Liturgy Concerning Suicide

Those who minister at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in central London have devised a liturgy for those affected by suicide or attempted suicide. A description of the origins of this liturgy, the thinking behind it, and the actual conduct of the service was reported in The Christian Century by Samuel Wells, and published on February 19.

That service continues a tradition of outreach: “Over the years, St. Martin’s has developed what might be termed sharp-end pastoral liturgies for some of those on the edge. We’ve had a service for families of the missing, and a commemoration of those who have died homeless. We’ve also developed a liturgy to support those affected by suicide,” Wells explains.

Specific concrete focal points in the service mark its three sections:

To accompany each stage there is a threshold action, paired with suitable words. At the first threshold (“Lost”), a rock—heavy, sharp, uncompromising—is laid down, and these words spoken: “In these rocks we see brokenness, harshness and pain. We see love cut off, a statue destroyed, a future shattered.” At the second threshold (“The Valley”), a candle is lit—fragile, small, yet burning—and these words are spoken: “In this candle flame we see fragility, possibility—the shadow of what is half-known, half-understood, still mourned.” At the third threshold (“Found”), a rose is laid down—beautiful, prickly, tender—and these words are said: “In this rose we see gentle beauty, still with thorns that pierce, yet deep tenderness, hopefulness, deeper truth.”

The entire article, including a link to the order of service, can be found here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *