Friday, October 31, 2014

Light Hidden by Darkness AND Suicide, Salvation and Redemption

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As usual, my wife and I attended church last Sunday. The pastor actually had a very interesting homily, not that this is entirely unusual, but let's just say, it is not commonplace. The pastor started out by talking about all of the commandments, rules, regulations, and laws that we have to follow in our day-to-day lives and how God really only wants us to follow three basic rules. Now, don't ask me how that pastor knows that God only wants us to follow three basic rules, but I am sure the pastor has a closer communications link with God than most of us. These three basic rules, according to the pastor, were;

·         Love thy Self.

·         Love thy God.

·         Love thy Neighbor.

The pastor emphasized that with only these three rules to follow, our lives are much less complicated and if we follow these three simple rules, we cannot go wrong in the eyes of God. I liked the simplicity of this approach. The pastor then went on to explain all three of these rules in the context of the lives of the parishioners. I liked this approach as well since many homilies fail to directly connect to the parishioners' everyday lives. When the pastor discussed the rule ‘love thy self’ and how suicide was a mortal sin against God, it resonated with me, especially since I had just written a novel called LIGHT HIDDEN BY DARKNESS that included that very topic. LIGHT HIDDEN BY DARKNESS not only includes an example of suicide but then links it back to salvation and redemption in the eyes of God.

For purposes of my own clarity, let me define what I think salvation and redemption are since I struggle with understanding these complex concepts, or at least they appear complicated to me. Redemption is the price that we must pay to get back what is ours, but has been lost. Salvation refers to the act of God saving us, which includes His forgiving us for our sins. I do not remember where I found these definitions, but these are the definitions I hung my hat on when I wrote LIGHT HIDDEN BY DARKNESS. I remember when I did my research on salvation and redemption. I found literally dozens of internet hits just on the analysis of these two terms, so I cannot be the only person who struggles to grasp the concepts of salvation and redemption. Well, I digress…or maybe not, but let me continue.            

Kurt Cobain, forgivable act or not?
For those of you who have not read LIGHT HIDDEN BY DARKNESS, I am going to need to tread lightly as to not give away or spoil the novel. For those of you who have already read LIGHT HIDDEN BY DARKNESS, you know what I am talking about and understand the dilemma created in the book by suicide, salvation, and redemption. In LIGHT HIDDEN BY DARKNESS, there is a character who sins through the act of suicide. This character requires salvation from God so he can redeem himself from mortal sin. It is one of the more complex scenarios in LIGHT HIDDEN BY DARKNESS and once you read it, you will understand the Catch 22 for this particular character.

 I now return to the topic of ‘love thy self’ and finish connecting suicide to sin. When I did my research for LIGHT HIDDEN BY DARKNESS, I found that most religions believe that free-willed suicide is a sin, but that suicide is forgivable in the eyes of God under certain conditions. I am not sure where a person 'waits' when he or she dies after committing suicide since the only religion I found that believed in a ‘holding area’ for those people who could be redeemed and saved was the Catholic Church. Catholics call this 'holding area', Purgatory. It is a place where sinners await redemption from God, or is it to ‘await salvation from God’? See, I still have trouble with these two concepts. It gets even more confusing since the Catholic Church believes that suicide is a mortal sin, therefore it's their opinion, that suicide is unforgiveable in the eyes of God and therefore Purgatory would not be a destination.

I have gone to Wikipedia for a definition of both mortal and venial sin. I know Wikipedia is not the most reliable place to find definitions for things, but here is what someone writes and please forgive whomever posted this on Wikipedia’s for their poor sentence construction and grammar;

Mortal wrongful acts marked by a serious violation of God's law. These sins are called "mortal" because they sever a person's link to God’s life-giving grace. Mortal sins are commonly contrasted to venial sins only weaken a person's relationship with God. All mortal sins can be forgiven through the sacrament of penance or perfect contrition. In Roman Catholicism, absolution, which is given during the sacrament of penance, is the ordinary way in which mortal and venial sins are pardoned and requires, at least, imperfect contrition. Perfect contrition on the other hand, is an extraordinary way in which a person can also regain access to God's life-giving grace, outside of the sacrament of penance, in certain cases.”     

Now, here is what the Catholic Education Resource Center’s response is to suicide. The link to their website is      

“Therefore, objectively, suicide is a mortal sin. (Moreover, to help someone commit suicide is
Robin Williams, sinner or not? Please rest in peace!

also a mortal sin.) Here though we must remember that for a sin to be mortal and cost someone salvation, the objective action (in this case the taking of one's own life) must be grave or serious matter; the person must have an informed intellect (know that this is wrong); and the person must give full consent of the will (intend to commit this action). In the case of suicide, a person may not have given full consent of the will. Fear, force, ignorance, habit, passion, and psychological problems can impede the exercise of the will so that a person may not be fully responsible or even responsible at all for an action. Here again the Catechism states, "Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide" (#2282). This qualification does not make suicide a right action in any circumstance; however, it does make us realize that the person may not be totally culpable for the action because of various circumstances or personal conditions.”      

The Catholic Church calls suicide a mortal sin, but allows some flexibility for responsibility and forgiveness. Hmm...

My novel LIGHT HIDDEN BY DARKNESS opens up a different type of dialogue and thinking in regards to suicidesalvation, and redemption. Read LIGHT HIDDEN BY DARKNESS and see what I think and then tell me what you think.    
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