With the sad and scandalous news out of Oregon last night of Brittany Maynard’s state sanctioned suicide, thoughts turn toward the eternal consequences of such actions. The Internet and social media com boxes are full of praise and condolences for the terminally ill young woman and her grieving family. Many have offered their personal belief that Brittany is now in heaven with God who understands (and apparently condones) her decision. Even among professing Catholics there has been an incredible disconnect between what we are called to believe and what some “want” to believe.
As word of her suicide was released over a weekend when Catholics celebrated both the Church Triumphant (All Saints Day) and the Church Suffering (All Souls Day), it is even more distressing to see so many either oblivious to, or outright dismissive of, foundational truths such as mortal sin, the existence of Purgatory, the sin of presumption, praying for the dead and even the possibility of eternal damnation.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, regarding suicide, instructs:
“Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of…”