I read with some sadness that TV entertainer and food host Anthony Bourdain committed suicide last week. This is not a blog to condemn anyone who commits suicide, we commend them to the mercy of the Father, their ultimate judge of the heart. Mr. Bourdain was like all of us, good at maybe one thing, tolerably good in many others and a personality that informs all of the above. That he did not conform to any of the accepted social norms or religious values that I hold is of no consequence. He is the sum of what he was. He is no better or worse than anyone else.
What touched me, as I made my daily Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) was the cardinal virtue of Hope. We call it cardinal, not after the bird, but because it is key to making Faith sustainable in a world of Original Sin and competing ideologies for human purpose.
As one who is beginning my Lay Cistercian journey, Hope becomes more important to me every single, especially since I am on the far side of 77 years old. Hope, as I understand it in my mind and practice it in my heart, is used with the Upper Case, meaning it comes from God, as does Faith. Here is an equation for you to ponder. Faith (God selecting you as adopted son or daughter) plus Hope (the Holy Spirit sustaining that Faith through trials and the effects of Original Sin [death, pain, suffering, abandonment, despair, lack of purpose, agnosticism, and atheism], equals Love. Love is an action verb not a noun. It means something happens when you use this equation. The reason it is an action verb is that it is participation in the very energy of God, and God just is. God is pure energy, pure knowledge, pure love and pure service. This is not the energy that comes from the physical universe (neutron star) or the mind (human reason) but is spiritual energy. This energy is 100% of God’s nature, all that He is, themaximum power of the Word (John 1:1). Such a power cannot be known by human minds who have neither the capabiity or the capacity to hold it. Hope comes into play because it is a gift from God to sustain us as we work our way through the ambiguities and contradictions of a world in the effects of Original Sin. Christ saves us from all of this by giving us help with our direction, the energy to sustain our weak human tendencies, and the Hope to oneday reach the fulfillment of why he called us friends and not servants. Our heritage is one of the Church Universal weaving down the road of Faith from one side to the other.
For those who do not know about any of these wonderful insights into what makes humans fulfilled and who only see hopelessness as the purpose of life, suicide may present itself as a viable alternative to nothingness. We never know what is the motivation of the human mind or the heart is, nor should be ever judge otherrs. Judging is for God alone. We hope in the Resurrection of the Dead for ourselves. We commend those who have taken their lives from God and commend them to His mercy.
May all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of Christ, rest in peace.
Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology