Since it's a quiet, breezy summer around here, I've been slowly chipping away at our long queue of questions. Thanks for your patience if you've asked one! I do feel a little like I'm keeping you on the phone listening to sad music.
Yesterday I had to call the DWP, the Department of Water and Power, about our electricity. Happily, I wasn't on hold all that long, but the "on hold" music they play is eight sad notes (I could count them) played over and over again on some type of electric (what else?) keyboard. Having that stuck in my head, still today, is a good opportunity to release souls from Purgatory. I think that might be the music that is played in Purgatory, in fact.
In any case, today's question is a follow up from a post a little while back.
How can suicide be a mortal sin when you cannot be mentally well (in your right mind) when you take your own life?
And how is flinging yourself into flames or the ocean or whatever a protection of your moral purity or chastity? If a woman is raped -- what these saints purportedly were facing was forced sexual acts -- she does not become "impure." She has been violated and has in no way sinned of her own volition.
I imagine you're not very old. The world is not quite so black and white. Let's start with your first statement that you cannot be in your right mind, ever, if you take your own life.
Yes, you can. Try old age for a while, and get back to me. Despair does not equal insanity. Despair is also a mortal sin, yet it is a very sane response to some very desperate situations. Some people are in unbearable physical pain.
I would agree with you that possibly the majority of people who take their own lives are not in their right minds. But there are perfectly sane people who think they can just cash it in whenever they want to.
But the spirit of your question is certainly vaild, as there was a time when the Church blanketly stated that suicide was a mortal sin, period. In fact, people who committed suicide were not allowed to have a funeral Mass. Their bodies were not allowed in the church. As if a suicide isn't hard enough on a family. That has changed, precisely because the Church understands that the person may not have been in their right mind, or may have realized their sin and asked for forgiveness even as they kicked the stool out from under them.
And there was time in history, in fact up until recently, when even the law would question if a woman "brought it on herself" if she was raped. That really hasn't gone away entirely yet. Take the case of that nasty old French man in that hotel in New York. Now we're hearing that the victim was a liar and a drug runner or some such thing. She may be that and more. But she also still could have been raped by the nasty old French man and deserves her day in court, which may never come because of her 'criminal' past.
You are talking about a time when women were covered head to toe. A time where a young woman's purity was treasured in a way that we no longer seem to understand.
These women valued their vow of chastity above their very lives. They believed God agreed with them in this endeavor, since the vow was made to God. On top of that, the society in which they lived did believe that if they were raped they would be impure. We don't think that way today, but people did think that way back then. Not all so long ago, really.
Have you ever heard of The Magdelene Sisters? This was a convent (in Ireland, now the subject of much scrutiny, but also here in the US) that took in wayward girls and put them to good honest work in the convent laundry, which was a commercial enterprise. And while that sounds like a good idea, and often did work out well for the girls, what was considered "wayward" included rape victims and girls who were flirting with boys. I personally know a girl who was sent to the Magdelenes because she accepted a boy's invitation to a movie. The boy went on with his life with no interruption or reprimand. She spent three years doing laundry. Not in 400AD. Not in 1620AD. This was going on into the 1950's.
Times change. They don't always change for the better. But 'the good old days' aren't always so hot.