It’s said that suicide, if plotted out in one’s right mind (if that were possible) would be an act of revenge, of hatred for God and man, done with an “I’ll show you!” attitude: “You can’t push me around anymore!”
But of course, this is almost never the case. Those who commit suicide are almost never in an adequately reasonable frame of mind to know what they are doing. They are almost always in a swirl of clinical depression so severe that they can’t for a moment put two thoughts together. That, by any account, was the state of my priest friend when he took his own life, but not for any of the above mentioned usual reasons. His goodheartedness was way too deeply rooted within him for that. Instead, he developed a severe degenerative brain condition, with handfuls of meds being the order of the day. Such a humble offering to the Lord…
This is his picture on his Skype account, which remains after his death. His message of greeting was, is one of hope, one to which he clung with all his faith until his body gave way. It’s from Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians, 4,4:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: Rejoice!”
He was a young priest, quite a few years younger than I. He had grown up in rather difficult circumstances and was never ever in good health. His priesthood was one disappointment after another, a kind of continuous agony in the garden, for he, being French, and being truly Catholic — steeped in tradition and Tradition — was constantly seeing the faith betrayed by so very many of his fellow priests and bishops. And he would also pay the price for this faithfulness to the Church with his always being marginalized more and more. As the Master, so the disciple, and he knew that well, and rejoiced in hope, however much it all weighed upon him.
He was a friend, a confessor for me, a confidant, one who would lay down his life even for the likes of me. And, it seems to me, he did, in all of this, in one small way…
There was a certain, shall we say, rather politically influential knucklehead who was always juggling various presidents and prime ministers and royal figures like so many pieces of fruit. Both this priest friend of mine and myself were beholden to be loyal to this knucklehead as far as that was advisable. The knucklehead, as the appellation might suggest, was a might-makes-right maniac in speaking against me to anyone who would listen, as I am told by pretty much everyone to whom he vented his anger, including a particularly well known diplomat of world-wide political significance, who was deeply offended – shaken — at such behavior, and told me so.
All of them, to be polite I suppose, simply listened to such rants, except for this priest friend of mine. Instead, loyal friend that he was, and fearful of the judgment of God, he pointed out the grave inconsistencies of this rather politically influential knucklehead in the matter, saying not only that I had not done anything wrong, but that I had done all things superbly well. In hindsight, I see that it had been expected and intended that I fail in a particular matter. Thus, this protestation in my favor did not bode well for my priest friend, but he simply would not prostitute his soul to the popular sycophancy of the day. The usual response in such situations by the rather influential knucklehead was: Merde! Merde! C’est de la merde! The knucklehead now had another enemy.
My priest friend showed the depth of well proven righteousness of soul. I was in awe of this, especially because it was in my regard. You have to know, dear readers, that this priest friend was entirely upstanding in every way, entirely loyal in the face of opposition. Never a truer friend to be found. I do believe that the hatred of the knucklehead, who should have known better, very deeply affected my priest friend. He simply didn’t know how to handle my metaphorically getting slamed to the pavement and kicked in the face by the knucklehead – which did happen – causing my priest friend to cut any ties to the rather politically influential knucklehead, and go elsewhere. This may well have been just a very small part of what he was dealing with in recent years, until now…
You have to know, dear readers, that this priest friend of mine was eager to hear confessions, to offer the Holy Sacrifice with great dignity and reverence, always following the rubrics to the great consternation of many. He always sided with those who, because they were Catholic, were being kicked in the face by those who should know better. ***The Holy See, it seems to me, will miss him terribly. They knew him quite well, following his indications on many, many matters.
This priest friend of mine was eager to help the lowliest castaways, particularly the drug addicts he was regularly and frequently invited to help in their faith formation. As an encouragement, he often told me of their comments about any kind word I myself had been able to offer them. This priest friend of mine was an all around example of goodness and kindnes, of solidarity, of mercy. Let me repeat that: He lived to show the Lord’s mercy to others.
I ask you this: Would not our dear Heavenly Father judge him with mercy who had spent his life in showing mercy to others with all honesty and integrity? You have to know that our Heavenly Father IS love, and shows mercy to all who have desired this mercy by bringing this mercy to others. And surely our Lady, to whom he was so very, very devoted, would be interceding for him…
Having said all that, I should like to say more: We priests are bear all the consequences of original sin like anyone else. We are weak in mind, weak in will; emotions can be running all over the place; we get sick; we die.
PRAY FOR PRIESTS
PRAY FOR HOLY VOCATIONS
DO IT NOW: HAIL MARY…
***And, of course:
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