Posted by: L. E. Barnes | February 28, 2010

Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival

Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival is hosted by blogger RAnn at “This That and the Other Thing.” It’s a great place to check out new blogs, so please drop by each week!

Each Sunday I will write a post about that day’s catechumen class at our parish. As a fairly recent convert to the Catholic faith, I’m glad to help others with their journey into the Church, and I learn a lot as well. Input is appreciated, so feel free to ask questions or post comments.

I’ve already posted about today’s class, but I thought I’d add some more. I’ve mentioned that we have been using the book Catholic Christianity by Peter Kreeft, himself a convert to Catholicism. In our discussion about the fifth commandment today, we didn’t get to touch on an issue raised in the Kreeft chapter: suicide. The taking of innocent life is forbidden by the commandment, but what about those who end their own lives? I bring this up because this past week I read in the news about the suicide of 41-year-old actor Andrew Koenig (the son of Walter Koenig, best known for playing Chekov on Star Trek) and the suicide of Marie Osmond’s 18-year-old son Michael Blosil. Andrew Koenig, who played on the 80’s sitcom Growing Pains, had suffered from depression for some time. According to one report, his father “was with the group who discovered his son’s body… ‘We have already said what a great guy he was and a good human being,’ Walter Koenig said. ‘He was obviously in a lot of pain.’ Koenig urged others who may have suicidal thoughts to seek help before making ‘that final decision,’ and encouraged families who might have vulnerable members to “extend a hand” rather than ignoring or rationalizing the situation.”

Another report tells that Marie Osmond’s son “jumped to his death Friday night from a downtown Los Angeles apartment building… Blosil reportedly left a note which referred to a lifelong battle with depression… Donny Osmond, Blosil’s uncle, told Entertainment Tonight: ‘Please pray for my sister and her family.'”

Yes, let us all keep the families of these two men in our prayers. May the Lord grant the grace to get through this dark time. About 8 years ago, a cousin of mine committed suicide. My father and I were talking with some of our relatives a day or so after his funeral, and the question was raised about what would happen to the souls of suicide victims. My father believed the question to be unanswerable. I’ve known Christians who believe committing suicide guarantees you a place in hell, and I’ve known Christians who feel otherwise.

What does the Catholic Church say? The Catechism affirms that suicide “is gravely contrary to the just love of self… It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family” (CCC 2281). However, the Church does not teach that suicide victims are in hell. Rather, “we should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives… The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives” (CCC 2283).

I too have struggled with emotional difficulties for years, and I know how it feels to be in that dark pit of depression. But I also know that suicide is not the answer. Let Andrew Koenig’s and Michael Blosil’s deaths also remind us that suicide “is not a victimless crime. It horribly scars the souls of all who love the one who does it” (Catholic Christianity, p. 237). But let us pray that Andrew and Michael find the peace they apparently lacked in this life.

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