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Call to Prayer and Solidarity: Pastor Rick Warrens' Son Has Died From Suicide

By Deacon Keith Fournier
April 9th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pastor Warren has always been a friend to Catholic Christians. He has repeatedly demonstrated his love and respect for the whole Christian community. During his time of need we all should offer him - and his family - our respect, fraternal love, solidarity in living faith and heartfelt prayer. It is to Jesus Christ that we entrust Matthew Warren and his family, trusting in the Mercy of God. We ask our readers around the globe to stand in solidarity with the pastor, his wife Kay and their entire family, during this time of deep loss and sorrow

LAKE FOREST, CA (Catholic Online) - Like millions of other Christians, people of faith and all people of good will, we received with deep sadness the news of the death of Pastor Rick Warren's beloved son Matthew. We ask our readers around the globe to stand in solidarity with the pastor, his wife Kay and their entire family, during this time of deep loss and sorrow. We ask our readers around the globe to pray for the repose of the soul of his dear son Matthew. We trust in the mercy of a loving God.

Pastor Rick Warren founded the nondenominational Saddleback Church in 1980 and it has grown immensely since then. He is also well known for his bestselling Book, the Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth am I Here For? That book has helped millions around  the world to ask the existential questions which have helped to lead them to living faith. It has helped countless people begin their journey to rediscover the hope which comes from Jesus Christ.

Pastor Warren has always been a friend to Catholic Christians. He has repeatedly demonstrated his love and respect for the whole Christian community. During his time of need we all should offer him - and his family - our respect, fraternal love, solidarity in living faith and heartfelt prayer. It is to Jesus Christ that we entrust Matthew Warren and his family, trusting in the Mercy of God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs concerning God's mercy in such painful circumstances. "Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of. "

"Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God."

"Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives."

We offer below the tenderhearted letter which the Pastor sent out to his church members. Matthew apparently died from a self inflicted gunshot wound. The young man apparently struggled with mental illness and deep bouts of depression as the Pastor shares in this heartfelt letter.

Following the letter we offer an excerpt from Virtue Online, the outstanding publication covering the news of the doctrinally orthodox Anglican community which is published by our friend, David Virtue. In February of 2011 Kay Warren, Rick's beloved wife and Matthews' beloved mother, addressed a conference which Virtue Online sponsored.

Her words open up the pages of their families life experiences to show us the pain this dear family has suffered. It also reveals the core of their living faith in Jesus Christ. Finally, it invites each one of us to prayer on their behalf. This family has certainly been acquainted with suffering and struggle. May their faith continue to sustain them and help them to find the fullness of the mystery revealed in the glorified wounds of Jesus Christ and the fullness of His loving embrace.  

*****
From Pastor Rick Warren

Subject: Needing your prayers
To my dear staff,

Over the past 33 years we've been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I've been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us.

No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.

You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He'd then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them.

But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.

Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I'll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said " Dad, I know I'm going to heaven. Why can't I just die and end this pain?" but he kept going for another decade.

Thank you for your love and prayers. We love you back.

Pastor Rick

*****

From Virtue Online

The Warren family's recent struggles did not often receive extensive public comment from the couple. But in February 2011, Kay Warren spoke at the Winter Conference of a group of conservative Anglicans. David Virtue of VirtueOnline reported:

Speaking to some 1200 participants at the annual winter conference of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) in Greensboro this week, Kay Warren told her own story of suffering.

"In the last two and a half years, our fourth grandchild nearly died at birth during an emergency C section. Seven weeks later, our daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to undergo 26 hours of brain surgery with a long recovery."

"Our daughter had severe auto immune disease, my mother slid mentally into dementia which made me the primary caretaker. On top of all this, our youngest child struggles with bipolar disease and has found it difficult to keep going. We have hung on by a thread of a finger nail," she told a stunned audience.

Warren said there have been struggles in her marriage to Rick, and stress in her walk with God. Through it all she says her walk with God has become stronger, deeper, richer and more intimate. "I have great family and friends. I am embarrassed to be in need. There is no big girl pill nor can I simply chill out." She added, "When I realize because of God's extravagant lavish love for me, and that I am his beloved, I can survive the painful circumstances that come into our lives."

"We need to tell people that they are the beloved of God. In doing so we remove the shame, it removes the guilt over sins I can't conquer. We are called to be messy with people and be with people in tremendous need. When you know you are His beloved and not God's bother you risk it all for Him. People may persecute you and hate you but you know also how much God loves you."

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