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In the twelfth century, the Catholic Church fought the incredibly pernicious Cathar, or Albigensian, heresy.
3/30/2005 6:51:00 PM by www.bridegroompress.com - Steve Kellmeyer
In his book "Breaking the Thread of Life," Robert Barry reminds us the slightest difficulty or insult is sufficient to provoke those without a good understanding of God into suicide. As history shows and modern psychology confirms, suicide is contagious. When one person commits suicide, hordes of others typically follow.
Consider the Romantics, for instance. Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) claimed that he dreamed of suicide and he and his friends "lived in a strange world, I assure you; we swung between madness and suicide; some of them killed themselves... another strangled himself with his tie, several died of debauchery in order to escape boredom; it was beautiful."
A young Frenchman of the period pushed his pregnant wife into the Seine and watched her drown. At his trial, the man defended himself by saying that this was an age of suicide.
Today, many would agree. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. But sometimes death needs help.
Dr. Verhagen of University Medical Center Groningen, Netherlands has participated in the intentional killing of four infants. He has watched one child die and was there moments later for the three others. All had severe forms of spina bifida.
"The child goes to sleep," he said. "It stops breathing... I mean, it's difficult to give the right emotion there, but it's beautiful in a way..."
"Abortion, it's beautiful," said Chris Rock, the comedian who hosted this year's Oscars, "it's beautiful abortion is legal. I love going to an abortion rally to pick up women, cause you know they are f------,"
"I will tell you that as it appears to me, Mrs. Schiavo's death is not imminent by any means," George Felos told the Associated Press Saturday. "She is calm; she's peaceful, she is resting comfortably... Frankly when I saw her ... she looked beautiful. In all the years I've seen Mrs. Schiavo, I've never seen such a look of peace and beauty upon her," said Felos.
One explanation for Felos' comments is suggested in the attorney's own 2002 book, Litigation As Spiritual Practice. Felos, a longtime volunteer hospice worker, discovered killing as a spiritual experience:
As I continued to stay beside Mrs. Browning at her nursing home bed, I felt my mind relax and my weight sink into the ground. I began to feel light-headed as I became more reposed. Although feeling like I could drift into sleep, I also experienced a sense of heightened awareness. As Mrs. Browning lay motionless before my gaze, I suddenly heard a loud, deep moan and scream and wondered if the nursing home personnel heard it and would respond to the unfortunate resident. In the next moment, as this cry of pain and torment continued, I realized it was Mrs. Browning.
I felt the mid-section of my body open and noticed a strange quality to the light in the room. I sensed her soul in agony. As she screamed I heard her say, in confusion, 'Why am I still here ... why am I here?' My soul touched hers and in some way I communicated that she was still locked in her body. I promised I would do everything in my power to gain the release her soul cried for. With that the screaming immediately stopped. I felt like I was back in my head again, the room resumed its normal appearance, and Mrs. Browning, as she had throughout this experience, lay silent.
I knew without a doubt what had transpired was real and dispelled the thought as intellect's attempt to assert its own version of reality.
In the twelfth century, the Catholic Church fought the incredibly pernicious Cathar, or Albigensian, heresy. For Cathars, the world, the flesh, all of it is pure evil, a hellish existence from which we can only be released through death. Cathars saw procreative sex as evil because the ensoulment of the body trapped the divine spark of the human person in the hell of the material world. It had one sacrament, the consolatum, which was immediately followed by the endura, ritual suicide by starvation.
The heresy became so popular in southern France that entire geographical regions were depopulating through decreased family size and ritual suicide. St. Dominic's new order of priests, the Inquisition and the Crusades were all created in order to stop the spread of the suicidal sect. Even so, adherents persisted through the 1400's.
The power of the Catholic Church to intervene in the culture is largely gone. Secular government will have to deal with today's Cathars. Sadly, there is no evidence we really understand what we are up against.
About the Writer: Steve Kellmeyer is a nationally recognized author and lecturer who integrates today's headlines with the Catholic Faith. His work is available through http://www.bridegroompress.com/. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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