when my friend Patrick took his own life. I was devastated. I wondered about his soul since I knew suicide was a grave matter. It wasn’t long after his death that I began to dream about him. My mother told me if I was dreaming about him that he was probably in purgatory and I needed to pray for him. I have had dreams of him on and off into adulthood. As an adult I got very serious about praying for him.
Additionally, earlier this year my friends and my community were touched by four suicides of people of varying ages. It was no coincidence then that I had come across Divine Mercy 101 with Father Chris Alar. As I sat and pondered these suicides, feeling helpless and worried for souls, I remembered that Fr. Alar had said (paraphrasing),
if you say a Divine Mercy Chaplet today for someone who has died in the past, the graces from your prayer today, because God is outside of time, are taken to your loved one at the time of their judgement. In other words, God could for see that you would say the prayer for the loved one and then apply that grace for them when they die.
Our God is that merciful. Unfathomable mercy. Pray the chaplet, our prayers do have power.
It was around this time that my cousin had also introduced me to Gregorian Masses. This is a series of 30 Masses that is said for a soul in purgatory. Tradition tells us that Pope St. Gregory the Great offered these Masses for the soul of one of his monks that visited him from purgatory. When Pope Gregory had finished the Masses, the monk appeared to thank him for releasing him. The Masses are offered for one deceased soul (not multiple people) for 30 consecutive days. Now, please understand, we offer a stipend for a Mass. These stipends are to take care of the Priest who says the Mass, and in poorer countries, in particular, this means a lot. Plus, the stipend is also a sacrificial offering made by us. Canon 946 tells us how the stipend is for the good of the Church. Typically in today’s day and age, a Mass stipend is about $10, although I have found some for $5 a Mass. So Gregorian Masses aren’t always in the realm of what someone can afford, but they are very efficacious if you are able to, especially in a case of suicide. If 30 Masses isn’t a possibility, then one Mass is also a good thing. The Mass is heaven on earth, and our prayers help souls in purgatory. So, if you are suffering the loss of someone to suicide, do not despair. Our God is a God of Mercy. Pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet for them and perhaps have Gregorian Masses said for them, or a single Mass. Our prayers mean something, and you may be able to help your loved one get to heaven.
For the price of a chocolate bar you could save a soul or…. Maybe you could do both?
Bitter Chocolate with Almonds Day
This intriguingly specific Day celebrates a particular combination of flavors – dark, bitter chocolate and toasted almonds. This is one of the oldest recipes involving chocolate known in the English-speaking world, featuring as the only chocolate dish in an 18th-century cookbook. This festivity exists mainly as an idea circulated on the internet. It is sponsored by the National Confections Association, and celebrated and encouraged by organizations such as food.com, a site which aims to encourage cooking and the appreciation of food by holding various different food days. Both the tannins in dark chocolate and the various fatty acids in almonds have many health benefits, various studies have shown. Bitter Chocolate with Almonds Day encourages a delicious and nourishing dessert, which contributes to health and long life. Celebrate by dipping blanched almonds in the best dark chocolate you can find, and serving to your friends with a glass of red wine!
*Mercy: used to translate the Hebrew word, hesed. This term speaks to a relationship between persons. It is manifested in concrete actions to persons with some need or desire. The one who offers hesed has the ability to respond to that need of the other person. Other possible ways to translate hesed include “steadfast love” and “loving kindness.”
d'Elbée, Jean C.J.. I Believe in Love