Longtime Denver family business owner Ed Routzon is inspired by Mercy

Denverites have been walking all over Ed Routzon’s family name for more than half a century, but he doesn’t mind.

Routzon’s family business is Guy’s Floor Service and it provides all kinds of residential and commercial flooring and interior remodeling services. Guy’s was started by Ed’s father in the barracks of Lowry Air Force base and today the family’s fourth generation is still providing quality flooring to Colorado customers.

“My dad started as a roof painter at Lowry and Fitzsimmons’s bases until one day the procurement officer asked him if he could finish floors too,” Ed said. “My dad, having a young family to feed at home, said ‘sure, I can.’”

Guy Routzon started finishing hardwood floors in the barracks, but then expanded to finish floors in houses with the help of Colorado business hall of fame home builder Frank Burns. Guy’s Floor Service steadily grew, and Ed and his brother bought out their dad in 1972.

Now as Ed has his eyes set on his own retirement, his focus is also on his family’s legacy. The Routzon family started its own family foundation in 2004 with the concentration on carrying out the Catholic corporal works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. 

Ed’s wife Cindy and daughter Sarah Landry run the family foundation with a mission rooted in addressing the physical needs of others through Catholic ministries like Samaritan House, the largest Catholic homeless shelter in Colorado, and the Capuchin food truck that distributes food on Denver’s streets to the homeless. 

The Routzon Family Foundation concentrates on carrying out the Catholic corporal works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. (Photo provided)

Meeting the needs through works of mercy are so important to Ed and the Routzon family that they also started two donor-advised funds with The Catholic Foundation to further their ability to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. The family’s gifts also include Catholic education assistance and school supply programs.

“With our donor-directed funds, we get to guide how money gets distributed and being a Catholic, I prefer to work through a Catholic organization like The Catholic Foundation,” Ed said.

The donor-advised funds through the Catholic Foundation are useful tools for someone who is moved to the act of charity but may not yet know precisely where to make a donation. The Catholic Foundation provides knowledgeable staff to partner with Catholics who want to make inspired giving in a morally responsible way.

“Our inspiration for our giving really comes from the corporal works of mercy and The Catholic Foundation has been an easy conduit for that mission,” Ed said. 

Learn more about legacy planning with The Catholic Foundation by visiting thecatholicfoundation.com or calling 303-468-9885

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

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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.