God’s love and mercy extends to those who have died by suicide.
That is the reason for and message of a memorial Mass that Bishop David Zubik will hold on Sunday, May 23, 2021 at 7:45 p.m. in Sacred Heart Church of Saint Jude Parish, Pittsburgh. Those who have lost a loved one to suicide are invited to join the bishop in praying for their souls.
“As we prepare to celebrate this memorial Mass, I pray that those who have lost loved ones to suicide will know that God loves them, just as he loves those they lost so tragically,” Bishop Zubik said.
“Only our Lord can judge what is in the heart and soul of a person who dies by suicide. We can trust in His mercy, knowing that He will embrace those who have suffered mental illness and comfort those who had been tormented by forces beyond their control. It is my hope and prayer that anyone who has lost a loved one this way – no matter how long ago – will come to this Mass and receive consolation.”
Many Catholics mistakenly believe that people who commit suicide cannot go to heaven, since their final act was the grave sin of killing someone and they have no opportunity to repent. That was once the teaching of the Church, said Jack Shaw, the evangelization and outreach coordinator at Saint Jude Parish and the program coordinator for Lifeline of Listening Friends, a support group for those who have lost loved ones to suicide.
However, after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the Church came to recognize that people who kill themselves are often in the grip of mental illness or other coercion, and so are not responsible for their actions. As with people who die in every other circumstance, the Church acknowledges that God alone can judge their soul.
“Many of the Catholics who come to our support groups arrive believing that their loves ones are forever damned by their last actions. They believed that the Church would not have a Mass for their loved ones, that they would not be remembered,” Shaw said.
“It is very healing for them to learn that God does not judge their loved one by his or her final act, but by their whole life. They are loved by God as his children.”
At the Mass, participants will have the opportunity to write the name of their deceased loved one on a paper cut-out of a person. These will be mounted on a board at the front of the Church, where Bishop Zubik will pray for their souls, Shaw said.
People with questions about the ministry of Lifeline of Listening Friends can call Shaw at 412-508-5383.