Suicide and the Torment of Numbness

I am numb, through and through, and it is tortuous. A piece of my heart has been torn away, so I ought to be reeling in pain, but the shock runs too deep. I sense a hole in my chest, but incredulity overwhelms any other feeling.

Roughly 24 hours ago, on Monday afternoon, I received word that my 19-year old nephew committed suicide. Technically he isn’t my nephew – he’s my wife’s cousin’s son, but he used to call me Uncle Larry. Our families are close that way – holidays, birthdays, get togethers. He and his twin sister were born three days after my younger son. Our kids grew up with their kids. I played D&D with him.

Details are scant, and frankly speaking, I don’t think more information would make things better. The simple truth is, he was alive on Sunday, and he took his life on Monday.

This is uncharted territory for me. And I am just numb. Tinged with grief, infused with unfelt pain, but numb nonetheless. It is torment.

Long-time readers of AoftheA know that I rarely, if ever, write of personal matters. I may write just one post about this, I have no idea. I am too numb to effectively write. I know what I want to say, but words aren’t forming. I’m aware of my surroundings, but can barely perceive. It feels as if I’ve been shoved off a cliff, but I’m not falling. Instead, I’m slowly descending through some viscous, gelatinous, invisible matter that darkens light and deadens sound.

And I know that what his family is experiencing is exponentially worse and more horrifying. I claim no comparison. I dare not attempt to imagine – I don’t believe I can imagine, this numbness notwithstanding. The pain his parents and sister are enduring…there are no words.

The Church teaches that no one can be certain suicides are condemned to Hell. Those left behind, though, are condemned to a lifelong limbo of never completely understanding, of having unanswered questions, of overshadowing doubts, and of unlived memories. It’s a cruel fate. It’s a universal condition due to being residents of this vale of tears. It’s one thing if a person dies in a bizarre accident, or after battling a disease. But suicide is unnatural, leaving in its wake an unnatural numbness. Suicide doesn’t just end one life – it ends the possibility of what’s hoped for. It abruptly changes the trajectory of everyone involved, sending family and friends into unknown spaces and unfamiliar country.

A friend of mine and I speak frequently about how we’re living in The Land of Suck. Every once in awhile, it seems that we’re on the verge of emigrating, of getting out. But it’s just an illusion. Just when you think you’re about to cross the border, you blink and find yourself back at the intersection of State and Main, smack dab in the center of town, in the capital of the Land of Suck. And then you realize – Christ hasn’t returned yet to liberate us. And the suck is different for everyone.

I’ll feel differently in a few days, perhaps fewer. It’s in my nature to fight, talk, cry, and process through circumstances that Life slams into my face. I don’t cram emotions into a ball, bury them deep into my gut, and ignore them. That’s not who I am. So don’t worry about me – I’ll be fine, God willing. I’m too numb at the moment to affirm “God is here, in this moment!”, but my faith is preserving me nonetheless. It’s my faith that’s keeping me from falling like a boulder off that cliff. It’s my faith that will lead me to my parish’s Adoration chapel tonight to pray and be comforted.

Please, though, in your kindness, pray for the repose of the soul of my nephew. His suicide may have happened at a particular and specific moment in time, but I believe that God, who exists outside of time, takes the prayers of His people, and applies them according to His desire. And please pray for his family, and for all those who loved him and will forever miss him. Whatever good God ultimately brings out of this tragedy, it starts with the earnest prayers of those who believe and hope in the life to come, of those who stand with others in their moments of numbness and pain.

Photo credit: x1klima via / CC BY-ND

Posted in Faith, Life As We Know It, Prayer, Suicide, Thoughts | 3 Comments

Anglicans Introduce New Lace Vestments for Casual Low Mass

(AoftheANews)– Canterbury – Church of England officials told AoftheA News this morning that they will be introducing a “casual Low Mass” in select churches this summer, in an effort to bring millennials and the younger generation back to the Churches.

“We’ve already chosen acolyte and sacristan vestments for the Casual LM™,” one official said. “We’re totes excited about the roll-out, which takes the formality of worship and mixes it with the impulse of hip, bold fashion statements. It combines sanctity and spontaneity, and makes what we like to call sanctineity!”

Models displayed the new vestments, sans shirts, for the scheduled press conference.

“We’re still working on the final designs for tank top chasubles and short sleeve, bare midriff surplices,” the official explained. “We want our servers and priests to appear holy, yet approachable. We want their vestments to say ‘Hey, just because I’m on the altar preaching to you about following your conscience, doesn’t mean I’m not a fun, with it person!'”

Another official told AoftheA News that the Casual LM™ was the result of a year long synod on ways to increase attendance. “We’ve tried watering down the preaching, making Jesus more accessible, and playing catchy Christian music during service. It finally dawned on us that youth were staying away because we weren’t woke on the hottest fashion trends. We’re super confident this is going to work miracles.”

Image via Sparkiebabyofficial

Posted in Satire | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Marble Pulpit Excited over Reunion with Altar Rail, Statues Held in Storage

The marble pulpit at Ss. Tarek & Christina expressed excitement yesterday after being informed he was headed for storage in the Church’s basement, as part of the sanctuary’s ongoing renovation project.

“I’m looking forward to being reunited with my pals, the altar rail twins,” the ornately handcrafted pulpit said, “along with the traditional statues that had been removed over the past several years. It’ll be great reminiscing about the good ol’ days. I’m hoping the high altar is in storage too, but I heard rumors it was sold to the Anglican church across town.”

The pulpit, carved from the finest Italian marble in Milan in 1784, and transported to Ss. Tarek & Christina in the late 1800’s, knew it’s time was coming. “It’s been three years since anyone read the Gospel or gave a homily from me, and the renovations have been ongoing. To be honest, it’s hard standing here unused, Mass after Mass after Mass. I feel like the dorky kid on the playground nobody wants to be seen with. Pretty much the only time I get used now is after Mass, when children run up and down my stairs.”

The majestic masterpiece of ecclesial architecture, which hearkened to bygone days of indisputable Catholic beauty and grandeur, sighed heavily. “I’ll miss seeing the congregation, sure, but I’ll miss the exquisitely designed 19th-century gold tabernacle most of all. Though I’m sure he’ll be joining me sooner rather than later.”

Removal is slated for the first week of July, and its space will be taken up by a stage for the praise and worship ensemble.

Photo credit: stormwarning. via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

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The Solemnity of the Perpetual Transferal of the Ascension

It wouldn’t hurt to go to Mass today, even if you don’t “have” to.

How and when did this transferal in the US take place? Glad you asked. Here’s what the USCCB website says about it, in part:

In accord with the provisions of canon 1246, §2 of the Code of Canon Law, which states: “… the conference of bishops can abolish certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday with prior approval of the Apostolic See,” the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States decrees that the Ecclesiastical Provinces of the United States may transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter to the Seventh Sunday of Easter according to the following procedure.

The decision of each Ecclesiastical Province to transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension is to be made by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the bishops of the respective Ecclesiastical Province. The decision of the Ecclesiastical Province should be communicated to the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and to the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This happened back in July 1999. As it’s happened, only 6 US ecclesiastical provinces hold to Thursday as a Holy Day of Obligation for the Solemnity of the Ascension.

From The Catholic Miscellany:

Given the demands of modern life and the ability of believers to make more than one holy day Mass in a single week, the reformed Liturgy’s guidelines suggested national collections of bishops determine the suitability of transferring to Sunday certain feasts integral to the faith.

Today, for instance, only six of the 32 ecclesiastical provinces, or small collection of dioceses under one archbishop, retain Ascension on Thursday. Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia, and the dioceses under each of their respective archbishops, observe Ascension on Thursday. All other archdioceses and the dioceses transfer Ascension to the following Sunday.

If you live in those provinces – get thee to Mass. The rest of youse guys? Sleep in a little, grab a nap, have lunch with a friend, whatevs. We have Jesus for three more days.

Or maybe petition the heck out of your archbishop. Jesus wants to return to His Father today.

Oh, and lest you think this is a US phenomenon, it’s not. According to Wikipedia:

The switch to Sunday was made in 1992 by the church in Australia;[12] before 1996 in parts of Europe;[13] in 1996 in Ireland;[14] before 1998 in Canada and parts of the western United States;[10] in many other parts in the United States from 1999;[10] and in England and Wales from 2007.[15]

My opinion? The transferal of holy days was not so much a recognition that modern life has made great demands on the lives of so many Catholics, but a voluntary action on the part of the bishops to acquiesce to the culture rather than remaining in stark contrast to it, and demanding more from their flock. And their priests. Making Holy Days of Obligation optional, by transferring some to the nearest Sunday, is just one example of enabling Catholics to be cultural rather than counter-cultural. This exemplifies the dearth of faith in the West. We’ve become culturally indulgent and lazy in our religiosity. When Christ returns, it better happen on a Sunday, because us Catholics be waaaay too busy with the demands of modern life to make time for Judgment Day on a weekday. That’s just my opinion. I’m sure the USCCB’s decision to transfer Holy Days wasn’t taken lightly, and that there was thorough and well-reasoned discussions and all sorts of logical rationalization, but there’s a wee little part of me that thinks:

I’m kidding, of course. Aren’t I?

Posted in American Catholics, Bishops, Catholic Stuff, Feast Days, Holy Days of Obligation, Humor, memes, Pokin' Hornet Nests With A Stick, USCCB | 1 Comment