In Memoriam: Marc Massery, 1990-2021

By Chris Sparks

This is not a column I ever wanted to write.

We lost Marc Massery a week ago as of last Saturday, and buried him last Friday. With the permission of his family, Fr. Chris has been sharing with you all what happened — that Marc had taken his own life.

That gives the blunt fact, but not the nuanced detail.

You see, Marc had chronic Lyme disease. He’d been suffering from that for years, since before I knew him, before I’d worked with him. He’d been struggling since before he started working at the Marian Helpers Center in 2017 to find the right doctors, the right regimen of medications and treatments to enable him to get back to life as normal, life before Lyme.

Ultimately, he never found it. He had good stretches of time and bad; he usually hid his sufferings from most everybody around him, only letting us know when it’d gotten particularly bad and when he couldn’t hide it anymore. His smiling, stable, calm presence masked challenges of the deepest kind.

Our loss is devastating. He was one of those people who seemed to befriend the world, to offer a smile, love, and good humor to all around them. He was consistently gentle with those who needed gentleness, and could banter and tease with the best of them when confronted with folk of thicker hides and more cutting wit. You all saw his humor, his smile, and his faith in the Discovering the Diary videos, read his weekly meditations on the Sunday Scriptures, encountered fellow Marian Helpers in Marian Helper magazine, and were blessed by Marc’s devotion to the Divine Mercy and Mary Immaculate in the Friends of Mercy and Thirteenth of the Month Club newsletters. He was a Christian gentleman, a good friend, and a good colleague. He will be sorely missed.

And we hope to see him again.

Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. (Pope Benedict XVI, encyclical letter Spe Salvi, 1)

For anyone suffering, please know that suicide is not the answer, that it is an act with permanent consequences addressing a temporary problem, and that you would be causing immeasurable harm by the act. Health officials urge anyone who is thinking about suicide, or who knows someone who is, to call a 24-hour crisis hotline number right away: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; 1-800-273-TALK (8255), press #1 if you are a veteran.

For those grieving someone who has died by suicide, please know that there’s hope for their salvation, since even though suicide is a gravely wrong act, a failure of rightful self-love, and brings terrible harm on all those it leaves behind, suicide is also rarely the act of someone with full freedom of the will or full knowledge of the gravity or the consequences of the act. For more on all of this, please do check out After Suicide: There’s Hope for Them and for You by Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, and Br. Jason Lewis, MIC, and SuicideAndHope.com.

And please ask St. Faustina to pray for Marc, for all his family and friends, and for everyone affected by his life and death. Ask for healing for those who are suffering, for a cure for Lyme disease, for the alleviation of the terrible pain of those ill, depressed, or otherwise struggling, and those grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide.

Saint Faustina, you told us that your mission would continue after your death and that you would not forget us. Our Lord also granted you a great privilege, telling you to “distribute graces as you will, to who you will, and when you will.” Relying on this, we ask your intercession for the graces we need, especially for the intentions just mentioned. Help us, above all, to trust in Jesus as you did and thus to glorify His mercy every moment of our lives. Amen.

Chris Sparks serves as senior book editor for the Marian Fathers.

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