Suicide and Martyrdom

Some today admit the possibility that suicide can be a form of martyrdom. The Church, however, has always taught that suicide is wrong, and yet honors those who are martyred for professing the faith. In the following excerpt from his Second Apology, which is addressed to Emperor Antoninus Pius and the Roman Senate, St. Justin Martyr (d. 165) explains the difference between suicide and martyrdom.

Justin begins Chapter Four of his Second Apology with these words: “But lest some one say to us, ‘Go then all of you and kill yourselves, and pass even now to God, and do not trouble us,’ I will tell you why we do not so, but why, when examined, we fearlessly confess.”

Justin gives these reasons why it wrong to kill oneself or to unjustly kill another human person: “It seems that We have been taught that God did not make the world aimlessly, but for the sake of the human race; and we have before stated that He takes pleasure in those who imitate His properties, and is displeased with those that embrace what is worthless either in word or deed. If, then, we all kill ourselves we shall become the cause, as far as in us lies, why no one should be born, or instructed in the divine doctrines, or even why the human race should not exist; and we shall, if we so act, be ourselves acting in opposition to the will of God.”

Then he explains why Christians profess the faith, even in the face of persecution: “But when we are examined, we make no denial, because we are not conscious of any evil, but count it impious not to speak the truth in all things, which also we know is pleasing to God, and because we are also now very desirous to deliver you from an unjust prejudice.” Thus, confessors of the faith and martyrs proclaim the truth because (1) it pleases God, (2) it demonstrates their own personal piety, and (3) it instructs their persecutors in the truth.

Quotations from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1867).

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Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer – Part 12 of 12

Continued here are Father Schouppe’s meditations on the Lord’s Prayer, based on the second manner of prayer taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

“But deliver us from evil”

“We ask our Father to deliver us from all real evil; not precisely from what men call evil, but from what is evil in the eyes of God, from what is evil in regard to our salvation and the glory of God. Sin, and sin alone, can close against us the gates of heaven and cast us into hell.”

“The words of the sacred text which we translate by evil may signify the evil one, the demon, as well as the evil of which he is the author and promoter.”

“Deliver us from evil, from the devil, from his power, from his yoke, from his snares, from his fury. . . . ‘Because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Pt 5:8).”

“Deliver us from all evils, past, present, and to come; from temporal and eternal evils; from all sin, from the stains of sin, and from the debt of punishment; first from spiritual evils, and then also from corporal evils, in so far as this deliverance may be useful for our souls; from our past sins, from our present miseries, from our ignorance, and our errors; from sins to come, from a bad death, from eternal damnation; from all evils of the soul we ask, Lord, to be delivered in an absolute manner.”

“Remove from us, Lord, or, at least, mitigate, our corporal miseries, if it be for the advantage of our souls and your glory. The sufferings of this life, far from being always an evil, are oftener a precious participation in your cross. Therefore, we can and will ask deliverance only conditionally, saying with our Divine Master: ‘O my Father! if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt’ (Mt 26:39).”

Quotations from Francois Xavier Schouppe, An Easy Method of Meditation (Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1883).

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Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer – Part 11 of 12

Continued here are Father Schouppe’s meditations on the Lord’s Prayer, based on the second manner of prayer taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

“And lead us not into temptation”

“Our Divine Master dictates this petition to warn us of our weakness in the spiritual combat. ‘Watch ye and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit, indeed, is willing, but the flesh is weak’ (Mt 26:41).”

“He makes us pray thus to fill us with confidence, and to teach us that the enemies of our souls are subject to the power of his Father: ‘He will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able’ (1 Cor 10:13).”

“He wishes by this prayer to put us on our guard against the occasions of sin, and to warn us to fly danger, as much as it depends upon ourselves; ‘because he who loves the danger will perish in it’ (Sir 3:27).”

“We do not ask to be freed altogether from temptation, because it enters into the designs of Providence that we should be tempted. ‘My son, on entering the service of God prepare thy soul for temptation’ (Sir 2:1).”

“Temptations cannot injure us if, inspired with courage and confidence in God, we fight after the example of Jesus Christ. That is why, when St. Paul prayed to be delivered from the temptations which afflicted him, the Lord replied: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee, for power is made perfect in infirmity’ (2 Cor 12:9).”

“Temptations or solicitations to evil cannot come from God; but He permits them for just reasons: to prove our virtue, to increase our merit, to humble us, and make us feel our weakness. We ought to submit to his designs, begging Him at the same time, not to allow us to yield to temptation.”

“The causes of temptation are the flesh, the devil, the world and its scandals, and too often man himself, who seeks or exposes himself to them.”

“We shall not fall—(1) if we fly the occasions of sin and watch over our senses and our hearts; (2) if we are always armed by prayer and Christian mortification; (3) if when attacked by the enemy we resist promptly, with energy, courage, and perseverance.”

“To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with me on my throne, as I also have overcome; and am set down with my Father on his throne.” (Rev 3:21)

Quotations from Francois Xavier Schouppe, An Easy Method of Meditation (Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1883).

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Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer – Part 10 of 12

Continued here are Father Schouppe’s meditations on the Lord’s Prayer, based on the second manner of prayer taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

“As we forgive them who trespass against us”

“Lord, we forgive our brethren their offences, deign also to pardon ours. We know that our offences against you are much more grave than those which our brethren have committed against us; nevertheless, you have been pleased to promise us forgiveness, on condition of our forgiving our offending brother: ‘For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences’ (Mt 6:14).”

“Our Divine Master makes us add these words, to remind us constantly of the great precept of fraternal charity, and of the obligation of pardoning our enemies. We can only ask pardon of God on condition of first granting forgiveness to our neighbour.”

“We are obliged to forgive the offences, the injuries of our neighbour, as far as the insult, but not as far as the loss is concerned; we are obliged to put away all sentiments of revenge and enmity, but we are not forbidden to claim a just compensation, within the limits of prudence and Christian charity.”

“We ought to forgive all offences without exception. However great the injuries we suffer from our neighbour, can they ever bear any comparison with those we have committed against God.”

“We ought to pardon others, because we also have offended our brethren. ‘Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so shall you fulfil the law of Christ’ (Gal 6:2).”

“We ought to forgive every injury, and to pray for those who offend or persecute us, after the example of the Saviour, who said on the cross: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Lk 23:34).”

“We must forgive from our hearts. . . . The interior forgiveness and good will are always obligatory, even should the enemy persist in his hatred; but reconciliation and exterior friendship are not always possible.”

“Grant me, Lord, a perfect charity towards my neighbour, the grace to bear with his defects, a love for my enemies; may I have in my heart no other sentiments than those of the purest charity, with which the Heart of Jesus is animated. ‘For let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus’ (Phil 2:5).”

Quotations from Francois Xavier Schouppe, An Easy Method of Meditation (Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1883).

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Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer – Part 9 of 12

Continued here are Father Schouppe’s meditations on the Lord’s Prayer, based on the second manner of prayer taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

“And forgive us our trespasses”

“Our Divine Master wishes us to ask pardon of our sins, and that every day. . . . ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us’ (1 Jn 1:8).”

“We ought to ask pardon of our sins in order to acknowledge our misery and humble ourselves before God.”

“Every day we commit some faults. . . . We must never cease to confide in his mercy.”

“We ask pardon from God, because He alone can forgive sin, He alone can justify, can purify our souls.”

“Forgive us our trespasses, that is to say, our sins; in the text of St. Matthew it is our debts: because by our sins, we have contracted towards God real debts.”

“In sin there are three distinct elements: the act which passes, the guilt which it leaves as a stain upon the soul, and the penalty which remains due. We ought to ask again and again the pardon of our sins; because, whilst effacing the guilt, God does not usually grant the entire remission of the punishment; and because this petition for pardon is an act of penance and humility very pleasing in his sight.”

“We ask the forgiveness of all our sins, mortal as well as venial, but to obtain it we must have true contrition for them; we must be sorry for them, detest them, avoid the occasions which cause us to fall into them, and make use of the necessary means to amend our lives.”

Quotations from Francois Xavier Schouppe, An Easy Method of Meditation (Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1883).

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Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer – Part 8 of 12

Continued here are Father Schouppe’s meditations on the Lord’s Prayer, based on the second manner of prayer taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

“Our daily bread”

“Give us our bread: our spiritual bread. ‘Man liveth not by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4). The soul must also have its food.”

“The spiritual bread by excellence is Jesus Christ himself: ‘I am the living Bread, which came down from heaven’ (Jn 6:51). Our souls are nourished by it not only at the eucharistic banquet, but by every interior act of faith, hope, and charity.”

“If we ask our bread, it is only with a view to our salvation. Bread is the means appointed by Providence to maintain our corporal life, in order to be able to work out our salvation. Under the name of bread we include not only food, but in general all things necessary, as well for our spiritual as for our corporal life. We mean food, clothing, lodging, health, success in temporal affairs, and everything else necessary for the suitable support of man and his family. We ask necessaries, not superfluity or opulence. Our Divine Master, who became poor for our sake, does not teach us to ask riches. ‘Having food and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content’ (1 Tm 6:8).”

“We ask our daily bread, the common, ordinary bread of every day, in order to learn to content ourselves with necessaries, without seeking dainties or any of those things which only gratify the senses and feed the passions.”

“One condition for obtaining from God what we ask is, that we also give to our neighbour according to our means: ‘Give and it shall be given to you’ (Lk 6:38).”

“We have not been taught to say give me, but give us, to show us that we must ask the gifts of God in the spirit of fraternal charity, not for ourselves alone, but for all men, even our enemies. God gives his gifts, especially temporal blessings to man, not for himself alone, but also for others: in order that he may share them with his neighbour, and cast an abundant alms into the lap of the poor.”

“Although the bread we ask is a gift of God, nevertheless we call it ours, because it corresponds to our wants, and is destined for us by our Father. It is already ours: we are entitled to it in virtue of the merits and promises of Jesus Christ.”

“We shall not taste on earth the bread we shall eat in heaven. ‘Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God’ (Lk 14:15).”

“Our bread. . . . Ought it not to be like that of our Master? ‘My food,’ said He, ‘is to do the will of Him that sent me, that I may perfect his work’ (Jn 4:34).”

Quotations from Francois Xavier Schouppe, An Easy Method of Meditation (Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1883).

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Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer – Part 7 of 12

Continued here are Father Schouppe’s meditations on the Lord’s Prayer, based on the second manner of prayer taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

“Give us this day our daily bread”

“A father is bound to feed his children. Our heavenly Father who has given us life and so many other blessings, is certainly disposed to give us our bread. Nevertheless, He wishes us to ask it, for children ought to be dependant on their father.”

“In teaching us to ask our bread, our Divine Master does not mean to dispense us from working for it. He only wishes to make us understand that what we gain by our industry still comes from Him, and that all our labours would be fruitless without the blessing of our Heavenly Father. If the Lord buildeth not the house, if He giveth not fruitfulness to the earth, if He ripeneth not the harvest, man laboureth in vain (Ps 126).”

“He wishes us to ask bread of our heavenly Father, to show us that this good Father provides for our wants, that we ought to have confidence in Him, and cast away all excessive solicitude about the things of earth. . . . ‘Seek ye, therefore, first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Mt 6:33).”

“He makes us ask our bread, to cure us of an error which is only too common, and very prejudicial to salvation—that of believing our temporal affairs depend solely on our own activity and industry.”

“All men, even the richest, ought to make this petition: (1) because God, who has given them their fortune, can alone preserve it to them; (2) because, besides material goods, they also require personal blessings, such as health and spiritual strength, which requires to be renewed every day; (3) because they ought not to ask daily bread for themselves alone, but also for their neighbour.”

“Our Divine Master does not make us ask our bread once for all, nor for several days in advance, but only for to-day, this present day, in order that we may repeat our prayer every day; and to show us that on every day, even the most prosperous ones, we are depending on our Heavenly Father.”

“‘Be not, therefore, solicitous for tomorrow: for the morrow will be solicitous for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof’ (Mt 6:34). Our Divine Master does not mean to forbid a prudent foresight; nor does He even hinder us from asking for to-morrow: provided we be free from the spirit of covetousness, and that excessive solicitude which is opposed to confidence in God.”

“Let us not be solicitous about tomorrow, which perhaps we shall never see. What folly to think so much of an uncertain future, to amass riches for the days, for the years, when we shall no longer be in the world.”

Quotations from Francois Xavier Schouppe, An Easy Method of Meditation (Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1883).

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