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Suicide, heaven and hell


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#41 Kusanagi

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 01:35 PM

Is suicide a sin that automatically lands one in Hell?


Yes because it is the destruction of both body and soul. Also the church does not bury them on blessed land for burials, nor do they hold services for them. This is not because they are cold hearted but because they do not want everyone to think ah if i kill myself the church will say prayers for me anyway. Much in the same mindset that when Christ died and washed away all sin does not mean I can go and sin as much as I like because it was already forgiven when Christ died.

There are examples of miracles from saints when they interceded to prevent someone from committing suicide and St Petka and St John Maximovitch are some examples long with Fr Porphyrios. So they know the dangers to both the body and soul of what suicide does.

But if the priest does bury a suicided person and hold church services like an example i know then that is left up to the priest and his bishop.

Prayers can be said for the suicided person there is even a canon for it. I think their are examples in the life of St Leonid and Ambrose of Optina about people praying for the suicide to be taken out of hell and it was a very difficult but ascetic thing to perform.

#42 Paul Cowan

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 04:43 PM

Yes because it is the destruction of both body and soul. Also the church does not bury them on blessed land for burials, nor do they hold services for them. This is not because they are cold hearted but because they do not want everyone to think ah if i kill myself the church will say prayers for me anyway. Much in the same mindset that when Christ died and washed away all sin does not mean I can go and sin as much as I like because it was already forgiven when Christ died.

There are examples of miracles from saints when they interceded to prevent someone from committing suicide and St Petka and St John Maximovitch are some examples long with Fr Porphyrios. So they know the dangers to both the body and soul of what suicide does.

But if the priest does bury a suicided person and hold church services like an example i know then that is left up to the priest and his bishop.

Prayers can be said for the suicided person there is even a canon for it. I think their are examples in the life of St Leonid and Ambrose of Optina about people praying for the suicide to be taken out of hell and it was a very difficult but ascetic thing to perform.


I don't think this is 100% correct. It is true suicide is a sin, it is also true those that commit suicide are not mentally stable and the Church offers economia to these in this state and DOES bury and pray for them as if they were "whole" people. It's not the same as if someone were in their right mind and committed murder.

#43 Kusanagi

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 07:47 PM

DOES bury and pray for them as if they were "whole" people. It's not the same as if someone were in their right mind and committed murder.


i said does not bury them on blessed land not does not bury them.
Meaning the suicide is not buried on soil for those the priest thinks has reposed in the Church. They are buried elsewhere without a Cross as their grave stone.
I do know they do get prayed for otherwise there wouldn't be a canon for such situation.

#44 Father David Moser

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 09:50 PM

I don't think this is 100% correct. It is true suicide is a sin, it is also true those that commit suicide are not mentally stable and the Church offers economia to these in this state and DOES bury and pray for them as if they were "whole" people. It's not the same as if someone were in their right mind and committed murder.


This is also not 100% correct. Suicide is not an automatic or infallible indication of mental instability. Not all suicides are deemed to be "not in their right mind" and in such cases where the person truly knew what they were doing when taking their own life, they cannot be buried from the Church and in blessed ground. However, if there is evidence that a person was not in their right mind, either by reason of intoxication or of a demonstrable mental illness, then the bishop can permit a church funeral and burial in blessed ground.

Even when a person is not buried in blessed ground (for whatever reason) there are prayers that can be said (such as the akathist for those departed this life) and they can be remembered in one's personal prayers (just not in the public prayers of the Church).

Fr David Moser

#45 Paul Cowan

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 10:42 PM

Not all suicides are deemed to be "not in their right mind" and in such cases where the person truly knew what they were doing when taking their own life, they cannot be buried from the Church and in blessed ground.


What person in his right mind takes his own life? It seems this is a perspective of the outsider and not the person who has taken it. What happens if it were not apparent until years later the person was in a state of "confusion" and was buried not on holy ground? Woudl that person be dug up and moved?

Not trying to be argumentative here, but who is to say who is in their right or wrong minds after the fact?

#46 Eric Peterson

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 11:22 PM

Well, there is a process of discernment to determine the person's frame of mind. Whatever the case, however, all suicides are in serious need of our prayers and alms.

#47 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 11:22 PM

What person in his right mind takes his own life?


What person "in his right mind" takes the life of another? Yes that is a rhetorical question. What person in his right mind would want to be a martyr? We need to be very careful here. What, exactly is a "right" mind and who gets to define it? Here's a hint, thee and mee are probably not the best candidates. [insert smiley here]

It seems this is a perspective of the outsider and not the person who has taken it.


Unless God has granted us the gift of discernment and clairvoyance, how can we know what is going on in the mind of anyone? But to come to the point, it is possible to make a conscious decision to take your own life. Humans have such incredible powers of self-rationalization and can justify just about anything.

What happens if it were not apparent until years later the person was in a state of "confusion" and was buried not on holy ground? Woudl that person be dug up and moved?


Why not? In Greece it happens as a matter of course in that those interred in mausoleums get moved to ossuaries. But hey it is not like they would have been buried in "unholy ground" and HAVE to be moved. "Holy ground" is not magical. Many saints were not buried in holy ground.

Not trying to be argumentative here, but who is to say who is in their right or wrong minds after the fact?


That is why the Church, in its wisdom TRADITIONALLY leaves it up to God as to what happens to such people. Suicide is something we want to discourage, very strongly, and the ability of the Church to do so is rather limited. Simply ASSUMING that every suicide is "not in their right mind" so we don't offend their families is not the way to do this. I do believe that there have been rather straightforward cases where the circumstances were known that a particular person was over medicated, for instance, and not responsible for his actions. I don't believe that is the situation for every suicide however. Each case really would need to be evaluated individually, and that is why we have bishops, that is why they get to wear the funny hats.

Herman the Pooh

#48 Chev. James R. Weber KGCT

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 12:13 AM

Well,
This is simply a level of commitment for what you believe in. Far too many Monks and soldiers have...

I believe suicide is wrong for so many non-spiritual reasons Honor, Dignity, and the list goes on... but it is my ego and vanity that stops me not reason or rationalization... but alas we come to the "it" IMHO as I see it...
It is education, family and Love that keeps us alive maybe we should focus our attention as educating those who would consider Martyring themselves or committing suicide

God Bless and think of the reason for thanksgiving

Your eternal servant
James


What person "in his right mind" takes the life of another? Yes that is a rhetorical question. What person in his right mind would want to be a martyr?

Simply ASSUMING that every suicide is "not in their right mind" so we don't offend their families is not the way to do this. I do believe that there have been rather straightforward cases where the circumstances were known that a particular person was over medicated, for instance, and not responsible for his actions. I don't believe that is the situation for every suicide however. Each case really would need to be evaluated individually, and that is why we have bishops, that is why they get to wear the funny hats.

Herman the Pooh



#49 Kevin T. Wall

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 09:18 PM

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

pp. 81-82

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



I'm sorry, but this is just awful and heartbreaking. A servant was abused and starved by his master, and when he takes his own life to end his horrible suffering, he is instantly taken to hell? Does this not offend your conscience?



#50 Phoebe K.

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 12:39 PM

The story shows primerly what hapens when we despare of our salvation, if the servant (in the original was most likely slave) had been able to hold fast to his faith and died at the hand of his master he would have been received with glory into heaven.  Equally if as a baptised christian he had told of his suffering to the church they would have interceded for him and possibly bort his freedom, that did happen in the early church.  he went to hell because he despoiled his baptismal robe in one of the most grievous ways possible  the fathers were not leant on those who killed others, and the theology was the same for those who took their own life, but without the chance for repentance and confession, then a long period of penance before being restored to the church most oftern at the point of death because they had tacken themselves from the physical realm where that is possible.

 

the story dose also say the master was punished by the lord for his cruelty  which shows that the Lord dose see and care, even if from our perspective it takes time for him to respond.

 

storeys like this pain me of course, but every death outside the fold of the church dose as it is another who has as for as we know missed the chance to know the lord on earth and be saved, it is possible that they are but we do not know.  that is why I rejoice at each person coming in (or returning) to the faith and weep for those who die outside, not because I knew them (though I do have many friends and family outside the church) but because I see them as we all are children of God by our creation and sorrow for the chance to know the Lord and be restored which they missed or rejected in life.



#51 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 02:06 PM

I think Phoebe is right, if I may say so.  We should not think that the Church takes a stance based on one didactic story of the early third century.  Fr David has set out the position in brief.  Ultimately, the matter of the suicide's soul's fate is in God's hands.



#52 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 05:25 PM

Funerals are more for the living than for the dead. It gives the living the opportunity to reflect on death, another opportunity for the Church to teach us. Suicide is basically saying " even God cannot help me." This is NOT the sort of thinking that the Church wants to encourage. Therefore the Church does not bless the act of suicide by allowing a Church funeral for someone who has made a conscious decision to not carry his or her cross. Note the words conscious decision. Funerals have been permitted for those who were determined not to be responsible for their acts. This is a pastoral decision and those if us not charged with this awesome responsibility would do well to not judge the decisions made for those who are.

It might also be worth mentioning that there IS a big difference between a suicide and a martyr although the world might not see it. The WHY is more important than the WHAT sometimes.

#53 Connie B.

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 08:46 PM

Kevin, you are not alone. That vision deeply troubles me too. And it surely would have troubled St. Isaac the Syrian. The saints are fallible and their visions are to be taken with a grain of salt. You might be interested in this blog post by Fr Aidan and in all his subsequent posts on St. Isaac the Syrian:

 

http://afkimel.wordp...ng-love-of-god/



 



 



#54 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 09:48 PM

I think the post to which the link in post #53 takes us misrepresents perception of St Isaac the Syrian.  To say that he ‘remains relatively unknown in English-speaking Christendom’ may be true if ‘English-speaking Christendom’ includes thousands of Protestant denominations, but if we are talking about Orthodox Christians who know anything about Orthodoxy then the statement is inapt.  The ‘Ascetical Homilies’ are widely known and read by practising Orthodox Christians.  The statement ‘most Orthodox . . . preachers simply do not understand what it means to speak the good news of Jesus Christ’ is entirely unwarranted.  If Fr Aidan has not heard Orthodox preachers speak of God’s love he has not been going to the right churches and has not been reading the right Orthodox writers.  Has he not read St Silouan the Athonite and Archimandrite Sophrony or Elder Porphyrios? 


The statement ‘The saints are fallible and their visions are to be taken with a grain of salt’ is not an Orthodox view and must be rejected.  One account from the early fourth century must not lead us to generalizations such as this.


The death of a person by suicide is deeply distressing but our distress must not lead us to challenge and reject the Church’s teachings.  The Church is Christ and Christ is God and God is love.  If a person deliberately rejects God and His love, it is hard for us to see how that love can save him, but we cannot second guess God’s mercy.



 



#55 Kevin T. Wall

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 09:59 PM

Most Orthodox are not in English-speaking countries, so yes, it's true that Isaac the Syrian remains relatively unknown in English-speaking Christendom -- which is mostly Protestant and Catholic. And yes, the saints are fallible, and that is an Orthodox view. Otherwise we would accept universalism like Gregory of Nyssa did, for instance.

#56 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 11:18 PM

St Isaac is clearly well known here, and to all the Orthodox I know.  As to saints, my assertion related to the whole statement, not half of it.  The Church knows when the saints were unerring and which of their visions are to be accepted.  To assert that the visions of the saints 'are to be taken with a grain of salt' is an unwarranted generalization: the lives of the saints are full of accounts of their visions.  The visions of St Andrew Fool for Christ, St Sergius of Radonezh, St Alexander Svirsky, St Seraphim of Sarov, and many others are not 'to be taken with a grain of salt'. 


Edited by Andreas Moran, 25 May 2013 - 11:29 PM.


#57 Anna Stickles

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 12:16 AM

Kevin, you are not alone. That vision deeply troubles me too. And it surely would have troubled St. Isaac the Syrian. The saints are fallible and their visions are to be taken with a grain of salt. You might be interested in this blog post by Fr Aidan and in all his subsequent posts on St. Isaac the Syrian:

 

http://afkimel.wordp...ng-love-of-god/



 



 

I find Fr Aidan's (not St Isaac's) view of God's love very troubling.  Consider how he is anthropomorphizing God, a thing that St John Chrysostom in his sermons warns strongly against.

 

Fr Aidan says, "The love of God is indiscriminate, promiscuous, prodigal."  But this is adding to and therefore changing the meaning of the quote of St Isaac that he gives a few lines later. "“There is no hatred or resentment in His nature,” Isaac explains, “no greater or lesser place in His love, no before or after in His knowledge”

 

In another place Fr Aidan says, "This love is unconquerable and irresistible, not because it coerces—God forbid!—but because of its intrinsic beauty, truth, and goodness:  But obviously man has the freedom and ability to reject this love and this beauty.  The whole post in trying to overcome a legalistic view of God's punishment goes too far in the other direction, making of God's love something sentimental and without taking into account the seriousness of the consequences of sin. 

 

Also, I would not say that the writings or visions of the saints should be taken with a grain of salt, but to rather admit that if a story doesn't make sense to us, seems to violate our view of God, then to admit that either our view of God is wrong, or that we are not correctly understanding the story in the way that it is meant to be understood, and for myself, when I read something that seems "off" that is written by the saints, as time goes on or I ask my spiritual father about it I find that usually both of these things are true.

 

Likewise if one reads the beginning of this thread, the story of St Silouan praying his sister who committed suicide out of hell, tells us something about the fact that even though the church does not allow a Christian burial because of the seriousness of the sin, nevertheless our private prayers and sacrifices are not ignored by God.  But also sin's healing is not free, if we are not willing to give alms, and pray faithfully for our sinful loved ones, who themselves have no repentance, then is it God's love that is lacking or ours?


Edited by Anna Stickles, 26 May 2013 - 12:20 AM.


#58 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 12:24 AM

I endorse Anna's post and would only point out that it was Father Sophrony who prayed his sister's soul out of hell, not St Silouan.


Edited by Andreas Moran, 26 May 2013 - 12:25 AM.


#59 Anna Stickles

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 12:41 AM

Sorry, I scanned through the beginning of the thread pretty quick. 

 

I just wanted to add further to the last paragraph of my post because I thought it might be misunderstood.  Their are various sins that cut one off from the sacramental body of the Church, but the Orthodox Church does not teach that this automatically means the person is going to hell, rather such people are left to God's mercy and judgement. But part of God's judgement also has to do with man's love for man. What is often missing in our perception of these things is the real power and dignity and respect that God gives human relationship, our love and prayers. This is why we are called to offer prayers and give alms for loved ones who have passed away. It is not just the saints who can pray people out of hell. There are plenty of stories of simple people praying their family out of hell where this was also confirmed by some vision or sign, and they did this simply by following the disciplines and activities that the Church gives us. 

 

And I love Elder Paisos' statement on this that God does not mistreat sinners.   How often do we automatically interpret some deed or command of God's as mistreatment?  But we are warned over and over again in the ascetical literature that we should not trust our own judgement.  Therefore in the context of Orthodoxy piety, the one who has been cut off from the Church for a serious sin is not to be either justified nor condemned.  What causes the problem is our own passion to want guarantees and certainty (one way or the other) instead of faith.



#60 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 12:46 AM

Just to add that St Gabriel, about whom I posted earlier today, made the whole focus of his vocation as a spiritual father the central place of love in our faith.  This is more evident in the Russian site about him (my wife tells me) than in the English language site.






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