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Author Topic: Praying for those who commit suicide...  (Read 8868 times) Average Rating: 0
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Orual
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« Reply #45 on: May 02, 2008, 07:43:27 PM »

I would agree with you. The victory of evil is two-fold; firstly, in the weakened and spiritually battered condition of the depressed person and, secondly, in the lack of recognition and love of those who either refuse to help or are ill-equipped to help.

I've been told that when a funeral is done for a suicide where there is no direct evidence of mental illness, it was allowed for the sake of the person's family.

Quote
Perhaps this is getting off-topic, but J.K. Rowling alledgedly created the dementors in her Harry Potter books to express the deep depression she suffered and she describes the condition as follows:

“It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again.
The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad.”


I thought that a most apt description.

Indeed.
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« Reply #46 on: May 02, 2008, 08:02:27 PM »

This whole thing these days about "no direct evidence of mental illness" is absurd. The suicide IS the evidence.

And I think JK Rowling did a great job creating a literary dipiction of depression.
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« Reply #47 on: May 02, 2008, 08:10:30 PM »

And I think JK Rowling did a great job creating a literary dipiction of depression.

Yes, I thought so, too.
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« Reply #48 on: May 02, 2008, 08:25:31 PM »

This whole thing these days about "no direct evidence of mental illness" is absurd. The suicide IS the evidence.

I wouldn't say that's necessarily so.  I remember reading about one of the people "helped" by one of those assisted-suicide docs, and throughout the saga it seemed clear to me that she was committing suicide out of spite for God and her own life.  Had she been Orthodox and I were her bishop I would not allow her a funeral.  She had a choice and chose not to continue her life.  People who commit suicide from despair and mental illness have been blinded by their disease until they could hardly help themselves, and they do deserve church funerals and all the prayers they can get. But don't ignore the idea that there are people out there who do have a choice, who reject God's gift of life and are truly murderers of themselves.
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« Reply #49 on: May 02, 2008, 09:33:50 PM »

So.... (not complaining, just chewing on this- Hey that would be a useful smiley!)....If they are simply rejecting God, what could such a person possibly think that would accomplish? What would be the point of "getting even" with God, if they no longer had a life to live? Doesn't sound sane to me.
I don't know... the drive to be alive is so basic to how we are designed to function, it is one of the most fundamental processes of the workings of our bodies. To not have that drive means something is not working correctly, much like when we are missing an enzyme or a hormone. Thus, the body is not healthy.

Prehaps we should agree to disagree. I stand by my opinion. I think that no sane, healthy person takes their own life.
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« Reply #50 on: May 02, 2008, 09:58:54 PM »

I wouldn't say that's necessarily so.  I remember reading about one of the people "helped" by one of those assisted-suicide docs, and throughout the saga it seemed clear to me that she was committing suicide out of spite for God and her own life.  Had she been Orthodox and I were her bishop I would not allow her a funeral.  She had a choice and chose not to continue her life.  People who commit suicide from despair and mental illness have been blinded by their disease until they could hardly help themselves, and they do deserve church funerals and all the prayers they can get. But don't ignore the idea that there are people out there who do have a choice, who reject God's gift of life and are truly murderers of themselves.

I agree with you - to a point. My question would still be, who can know what had driven a person to such a rejection of their own life; even if spitting in the face of God?

We are all flawed, and our weaknesses reveal themselves in many ways. As Fr Ambrose has already made mention of drunks, who are also self-destructive - and there are others who sin with regard to respect of life, who are granted the mercy of an Orthodox funeral. For instance, who would conceive of preventing an overweight person, who had died of heart disease or diabetes a funeral? Yet, the case can be made that those who overeat to a dangerous degree, know full well that they are heading for diabetes or a heart condition - even after repeated warnings from their doctors - and have eaten themselves into their grave. Isn't that a rejection of God's gift of life, too? Don't think that I'm singling out this particular problem, because I think there are many sins that are self-destructive. Who would deny a funeral to a young driver who out of hot-headed, youthful exurberance lost control of his speeding car and drove into a lamp-post; completely lacking any concern for his safety or anyone else's? Aren't we all guilty in some way or other of rejecting God's gift of life and being murderers of ourselves?

These are just some thoughts that trouble me with regard to what I see as selectiveness and I admit I could be wrong. I don't mean to cause offence to anyone.
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« Reply #51 on: May 03, 2008, 06:41:44 AM »

I actually found it on comeandseeicons.com, but there site seems to be down this morning.

http://www.comeandseeicons.com/a/saintsa.htm
Thanks, and I've ordered a copy.

Do you think you will choose Saint Ambrose for your patron Saint when you are received?
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« Reply #52 on: May 03, 2008, 09:35:21 AM »

Praying for someone, either public or private, does not imply that you condone the action in any way. In fact it almost makes the opposite statement. So, I don't really see why the church should frown on publicly praying for someone. To me it is too close to declaring the person is most certainly already condemed- which would be making a judgement.

Excellent post, RLNM! 

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« Reply #53 on: May 03, 2008, 09:39:12 AM »

I agee, George. It breaks my heart to think that someone who has gone to the edge of despair and given up on life, should ever be given up on by those of us who are living and can offer prayers for them.

Particularly since no-one can deeply know what another person is suffering or their mental condition.  People I knew have committed suicide including a relative.  I don't know what they were going through that moved them to do so.  I know people in Depression and try as I can to be supportive, but I can't *really know* what they feel.  So no giving up on them, you're right.

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« Reply #54 on: May 03, 2008, 12:34:20 PM »

Following this mindset of having no chance to repent, what about someone who dies during the night due to their smoking/drinking habits? That is -essentially- suicide (as they are killing themselves through free choice), and they never did have an opportunity to repent for it. Does that mean we shouldn't give them funerals either?

I still stand by my unalterable opinion: all Orthodox Christians deserve a funeral, regardless how death occurred.
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« Reply #55 on: May 03, 2008, 12:59:05 PM »

Following this mindset of having no chance to repent, what about someone who dies during the night due to their smoking/drinking habits? That is -essentially- suicide (as they are killing themselves through free choice), and they never did have an opportunity to repent for it. Does that mean we shouldn't give them funerals either?

I still stand by my unalterable opinion: all Orthodox Christians deserve a funeral, regardless how death occurred.
This is very difficult indeed. Lets say for example that a man was trapped in a fire. The fire for him is certain death. He chooses to jump from a window instead of facing a fire. Both lead to death, but the choice is his. The noble way is to face the fire. The Church knows this. Salvation is to choose life over death.
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« Reply #56 on: May 03, 2008, 02:20:11 PM »

This is very difficult indeed. Lets say for example that a man was trapped in a fire. The fire for him is certain death. He chooses to jump from a window instead of facing a fire. Both lead to death, but the choice is his. The noble way is to face the fire.
Really?  How can we judge as ignoble the motives of one who would rather die quickly of one single crushing blow to the ground than die slowly and in extreme pain in the flames, flames of a fire that, unlike depression, does kill by itself?
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« Reply #57 on: May 03, 2008, 03:53:20 PM »

Really?  How can we judge as ignoble the motives of one who would rather die quickly of one single crushing blow to the ground than die slowly and in extreme pain in the flames, flames of a fire that, unlike depression, does kill by itself?

Do you support euthanasia or assisted suicide for the terminally ill?
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« Reply #58 on: May 03, 2008, 03:56:02 PM »

Do you support euthanasia or assisted suicide for the terminally ill?
No.
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« Reply #59 on: May 03, 2008, 04:51:10 PM »

No.

Then why would it be okay to bring about your own death by jumping out of a window than face certain death in a fire?

If someone jumps out the window as an escape attempt, that's different.  Even if you're on the fiftieth floor of a skyscraper, there's still a teeny chance you might still be saved somehow - people have jumped out of airplanes without parachutes and survived.

But you specifically said that you "cannot judge as ignoble" the motives of someone who chooses to deliberately end his own life in order to avoid something that is certain to kill him.  How is euthanasia/assisted suicide over a terminal illness any different?
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« Reply #60 on: May 03, 2008, 05:17:41 PM »

Then why would it be okay to bring about your own death by jumping out of a window than face certain death in a fire?

If someone jumps out the window as an escape attempt, that's different.
And do you not now see that my reasoning is in no way different from yours?  In just the above two sentences you have explained exactly why I don't judge as ignoble someone's attempt to escape a fire by jumping out a window.  The chances of survival are probably about the same, yet in a state of panic, most people would rather chance the unknown (i.e., jumping out the window) than face certain death.  This is why I don't see an analogy between Demetrios's scenario and suicide.

(Yeah, I probably didn't word my initial reply to Demetrios in exactly the way I would have liked, so that I expressed something I didn't intend.  Who, when he is trapped between a fire and an open window, is going to take the time to think, "I'd rather die by hitting the ground than in these flames."  They're going to be so panicked that they're not going to think at all.)

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Even if you're on the fiftieth floor of a skyscraper, there's still a teeny chance you might still be saved somehow - people have jumped out of airplanes without parachutes and survived.
Which only continues to make my point.
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« Reply #61 on: May 03, 2008, 07:34:57 PM »

The difference Peter, is that one is a choice (window) while the other is (circumstance)
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« Reply #62 on: May 03, 2008, 08:34:09 PM »

I've been told that when a funeral is done for a suicide where there is no direct evidence of mental illness, it was allowed for the sake of the person's family.
I think this would be a mockery- prayers for the sake of appearances like the one's Our Lord condemned the hypocrites for (Matthew 6:5).
Funerals in Orthodoxy are for the sake of the dead, not the living. Our prayers for the forgiveness of the sins of the departed are not empty, hollow, meaningless social rituals done for the sake of appearances. Everyone gets the same funeral service, whether they are the King or a street sweeper, and the prayers are the same for all- and they are not meaningless and empty, but genuine, heartfelt appeals for mercy and forgiveness in the hope of the Resurrection. It would be sacrilege to use the prayers of the Church simply to comfort relatives rather than worship and supplicate God.
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« Reply #63 on: May 03, 2008, 09:22:34 PM »

Funerals in Orthodoxy are for the sake of the dead, not the living. Our prayers for the forgiveness of the sins of the departed...

So true, and with that said, I honestly cannot believe that anyone should decide that any sin is beyond  forgiveness (including the sin of self destruction) and that, it seems to me, to not offer prayers for a suicide victim is to have presumed our personal limitations on God's loving mercy.   
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« Reply #64 on: May 03, 2008, 11:21:34 PM »

I think this would be a mockery- prayers for the sake of appearances like the one's Our Lord condemned the hypocrites for (Matthew 6:5).
Funerals in Orthodoxy are for the sake of the dead, not the living. Our prayers for the forgiveness of the sins of the departed are not empty, hollow, meaningless social rituals done for the sake of appearances. Everyone gets the same funeral service, whether they are the King or a street sweeper, and the prayers are the same for all- and they are not meaningless and empty, but genuine, heartfelt appeals for mercy and forgiveness in the hope of the Resurrection. It would be sacrilege to use the prayers of the Church simply to comfort relatives rather than worship and supplicate God.

I didn't say I agreed with that reasoning, that's just what I was told.  I wouldn't agree with play-acting a service of the church at all, but I don't think that's what doing such a funeral would amount to, and I understand the reasoning behind doing it in those circumstances.  The funeral service is not just for the dead - it's also a warning to the living.  It's also nice to spare the suicide's family more grief and humiliation, and to give him, despite his fall, sympathy and support by praying for him.  Can we hope that praying for him will be as efficacious as it would be for someone who died at his appointed time?  Yes.  Dare we assume it will be?  I don't think so.

If the person were an apostate instead of a suicide, how many of you would support giving him an Orthodox funeral?

I recognize that there may be no sin that truly cannot be forgiven by God, but I also think, and I think the Church backs me up on this, that there are some sins that we are not qualified to absolve for someone who is no longer with us.  I had a hard time rationalizing this myself, that is, the Orthodox Church's unwillingness to give funerals for suicides, but I think there's an important reason why it's part of our tradition not to bury those who murdered themselves.
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« Reply #65 on: May 04, 2008, 12:01:53 AM »

I think we should pray privately for everyone without distinction.

Amen Father Deacon.


Ok, separate issue, I resent the ill attitude toward labeling and public admonishment some deem "ethnic" or "cradles."  We are all one through Christ, monikers such as these including the term convert as well only create division in the body of Christ, the church... US...  While my great aunts and uncles may not have read the desert fathers or might think the word Philokalia is a beautiful name for a girl, they live out the Matthew 25 mission every day of their lives.  They've clothed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, they put everyone first before themselves.  They built and maintain our parish, they labored in mines year after year and kept the church running.  We do the greatest praise and service to Christ by living the Gospel and carrying out Matthew 25.
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« Reply #66 on: May 04, 2008, 12:26:57 AM »

Ok, separate issue, I resent the ill attitude toward labeling and public admonishment some deem "ethnic" or "cradles."
Where are you seeing this?
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« Reply #67 on: May 04, 2008, 04:19:19 AM »

I think that is really legalistic. No prayer, but give alms for them.

I understand the idea--that if you kill yourself, you are rejecting God so why would we pray for them if they didn't want to be with God?--but, what suicidal person actually knows what they are doing? It is a very rare thing that someone is suicidal with stark lucidity and clearly defined motives.

Elders are not infallible. I agree with not saying a funeral service for a suicide (except in demonstrated mental illness cases) but no prayer? Seems a little extreme to me.

oh no, It wasnt explained to me like that, its meant for the average layperson, some monks and SF believe its spiritually dangerous for an average layman to pray for someone who has ended his life in such a manner, and its better to ask a monk or priest to pray for that person on your behalf. Ive never questioned further (especially since ive never known anyone close ro me that has committed suicide) but considering the Church denies funerals and for their names to be read over the Eucharist, and their last act violates the teaching against self-mutilation of the body , i can see how there can be dangerous repercussions. We are not talking about mentally ill neither but the guy who kills himself because his girlfriend dumps him etc.
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« Reply #68 on: May 04, 2008, 09:17:26 AM »

oh no, It wasnt explained to me like that, its meant for the average layperson, some monks and SF believe its spiritually dangerous for an average layman to pray for someone who has ended his life in such a manner, and its better to ask a monk or priest to pray for that person on your behalf.
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Do you know what spiritual danger they have in mind?

In the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad the "Akathist for the  Repose of Those who have fallen asleep" has this prayer in Ikos 5.

"Save those who have committed suicide in the darkness of their mind, that the flame of their sinfulness may be extinguished in the ocean of Thy grace."

Akathists are used at home for domestic prayer very frequently.

From the Book of Akathists published by Jordanville Monastery, NY

"Akathist for the http://users.sisqtel.net/williams/akathist-repose.html

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« Reply #69 on: May 05, 2008, 03:06:40 AM »

Put it this way for those who support euthenasia. Would someone who is in that state voluntarily and willingly die to alleviate his miserable burden and burn in hell forever or would he sustain it till death?.
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« Reply #70 on: May 05, 2008, 07:23:15 AM »

Put it this way for those who support euthenasia. Would someone who is in that state voluntarily and willingly die to alleviate his miserable burden and burn in hell forever or would he sustain it till death?.
It's just not that simple. Which type of euthanasia are you talking about? Active euthanasia or passive euthanasia?
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« Reply #71 on: May 05, 2008, 11:07:06 AM »

The difference Peter, is that one is a choice (window) while the other is (circumstance)

Ah, but the choice of the window has the very real and tangible possibility (albeit very slim) of survival while being trapped on the 50th floor of a burning building is certain death short of divine intervention.

An old friend of mine was a paratrooper in the Army whose chute once did not open.  He bounced three times.  He's now a semi-professional kickboxer.
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