The Greatest of Our Corporal Works of Mercy

The following article is a perspective on the subject of suicide.  Recently students, friends and families in the communities of Lorain and Brunswick have been affected by suicides.

We have the incredible responsibility of performing one of the most difficult Corporal Works of Mercy; burying the dead.  Families rely on us to guide them through the most difficult time of their lives and to help in the selection of the place where they will mourn until that time when they too join their loved one in paradise.  This week however has been that much more difficult because we were charged with the responsibility of burying two young boys who died as a result of suicide.

The reports we are receiving is that both were subjected to what we often refer to as bullying.  While we will never know why death seemed to be the only option, what we do know is that each of these young lives were taken much too soon by a mental illness that we are only beginning to recognize.  Thankfully the Venerable John Paul II changed our perception of this disease.  This mental illness caused such extreme desperation that for these young boys death was the only thing that could take away the pain.

We must come to the understanding that suicide is the direct result of unbearable anguish, when the darkness becomes so unbearable and living becomes impossible.  We bury these young boys in sacred ground because their act was not a choice because no one would choose death if they really had one.  These boys found themselves in a place where the light at the end of the tunnel was not there and the only way out of the darkness was death.

I implore these families to come to the understanding of this terrible disease and to not blame themselves for not seeing the signs.  Often there are no signs to be seen.  Never see this as a selfish act done to you but recognize that your love was the only place they found refuge and it may have been the only place where a faint light existed.  Your hearts and your love are where the darkness could not penetrate.

It is with such deep sorrow that I write this to all our families suffering loss from suicide and we will pray that you find peace as I know in my heart that your children were embraced by our Savior and they are basking in the light of salvation.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “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.”

May you find refuge in our Catholic faith and in the knowledge that our God is all merciful and that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is pure love.

(The above article was written by Andrej Lah, President/CEO, Catholic Cemeteries Association, Diocese of Cleveland on Thursday, January 23, 2014.)


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