Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Suicide, heaven and hell


  • Please log in to reply
112 replies to this topic

#1 Justin Farr

Justin Farr

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 96 posts

Posted 07 February 2008 - 02:54 AM

Is suicide a sin that automatically lands one in Hell? Is suicide the only sin which does not allow for repentance in the afterlife?

#2 Marianthy

Marianthy

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 February 2008 - 03:11 AM

I was told that even in the last moments of one's life, even if the life was taken by the very person, that man has a chance to repent and have metanoia.

I would love to see what people much more versed on this subject have to say.

Marianthy

#3 Paul Cowan

Paul Cowan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,064 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 February 2008 - 03:16 AM

Is suicide a sin that automatically lands one in Hell? Is suicide the only sin which does not allow for repentance in the afterlife?


Once we die, we die. There are no more chances to repent of our sins. Yes, prayers for the dead can be beneficial, but may or may not change God's mind to the final resting place of our soul.

We have this life to repent of our sins. Actually, we only have this moment as we are not promised tomorrow or even later today. All we have is Right Now. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. By destroying our selves through suicide, we are destroying God's temple. I don't think he will appreciate that.

The only time I have heard of suicide not necessarily being a sin is when the person is NOT in their right mind. Most people are as they write good bye letters. They just can't see a way out of a particular situation and think this is the only option open to them. This is a rational decision and is not ok.

There are always options. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Paul

#4 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,028 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 February 2008 - 08:43 AM

I suppose the first place to turn is the Gospel account of Judas's suicide. Christ had said it had been better if Judas had never been born because of what he would do. But we have to be careful to distinguish suicide done in state of such mental disturbance and illness that a compassionate view is taken. It's tempting to think that no sane person commits suicide and so compassion should always be shown unless the wilfulness of the suicide is clear. And there is, of course, the case of the suicide of the person who is not of faith and so doesn't know the spiritual consequences.

#5 Nina

Nina

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,149 posts

Posted 07 February 2008 - 03:57 PM

From St. Niphon's (an early 4th century Bishop and ascetic) visions:

Down further, however, the servant of God [St. Niphon] saw the demons dragging a soul to the infernal regions. It was the soul of some servant who had hung himself. Behind him followed his guardian angel weeping bitterly for his loss. In the midst of his tears he was saying: "Ah, the foxy demons who make people do such evil! There, this servant's master, obeying the demons, would become angry, hit him terribly, and let him starve to death. And this poor soul became desperate, took the rope and hung himself, offering his life wholly a sacrifice to Satan. Ah, alas! The Almighty gave him to me to guard after his baptism, and the filthy dragon snatched him from me suddenly and devoured him! How will I appear to my Lord in this grieving and bitter state? But also, how will I face my Maker sorrowful for the loss of this soul?"

While he was painfully saying this, another angel appeared from heaven. "Our Father, the Lord of hosts," he told him, "commands you to go to Rome, where this very moment the son of a soldier is being baptized. Take charge of him and guard him through the Holy Spirit given to him at baptism. And I shall punish the master of this servant and teach him no to become angry nor hit his servants nor let them starve to death."

The angel said this on behalf of God and ascended into heaven, while the former set out for Rome according to the divine command.

pp. 81-82

Book: Stories, Sermons, and Prayers of St. Nephon: An Ascetic Bishop

Edited by Nina, 07 February 2008 - 04:44 PM.


#6 Silouan Howard

Silouan Howard

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 37 posts

Posted 07 February 2008 - 04:04 PM

Ive heard the story recounted about Elder Sophrony and his sister's suicide, but I can't honestly recount it accurately. Does anyone know more about this?

#7 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,028 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 February 2008 - 04:31 PM

Elder Sophrony

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ive heard the story recounted about Elder Sophrony and his sister's suicide, but I can't honestly recount it accurately. Does anyone know more about this?


He prayed her out of hell but it took a year of intense effort.

#8 Silouan Howard

Silouan Howard

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 37 posts

Posted 07 February 2008 - 04:33 PM

Where was this story documented?


He prayed her out of hell but it took a year of intense effort.



#9 RichardWorthington

RichardWorthington

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 283 posts

Posted 07 February 2008 - 05:09 PM

He prayed her out of hell but it took a year of intense effort.


Surely that would imply that God would have had mercy on her at the Judgement and welcomed her into Paradise, after all to pray someone out of hell means that there was a Christ-implanted seed still alive within her. But as we have to be purified of sin, we can purify ourselves now, or have it purified out of us after death ... but God is the good, king, gentle Lover of manind even to those undergoing such purification ...

Similarly, I read the life of Father Zachariah (or Zosima) "an early soviet saint" (died 1936). On page 36-7 we read of a monk who committed suicide, and that the superiors of the monastery should have helped him more -

Fr Zosima declared to the superiors of the monastery: 'You are guilty of the despair and death of Nahum, so at least pray now for his soul.'

After long and earnest prayers for him, Father Zosima saw in a dream the wretched man who had perished. He was walking along with his face turned away, wearing dirty clothing, torn to ribbons. Around him were leaping demons with staves and lances. 'Where is your monk's cloak?' Fr Zosima asked him. 'I haven't got it,' replied Nahum. 'Give me yours.' Fr Zosima took off his monk's robe and covered the half-naked suicide with it.


On reading this, I thought, "If Fr Zosima had compassion on the man who committed suicide, then surely God who knows all and who is the inspiration for such compassion and love must surely treat him as His own on the Last Day.

I was told that even in the last moments of one's life, even if the life was taken by the very person, that man has a chance to repent and have metanoia.

I would love to see what people much more versed on this subject have to say.

Marianthy


I saw a documentary about people who jumped off the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. If they survived the fall, some would swim obviously trying to save their lives, even if they later died. The documentary also mentioned mental illnesses as not being understood enough. As such, who knows what the last thoughts are of those who succeed in committing suicide? God is on humanity's side, and not agaisnt us.

I think that the church's harsh teaching on suicide is more of a strong way of saying not to do such a thing, but then also knowing about God's love.

However, is it true that if a person commits suicide that the church will not have a funeral service or bury them?

Richard

#10 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,028 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 February 2008 - 05:10 PM

Re Silouan's post: Letters to David Balfour - my wife read it but I think it may only be available in Russian.

#11 Nina

Nina

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,149 posts

Posted 07 February 2008 - 05:24 PM

God is merciful, Justin, but exactly for His great mercy and love we must not pay Him back with suicide. What did He do for us? Only good and wonderful things and even took our wretched nature which is from the dust, and saved us. Life is difficult, but He is there to help us go through it. All Saints had difficulties but they did not commit suicide. All Martyrs suffered in the hands of other people but they endured and did not commit suicide. They could have excused themselves and committed suicide since their trials were great, but they did not kill themselves, since suicide is the ultimate sin (provided the person has his mind - he can write and think etc.) and after that the person has NO chance for repentance! We can think that there can be a person to pray us out of hell if we commit suicide, but who can give us that guarantee??? God said do not kill, that includes ourselves. The Orthodox Church does not have funeral service for suicides... There was a priest whose daughter committed suicide since she was so young and loved a guy and it was kind of forbidden love, and the poor priest could not even bury his own poor daughter with an Orthodox funeral...

#12 Moses Ibrahim

Moses Ibrahim

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 75 posts

Posted 07 February 2008 - 10:31 PM

Saint Samson commit suicide when he took his life along with countless philistines in the court as prisoner. Yet God did not punish him for he was righteous in doing so.

However, in the Second Ecumenical Council, all 180 Fathers, agreed that the Holy Sacrifice not be offered for suicides.

We also have Saint Timothy, the Archbishop of Alexandria, who in his 14th canon says: "If anyone, being beside himself, shall raise his hands against himself or cast himself from a height, should there be the Holy Offering for him or no? Concerning such a one, the clergyman must determine whether or not he was genuinely out of his mind when he did this or not; for often those close to the one who suffered by his own hand, seeking to obtain the celebration of the Holy Mysteries and prayers for him, speak untruthfully and say that he was beside himself. Yet it may be that on account of human insult or from some other reason out of pusillanimity, he did this thing; and for such a one there should be no Holy Offering, as he is a suicide. Therefore, the clergyman must investigate with care lest he fall under judgment."

St. Thekla the proto-martyr saved the pagan Falconilla after her death. Also St. Gregory the Pope of Rome saved the pagan emperor Trajan. The empress Theodora obtained forgiveness of sins from God for her dead husband Theophilus who was the last iconoclast persecutor of Christians. And for those interested, these pagans did not commit suicide.

Now for my own opinion, I think that Elder Sophrony's sister was beside herself and that is why she obtained repose among the Saints by her brothers intercessions. I hope I am wrong and that it extends to those who are suicides and were not mentally ill but only God knows and only by God's grace can deceased sinners be numbered among the Saints. As for the Holy Church's teachings, we should not offer the Bloody Sacrifice for suicides who aren't mentally ill.

The Church holds that suicides are to be left to the judgment of God and that salvation should be attained by following the teachings of the Church which do not advocate any form of self harm... for our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Edited by Moses Ibrahim, 07 February 2008 - 11:33 PM.


#13 Nina

Nina

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,149 posts

Posted 08 February 2008 - 12:12 AM

As for the Holy Church's teachings, we should not offer the Bloody Sacrifice for suicides who aren't mentally ill.


Yes.

As for your questions, the son whose mother asked you cannot be commemorated by the Church because he committed suicide. If she wants, she can only give to charity for him. The Lord is great and the depth of His charity is infinite. If she wants, she should send alms especially to the ascetics, who pray day and night and whose prayers the Lord hears. As you mentioned, she knows many monks. She should give them alms to distribute amongst themselves, or to nuns. Nothing else can be done for him.

pp. 210-211 Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast

As you can see from other posts and the words of Elder Joseph, dear Justin, the mercy of God is something infinite and we always can rely on it. However, if there is someone pondering suicide and visits this thread, premeditating everything he/she can not rely on the prayers of others for after the fact. We can have hope in His infinite mercy for the people who have already departed in that manner, but who assures us, that if we commit it, there will be someone praying us out of hell? Of course God is All-Good and we never know how He will decide with His just judgment, but we must lift our responsibility also. Lifting the cross is something God asked us to. Giving up life in that manner, provided the person has the mental clarity, means to be friends with the demons who are not really our friends but are envious of us and nothing gives them more pleasure than to punish and accuse us. Because they know how much God loves us. This is the whole story. This is the why for our struggle.

God is our Benefactor and we must pay Him with whatever good there is and that we can. Suicide is not something He wants from us and therefore it is not good. Do we get saved after we are sent to hell initially? Maybe yes. But why should I rely on others to pray and do good deeds for me after suicide, when praying and doing good deeds, is MY responsibility?

#14 Justin Farr

Justin Farr

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 96 posts

Posted 08 February 2008 - 12:25 AM

Wow. The information I have learned in this thread is appalling at best...

EDIT: Not to say this in a derogatory way... but not even a funeral service? Ouch. Harsh... and seemingly terribly unloving. Good grief.

#15 Moses Ibrahim

Moses Ibrahim

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 75 posts

Posted 08 February 2008 - 12:32 AM

Wow. The information I have learned in this thread is appalling at best...

EDIT: Not to say this in a derogatory way... but not even a funeral service? Ouch. Harsh... and seemingly terribly unloving. Good grief.


Just another heads up about refusing funerals, my previous priest did not give an Orthodox person a funeral because in his will he wanted to be cremated and was cremated. So he told the family that he would not do it and they were appalled. Yet if he were to have shown economia in this case, many Orthodox people would switch from burial to cremation for financial reasons.

#16 Nina

Nina

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,149 posts

Posted 08 February 2008 - 12:35 AM

Wow. The information I have learned in this thread is appalling at best...

EDIT: Not to say this in a derogatory way... but not even a funeral service? Ouch. Harsh... and seemingly terribly unloving. Good grief.


Justin, people are buried. But Orthodox can not have Church services if the person was mentally ok. As Elder Joseph the Hesychast said the only thing is giving alms and asking a monastic to pray for the poor soul. Read his words.

#17 Tessa Miljanic

Tessa Miljanic

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 20 posts

Posted 08 February 2008 - 02:50 AM

Yes, I think in most cases the Orthodox Church WILL NOT bury someone who committs suicide.

My brother's friend (a Greek American) in Florida committed suicide last year. They say he was a very depressed fellow and he was fighting with his girlfriend over the phone before he shot himself. It was very sad. The Church refused any service for him, so his mother ended up using one of these cookie cutter funeral home clerics, it was like some new age lady in a collar. My brother said it was terrible.

I remember my dad telling me a story from when he was a kid where his dad (my grandfather) was a priest at Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church. A male parishoner killed his wife then killed himself. So they had the service for the wife in church and the husbands coffin was outside the church at the bottom of the steps. It really made an impression on my dad and he ALWAYS used to tell us this story and reinforce the church's view.

Whether or not the graves of those who suicide can be blessed or if the parastos service can be held for them, if even outside of church, I would be interested to know.

Lord have mercy on us all.

In Christ,
Tessa

#18 Yuri Zharikov

Yuri Zharikov

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 259 posts

Posted 08 February 2008 - 03:13 AM

Wow. The information I have learned in this thread is appalling at best...

EDIT: Not to say this in a derogatory way... but not even a funeral service? Ouch. Harsh... and seemingly terribly unloving. Good grief.


Justin,
Why is it harsh and unloving? Why is following the rules of the Church which are spiritual rules, harsh and unloving? If somebody tells me "do not lick the metal door handle when it's -20 outside" or "do not jump from the 3rd floor onto pavement" how is it unloving? Also why is our logic of life seems always to be like this - let us jump from the 3rd floor onto the pavement and then pray to God to forgive us? He will forgive us, but our legs are broken nonetheless. Isn't salvation about love? And if I have not even tried to love God in this live (and killed myself) how in principle is it possible to "pray me out" of this un-love, when the door of the bridechamber has been closed forever.

How many people may have been saved from suicide by the knowledge that they would not receive a Christian burial? The laxer we are about precepts of the Church the more of us forget that there is only today for repentance, and people go to hell on account of this laxity. The logic become deadly: we will eat, drink, do what we what, commit things that are irrevocable by any account, and then hope that the Church will pray us out of this mess after we are no longer here. We all hope and believe in Lord's mercy, more so He Himself stands there and knocks waiting for us to open. But why do we forget about that healthy fear of judgment?

In the Lord,
Yura

#19 Justin Farr

Justin Farr

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 96 posts

Posted 08 February 2008 - 03:29 AM

Why cause the family even more grief? There loved one killed themselves, and the family is going to bury the body anyways. Why cause more grief? Why not a proper funeral.

I told one of my atheist friends about this (it probably wasn't the wisest thing to do...) and she replied: Because they're Orthodox and no matter how much most Christian churches preach tollerance and forgiveness, Christian clergy is generally the most intolerant and unforgiving thing on earth.

#20 Moses Ibrahim

Moses Ibrahim

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 75 posts

Posted 08 February 2008 - 03:32 AM

Why cause the family even more grief? There loved one killed themselves, and the family is going to bury the body anyways. Why cause more grief? Why not a proper funeral.

I told one of my atheist friends about this (it probably wasn't the wisest thing to do...) and she replied: Because they're Orthodox and no matter how much most Christian churches preach tollerance and forgiveness, Christian clergy is generally the most intolerant and unforgiving thing on earth.


If all the Saints of the Orthodox Faith agree on this issue... then why question the Holy Spirit who enlightens its Saints? Forgive me sounding harsh, but I'm only trying to clarify that they do this because this is how the Church has been guided by God Himself.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users