• Sarah Raad


“Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice!” (Saint Pope John Paul II).

Christ as the Suffering Redeemer (Andrea Mantegna)

I have been praying for suffering children over the last few days. Some time ago, I heard about a young schoolboy, Nick, who took his own life and I have not been able to stop praying for him the weeks since. He reminded me of other school children, young adults, and even some older adults, who have taken their lives over the years.

It is a terrible thing for a parent to bury their child. I have been to too many funerals where a father carried his child’s coffin in one arm. But, it is even more terrible, when the child has died by their own hand.

For it is then that by trying to end their own pain through this terrible action that they have magnified it for all! This is why we call this a selfish action – because it is the opposite of creation and Creation is God and God is LOVE… “There is no place for selfishness – and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice!” (Saint Pope John Paul II).

In the olden days, if someone took their own life, they would not receive a Christian burial. There would be no Requiem Mass to pray for their soul and their body would not be buried in a Christian cemetery. People were said to have COMMITTED suicide, because suicide was a crime, in much the same way that homicide is a crime today. In the olden days there was little understanding of the mental health problems that could have contributed to such a terrible terrible action.

And what terrible pity I feel for such souls and their families. For those are the souls, who forgot about their Father – their Dad, their Daddy – as Christ calls God the Father in the Gospels (Mark 14:36).

Souls such as these are lost souls. They have forgotten the “why” they suffer. They have lost sight of Christ. The 19th century German philosopher, Fredrich Nietzsche said, “He whose life has a why can bear almost any how.”

For if they knew God as their Daddy – how they would fly to Him – and how they would understand the “why”…

Now when I pray for such souls, I pray most especially for their rest – for these souls more than any other – are the souls for whom I fear, because they died asking “why” and they never saw the Crucified Christ in their pain – and so they suffered alone – separated from Him. And if I fear for them, how much more must their family fear…

When I hear of such stories, I think most especially around priorities. After all, when a young person dies, or when anyone dies needlessly, suddenly or accidentally, it surely prompts us to reconsider our own perspectives in life. Saint Ephrem the Syrian said, “If you give your life to the earth, the earth will give you a tomb. But if you give your life to Heaven, Heaven will give you a throne.”

It is interesting such a statement as that because the Gospels concur, and we are told in them that where we place our eyes – there too will follow our hearts. The Gospel in Mass a few weeks ago said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew, 6:19-23).

How much darkness overwhelmed their souls… How much I pray for them… I pray that in their final moment of life, they saw Christ and He showed them WHY – for it takes but a moment to be redeemed!

It is for this reason that I agree with Saint Paul of the Cross that we should “Often contemplate Heaven, and fervently exclaim: What a beautiful abode there is above! It is destined for us! Sigh longingly after its possession. Sometimes say, while your eyes are moist with tears: Nothing in this world pleases me; I no longer care for anything but my God. Yes, I hope, yes, I wish to possess Him, and I hope this of the mercy of God, through the merits of my Saviour's Passion and the dolors of my good Mother Mary.”

And so, though in the olden days, there was no Requiem Mass offered for the souls of those who took their own lives, I offer all my masses for them. For Saint Augustine of Hippo said, “He who devoutly hears holy Mass will receive great vigour to enable him to resist mortal sin, and there shall be pardoned to him all venial sins, which he may have committed up to that hour.”

And more than that… Perhaps the Graces that I receive in Holy Mass, could be shared with such souls as those. For there is much that I would give for their comfort! There is much that I would do to help them to understand WHY…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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