Of Suicide, Culture, & The Essential Mission of Catholic Parents


Two days ago, my administrative assistant talked a friend out of committing suicide.

It was midnight when he called. When she got there he was on the floor of his bedroom, curled up in the fetal position with a knife in his hand. Until a few months ago, he had no religion. He wasn’t baptized. Last summer he started going to Mass with her and then joined the RCIA. Now, as he got closer to joining the Church, the spiritual warfare was rampant.

He was bombarded by doubts, fears, and messages of despair. He was alone, he told her. He was worthless and no one loved him, he cried.

Lies, she told him. All lies. Exactly the message Satan, and the world, wanted him to hear. Exactly the opposite of what God wanted him to know…that he was planned from the beginning of time, that he would never be alone if he was with God, and that he was worth so much Jesus died for him.

Sometimes, I get discouraged. So many people outside the Church reject this message. So many people inside the Church are indifferent to it. I wonder if it really is making a difference in the world, if people really need it.

I know how much of a difference Christianity has made in my own life. I know in my heart that following your own course through life, or the one the world maps out for you, is often destructive. And, I say it often…but am I exaggerating? Is it actually not that bad?

Then I run across a story like this and I know it’s true. Catholicism is a true roadmap for life. Life charted by our fallen whims and desires does not fulfill in the end. It can lead to dissolution and despair, sometimes even to the brink of suicide.

No, people do need Christ and the Truth he reveals through the Church. Of this there is no doubt. And, while proclaiming this in foreign countries, door-to-door in your neighborhood, or even to co-workers in your office is admirable, as Catholic parents your primary mission field is your home.

Your first duty is to your children. You have to make sure they get this message and not the counter-message of the culture. It’s not enough that they go to CCD at the parish. You can’t be sure they’ll get it there. They may learn lots of great things about God, but not the way they’ll learn it from you.

You have to teach your kids. You can’t afford to leave this up to chance. The culture is toxic. They must know their great worth in God. Their faith must be nurtured and grown to maturity by someone who knows them. Eventually they must face the world on their own, but not before they’re prepared.

This is your mission, should you choose to accept it. Are you ready?

Image credit: Volkan Olmez, Unsplash.com, Creative Commons

This post first appeared on CatholicMom.com.


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  1. Dear Marc,
    Greetings and peace to you. There is a movement to not use the word committed when we speak of someone who died by suicide. We have experienced death by suicide in our family and we have met many parents and families who have suffered the loss of a child from suicide. Marc, sometimes suicide occurs even when the parents have done everything they possibly could, suicide happens in families where the love of God has been freely shared. Suicide is complex, it’s causality cannot be captured or eliminated simply. I know some parents who feel they need to keep the way their child died a secret, the shame and blame, the prejudice and judgement that comes their way is ugly.

    I am grateful your admin was there for the young man, may he seek further support on his journey. And may the church become the field hospital that Pope Francis spoke of, always welcoming the wounded.

    • Thank you for sharing this insight Terri. I didn’t know that was a loaded term. I meant no disrespect. I can’t imagine the pain that must accompany it for parents. I’m sure there are many causal factors to suicide as well. I didn’t mean to imply that suicide was the fault of any parent, or for that matter that conversion or lack of conversion was the fault of parents. Sometimes, despite our intentions and best efforts, things are out of our control…faith especially. I also pray that the Church can be a refuge of welcome for the wounded and provide needed healing for souls.

  2. The spiritual warfare that can occur when coming into the Church is often extreme. I experienced it myself last year in my own journey Home, especially during Holy Week, and most intensely on Good Friday, and also this year as my husband was received into the Church. I am thankful to have had a mentor that’s experienced in warfare and discernment who was able to guide me when I called her in hysterics and stop the chaos long enough for me to see, also, what was going on and pray against it. My heart breaks for those who haven’t been educated about the spiritual world and perhaps go on hopeless, unnecessarily. As my children reach their teens and pre-teens, this has become a regular discussion in our home. The earlier they’re taught how to recognize and come against it, the better off they’ll be (and the more they’ll be able to help others).

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