Saturday, May 03, 2008

Request for prayers

Melancholicus is saddened.

In the aftermath of his departure from seminary in the summer of 2005, he moved back to his mother’s house in Wicklow for a bit, to relax and unwind and attempt to gather his scattered wits.

It was not the best choice for a quiet life, for not only did Melancholicus have to adjust to sharing the house with a boisterous, half-grown collie pup, but his mother was having a patio laid in the back garden, and the gentleman hired for this work was nothing short of a cowboy.

The two of us were at our wits’ end trying to cope with the unreliability of this person, and with the tremendous mess he left behind him in the back garden. In the end he was dismissed, and my mother found an able young man who was not only able to finish the job and clear up the mess, but who offered advice and suggestions as to what should be done next, and carried out some landscaping work also. Today there are twin flower beds, a garden seat between them, and a little wall along the border of the lawn, all of which are his handiwork.

This young man was a hard, conscientious worker, and an honest man, who charged no more than his due. His obvious good will and good character impressed us all.

Recently, my mother was thinking of having some further work done in the garden now that the good weather has returned. Naturally, her first thought was to turn to the same young man who had been so helpful three years previously.

Unable to find him at his old number, she called various tradesmen in an attempt to locate him, and in the process discovered that the young man was dead.

He had committed suicide in June 2007.

This news was a shock to us all. We did not know the young man well, but he was a man of obvious talent and virtue, and ought to have had his whole life ahead of him. He can hardly have been more than about 25 years of age.

We do not know the reason why, and it is useless to speculate. We cannot guess what really goes on in people’s lives. Since he did not know the young man’s family, Melancholicus does not feel that it is proper to divulge his name. Nevertheless, he wishes to ask his readers to say in their charity a Pater, Ave and Gloria for the repose of the young man’s soul.

Do not be troubled by his anonymity, for almighty God knows for whom you pray.

To lay violent hands upon oneself is, objectively speaking, a grievous sin, one that merits eternal separation from God. But for such a sin to be mortal, it must be done with full knowledge of its gravity and with full consent of the will. It is now generally recognised that suicidal acts proceed from grave anguish and such disturbance of mind that the possibility of full knowledge and consent is exceedingly remote. Of old, the Church refused an ecclesiastical funeral to suicides, who likewise could not be interred in consecrated ground. Happily, these restrictions have now been charitably rescinded, and we must never consider it a futile exercise to pray and have Masses said for the soul of one who has taken his own life.

There was a lady in nineteenth-century France whose husband had killed himself by leaping from a bridge. In despair over the prospects for his eternal destiny, she resolved to visit the holy Curé of Ars, St. Jean Vianney. Arriving in the village, she went to the parish church, where the Curé was hearing confessions. When she saw the vast crowds in the church and the lengthy queues of those waiting to go to confession, she despaired of ever being able to meet the Curé and tell him about her husband. So she knelt down to say a quick prayer, intending to depart again immediately. While she knelt in prayer, the door of the confessional opened, and the Curé emerged, coming straight towards her. To her amazement — for they had never previously met and he could not have known who she was — he came over to her and said, “Do not be afraid, my child. Between the bridge and the water there is room for the grace of God.”

Between the bridge and the water there is room for the grace of God.

What merciful graces God gives to His faithful through His holy saints! Melancholicus has always taken much comfort from this story. How merciful is God, how great His love. Melancholicus does not know whether the young man was a Catholic, a Protestant, or of no religion at all. But at this point, it doesn’t matter. In your kindness, gentle reader, please pray for his soul.

May God reward you.

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