I would like to use my article this week to prompt some reflection and prayer. A while back I urged readers to pray for priests. I come to you again with that request.
On October 3, 2013, the Diocese of Harrisburg PA, lost a priest. The death of any priest is a sad occasion, but this particular loss was especially difficult. Father Kevin Kayda was just 28 years old. He had just been ordained in June of this year. His sudden passing was a result of suicide.
Father Kayda’s parents asked the Diocese to share that his suicide was linked to depression. Joe Aponick, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, reported that: “The family believes that by sharing this information, someone else might be helped,” he said.
I do not propose that I go into great length on this topic. I am by no means an expert. I have, however, discovered some sound source material on the subject which I believe is helpful.
The first is an article written by Fr. Ronald Rollheiser, OMI, titled Struggling to Understand Suicide. I urge you to read the full article but here is an excerpt:
“….we need not worry unduly about the eternal salvation of those who die in this way. God’s understanding and compassion infinitely surpass our own. Our lost loved ones are in safer hands than ours. If we, limited as we are, can already reach through this tragedy with some understanding and love, we can rest secure in the fact that, given the width and depth of God’s love, the one who dies through suicide meets, on the other side, a compassion that’s deeper than our own and a judgment that intuits the deepest motives of their heart.”
Additionally Deacon Greg Kendra, at his blog “The Deacon’s Bench,” referenced an article written by Fr. Gaurav Shroff, a classmate of Fr. Kayda’s at Mount Saint Mary’s in Emmittsburg, MD. You can find Fr. Shroff’s article posted here.
Please take a few minutes and pray for Father Kevin Kayda, someone whom by all accounts lived a tragically short life but one filled with great love for his God. Also pray for those troubled by the effects of depression that they may find comfort from whatever torments them.
Fr. James Martin, SJ has crafted the following prayer for victims of suicide:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God:
“Let this cup pass from Me,” You once prayed. Later, having drunk, and convinced Your Father had abandoned You, You demanded to know why. Still later, you cried, “It is finished.”
O Lord, did that cry signify a kind of relief, perhaps a slight recapturing of perspective? Did You discover, in those last awful minutes on Calvary, why Your Father had made you drink, and why His insistence did not represent an act of abandonment? In short, O Lord, did You get the answer You asked for?
These are rhetorical questions, O Lord. We come before You now to plead on behalf of those who could not drink their cup to the dregs, and who decided to finish their time on Calvary before You willed it.
We humbly beseech You, Lord, to remember that not all suffering is so easily explained, that much of it seems to serve no grand purpose that would ennoble him who suffers.
For our part, we will allow that we often neglect the afflicted, that we fail to extend to them the respect and understanding that might help them see Your design in their pain.
We beg You, O Lord, to recall that You stumbled under Your Cross not once, not twice, but three times, and that, after the third collapse, Your executioners compelled a stranger to carry it for You.
We readily admit that we are often slow to render this kind of assistance. But, Lord, we ask You to recognize that many of our merciful works, no matter how sincere the spirit in which we perform them or how strenuous we may find the effort, fail to lighten the recipients’ burdens to a degree that feels significant.
“Gall for my meat and vinegar to drink” — this, Lord, was someone’s idea of helping.
It is not our contention, Lord, that the people on whose behalf we petition You were unblemished lambs. All were born into sinful flesh; some, like Gestas the Thief, will have earned their Crosses and scorned You for not sparing them the just consequences of their actions.
Nevertheless, Lord, following the instructions of Your Blessed Mother, we make a practice of praying for You to “lead all souls into heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.” In our reckoning, nobody needs Your mercy more than those who never knew of it, had ceased to believe in it, or who had come to reckon it of little value. For that reason, Lord, we call on You to demonstrate to them in a practical way what they were never able to grasp in theory.
Lord Jesus, pour out Your mercy upon them. Receive them as friends. Introduce to them the eternal bliss of salvation, which You gained for them by the sacrifice of Your Blood.
We ask this of You in Your name.
In closing, for all of us at the difficult times in our lives, here is a prayer by Saint Ignatius of Loyola
O Christ Jesus,
when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
in Your protecting love
and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us,
for, living close to You,
we shall see Your hand.
Copyright © 2013, Pete Socks