August Rosary Crusade a powerful outpouring of prayer

In August, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila launched a Rosary Crusade to ask for Mary’s intercession and God’s protection during these uncertain times. He personally asked all Catholics to join him in praying the Rosary for 30 days. 

“The last several months of the coronavirus epidemic, the civil unrest that has broken out in different parts of the archdiocese and our nation, and the challenges the Church is facing have made the need for Mary’s intercession abundantly clear. Mary is our Mother and desires only our good like the Father,” said Archbishop Aquila. 

The 30 days of praying the Rosary began on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, August 15, and ended on the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15. 

It didn’t take long for the community to respond. From day one, the Archdiocese of Denver shared different prayer intentions on its social media platforms that were immediately shared by the faithful who began to pray the Rosary pleading for the intercession of Mary. 

The Archbishop highlighted the importance of praying the Rosary and turning to Mary in times of hardship, remembering how throughout history, Mary has answered our prayers and she, herself, has asked us to pray the Rosary for world peace, as it happened in the apparitions at Fatima. 

“We know, too, from history that Mary has answered prayers brought to her through the Rosary and that she has personally asked people to pray it for the most serious needs, especially for the conversion of souls,” Archbishop Aquila recalled.  

While some people chose to pray the Rosary individually, some parishes created prayer groups to pray the Rosary daily via Zoom or other digital platforms.  

“It has been a great opportunity for our parishioners to pray together as we are spread over great distances here in the mountains. Thanks again and God bless all you do!” said Denise Cook, participant of a prayer group. 

The Rosary Crusade not only brought communities together, but also helped many get closer to God by making this prayer part of a daily routine and having an intimate moment with Him. 

“I pray at least one decade of the Rosary every day but during the Rosary Crusade I prayed all five decades every day, said another local parishioner, Jason Roberts. “There were times of not really wanting to but did it anyway and times where I was almost in tears when praying the Rosary and really focusing on the Mysteries. A few times I prayed the Rosary during Adoration at our parish and that was when Jesus spoke to me very directly. Still praying the Rosary every day!” 

Without a doubt, the Rosary is a very powerful prayer that not only brings us closer to our mother in heaven, but it can also bring us the peace and harmony that many of us seek for. During these times of crisis, it is crucial that we continue to ask for the intercession of Mary by praying the Rosary with devotion and confidence that she will respond to our prayers. 

During the Rosary Crusade, the Archbishop asked the faithful to pray for these intentions: 

  • For a growth in faith, hope and charity in the heart and soul of every human being, and most especially in our own that we may seek only the will of the Father 
  • For a recognition of the dignity of life from the moment of conception until natural death and that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God 
  • A quick end to the coronavirus pandemic 
  • For all who are suffering from COVID-19, for their caregivers, and for those who have died from the virus 
  • In reparation for the sins of abortion, euthanasia, and racism 
  • In reparation for the sins and failings of our spiritual leaders and for our personal sins 
  • For healing and justice for all those who have been discriminated against because of their race 
  • For the conversion of the world and the salvation of souls 
  • For all those who are persecuted throughout the world for the Faith 
  • For the conversion of those who carry out acts of desecration against our churches, statues and religious symbols 
  • In reparation for these acts of desecration, especially against Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament 
  • For our civic leaders and those who keep us safe to experience a deeper conversion, to govern justly, and to seek the common good 
  • That we may learn how to love and forgive from the example of Jesus 
  • For all marriages and families, neighborhoods, churches and cities to be strengthened 
  • For an increase in vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life 

We invite you to continue praying the Rosary and asking for these intentions! 

COMING UP: Sin, suicide and the perfect mercy of God

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

I love my hair stylist. 

She’s a devoted Christian. So, when I see her, we tend to have much deeper discussions than the usual gossipy hair stylist sessions. And, because it’s a small shop, the discussions often branch out to the other people within earshot, waiting for their appointments or waiting for their color to process. Because she tends to attract a smart and faithful clientele, the discussion is always interesting. 

Yesterday, at my bimonthly appointment, we somehow got onto the topic of suicide — specifically, the insidious way that it spreads among teenagers. One suicide often leads to another, which leads to another. I made the comment “It is demonic.” 

At that point, a woman in the waiting area chimed in. “I disagree. I’m Catholic. It used to be a mortal sin, but they changed it. It’s not any more. It’s mental illness.” 

If a nice Catholic lady at my hair salon could be confused about this, I figured perhaps some of you out there may be as well. Which made me think perhaps it’s time for a little review on the nature of sin — both in general, and specifically as it applies to suicide. 

First, sin in general. The fundamental point here is that the Catholic Church has no power to decide what is a sin and what isn’t. It’s not like there’s a committee that meets periodically to review the list of sins, and decide if any need to be promoted from venial to mortal, or demoted from mortal to venial, or dropped from the list entirely. 

Sins are sins because they are outside of God’s will. And they are outside of God’s will because they have the potential to do tremendous damage to people created in His image and likeness, whom He loves. We know they are sins because it was revealed to us in Scripture, or it has been handed down from the time of Christ in sacred tradition. Sometimes the Church must apply these timeless, God-given principles to new situations, to determine the morality of technologies undreamt of in ancient times. 

The Church has the authority to do that because she received it from Christ, her bridegroom. And once she does declare on a subject, we believe it is done through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So the Church isn’t going to change her mind. Something can’t be a sin, and then suddenly NOT be a sin. 

“But,” you ask. “What about eating meat on Friday? That was a sin, and now it isn’t.” This is an example of a discipline of the Church. Eating meat has never, in itself, been an objectively sinful behavior — on Fridays or any other day. But the Church was calling us, as Jesus calls us, to do penance. And the Church selected that penance as something we could all, as a Church, do together. The sin was never in the ingestion of the meat. It was in disobeying the Church in this matter. This particular discipline has been dropped. But it doesn’t change our obligation to in some way do penance for our sins and the sins of the world. 

Now, on to suicide. It is obvious that something must have changed in the teachings of the Church. Because, in the olden days, a person who committed suicide couldn’t be buried with a Catholic funeral Mass. And now they can. So what gives? 

Here’s the situation. Taking innocent human life is always a grave evil. (I add the “innocent” qualifier to distinguish this discussion from one about self defense, or about the death penalty — which in a sense is self defense. But those are separate discussions.) God is the author of life, and it is He who decides when our lives will end. To usurp that power always has been, and always will be, a grave moral evil. 

But there is an important distinction we must understand. There is the objective gravity of the sin — the nature of it, and the great damage done by it. Then there is the question of the individual’s moral culpability of that sin. In other words: a great evil was done. But is the person who did it liable to judgment for it? Or were there extenuating circumstances that mean that, while the evil was indeed done, the person who did it was somehow functioning in a diminished capacity that reduces or eliminates their moral responsibility? 

For a person to be culpable for a mortal sin, three conditions must be met. First, the objective act must be gravely sinful. Second and third, the person committing the sin must do so with full knowledge of the sinfulness of the act, and full consent of the will. In the question of suicide, we have learned to much about the psychological condition of a person driven to such a horrible deed. The instinct to self preservation is strong. In order to overcome it, the mental and/or physical suffering is frequently very intense. There may even be, as my friend at the salon mentioned, mental illness involved. All of this can drastically reduce a person’s mental and intellectual capacity to make rational decisions. 

And so, while an objectively horrifying act has occurred, God may very well have tremendous mercy on that person’s soul, given the extreme states of agitation and pain that led up to the act. 

Know that I write all of this as someone who has lost one beloved relative and several friends to suicide. And I am tremendously optimistic in my hope that they are with God. Not because they didn’t do something terrible, or that what they did was somehow justified. But because the God who loves them sees their hearts, and knows that pain and suffering can drive people to acts they wouldn’t possibly consider while in their “right” minds. 

And this is why the Church offers the Rite of Christian Burial to those who die by suicide. Because they need the prayers. And their families need the comfort. And because the Church, too, believes in that the God who embodies perfect justice also embodies perfect mercy. 

And we live in great hope that they are with Him.