Monday, November 3, 2014


I don't know if Brittany Maynard was a Catholic or not. I don't think so, but don't know. She is the young woman who decided to take her own life through assisted suicide in Oregon. She did so on All Souls Day.

If she was a Catholic and lets say her parents were practicing Catholics, should she be allowed to have a Requiem Mass or a Celebration of Life?

If she was a Catholic, wouldn't she be most in need of a Requiem to pray for her immortal soul or is her death just too ideological for her to have a Catholic funeral, whether a graveside, Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass or something else, like a Celebration of Life?

Just wondering, since the Church is moving in a more pastoral way to those injured and killed on the battlefield of life. The Church is a Field Hospital and must dispose of the dead and care for the living.


Anonymous said...

I know that in the past a Requiem Mass was denied those who committed suicide. However, I think that a Requiem Mass (if she or her family were Catholic) should be offered for her because she is in need of prayer. I feel she was rather let down by her boyfriend who seems to have encouraged her suicide. If that man had truly loved her, I believe he would have persuaded her against taking her own life because no one truly wants to part with someone they love. However, some people can't take illness and death and they don't have the backbone to see a loved one deteriorate before their eyes, especially in these days where youth and beauty are celebrated above all else. How sad for her that she had no one to support her in her suffering.

In her case, with a brain tumour, she may not have had the mental capacity to understood the reality of what she was doing. So yes, prayers for her soul are needed.


Anonymous said...

If she was a practicing Catholic and requested a funeral Mass then she should have one. However I think that her bishop should make a public statement reaffirming the Church's teaching on suicide and make it very clear that suicide is sinful and is not ever justified and that the Church granting a funeral Mass for her is an act of mercy. But if this woman was a Catholic but never practiced the Faith or tried to live the Faith then it would be hypocritical to have a funeral Mass for her.

Rood Screen said...

A. What's a "celebration of life"?

B. If a suicide freely and knowingly chooses this path, then they cannot be saved, and so prayers do no good for them.

C. However, since we have no way of knowing the extent of the suicide's freedom and choice in this grave evil, a requested Mass for the Dead must be granted, in case the soul is in Purgatory.

D. At any rate, any Catholic mourners left behind must be consoled, and asked to offer up their suffering for those troubled persons contemplating suicide.

Anonymous said...

The Mass should be said for her soul, and to combat those protesters pictured in the second photo.

Anonymous said...

This person's decision truly pains me. It refelcts a growing acceptance in our country and even words of encouragement from news outlets. I agree with Jan, above. What greater prayer do we Catholics have than the Mass, especially offered for someone's eternal life. May our sister, Brittany, rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

When did the church switch to allowing Masses for non-Catholics?

Anonymous said...

I would allow the mass to be said for her. She, like the rest of us, needs prayer.

Marie said...

It's so sad. I have been praying that Brittany abandon her death wish, and for a while I thought she had. But she did it, anyway.

A funeral Mass for her? No, not a Mass, where there would again be the problem of whether her survivors, supporters, and friends should be allowed to receive Communion.

But maybe just the Liturgy of the Word [just the Readings, psalm, the Gospel - and if the priest is up to it, a homily explaining the Church's teachings on the sanctity of life.] And some prayers for the consolation of her family.

Why not a Mass? Because Brittany was not just a victim of brain cancer, she was also a very vocal and powerful activist for euthanasia. A funeral Mass will send the wrong message that the Catholic Church agrees with what she preached.

But prayers for the dead is always appropriate and is a work of mercy.

But then again, her family does not look like the type to request for any prayers at all.

Anonymous said...

Who am I, who are you to judge. I think Abe Lincoln....or maybe Groucho Marx...said that.

Anonymous said...

Recently a friend of the family's wife died, and no one ever knew her to give any thought to God at all, yet, in the obituary, her husband wrote "your sudden trip to heaven left me with a heartache no one can heal." I often wonder what sort of heaven this describes, the Elysian Fields?

At Mass the first Sunday after she died, she came to mind during the prayers for the deceased, and I was perplexed about praying for her because of her atheism. I prayed for her anyway, but my experience was quite different from when I pray for those I know were committed Catholics or Christians. When I pray for them, my prayers seem to have a force and purpose and I sense a weight about them. When I pray for those who died without God, it seems like just my prayer it without a target.

If someone who committed suicide died in such a state of grave mortal sin as this Brittany Maynard did, and had no sense of repentance or remorse as is indicated by her action of planning and calmly acting to kill herself and in light of statements she made about it, then I believe she was already very separated from God, and to have a Requiem Mass for her would be denying what we believe about salvation and the purpose of the Requiem Mass. She had excluded herself from the company of the elect. Having Mass for her would pretend she did not.

Robert Kumpel said...

It was wrong, terribly wrong for this poor young lady to take her own life, yet at the same time, I never walked in her shoes, so while I condemn what she did, I have no right to condemn her. I don't know the canonical subtleties of offering Requiem Masses for suicides, but I certainly hope there will be Masses offered for her. The great mystery of God is that He is infinite in His mercy, yet, at the same time, demands perfect justice. I cannot speak for Ms. Maynard, but it seems the safest bet is to not presume upon His mercy and be very cautious about offending His justice.

John Nolan said...

Misericordia Domini inter pontem et fontem. (St Augustine)

Anonymous said...

I believe Father only put this as a hypothetical, a "what if she were Catholic, should she have a Requiem Mass?"

Yes, it is wrong that she committed suicide but one other thought is that she may have had Baptism of desire. God is not limited by time so prayers and Masses offered could have led her to Baptism of desire or repentance.

None of us knows the last conscious thoughts of someone who dies. We don't know if she had regrets when it was already too late. Her husband (rather than boyfriend as I mentioned earlier) may have had some influence in her decision. She may have been pressured into a decision that if she had been strong and well she would not have made. Who knows? But the charitable thing is to at least pray for her soul and if the Church does now permit a Requiem Mass in such circumstances then if she were Catholic I agree that should happen and we leave the rest to God.

People's prayers have not prevented her committing suicide but no one knows what changes they wrought in her that only God knows. I am sure that nobody's prayers were wasted and if nothing else they were an act of charity on the part of those who offered them.


Paul said...

Robert, I agree.

Judge actions, not people. We cannot know the entirety of her soul and it galls me to see society championing the "cause", offering praise, raising money, etc.

What does this situation say about a world that thinks it can kill its way out of its problems and, if it can't kill enough, find reason to kill more?

I see this "green", abortion, "health care" and euthanasia all wrapped up in the "population control" agenda. They claim to be thinking about the children and what future is left for them. Myopic thinking. Eternity is a loooooong time.

That's what they're not thinking about.

cantatrix said...

What is the Catholic definition of a "celebration of life"? That's what many of the funeral Masses at my parish are called and the attendees are routinely told that they should be happy that their loved one is in heaven. (They would never use the word Requiem because it's Latin.)

Gene said...

I have always hated the designation "celebration of life." There are so many things wrong with it:

From a theological perspective, the only true human life on earth worthy of celebration is the life of Christ, whose life and death we celebrate at every Mass. There are the lives of many Saints worth celebrating, but they can in no way be compared to the life of Christ.

The lives of sinners can only be "celebrated" in light of the Sacrifice and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Anything else is theologically presumptuous, arrogant, and Pelagian.

"Celebration of life" is a refusal to accept the evil of death and the power of Satan in this world. We grieve because death, the enemy, has robbed us of the love, warmth, and presence of one with whom we have shared the sufferings, joys, and beauties of this fallen world. God's gift to us of family, friendship, and community has been lessened due to the consequences of sin. Grief and repentance are in order…not celebration.

Celebration of life is tantamount to saying, "We are not so sure of what happens after death, so we'd better focus on this life." It is a sort of theological "carpe diem."

Finally, the simple fact is that most people's lives are not worth celebrating. I have done funerals at which I have had to carefully parce words, protestant families expecting some kind of eulogy at funerals. My general rule was, at funerals of less than stellar citizens, when in doubt, quote Scripture.
Catholic funeral Masses and Requiem Masses are truly the most doctrinally correct, theologically appropriate, and comforting of any I know of…unless some maverick Priest decides to (mess) it up with a lot of prot evangelical, feel-good nonsense.

You are not supposed to feel good at funerals, you morons. You are supposed to be depressed, grieving, in tears, and praying for the soul of the departed and your own sorry soul. You may be next.

George said...

Questions to be asked:
Was the person a Catholic? Practicing? Non practicing?
Will having a public Requiem Mass be seen as tacitly or explicitly endorsing this very public act of taking one's life?

Certainly Masses can be offered and prayers said for the person.