The Funeral Of The Suicide

A person commits suicide; that is, he commits pretty much the worst sin available to mankind. Let us say that the suicide in question was a loving husband and father, very active in his church group, and otherwise admired by neighbours, pets and trees.

Let us also said that said suicide had troubles of his own: disease, bereavement, financial difficulties, you name it.

Find all the extenuating circumstances you want. Then add some more.

The question still remains: why should a suicide have a Catholic funeral?

Let us look at this as our forefathers did. Suicide is the worst sin. The scandal it gives is immense. Sadly, the suicide might act on other people tempted in the same way and suggest to them that yes, it can be done. You do not need a stellar IQ to understand how a Catholic funeral would amplify this effect in the eyes of the believer.

Whenever a suicide receives a Catholic funeral, scandal is added to scandal. It is as if Satan would receive this boost, that if he has not just obtained a victory he will be soon allowed to get other chances; courtesy of a nice Catholic community, led by a nice priest. Boy, how Satan must like this kind of niceness…

Let us look at it, then, from the point of view of the suicide. If he is in hell (which, unless you are blind and stupid, is still the most probable outcome in the majority of cases) then the Catholic funeral is a further gift made to Satan. But if the poor soul is not in hell, why on earth would he want something that might well lead to hell others? Is the soul in purgatory so concerned about being seen as “good” after he has committed suicide? No. He certainly would not want. Extremely grateful for having escaped hell, he would most certainly not want anything be done, remotely connected to his act, that might lead others to perdition.

Does this mean, then, that the absence of a funeral and the burying in not consecrated ground mean that the suicide is in hell? No, of course it doesn't. It never did, it never will. But certainly, it should mean that a terror and dread of hell should cause a shiver to run down the spine of the entire community, then a very concrete possibility of damnation is there, in front of everyone, plain to see. In Christian times, Satan's move was countered by a very powerful response. For one who was very possibly in hell, hundreds were terrified of going there.

Nowadays, Satan's move is accompanied by the nice community, who help him score a second time. After having very possibly taken one soul, Satan will take the funeral in his stride; and who knows, the atmosphere of understanding and near-certain salvation – many will be offended even at the hint salvation might not have been achieved – might well help him to get to further prey.

Were, then, our ancestors cruel? No. Very simply, they took heaven and hell seriously. If one had shot himself in the head, they did not go around saying “but he was so nice! Surely, whilst the bullet was on its way from the barrel to his head he had ample time to ask the Blessed Virgin for forgiveness?”

Look. The final word is, of course, God's. But God has given us a brain, and this brain is supposed to be used. Whilst we can only reason in terms of probabilities, there are probabilities that must make our blood chill. If they don't, it simply means that we have no fear of the Lord; because God can do everything, so He will save us whatever we do. Or because as we ultimately don't know, we are exempted from being utterly scared at what has very probably happened. This is another big door open to Satan, and every such funeral opens it a big wider.

Why, then, are such funerals, nowadays, universally celebrated? Because the fear of the Lord has given place to this fluffy feeling that we are all oh so nice, and therefore oh so evidently saved. It does not matter how bad the odds are, we are going to continue to believe in the most improbable of happy endings; because you see, how can there be any other? He was so… nice!

If I were so impious as to commit suicide, and if I were so lucky as to escape hell notwithstanding my terrible feat – temporal insanity, say; or even complete and conclamate madness – the last thing I would want is that an occasion be offered for others to go the same way. And no, the unconsecrated ground would not be bitter to me; on the contrary, having escaped hell after such a feat would be the sweetest thing, no matter how strong my suffering in Purgatory.

The funeral of the suicide does nothing for the suicide; but it does a lot for Satan, helping to spread an aura of general forgiveness around him, and contributing massively to the general loss of the fear of the Lord. It is, in the end, just another self-celebration of the community of the suicide, which is conveniently reassured that Satan cannot – I mean, we don't know exactly… but… really? How… cruel for you to even mention! – have struck just in their middle. Which, actually, he has, though we cannot be sure he succeeded.

Hell is real. The danger of ending there is very real for everyone of us. The right attitude is to keep this in mind, and go through life with a good dose of fear of what can happen to us. Funerals for suicides are not compatible with this view of life.

Our forefathers knew it. We don't.

But we understand niceness so well.




Posted on May 20, 2015, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I just learned of a Catholic funeral at a Novus Ordo parish in our diocese. The deceased was a twenty-something woman who was co-habitating with her boyfriend and had borne his child about 18 months ago. The day before she blew her brains out the deceased had gone shopping with her boyfriend’s mother and purportedly there wasn’t a scintilla of evidence that she was under any duress. I know that often a calm overcomes a person who has made the decision to kill themselves and of course we’ll never know her mind, nor are we able to grasp the enormity of God’s justice and mercy. But the suicide seems to have been so cooly calculated and carried out. It seems there should be some outward sign from the Church that this action so desolate, so distrusting of God’s goodness and care, that one must never entertain such evil.

  2. You need to understand a couple of things.
    First, God has calmed down a lot since Vatican 2. He’s much more open-minded and understanding than He used to be, no longer flying off the handle and sending people to Hell for the least little thing.
    Second, God would never send anyone to hell anyway, since He is Love. How could you even think He would ever send one of His precious children to hell? What’s the matter with you?!
    Third, refusing to give suicides a Catholic burial implies that God is mean, and that the suicide wasn’t a good person. These kinds of insinuations are upsetting to people and are therefore un-pastoral, not to mention awkward for everybody concerned, priest included.

  3. “The funeral of the suicide does nothing for the suicide”
    Doesn’t the funeral of any person do something for that person, in that it prompts people to offer prayers for the salvation of his soul?

    • If the deceased is in hell, the prayers are for nothing.
      The Church teaches we must pray for the dead (the suicide, too).

      Therefore, what we have here is merely scandal.


  4. “The Church teaches we must pray for the dead (the suicide, too).”

    The above comment seems inconsistent with the basic premise of the article.

    By praying, in any manner whatsoever, for the soul of a suicide, we are admitting the possibility that that person may have escaped hell somehow.

    It seems to me that, if we refuse to have Masses offered for suicides, we shouldn’t be praying for them either, but if we do pray for them, there is no logical reason to withhold from them the highest form of prayer, i.e., the Mass.

    If offering a Rosary for that person could be efficacious, wouldn’t the Mass be infinitely more so? What would be the rationale for praying a Rosary for that person but not offering a Mass for him/her, when we know that the Mass is a higher form of prayer, in fact, a perfect form?


    • Dennis, you must instruct yourself.

      We always pray for the suicides. Particularly the relatives. If the suicide is in hell (the most probable outcome, by far) the prayers aren’t lost anyway.

      The possibility that the suicide has escaped hell is *always* there, because the judgment is always God’s. But the funeral gives scandal in that he encourages others to downplay the atrociousness of suicide, perhaps even commit suicide themselves.

      What seems to you, incidentally, is neither here nor there. Catholicism hasn’t been “inconsistent” these two thousand years. The proper attitude is to

      1. accept what the Church teaches, and

      2. after that, try to better understand why.


    • Mundabor,
      correct me if I am wrong, but is there not a difference between having a Mass offered for someone who is dead and him having a Catholic funeral? The one would be a form of prayer for his soul, and as such allowed, the other obviously prohibited for the reasons you explained.
      As I said, maybe I am wrong – I am still learning Catholicism even after four years in the Church.

    • The way I know it, the two things to together when a suicide dies. In the only case of an acquaintance of mine who committed suicide, I was told (I was abroad when it happened) that the priest spent the entire homily explaining why he was having the mass (and the funeral) for him. If there is a mass, then certainly there will be a burial in consecrated ground. If there can be no burial in consecrated ground, I cannot see how there can be a funeral.

      Of course, anyone can have a mass said for the soul of Luther, as far as I know. Actually, I think the Church regularly offers masses for him and the other heretics. but I can’t imagine that Luther would have been given a Catholic funeral for this.


    • Mundabor,
      “Of course, anyone can have a mass said for the soul of Luther, as far as I know. Actually, I think the Church regularly offers masses for him and the other heretics. but I can’t imagine that Luther would have been given a Catholic funeral for this. ”

      That is exactly the way I thought it should have to be handled. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

    • I might be wrong, thought. That’s the way I always understood it, though. The Church certainly pray for the soul of the great Heresiarchs.

  5. God doesn’t send any body to hell. He gives us free will and redeems us from sin so we ourselves can choose Heaven or hell. Some wise men has shown us a very reasonable logic that the kings of the earth have the prisons and God likewise has hell. Doesn’t it make sense.? That is a perfect justice. On suicidal thing it could be sorted as the unforgivable sin which is sin against the Holy Spirit. This means no final repentance and you arrogantly reject the grace from Holy Spirit helping you to regret and feel sorry for your sin so that you can ask forgiveness from merciful God. He’s also a just judge. We have to seek truth and be discern! God help us.

    • Well yes and no. Judgment certainly comes from God. but God does not send anyone to hell who has not chosen himself, in one way or another, to go there.

  6. 2283 “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.”

    Maybe you should look over the catechism again.

    Not giving a suicide a funeral could also be an occasion of scandal, creating a stumbling block for the family involved and serving to turn them away from the Church- if they can’t count on the mercy of God and His Church, then what can anyone count on?

    Speaking as someone who has attempted suicide and was (thank you God) stopped (and yes, I’ve been to confession since then), I can certainly tell you that I was so mentally ill and so wrapped up in my own pain that I wasn’t thinking of Heaven, Hell or any of the truly vital things…I only wanted my pain to stop. Full knowledge and consent of the will wasn’t there, and it has been recognized by my pastor on a spiritual level and by my mental health team on a psychological AND BIOLOGICAL level as well. Suicidal inclinations and actions can be and are caused by chemical and structural changes in the brain…how is that an example of free will?

    Speaking as someone who continues to fight suicidal inclinations (and yes, been to confession since then, too), I think I would curl up and die at the thought of being excluded from the Eucharist or from God’s Grace, and it’s that fear of the lack of salvation that stays my hand when I am mentally ill enough and tempted…that, and the pain it would cause the Lord. But then again, I haven’t been ill enough to make a real attempt in a long time…when is the time when I lose ground and my illness takes over? Will God turn His back on me, despite my attempts to do His Will? Will my beloved Church refuse me a funeral because I lost the fight for my life?

    Suicide is serious, I agree. We have to be wary of giving scandal, I agree. Beyond these two points, I find this post horrifically lacking in both mercy and charity.

    Okay, you may tell me how I am utterly wrong and misguided now. If you bother to reply or publish my comment.

    • That is another one who reads a post V II catechism, tries to let it say what it does not say (read my post again, by the way, because you haven’t got much out of it) and then bends reality in a way convenient to his own situation.

      If you were to ever commit suicide (God forbid!), hell is by far your most probable destination. By far.

      I, who tell you so, do infinitely more for the sake of your own soul than all those cretins who give funerals to suicides; in which, by the way, real charity shows. Because I give you the truth, however uncomfortable, instead of the rubbish you want to hear.

      You don’t need to thank me. Best wishes.


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