How Far Does God’s Mercy Extend?

It may seem like an easy question to answer: How far does God’s mercy extend? The answer is in the question. God is all-powerful, all-loving, all-present, all-knowing, and all-merciful. His mercy has no limits. So, it extends beyond our comprehension. But how can we be sure someone is forgiven if they die from suicide or drug overdose? What assurance do we have that in their last moments, God saved them?

Listener Peter called into The Patrick Madrid Show to seek guidance on this question because of its relevance to the death of his little brother.

“What are the chances of somebody attaining salvation after a drug overdose?” he asked. “Because my little brother was involved in the Church, he was involved in the sacraments, and he was a Eucharistic minister. And he had this habit on the side, an opiate habit, and he did end up dying from it and I’m just worried about his salvation.”

As the premature death of a loved one is always heartbreaking and tragic, Patrick consoled him, assuring him that there are many reasons to be hopeful. For one, it is possible that before he died, God granted his brother a moment of lucidity in which he repented for the serious sins which may have been on his soul.

Patrick recalled a story from St. John Vianney who had dealt with just such an experience during his time as the Curé d’Ars, or the parish priest of Ars. There was a woman who meant to see him because she was devastated about her husband who had died by suicide after jumping off of a bridge and she feared for the state of his soul and his possible damnation. However, because of Vianney’s popularity, the line to see him often lasted for hours. Right as she was about to give up and leave, Vianney exclaimed through the crowd, “He is saved!”

Through some sort of supernatural vision, the Lord had granted St. John Vianney knowledge of her husband’s fate, and it was made known that between the time her husband jumped off the bridge and the moment he hit the water, he had had the time to make a sincere act of contrition and repent for his sins.

Peter took comfort in the knowledge that his brother would have been given every chance to repent before he reached the point of his overdose. He also explained that his little brother had gone to confession just days before his death and that he had a special devotion to Our Lady. Peter had given him a brown scapular years ago and he never took it off, and he was also devoted to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

“Here’s why I asked that question, Peter, and I’m so glad you said what you did,” said Patrick. “There’s no way that Our Lady was going to let go of him. It’s just not going to happen. If he had a devotion to her, if he prayed the rosary, if he wore the scapular – in faith and in confidence in Jesus – if he had a devotion to Our Lady, she definitely was not going to let him go without all of her assistance.”

Patrick closed by saying that we will not know for sure until we ourselves get to heaven and see, but God does not abandon his loyal servants in their hours of greatest trouble, so we have every reason to hope that he made it to heaven, and we should continue to pray for his soul.

Tune in to The Patrick Madrid Show weekdays 8am – 11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.