Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada


17th Sunday after Pentecost. Apodosis of the Exaltation of the Life-giving Cross

We are shocked and hurt when someone commits suicide. This is so when it was someone we admired. It is especially so when it is someone near to us, perhaps a member of the family. Usually suicides leave notes. They will often try to console the survivors. They say: "Don't blame yourself for this", and say that they simply could not cope with life the way it was for them.

This doesn't help survivors much. We sympathize with those who kill themselves. Who has not been tempted by a quick way out of trials and torments? We pray for God's mercy on their souls. The Church directs that funeral services for suicides be as low-key as possible (keeping in mind the pastoral needs of the survivors to celebrate and mourn the life of the one they have lost). In this way it teaches us to value life. Our prayers mean that we never give up hope that they, too, can ultimately be reconciled with the Creator and live in His Kingdom of light and joy.

Suicide is a selfish act. There is perhaps a spark of courage that makes it possible to over-ride the drive to survive. But there is infinitely more courage and kindness towards our loved ones in the stubborn determination to go through all trials and agonies until the One Who brought us into this world of space and time escorts us out of it. This courage and determination is a precious gift we give to all who suffer. We show that life is valuable. We give the gift of hope. We also give a gift to ourselves: we give faith a chance to unfold as the universe-building force it is.

Yet there is a use for every emotion, even the desire to die. We rehearse for death daily by sleeping or napping. We prepare for it by living responsibly, by caring, by celebrating this life that is so beautiful and so fleeting. And we die every day! The cells in our body are always dying and being replaced. We have a recycled body every year or so - we are simply unaware of it. We change all the time. There is no standing still in the universe. We get new ideas, new insights. We make new beginnings. Each day, each moment is new. It is the death of the beginning, the day, the moment that went before. This kind of dying is essential!

Paul speaks of this: "I am dead...put to death with Christ on His cross". The best way to die is to freely submit oneself - one's ego - to the ones we love. To live for ourselves by living for them. By allowing them to live through us and in us. There is joy and peace in this. This kind of dying is truly - life!

V. Rev. Ihor George Kutash