Are Suicide Victims Without The Hope of Heaven?

Suicide impacts everyone. There is a suicide in the United States every twelve minutes, and it is the tenth leading cause of death!

Why one would resort suicide is a matter of debate and there is hardly a cut and dry scenario to pull from. Not to mention: Christians are not immune to it. Recently, an evangelical pastors took his own life. Jarrid Wilson was a mental health advocate and very open with his struggle with depression. His death has brought the subject of suicide and mental health to the forefront, and once again we see the same comments that display a sincere ignorance on the topic.

Are those who die of suicide committed to hell? Are there extenuating circumstances? The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses these questions in paragraphs 2280-2283.

The Catechism describes suicide as “Gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God” (CCC 281).

In error some stop here to make the point that all who die of suicide were unable to repent of this mortal sin. At this juncture it is necessary to define what makes a sin mortal. For a sin to be mortal the following three criteria must be met: 1) Grave matter, 2) Knowledge that it is wrong, and 3) consent of your free will.

There is no doubt that suicide is something that constitutes a grave matter, but are all who go through with it in the proper frame of mind for all criteria to be met?

The Catechism answers this question with an emphatic “no”! In paragraph 2282 the Catechism reads, “Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.”

The eternal fate of those who commit suicide is something that is not for us to judge. Who is not to say that someone who fulfilled the three criteria didn’t repent a microsecond before the deed was complete? The person who suffers with severe bouts of depression, as the Catechism says, was acting in a diminished capacity when the act was complete.

In short, only God knows. It is his role to be the judge of all of us (I don’t want that job as it would be a hard burden to bear). In paragraph 2283 the Catechism has this to say, “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives”.

God is a loving Father who knows what we are going through, and only he knows what was going on with the person who died from suicide. He alone knows if they were cognizant of what they were doing. The Church calls us to pray for those who have taken their own lives. What good would praying for victims of suicide if was an automatic sentence to hell? The Church asks us to pray for them because we are a Faith of hope and love, not of fear.

Those who die of suicide are created in the image of God, and he loves them just as he loves you and me. God alone is the judge, and he is the only one qualified to judge the fate of suicide victims. Through his Holy Church, God has made known that there is hope for eternal life, and it is the same hope we all have.

To read the rest of this article that I wrote for Epicpew please go to https://epicpew.com/are-suicide-victims-without-hope-of-heaven/

 

Woman Sitting on Wooden Planks

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A Storyteller Talks Grace With Tony Agnesi

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-satjf-bed840

Tony Agnesi comes on the program and talks discusses the role of grace in our lives.  He discusses how faith has sustained him through hard times and how faith and grace can sustain us.  It is a very uplifting conversation that will make your day better.  Tony also released a new book recently that is sure to benefit you.  Visit tonyagnesi.com and use the code “friends” to get it signed, a 20% discount, and free shipping!

What is the Deuterocanon? with Gary Michuta

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-t5hxp-bc6840

In this episode Gary Michuta and I discuss the Deuterocanon.  Those are the books that appear in Catholic Bibles, but are missing from Protestant ones.  Gary gives some insight to why they deserve to be in the canon, when they were first disputed, and a couple tips we can all use to show that they are inspired.  Check out Gary’s daily radio program titled Hands On Apologetics on Virgin Most Powerful radio.  His website handsonapologetics.com is full of great material to help defend your faith, and check out his books on garymichuta.com

The Eucharist with Matthew Chicoine

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-3d6xi-bc36d6

Matthew is a husband, father, and pursuer of truth.  He is a contributor to Epic Pew, Catholic Exchange, Managing editor at Catholic Stand, and runs a blog at thesimplecatholic.blog.  He has earned an Masters in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and recently started pursuing his dream of being a freelance writer.  In this episode Matthew discusses the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist and the biblical evidence to support it.  We attempted to record this episode a couple times had some technology difficulties.  I highly recommend you check out Matthew’s article on the Eucharist at https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/07/27/3-reasons-why-critically-reading-john-6-will-convert-protestants/

Sacramental Definitions

What is sacramentum tantum?

sacramentum tantum is a Latin word that describes the sacramental elements. They are the physical matter that is presented to be offered up in the sacrament. In the case of the Eucharist it would be bread and wine. The literal translation in English is “matter alone”. In an of themselves they are only elements and not sanctifying.

 

What is res et sacramentum?

The Latin term res et sacramentum contains the whole of the sacrament. It is when the physical properties and the grace of God become one. The grace and the physical elements are united, and this is what makes the sacraments effective. It is this terminology that shows that the sacraments are more than just elements. They are physical elements, infused with God’s grace, that are used to bring us into deeper relationship with him.

 

What is res tantum?

Res tantum is made up of two Latin words that mean “thing alone”.   The “thing” that the phrase speaks of is the grace of God. This is the presence of the Lord God himself. Without this presence the elements of the sacrament remain merely physical. They would have no effect as a sacrament.

What is ex opere operato?

Ex opera operato is a term that refers to the work worked. This term is helpful when understanding how a sacrament is valid even if the one administering it may not be of the highest moral character. If everything is done through the church, and according to the command of Christ then the sacrament is valid. This term was also used in the medieval period to help keep maintain the relationship between the sacraments and faith and reason. The grace flows through the sacrament as long as the criteria mentioned above are met.

 

What is ex opere operantis?

Ex opera operantis is a term that refers to the work of the worker (Lecture Notes). Though a sacrament may be valid the disposition of the recipient must be in good order. We have a responsibility to cooperate with the grace given to us. We can block the grace of the sacrament by not believing what it truly it. Ex opere operantis and ex opera operato must work together as in any relationship.

Origen on Baptism

The book of Joshua is an interesting book in the Old Testament. Moses has died, and the children of Israel are about to enter the promised land. Before they do so they must cross the Jordan river, but they have no way to cross. It is at this point that we must look at the power of God over nature. In Exodus the Lord parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape Pharaoh. In the book of Joshua God parted the Jordan River.

This can be read in Joshua 3:17 which states, “While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan” (NRSV). Through baptism one parts the waters and is being led by the New Moses, which is Jesus Christ (Origen page 52). It is Christ, through his priesthood, that leads us into the future.

This is important for those of you who are being baptized. God has shown over and over what he can do in the natural realm. He parted the Red Sea, he provided manna from Heaven, and today He begins a new work in you. Through Baptism you step in the water, just as the twelve tribes did in the book of Joshua, and the waters part. You now follow the priests of Christ into the land of our inheritance (Origen page 53).

Through of your baptism you are dying and rising with Christ. This is a great responsibility, and a great honor. Christ is exalted when you come to the baptismal waters, and he is happy that you are here. Follow Christ and keep him close. Do not fall back into sin and be like the Egyptians who were swallowed up by the Red Sea.

WORKS CITED

Origen, et al. Homilies on Joshua. Catholic University of America Press, 2002. The Fathers of the Church.

Mary the Mother of God?

On my journey into the Catholic church there were three things that had the potential to derail me.  Mary, Mary, and Mary.  One of the objections I had, which sprang from my Baptist days, was the title of Mother of God for Mary.

After all God is eternal and has always existed.  That title, at least in my mind back then, meant that somehow Mary was exalted to a deified state in which she surely didn’t belong. and one she would surely object to herself.  How can a mere mortal be the Mother of God?  Thsi objection is one that is till quite prominent.  If you don’t believe me feel free to visit a Protestant/Catholic discussion forum on Facebook.  Simply ask if Mary is the Mother of God and watch the sparks fly.

This issue was settled by the church in the 400’s at the Council of Ephesus.  Nestorius, the Bishop of Constantinople, objected to the long revered title of Mary known as Theotokos.  This is a Greek term that simply means “God-bearer”.  Nestorius decided to use a different term known as Christokos, or “Christ-bearer”.  This term is problematic for a couple reasons.  First and foremost Nestorius used this term in an attempt to maintain the two natures of Christ, but he failed, because by using this term, he separated the human and divine nature of Christ from the person of Christ.  His attempt to be Orthodox led him into heresy because Jesus had a human and divine nature while in the womb of Mary.

To say that Mary only gave birth the to human Jesus would deny the teaching of scripture that states he is human and divine.  Secondly, if Mary only gave birth to the human Jesus when did his divine nature arrive?  Do you see the Christological dilemma?  Either Jesus had both natures since conception or he did not.  To say he did not is to fall into error.  Adoptionism is one result that can come from this line of thinking, the other is one that denies the hypostatic union.  The latter is what would become known as Nestorianism.

The fact of Jesus having a human and divine nature coexisting in the one person of Jesus was upheld by the Council of Ephesus in 431.  As a result the Greek term for Mary known as Theotokos was upheld.  In short calling Mary the Mother of God has everything to do with understanding Jesus properly, and even less to do with Mary.  Regarding this para 495 of the Catechis states, “Called in the Gospels ‘the mother of Jesus, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”. In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos)”.

As stated a few sentences ago, Jesus was fully God and fully man from the time of his conception.  Mary gave birth to the second person of the Trinity, not a boy who would latter take on a divine nature.  The divine nature was already there.  Since Mary gave birth to Jesus, who we affirm to be God incarnate, she gave birth to God.  Yes my friends, it really is that simple.  Nestorianism is the logical consequence for those who deny the Theotokos.

Works Cited

Catechism of the Catholic Church, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a3p2.htm

Divine Providence

When we speak of divine providence it can be hard to understand how free will, efficacious grace, and perseverative grace can exist can fully exist within its context. If God knows how everything will turn out, then how can we truly exercise free will? These topics can be confusing to those who are just beginning their journey in faith, but they do have an explanation.

We must remember that God is not limited to time. In fact, he is outside time. Imagine that you had the ability to travel back in time to your childhood. You have the strange opportunity of observing how you interact with others. Though you know the outcome as an adult, you are observing your childhood self-using the gift of free will to make decisions. You know how those decisions will turn out, but you as a child still used your gift of reason to decide. This analogy is, of course, a hypothetical one.   Within the context of divine providence, we use our free will to cooperate with efficacious grace. Efficacious grace is grace given when we consent to it and always leads to good actions (Journet 2.10).

So, what of perseverative grace? Does God not grant us the power to persevere in grace? Regarding perseverance St. Thomas Aquinas writes that man “needs the Divine assistance guiding and guarding him against the attacks of the passions” (ST II, Q 109, A 10). This relates to free will and efficacious grace because, though it is freely given, it is still something that must be asked for. God will not deny this special help or deny his grace because of his divine providence (Hardon Ch. 3). Free will, efficacious grace, and perseverative grace can exist really and truly within the mystery of Divine Providence because they require an accent of the will and must be asked for.

Works Cited

Aquinas, Thomas.  Summa Theologia. Trans. Thomas Gornall.  Blackfriars, St. Joseph, IN:  Ave Maria Press, 1981. Accessed August 10, 2018.

Hardon, John.  History and Theology of Grace.  Ann Arbor, MI:  Sapientia Press, 2005.

Journet, Charles.  The Meaning of Grace.   Princeton: Scepter Publishers, 1997.

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