Author Topic: Suicide  (Read 13886 times)

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Offline EkhristosAnesti

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Suicide
« on: November 12, 2004, 11:04:15 PM »
Can there  be any justification for those who take their own life? Do those who suicide per se go to hell? or is it a case by case kind of study, i.e. dependent on their situation and reasons etc.?
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Offline Jennifer

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2004, 11:48:13 PM »
The "justification" is that people who take their own lives are not in their right mind.  God is merciful and He knows people's hearts.  

I think that we need to understand the tremendous amount of pain that someone who kills themself must be in.

Offline me

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2004, 04:52:50 AM »
http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article8083.asp

Suicide, the taking of one's own life, is self--¡murder and as such, a sin. More importantly, it may be evidence of a lack of faith in our loving, forgiving, sustaining God. If a person has com-¡mitted suicide as a result of a belief that: such an action is rationally or ethically defensible, the Orthodox Church denies that person a Church funeral, because such beliefs and actions sepa-¡rate a person from the community of faith. The Church shows compassion, however, on those who have taken their own life as a result of mental illness or severe emotional stress, when a condition of impaired rationality can be verified by a physician.

This is from the GOA website. Pretty explanatory i think.
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Offline Jennifer

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2004, 11:02:14 AM »
The question is why would a rational person kill themselves?  In the mental health world, by definition anyone who is suicidal has mental illness.  Suicidal thoughts is a symptom of mental illness in the DSM IV.  

I agree that a rational decision to take one's life is a terrible sin but I also believe that no rational person would commit suicide.

Offline Orthodoc

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2004, 11:14:05 AM »
The question is why would a rational person kill themselves?  In the mental health world, by definition anyone who is suicidal has mental illness.  Suicidal thoughts is a symptom of mental illness in the DSM IV.  

I agree that a rational decision to take one's life is a terrible sin but I also believe that no rational person would commit suicide.  

And I agree completely!  Just recently I know of an Orthodox Christian who shot himself and died.  He was under medication and diagnosed as a manic depressive.  The church he belonged to and was active in buried him.  So I guess things are changing within the church also.

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Offline erracht

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2004, 08:34:12 AM »
Actually, there is a pretty strong tradition in the Church that those who commit suicide have "blasphemed against the Holy Spirit" and are not to be given a church burial. This person is considered to be refusing God's gift of life - to be refusing communion with God. The exception is when someone has had a mental illness and is not deemed to have acted "rationally" but many suicides are considered to have been rational. That is, the person had a choice. It may have been a choice but the choice was still there. Oftentimes someone may have a difficult decision to make due to the Faith. The right decision may result in one's having things to bear, but it doesn't make the easier way out right. Suicide is an example. Whatever people say about "any" suicide being caused by mental illness and thus being an "excuse" to give the person a church burial, this is not the position taken by centuries of church tradition. Again, there are exceptions, but this certainly doesn't go for suicide as a whole.
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Offline Jennifer

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2004, 03:47:36 PM »
There is no "strong traditional position in the Church" on mental illness.  The traditional position is that it is a sin to reject God's gift of life.  But we now better understand mental illness so understand that most suicides are the product of a disease and therefore not culpable.  

Suicidal tendencies are a symptom of a terrible illness caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.  

If someone dies of heart failure do we blame them because their heart doesn't work correctly?  
I read about a study that found that people with major depression were as confused about reality as people with schizophrenia.  Of course the people with depression knew they didn't hear voices but their perception of reality was completely wrong.

Offline me

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2004, 10:00:42 PM »
I dont agree that suicidal tendencies are a mental illness. Many people have had suicidal tendencies and not done it, then went on to live normal healthy lives. Most mental illnesses cant be cured through simply "feeling better about yourself". I agree with the churches stance that it basically means you've lost all faith that God has a plan for you, and its a GOOD plan, not a life of horrible things.

I think the argument that its a side effect of mental illness and therefore not a sin, is a misunderstanding of what sin is. God did not say "Thou shalt not murder, unless your mentally unstable, in which case its excused". Now, im not damning anyone to hell for committing suicide, but one of the things as Orthodox that we believe is that human reason can't comprehend God. Just because science tells us its a mental illness doesnt make it so. Science once also told us the earth was flat and that the Earth was the center of the universe. To start changing the definition of Murder, which suicide falls under, i believe sets us on a dangerous path in which all sins are redefined and before you know, everythings acceptable, because somehow all of a sudden, just like many of the protestant churches, we've redefined Gods word. There arent many absolute truths in the universe, but I tend to believe Gods word is.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2004, 10:07:14 PM by me »
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Offline Jennifer

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2004, 01:20:25 AM »
Actually mental illness can be "cured" through simply feeling better about yourself.  We don't completely understand chemical imbalances.  It is now believed that chemical imbalances can be created through experiencing extreme stress and can be 'cured' through positive thinking.  The human brain is an amazing thing.  God gave us tremendous resources to deal with stress.  

Me, I think your argument is a misunderstanding of mental illness.  


Offline MatthewPanchisin

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2004, 01:46:54 AM »
Dear Jennifer,

You are correct to mention that " people who take their own lives are not in their right mind.  God is merciful and He knows people's hearts." I left out the "justification" part because no sin can be justified. There is a problem when science is introduced into the realm of our spiritual existence particularly regarding "mental health" as it is an attempt to address spiritual matters from a scientific perspective. The spirit of science does not confess our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be the Son of God.  Good "science" requests proof. Faith does not request proof, it can't.


As far as  commenting on the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, all Christians must be careful on mentioning such things as we would not want such a fate to be upon anyone. Additionally, when we throw such notions out there we don't know how that might effect others as a parent my have had a child or someone my have had a relative or good friend that committed suicide. As such implying that they are forever doomed can be very hurtful to others.  I think it is also important to know that God's mercy is great and such things are for God to know.

However,  from an Orthodox Christian perspective repentance is available until your last breath, like the wise thief on the cross and there is always hope with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If someone committed suicide and repented as they took their last breath and was able to think or say forgive me for what I have just done God knows these things and I'm not sure how such matters are addressed or determined by us human beings. Having said that, the Orthodox understanding of Matthew 12:32 is that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is against the divine activity of the Spirit - the accusation that Jesus Christ healed the demonic by demonic power (v. 24). rather than the power of the Holy Spirit (v. 28; see Mark 3.29, 30) Every sin against the Son of Man can be forgiven, because the Jews do not yet know much about him. But the blasphemy against the Spirit, whose divine activity they know from the OT, will not be forgiven. This blasphemy is a willful hardness of heart. It attributes the saving action of the Spirit to Satan and refuses to accept God's forgiveness and mercy.

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Offline Brendan03

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2004, 09:35:15 AM »
Suicidal tendencies surely are a sign of mental illness.  That's pretty standard psychiatry 101.

I think that there are far more mentally ill people living in the world with, say, "mild" mental illness than we think or generally acknowledge.  It's one thing if someone is schizophrenic, then everyone says "okay, that person is mentally ill".  But the most prevalent form of mental illness -- depression -- is very widespread, and many folks who suffer from it go for years without treating it (perhaps even never treating it) because it seems "normal" to them, when in fact their own "normal" is rather divorced from objective reality.  As Jennifer notes, serious breakthroughs are being made in psychiatry these days, and we're learning the relationship between mental illnesses like depression and the chemicals in our brain, particularly neurotransmitters.  Clinical, chronic depression is very much the result of chemical issues in the body, just like diabtetes, for example.

Suicide is surely objectively a sin because it is the rejection of life.  But subjectively, God knows what is in one's heart, and if (as is the case in most suicides) the person is acting that way because they are mentally ill, surely there is a reduced culpability for their action.  To do otherwise would be to damn people because they are ill, and I don't think that's how it works.

I think there is a discomfort level with these issues because as a society we still struggle with the idea that mental illness is actually illness of the same caliber as heart disease or diabetes.  We still somehow view it as different from these other diseases, when in fact it really isn't.  The only difference is that it involves a different organ of the body.

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Offline me

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2004, 11:20:13 AM »
"God knows our heart"....this argument is extremely flawed, and I hope you all fully realize it. So, if I go kill my mother right now, its ok, because God knows that I really do love her, and it must have been a momentary lapse of judgement? Honestly, that is the equivalent of what your saying. I just dont feel there is any justification for anyone taking there own life. Do you not believe God has great things for you? Bottom line of suicide is this : God gave you free will, and those who committ suicide, choose to use it to end a human life. Regardless of reasons, its wrong. They thought out a murder and executed it. Why must we make excuses in our society for everything? Are we not capable of excepting responsibility. I believe this may be as much a factor as anything else. We allow everyone to believe that everything that happens is not their fault, that its ok, because somehow it happened TO them, not because of them, they didnt cause it, or it wasnt their fault. Well, saying this, especially about suicide, brings about a belief that its ok and valid way to end problems in your life. The moment it becomes acceptable is the moment it happens. If you TRULY have faith, you don't committ suicide. I pray that those who have attempted or who have committed suicide are forgiven by God, and that the true victims of suicide (the families and friends of the person committing suicide) are able to overcome it. That being said its a selfish thing to do that causes grief and anger and hostility among those left behind.  We must realize that God has standards and expectations, and regardless of our opinion of these expectations, they dont change. God does not change because man has some new "fact". God was well aware of mental illness long before man was, yet that didn't mean he put a provision in the ten commandments saying "Thou shalt not steal, until Man starts to realize mental illness, then it will become acceptable".

Lastly, as far as my argument being a misunderstanding of mental illness...I am not going to argue atory. I will say this though, if my options are A) misunderstanding methat point, mainly because its a bit accusntal illness, or B) Misunderstanding God and His word.....ill misunderstand mental illness every day.
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Offline MsGuided

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2004, 12:14:57 PM »
"God knows our heart"....this argument is extremely flawed, and I hope you all fully realize it. So, if I go kill my mother right now, its ok, because God knows that I really do love her, and it must have been a momentary lapse of judgement?
God knows what's in your heart, He knows why you do things, if you kill someone in cold blood and never repent your sin, then things are not so hopeful for you.  We can't read the minds of people who do what they do, we have no idea, if they killed themselves, what state they are in, or if they really DIDN'T want to do this but they're mental state "forced" them to.  Only God knows these things, we can't pass judgement.  Or at least that's what it seems to me.  
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Offline Schultz

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2004, 12:29:28 PM »
Quote
If you TRULY have faith, you don't committ suicide.

If you TRULY have faith, you wouldn't pass judgement like this on people who have committed suicide, but just pray for them.  

Prelest is a sin, too.
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Offline Jennifer

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2004, 12:34:45 PM »
"God knows our heart"....this argument is extremely flawed, and I hope you all fully realize it. So, if I go kill my mother right now, its ok, because God knows that I really do love her, and it must have been a momentary lapse of judgement? Honestly, that is the equivalent of what your saying.

That is not the equivalent to what we've written here.  If someone's choice to kill their mother is 'rational' (meaning that they understand the nature of the act and the consequences of their action) then God's knowledge that they loved their mother would not "justify" their actions.  In fact, it would probably make it a more serious sin.  However, if someone picks up a gun, believing it to be a toy gun and shots his mother therefore killing her, God knows that the person did not intend to kill his mother.  

It's the same with mental illness.  If someone has schizophrenia and believes that his mother is trying to kill him and he kills her in self-defense God understands and is merciful.  

Quote
I just dont feel there is any justification for anyone taking there own life. Do you not believe God has great things for you? Bottom line of suicide is this : God gave you free will, and those who committ suicide, choose to use it to end a human life. Regardless of reasons, its wrong. They thought out a murder and executed it. Why must we make excuses in our society for everything? Are we not capable of excepting responsibility. I believe this may be as much a factor as anything else. We allow everyone to believe that everything that happens is not their fault, that its ok, because somehow it happened TO them, not because of them, they didnt cause it, or it wasnt their fault. Well, saying this, especially about suicide, brings about a belief that its ok and valid way to end problems in your life. The moment it becomes acceptable is the moment it happens. If you TRULY have faith, you don't committ suicide. I pray that those who have attempted or who have committed suicide are forgiven by God, and that the true victims of suicide (the families and friends of the person committing suicide) are able to overcome it. That being said its a selfish thing to do that causes grief and anger and hostility among those left behind.  We must realize that God has standards and expectations, and regardless of our opinion of these expectations, they dont change. God does not change because man has some new "fact". God was well aware of mental illness long before man was, yet that didn't mean he put a provision in the ten commandments saying "Thou shalt not steal, until Man starts to realize mental illness, then it will become acceptable".

God has not changed.  What has changed is man's understanding of psychology.  For example, the 10 Commandments say "thou shalt not murder" but the Church never said that someone who caused an accidental death was guilty of murder.  God didn't need to specify to the Church that accidental deaths were not murder.  

Quote
Lastly, as far as my argument being a misunderstanding of mental illness...I am not going to argue atory. I will say this though, if my options are A) misunderstanding methat point, mainly because its a bit accusntal illness, or B) Misunderstanding God and His word.....ill misunderstand mental illness every day.

God has commanded us to love one another and part of that is understanding people.  Misunderstanding your brothers and sisters in Christ is as serious as misunderstanding God's word because God made them.  And God made some of them with mental illness.  

Do you condemn the person without legs because they can't walk?  No.  So why condemn the person who's brain doesn't work correctly?  

You misunderstand because you don't know.  Be grateful you don't know but try to understand people's sufferings.  I suggest you speak to a good holy priest about this.

Offline me

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2004, 02:46:29 PM »
Ok, im glad this has turned into an assault against me. Am I judging? NO!!!. As I said in a previous post, I am not damning them to hell, but bottom line, just as my sins further me from God, so does there Suicide. This isnt judgement, but why must we be accepting of there sin? God loves the sinner and hates the sin. Can't I feel the same way?  Why am i supposed to "accept" there reasoning for suicide? You tell me to speak to a holy priest about this?! For your information, not that it will matter to you, but my father is a Priest of 29 years. My God Father is a priest of 31 yrs. One of my good friends is a recently ordained clergy man, and I know my Metropolitan to the point I have spent countless dinners dining with him. This topic has been brought up and they have had a crucial role in the formation of my opinion on this.

As far as condemning the man with legs b/c he cant walk is an ignorant statement. The man without legs is not sinning, and not committing murder. The man without legs merely can not walk, hes not inherently sinning. He doesnt kill himself because of his legs not working correctly.

Then to discuss "thou shalt not murder". There is a difference in murder and killing. Thats why "thou shalt kill" is a horrible mistranslation. If Im driving and have an accident and the other person dies, its not murder, its killing. Arent most serial killers mentally ill? Is there activity a sin?

There is nothing wrong with condemning the sin. And dont tell me i dont understand. I know and understand a lot more than I think anyone of you know, so just as u tell me not to judge, are u not doing the same thing?

Hypocrasy is an amazing thing.

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Offline Brendan03

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2004, 04:38:34 PM »
Me --

I don't think anyone is attacking you.  The critical question is:  what if someone sins because they are mentally ill.  What do you think God does in that situation, in terms of personal culpability?

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Offline The young fogey

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2004, 06:55:11 PM »
Quote
The critical question is:  what if someone sins because they are mentally ill.  What do you think God does in that situation, in terms of personal culpability?

As you and Jennifer and any other lawyers can tell me, I think moral theology works like the law - the difference between 'guilty but mentally ill' and 'not guilty by reason of insanity'. IOW, does the person know right from wrong and know what he was doing is wrong?

Somebody with diminished capacity may do something that's objectively a mortal sin (grave matter) but because of the disability isn't guilty of mortal sin (IOW, he can't have had sufficient reflection and thus couldn't give full consent of the will).

(Which is why it's cruel to execute somebody who's retarded, for example.)

I think Byzantine theology says something like this with the notion of 'involuntary sin' which one asks forgiveness for in the prayers of that rite.
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2004, 08:17:09 PM »
All of this is vain talk.  Pray.    

No one seriously disputes that suicide is objectively a terrible sin.  No one.  However, people sometimes find themselves in situations where ending their own lives doesn't seem much worse than continuing on.  In some cases, they make their own hell, while in others, "hell" comes to them.  No one disputes that the decision to take one's life is wrong.  But are we really in a position to criticise those who commit this sin?  

First of all, we are not in their situation.  How do we know what it's like?  I don't know what it's like to face a terrible disease, lose a child, become a widower, go through a tough divorce, lose my job and not be able to provide for my family, or any of the other reasons one might commit suicide.  How could I ever know what goes through the mind of someone thinking of this?  Secondly, how can I criticise them for sinning when my own sins are innumerable and often incapable of being understood?  Finally, if people commit suicide, I think we owe it to them and to others who may be thinking of this to do a little introspection and figure out why they might have done it.  Did they feel they had no one who would care enough about them to talk to about their problems?  Perhaps people they might have gone to had no time for them.  In what ways could our own sins of commission or omission contributed to their decision?  We are our brother's keeper, after all.  No one is saved alone, but plenty perish that way.  

Somewhat related to this topic is the fact that there have been saints (I regret that their names do not come to mind, I read about a couple of these holy women many years ago) who, rather than face rape at the hands of violent pagan suitors, committed suicide.  They are not regarded as anything less than martyrs.  This in itself, IMO, is enough to demonstrate that the mere ending of one's life is not "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit", but an objective evil that humans commit for different reasons for which God alone, and not internet commentators, is the Judge, and "His Mercy endures forever".

Offline Schultz

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2004, 10:13:46 AM »
Quote
In what ways could our own sins of commission or omission contributed to their decision?  We are our brother's keeper, after all.  No one is saved alone, but plenty perish that way.  

I think this statement is one of the most profound things written on here in quite some time.
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Offline althea

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2004, 10:51:50 AM »
My priest told me simply to pray for someone who committed suicide.  Also Fr Damascene (who wrote the book about Fr Seraphim Rose) told my friend and I that people's prayers for someone in such a situation do help.
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Offline sinjinsmythe

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2004, 12:45:29 AM »
Mor's post is excellent.
Life is just one disappointment after another.

Offline Sabbas

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2004, 12:02:50 AM »
I am new but as I understand we are not to pray for those who have committed suicide accept on Pentecost, unless it was someone who could not control their own mind.

If we are going to say no one who is rational commits suicide we make a grave error, and, in fact, are denying much of what Psychology has taught us about man. But even then science cannot prove Love, neither should we presume to let science reign in some area of faith rather than another.

Look at Japanese culture. Yukio Mishima comes to mind. He wrote a short story called, "Patriotism," about a disgraced military man and his wife committing suicide in a very rational and even philosophical tone. Yukio Mishima later committed suicide in a grand demonstration to try to spur the Japanese govt. to take measures to restore Japan to its former military strength. Never was he irrational about it. It makes sense to commit suicide in the Japanese mind.
Can we say that every Japanese person who holds suicide as an honorable way to end ones life as irrational simply because they are following an old tradition in Japanese culture?

And what's to stop Psychology from calling us crazy. According to science we're all irrational for being Orthodox!

People commit suicide for rational reasons, and it is a sin. We cannot pray for those who take their own life because that goes against what the Holy Spirit has given us in the Church. Elder Cleopa refused to commemorate a man who drank himself to death because the fathers write that drinking one self to death is the same as committing suicide!

I don't pass judgment, I am just writing what I have learned.
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Offline MsGuided

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2004, 12:08:23 AM »
I am new but as I understand we are not to pray for those who have committed suicide accept on Pentecost, unless it was someone who could not control their own mind.

If we are going to say no one who is rational commits suicide we make a grave error, and, in fact, are denying much of what Psychology has taught us about man. But even then science cannot prove Love, neither should we presume to let science reign in some area of faith rather than another.

Look at Japanese culture. Yukio Mishima comes to mind. He wrote a short story called, "Patriotism," about a disgraced military man and his wife committing suicide in a very rational and even philosophical tone. Yukio Mishima later committed suicide in a grand demonstration to try to spur the Japanese govt. to take measures to restore Japan to its former military strength. Never was he irrational about it. It makes sense to commit suicide in the Japanese mind.
Can we say that every Japanese person who holds suicide as an honorable way to end ones life as irrational simply because they are following an old tradition in Japanese culture?

And what's to stop Psychology from calling us crazy. According to science we're all irrational for being Orthodox!

People commit suicide for rational reasons, and it is a sin. We cannot pray for those who take their own life because that goes against what the Holy Spirit has given us in the Church. Elder Cleopa refused to commemorate a man who drank himself to death because the fathers write that drinking one self to death is the same as committing suicide!

I don't pass judgment, I am just writing what I have learned.

If we do not pray for sinners, who do we pray for, the righteous alone?  Or have I misunderstood you?

Kim
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Offline Sabbas

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #24 on: December 08, 2004, 12:15:53 AM »
I was taught that we cannot pray for those who have chosen to reject God in this life. I cannot speak on their behalf. I can pray or speak for someone who died in the faith, still a sinner, as all of us are. That is the difference.

Why do you think we do not go and pray with non-Orthodox? Because we cannot speak for those who will not accept God in His Church.
Don't get me wrong though. I have an older sister who is a member of the Society of Pope Pius X and we get along fine. Both her old-style Catholicism, and The Church, Orthodoxy, do not allow for members to pray with non-members, especially not going in their churches, but we still love each other and have no hatred for one another.
Why is this so foreign to so many Orthodox? It's a basic teaching.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2004, 12:17:35 AM by Sabbas »
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Offline MatthewPanchisin

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #25 on: December 08, 2004, 12:32:14 AM »
Dear Sabbas,

Welcome. Could you tell me specifically which fathers from the Orthodox Church tell us that we can't or should not pray for those that have committed suicide?

I have known many Priest's and Bishops and Monks in my life and the usual comment on such matters is all we can do is pray that God in His boundless mercy we have mercy on their souls.

As a matter of fact, usually the Priest will say several prayers over the body but I don't think that the body is ever brought into the in Church, there may be some exceptions however. These prayers are said on other days besides Pentecost.

Be advised that the general mode of thought in that regard seems to be that a person that commits suicide can't be in their right mind to do such a thing. How could a Priest ever tell a parent, husband or wife sister or brother or a good friend not to pray for the soul of the person who committed suicide in good conscience?  

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

Offline MsGuided

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2004, 12:32:59 AM »
OK.  Going in and praying with those outside of the church is something I can't speak on, I don't know enough on the subject.  But praying for someone is a different matter, isn't it?  In our liturgy don't we commemorate "and all mankind"?  Don't we simply pray for God to have mercy on them, according to His will?  Once again, if I am misspeaking please correct me.

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #27 on: December 08, 2004, 12:54:59 AM »
First of all I just got this from www.goarch.org
Quote
The Orthodox Church has, over the centuries, taught that we do not have the right to take our own lives, since life is a gift from God which we are called upon to preserve and enhance. Hence, the Church considers direct suicide, when a person destroys his or her life with his or her own hand, to be the most serious kind of murder, because there is no opportunity for repentance. The canons and practice of the Church thus prohibit a Church burial to a person who has committed suicide.

Second I do not know of any Greek Church Fathers I can quote, I know Elder Cleopa, who was a very compassionate and humble man, mentioned St.Basil as the origin, I think.
The Western Church Fathers St.Jerome and St.Augustine mention it.  
Quote
"I cannot bring myself to speak of the many virgins who daily fall and are lost to the bosom of the Church, their mother. . . . Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when, as often happens, they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder" (Letters 22:13 [A.D. 396]).
-St.Jerome

Quote
"Hence it follows that the words 'Thou shalt not kill' refer to the killing of a man--not another man; therefore, not even thyself. For he who kills himself, kills nothing else than a man."
-St.Augustine

I have yet to find anything else as of yet.
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Re:Suicide
« Reply #28 on: December 08, 2004, 01:04:00 AM »
In answer to MsGuided I understand where you are coming from. I have many dead relatives who did not convert to Orthodoxy and I miss them and ask God that if it be according to his will that he have mercy on them and I fervently hope that they are okay. But that's not for me to know, and they never chose to become part of Christ's Body so what more can I do?
We indeed pray FOR all mankind, but we do not speak on their behalf which is why individual non-Orthodox are not commemorated in the Liturgy. Yes we can pray that God will have mercy on an individual and bring him into his Church while he's alive but after death, as St.John of Damascus says in Book II of  The Orthodox Faith, their is no repentence. In other words all we can ask is that God have mercy and trust in him as a merciful judge. Everyone has to accept God's Grace if they are to be redeemed and it is not for me to speak on behalf of someone who died and, as far as I can know, did not choose to receive God's Grace by being in His Body.

I'm not trying to fight or be mean, I just take this very seriously.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2004, 01:05:27 AM by Sabbas »
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Offline MatthewPanchisin

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #29 on: December 08, 2004, 01:29:52 AM »
Dear Sabbas,

We all know that suicide is a very serious sin and the Orthodox Church has always taught that it is a sin. However, I think that the notion of not praying for a person who does such a thing is something that the Orthodox Church does not say, it is always an accepted practice to pray for everyone including those that have committed suicide.

Here is a good link on Saint Siloun, please read it and tell me do you think he would pray for those who committed suicide?

http://www.philthompson.net/pages/about/silouan/

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin


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Re:Suicide
« Reply #30 on: December 08, 2004, 02:10:26 AM »
In the Soul After Death by Fr Seraphim Rose, there is a man who committed suicide and his relative has a vision and sees him in Hades and is instructed to pray for him.

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Offline MatthewPanchisin

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #31 on: December 08, 2004, 08:42:42 AM »
Dear all,

I think the below gives an accurate indication of Orthodox thought relative to praying for others.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin


The Miraculous and Prophetic Vision of St. John of Kronstadt

By St. John of Kronstadt


The Holy and Righteous John of Kronstadt recalled this vision which he had in January of 1901:

After evening prayers I laid down to rest a little in my dimly lit cell since I was fatigued. Hanging before the icon of the Mother of God was my lit lampada. Not more than a half hour had passed when I heard soft rustle. Someone touched my left shoulder, and in tender voice said to me, 'Arise servant of God John and follow the will of God!'

I arose and saw near the window glorious starets (elder) with frosty grey hair, wearing a black mantia, and holding staff in his hand. He looked at me tenderly, and I could scarcely keep from falling because of my great fear. My hands and feet trembled, and I wanted to speak, but my tongue would not obey me. The starets made the sign of the cross over me, and calm and joy soon came over me. Then I made the sign of the cross myself. He then pointed to the western wall of my cell with his staff in order that I should notice certain spot. The starets had inscribed on the wall the following numbers: 1913, 1914, 1917, 1922, 1924, and 1934.

Suddenly the wall vanished, and I walked with the starets toward a green field and saw a mass of crosses-thousands standing as gravemarkers. They were wooden, clay, or gold. I asked the starets, 'What are these crosses for' He softly answered, "These crosses are for those who suffered and were murdered for their faith in Christ and for the Word of God and have become martyrs!"

And so we continued to walk. Suddenly I saw an entire river of blood and asked the starets, 'What is the meaning of this blood? How much has been spilled?' The starets looked around and replied, This is the blood of true Christians!' The starets then pointed to some clouds, and I saw mass of burning white lamps. They began to fall to the ground one after another by the tens and by the hundreds. During their descent they grew dim and turned to ashes. The starets then said to me, 'Look!' I saw on a cloud seven burning lamps. I asked, 'What is the meaning of the burning lamps which fell to the ground' He said, Those are the churches of God which have fallen into heresy, but these seven lamps on the clouds are the seven Catholic and Apostolic Churches which will remain until the end of the world!'

The starets then pointed high into the air and I saw and heard angels singing, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabbaoth!' Then a large crowd of people with candles in their hands rushed by with joy on their shining faces. They were archbishops, monks, nuns, groups of laymen, young adults, and even children and babies. I asked the wonderworking starets, 'What is the meaning of these people' He responded, These are all the people who suffered for the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church, for the holy icons at the hands of the wicked destroyers.' I then asked the great starets if I could sit down next to them. The starets said, 'It is too early for you to suffer, so joining them would not be blessed by God!'

Again I saw a large group of infants who had suffered for Christ under Herod and had received crowns from the Heavenly King. We walked further and went into large church. I wanted to make the sign of the cross, but the starets said, 'It is not necessary to cross yourself because this is a place of abomination and desolation!' The church was very gloomy. On the altar was a star and a Gospel book with stars. Candles made of tar were burning and crackling like firewood. The chalice was standing there covered by strong stench. There was prosphora with stars. A priest stood before the altar with face like pitch and woman was under the altar covered in red with a star on her lips and she screamed and laughed throughout the church saying, 'I am free!' I thought Oh, Lord, how awful! The people, like madmen, began to run around the altar, scream, whistle, and clap their hands. Then they began to sing lecherous songs. Suddenly lightning flashed, frightening thunderbolt resounded, the earth trembled, and the church collapsed, sending the woman, the people, the priest, and the rest into the abyss. I thought Oh Lord, how awful, save us!

The starets saw what had happened as did I. I asked, 'Father, tell me, what is the meaning of this frightening church?' He responded, These are the earthly people, heretics who have abandoned the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church and recognized the newly innovated church which God has not blessed. In this church they do not fast, do not attend services, and do not receive Holy Communion!' I was frightened and said, The Lord has pity on us, but curses those with death!' The starets interrupted me and said, 'Do not mourn, but just pray!' Then I saw a throng of people, each of whom had a star on his lips and was. terribly exhausted from thirst, walking here and there. They saw us and yelled loudly, 'Holy Fathers, pray for us. It is very hard for us because we ourselves cannot. Our Fathers and Mothers did not teach us the Law of God. 'We do not even have the name of Christ, and we have received no peace. We rejected the Holy Spirit and the sign of the cross!' They began to cry.

I followed after the starets. 'Look!' he said pointing with his hand. I saw a mountain of human corpses stained in blood. I was very frightened, and I asked the starets, 'What is the meaning of these dead bodies?' He replied, These are people who lived the monastic life, were rejected by the Antichrist, and did not receive his seal. They suffered for their faith in Christ and the Apostolic Church and received martyrs crowns dying for Christ. Pray for these servants of God!'

Without warning the starets turned to the north and pointed with his hand. I saw an imperial palace, around which dogs were running. Wild beasts and scorpions were roaring and charging and baring their teeth. And I saw the Tsar sitting on a throne. His face was pale and masculine. He was reciting the Jesus Prayer. Suddenly he fell like a dead man. His crown fell. The wild beasts, dogs, and scorpions trampled on the anointed Sovereign. I was frightened and cried bitterly. The starets took me by my right shoulder. I saw a figure shrouded in white - it was Nicholas II. On his head was a wreath of green leaves, and his face was white and somewhat bloodied. He wore a gold cross around his neck and was quietly whispering a prayer. And then he said to me with tears, 'Pray for me, Fr. John. Tell all Orthodox Christians that I, the Tsar-martyr, died manfully for my faith in Christ and the Orthodox Church. Tell the Holy Fathers that they should serve a Panachida for me, a sinner, but there will be no grave for me!'

Soon everything became hidden in the fog. I cried bitterly praying for the Tsar-martyr. My hands and feet trembled from fear. The starets said, :Look! Then I saw a throng of people scattered about the land who had died from starvation while others were eating grass and vegetation. Dogs were devouring the bodies of the dead, and the stench was terrible. I thought, Oh Lord, these people had no faith. From their lips they expelled blasphemy, and for this they received God's anger.

I also saw an entire mountain of books and among the books worms were crawling emitting ? terrible stench. I asked the starets, 'What was the meaning of these books?' ?? said, These books are the Godlessness and blasphemy which will infect all Christians with heretical teachings!' Then the starets touched his staff to some of the books, and they ignited into flames. The wind scattered the ashes. Further on, I saw a church around which was a large pile of prayer intentions for the departed. I bent over and wanted to read them, but the starets said, These prayer requests for the dead have been lying here for many years, and the priests have forgotten about them. They are never going to read them, but the dead will ask someone to pray for them!' I asked, 'Who, will they get to pray for them?' The starets answered: 'The Angels will pray for them!'

We proceeded further, and the starets quickened the pace so that I could hardly keep up with him. 'Look!' he said. I saw a large crowd of people being persecuted by demons who were beating them with stakes, pitchforks, and hooks. I asked the starets, 'What is the meaning of these people?' He answered, These are the ones who renounced their faith and left the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church and accepted the new innovative church. This group represents priests, monks, nuns, and laymen who renounced their vows or marriage, and engaged in drinking and all sorts of blasphemy and slander. All of these have terrible faces and a terrible stench comes from their mouths. The demons beat them, driving them into the terrible abyss, from where hell fire comes forth. ' I was terribly frightened. I made the sign of the cross while praying, Lord deliver us from such a fate!

I then saw a group of people, both old and young, all of whom were terribly dressed, and who were raising a large, five pointed star. On each corner were twelve demons and in the middle was Satan himself with terrifying horns and a straw head. He emitted a noxious foam onto the people while pronouncing these words, 'Arise you accursed ones with the seal of ?..' Suddenly many demons appeared with branding irons and on all the people they placed the seal: on their lips, above the elbow and on their right hands. I asked the starets, 'What is the meaning of this?' He responded, This is the mark of the Antichrist!' I made the sign of the cross and followed after the starets.

He suddenly stopped and pointed to the east with his hand. I saw a large gathering of people with joyous faces carrying crosses and candles in their hands. In their midst stood a large altar as white as snow. On the altar was the cross and the Holy Gospel and over the altar was the vosduch with golden imperial crown on which was written in golden letter, 'For the short term.' Patriarchs, bishops, priests, monks, nuns, and laymen stood around the altar. They were all singing, 'Glory to God in the highest and peace on Earth' Out of great joy I made the sign of the cross and praised God. Suddenly the starets waved his cross upwards three times, and I saw mountain of corpses covered in human blood and above them Angels were flying. They were taking the souls of those murdered for the Word of God to heaven while they sang, Alleluia!' I observed all this and cried loudly.

The starets took me by the hand and forbade me to cry. 'What is pleasing to God is that Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and shed His precious blood for us. Such ones will become martyrs who do not accept the seal of the antichrist, and all who shed their blood will receive heavenly crowns.' The starets then prayed for these servants of God and pointed to the east as the words of the Prophet Daniel came true, 'Abomination of desolation.' Finally, I saw the cupola of Jerusalem. Above it was a star. Within the church millions of people thronged and still many more were trying to enter inside. I wanted to make the sign of the cross, but the starets grabbed my hand and said, 'Here is the abomination of desolation!'

So we entered into the church, and it was full of people. I saw an altar on which tallow candles were burning. On the altar was a king in red, blazing, porphyry. On his head was a golden crown with a star. I asked the starets, 'Who is this?' He replied, 'The Antichrist!' He was very tall with eyes like fire, black eyebrows, a wedge-shaped beard, a ferocious, cunning, evil, and terrible face. He alone was on the altar and he reached his hands out to the people. He had claws as those of a tiger for hands and he shouted, 'I am King. I am God. I am the Leader. He who does not have my seal will be put to death.' All the people fell down and worshipped him, and he began to place his seal on their lips and on their hands in order that they should receive some bread and not die from hunger and thirst.

Around the Antichrist his servants were leading several people whose hands were bound as they had not bowed down to worship him. They said, "We are Christians, and we all believe in our Lord Jesus Christ!' The Antichrist ripped off their heads in a flash and Christian blood began to flow A child was then led to the altar of the Antichrist to worship him, but he boldly proclaimed, 'I am a Christian and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, but you are a minister, a servant of Satan!' 'Death to him!' exclaimed the Antichrist. Others who accepted the seal of the Antichrist fell down and worshipped him. Suddenly roar of thunder resounded and thousand lightning flashes began to sparkle. Arrows began to strike the servants of the Antichrist. Then a large flaming arrow flashed by and hit the Antichrist himself on the head. As he waved his hand, his crown fell and was crushed into the ground. Then millions of birds flew in and perched on the servants of the Antichrist.

I felt the starets take me by the hand. We walked further on, and I again saw much Christian blood. It was here that I remembered the words of Saint John the Theologian in the book of Revelation that blood would 'be up to the horse's bridle.' I thought, Oh my God, save us! At that time I saw Angels flying and singing, 'Holy, Holy, Holy. Lord of Sabbaoth!' The starets looked back and went on to say, 'Do not grieve, for soon, very soon, will come the end of the world! Pray to the Lord. God be merciful to His servants!' Time was drawing near to close. He pointed to the east, fell to his knees and began to pray So I prayed with him. Then the starets began to quickly depart from the earth to the heights of heaven. As he did so I remembered that I did not know his name, so cried out loudly, 'Father, what is your name?' He tenderly replied, 'Seraphim of Sarov!'

That is what 'saw, and this is what ' have recorded for Orthodox Christians. A large bell rang above my head, and I heard the sound and arose from bed. 'Lord, bless and help me through the prayers of the great starets! You have enlightened me, the sinful servant, the priest John of Kronstadt."

(Translated by Priestmonk Orestes
Christ the Saviour Orthodox Seminary)

Offline Sabbas

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #32 on: December 08, 2004, 10:57:38 AM »
All I can say is, "Thank You Very Much Matthew!"

This vision of St.John of Kronstadt moved me quite a bit and I think that I will start praying for those who died having fallen into heresy and those who committed suicide.
But I still stand with the Canons of the Church and I don't believe we should have funerals for those who willfully kill themselves or commemorate them in the Liturgy. In Paul Evdokimov's book The Art of the Icon:A Theology of Beauty he mentions that the Church is allowed to pray for specifically for those who have committed suicide on Pentecost, other than that I know of no specific prayers for those who have committed suicide that allowed in the liturgy.

Just to let you know, I am still a catechumen. I've been one since March 7 of this year and will not be baptized, God-willing, till Pascha.
I have read much, talked much with the gentle and pious priest who made me a catechumen, and read more. I am only trying to help preserve the faith as it has been handed down.
I worry a great deal that many Orthodox, and I have seen this, will grow up with an ecumenical-modernist mindset in which Orthodoxy is just the best path to Truth not THEE path to Truth. I also don't like the spirit of casting off rules and traditions just because the congregation does not see any immediate meaning in them, such as lowering or removing the Iconostasis and/or the curtain, not checking to make sure all those who come to Communion are church members, you'd be suprised how many Orthodox churches have naively give Communion to non-Orthodox, and casting off the Canons that do not allow funeral for those who willfully commit suicide. I believe Faith requires a level of humility and obedience, which includes following such age-old traditions.

But once again thank you. You have helped me to understand quite a bit.

Also I did read Hieromonk Seraphim's The Soul After Death yet I didn't recall that for some reason.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2004, 10:58:31 AM by Sabbas »
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Re:Suicide
« Reply #33 on: December 08, 2004, 11:03:57 AM »
not checking to make sure all those who come to Communion are church members, you'd be suprised how many Orthodox churches have naively give Communion to non-Orthodox,


I read this kind of thing all of the time on Orthodox boards but I have NEVER seen it in real life.  So I'm going to ask, where and when?  Do you have proof that many Orthodox churches have communed non-Orthodox?  


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Re:Suicide
« Reply #34 on: December 08, 2004, 11:17:00 AM »
I would agree with Jennifer.  It has been my personal experience in the umpteen Orthodox churches I've visited that the priests at each parish were quite vigilant in protecting the Holy Mysteries from non-Orthodox.  Heckfire, I've even seen priests turn away their own parishoners who haven't been to Confession.
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Re:Suicide
« Reply #35 on: December 08, 2004, 11:35:35 AM »
Actually at the mission I attend St.Raphaels in Iowa City, IA, I have seen it happen, and we are considered 'traditional' compared to the ethnic New Calendar church in Cedar Rapids, IA.
It was an honest mistake on the Priests part but he still should've asked as the woman had never been to our mission before and has not been back since.
What happened was the woman came up for communion. Now I had already guessed her husband was Roman Catholic because he made the sign of the cross like a Catholic and when reciting the Creed said the filioque, which I couldn't help be smirk at. But the woman never made the sign of the cross nor recited the Creed so I thought maybe she doesn't speak English and is an Orthodox who married a Catholic. However after she took Communion she turned so the priest would not see her and made the sign of the cross like in the West (five fingers & left to right). I was shocked and wished I had asked her if she was Orthodox before she went up but I figured all Catholics visiting an Orthodox church would know that is wrong. But what can I do.

Now if you were to go up to St.Georges New Calendar church in Cedar Rapids you would find that anyone would be admitted to communion and the priest would never check. It is really sad and shocking to see it but I heard a story once.

In a Russian Cathedral there was a boy who would laugh when many people would take communion. One Sunday his mother angrily asked him why he laughed. He said a little bird comes down and plucks communion from some of the peoples mouths and they walk away thinking they've communed when they haven't. I think this is the action of God and I don't believe any Orthodox who is not prepared or non-Orthodox really receives God's Body and Blood when they go up for communion.

But still we need to follow in the Tradition of the Church and diligently guard our Lord's Body and Blood.
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Re:Suicide
« Reply #36 on: December 08, 2004, 12:47:21 PM »
What is "Saint Georges New Calendar" church?  That's a jurisdiction I am unfamiliar with.  

And Sabbas, I don't think it's your duty to ask communicants whether they're Orthodox.  I also can't help but think that your "smirking" at someone who says the filioque is uncharitable.  

Now as to this "New Calendar" church, do you have proof that they have open communion?  Or is this just something you've been told?  Do you know non-Orthodox who have been communed there?  "I heard a story once" isn't good enough for me.  And in a matter as important as this, I think more verification would be needed before you would automatically assume that this priest is violating the canons of the Church.  

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #37 on: December 08, 2004, 01:10:02 PM »
But I still stand with the Canons of the Church and I don't believe we should have funerals for those who willfully kill themselves or commemorate them in the Liturgy.

Of course, you have to define what "willfully" means.  Most cases I am familiar with involve people enduring tremendous personal/emotional/psychological/physical sufferings.  I don't know to what extent they can "will" in such a situation.  Then there are others for whom suicide is an acceptable part of the culture, as I believed you mentioned in a previous post.  Well, if it's an acceptable part of their culture, to what extent do they know they are "willing" a grave evil?  In the latter case, I am less certain of my opinion, but I still wonder if they can be judged by the same standard?  Then there is the case of the Pakistani RC bishop who publically committed suicide over there some years back as a way to protest some government policy.  I don't know what he was reacting to, but he was a Roman Catholic bishop...he surely had a better understanding than most people of the seriousness of the matter.  Even him I do not condemn, but pray for.  

I guess I'm just not sure how many people "will" suicide.

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #38 on: December 08, 2004, 02:27:24 PM »
Jennifer I know I may have confused you a bit, I wrote that post in a hurry this morning. In Cedar Rapids there are two Orthodox Churches right across the street from one another. One is New Calendar and belongs to the Antiochian Archdiocese, the other follows the Julian Calendar and is part of the Greek Synod in Resistance.
 I have been to the New Calendar church, St.Georges several times and I have seen it with my own eyes. No one is asked if they are Orthodox. No they don't have a policy of Open Communion, but they don't bother to check if you're Orthodox. What is to prevent me, a catechumen, from going to the church for communion, saying my name, and taking communion? Nothing!
I know it's sad but it's true and it is a real problem.
By the way the 'I heard a story once' was bad English. I was actually referring to the next paragraph. I'm terrible at writing! I know.

Mor Ephrem I conceed that I was wrong to say we should not individually pray for God to have Mercy on those in heresy and who commit suicide. But to commemorate them by name in the liturgy goes against the canons and I don't think we should pick and choose what canons to follow.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2004, 02:31:34 PM by Sabbas »
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Offline Jennifer

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #39 on: December 08, 2004, 02:34:44 PM »
How do you know that they don't bother to check?  How do you know that the priest doesn't already know that everyone is Orthodox?  

At the Orthodox Church I attend (OCA), I don't see the priest "checking" to see if everyone is Orthodox but I know that he does not commune non-Orthodox.  

I suggest that what you "see with your own eyes" is something that you want to see so you can criticize them.  

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #40 on: December 08, 2004, 03:28:44 PM »
[At the Orthodox Church I attend (OCA), I don't see the priest "checking" to see if everyone is Orthodox but I know that he does not commune non-Orthodox. ]

My OCA priest will check any stranger that approaches him without prior arrangements.  And he will refuse anyone  who is not orthodox or any Orthodox who he deams unprepared to receive.  I admire and respect him for it.

Many, including my own non Orthodox sister cannot understand why they cannot receive.  But they are the rules.

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #41 on: December 08, 2004, 05:35:58 PM »
Jennifer I know I may have confused you a bit, I wrote that post in a hurry this morning. In Cedar Rapids there are two Orthodox Churches right across the street from one another. One is New Calendar and belongs to the Antiochian Archdiocese, the other follows the Julian Calendar and is part of the Greek Synod in Resistance.
 I have been to the New Calendar church, St.Georges several times and I have seen it with my own eyes. No one is asked if they are Orthodox. No they don't have a policy of Open Communion, but they don't bother to check if you're Orthodox. What is to prevent me, a catechumen, from going to the church for communion, saying my name, and taking communion? Nothing!
I know it's sad but it's true and it is a real problem.
By the way the 'I heard a story once' was bad English. I was actually referring to the next paragraph. I'm terrible at writing! I know.

Mor Ephrem I conceed that I was wrong to say we should not individually pray for God to have Mercy on those in heresy and who commit suicide. But to commemorate them by name in the liturgy goes against the canons and I don't think we should pick and choose what canons to follow.

Sabbas,
I agree with Jennifer.  Don't be so quick to judge just because you are an "eyewitness" - it's scandalous and not you're responsbility, but the priests.  Another thing, if the parish you're at catechumen at is this Greek Synod in Resistance (Met. Cyprian?), be VERY wary.  Many would advise you to probably go to St. George's instead (a Canonical as opposed to a fringe or schismatic/vagante parish).  Remember, just as Fr. Seraphim Rose says, he fears the wrath of the "supercorrect" far more than those who may be unknowingly in error.

Offline Sabbas

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #42 on: December 08, 2004, 05:36:10 PM »
I know we are getting way off the subject of suicide but the point is that some priests do not check to see if the stranger is Orthodox and I know this from personal experience.
I am a catechumen at St.Raphaels in Iowa, which is part of the AA. But I am in full agreement with the Greek Synod in Resistance.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2004, 05:38:25 PM by Sabbas »
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Offline Jennifer

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #43 on: December 08, 2004, 05:44:27 PM »
What is your "personal experience?"  Have you been communed?  Or is it "someone told me?"  And perhaps this "someone" is associated with the non-canonical group you admire?  

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Re:Suicide
« Reply #44 on: December 08, 2004, 06:01:03 PM »
No I would never do something so blasphemous. Second I gave you one example of someone being communed who was not Orthodox and that was my point: that such things do happen. However I am not casting judgment on anyone.
To call the Greek Synod in Resistance uncanonical is unfair. By definition all the churches in America are uncanonical for not being one unified American Orthodox Church. To condemn those who choose to keep the Julian Calendar and have strong reservations about ecumenism and modernism is unfair. One need only look at the Patriarch Athenagoras having embraced Pope Paul VI and declaring the schism over and its obvious why these 'uncanonical' groups came into existence.
I am not trying to fight I was just trying to make a point.
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