Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I often sing

One thing I like about Fr. Ron Rolheiser's column is that he often writes about suicide, a subject most won't touch. Here's part of a recent post ....


Too-bruised to be touched - One of the causes of Suicide
- Ron Rolheiser, OMI

The poet, Hafiz, wrote a poem nearly 700 years ago entitled, We Should Talk About This Problem. In it, God addresses a wounded soul:

There is a Beautiful Creature
Living in a hole you have dug ...
And I often sing, but still, my dear,
You do not come out.
I have fallen in love with Someone
Who hides inside of you.

That's God's feeling, and perhaps ours too, when someone is in a suicidal depression ...... Suicide, in most cases, is an illness not a sin. Nobody, who is healthy, willingly decides to commit suicide and burden his or her loved ones with that death any more than anyone willingly chooses to die of cancer and cause pain. The victim of suicide (in most cases) is a trapped person, caught up in a fiery, private chaos that has its roots both in his or her psyche and in his or her bio-chemistry. Suicide, in most cases, is a desperate attempt to end unendurable pain, akin to one throwing oneself off a high building because one's clothing is on fire.

Many of us have known victims of suicide and we know too that in almost every case that person was not full of pride, haughtiness, and the desire to hurt anyone. Generally it's the opposite. The victim has cancerous problems precisely because he or she is wounded, raw, and too-bruised to have the resiliency needed to deal with life. Those of us who have lost loved ones to suicide know that the problem is not one of strength but of weakness, the person is too-bruised to be touched.

I remember a comment I over-heard at a funeral for a suicide victim. The priest had preached badly, hinting that this suicide was somehow the man's own fault and that suicide is always the ultimate act of despair. At the reception afterwards a neighbour of the victim expressed his displeasure at the priest's homily: "There are a lot of people in this world who should kill themselves," he lamented, "but those kind never do! This man is the last person who should have killed himself because he was one of the most sensitive people I've ever met!" A book could be written on that statement. Too often it's the meek who seemly lose the battle in this world.

Finally, we shouldn't worry too much about how God meets our loved ones who have fallen victim to suicide. God, as Jesus assures us, has a special affection for those of us who are too-bruised and wounded to be touched. Jesus assures us too that God's love can go through locked doors and into broken places and free up what's paralyzed and help that which can no longer help itself. God is not blocked when we are. God can reach through.

And so our loved ones who have fallen victim to suicide are now inside of God's embrace, enjoying a freedom they could never quite enjoy here and being healed through a touch that they could never quite accept from us.



Blogger Mike L said...

Good article, Crystal. It has been within my lifetime that the Church changed its outlook on suicide, and it takes a long time for the new attitude to filter down. Perhaps you have helped it a bit.


Mike L

5:35 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Mike,

Maybe it depends on who you ask - one priest once told me that people who committed suicide were cowards who went to hell - yikes!

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Dyan said...

Wow - I love that poem Crystal! I knew 3 people that committed suicide - all were absolutely amazing and very sensitive souls. That priest must be particularly INsensitive.

10:22 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Dyan,

The official church stance on suicide has changed for the better but I guess some individuals in the church find it harder to empathize than others.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Deacon Denny said...

Crystal --

I really enjoyed this post, on a very difficult subject. It reminded me of a time several years ago when a young teenager in our parish killed himself, and I was asked by the family to give the homily at his funeral Mass. I can't give a "short version" of events here, and don't want to use YOUR blog to go on at length about this... but to jump to the conclusion I came to... I DON'T BELIEVE that suicide sends the person to hell. That just ISN'T AT ALL congruent with the tenderly loving God that Jesus has revealed to us.

I'll send you an e-mail about this sometime in the next day or two.

Keep up the great writing.

1:01 AM  
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