When my father hanged himself, the general consensus on the state of his soul seemed to come from two camps.
But, I did not give in. For, there is always hope.
Catholics are unique within the Christian world for our teaching on life after death. Rather than speaking of our “assurance of salvation,” as our Protestant brothers and sisters do, we Catholics speak of our hope of salvation. We are the last people on earth to say everyone is going to Heaven. We are also the last people on earth to say that any given person is headed for Hell. The jury’s even out on Hitler. We know only that we can never know the state of another person’s soul, and we put all our hope in the Hands of the God who created all souls and knows them utterly.
There is a story sometimes told of a woman who once came to St. John Vianney for consolation and spiritual guidance after her husband committed suicide by jumping off of a bridge. The woman despaired, “Father, my husband is damned. He has not been to Mass or received the sacraments in years. He lied about his business dealings. He committed adultery. He was wicked and unjust, and now he has died a double death of body and soul.” St. John Vianney answered her, “Madam, there is a very short distance between the bridge and the water–but it is that distance which forbids you to judge.”
There is a very short distance between the jump and death at the end of a rope, but it is that distance which gives me hope. It is that distance which is hope.