Parishes invited to host Silver Rose liturgy in tribute to Mary

A rose made of Mexican silver to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe as patroness of the Americas and of the pro-life movement is currently touring through Colorado. The Silver Rose pilgrimage, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, will visit parishes throughout Colorado between the months of June – August.

Parishes are invited to host the Silver Rose with a one-hour liturgy to increase devotion to Mary, respect for human life and the spiritual renewal of each nation. Local Knights
councils will assist with organizing the liturgies. Everyone is invited to attend them.

“The Knight’s Silver Rose program honors Our Lady of Guadalupe and affirms dedication to the sanctity of human life,” said Stephen Sweeney, a Knight organizer of the event. “The prayer services include Liturgy of the Word, a rosary and consecration to Mary [of pro-life efforts].”

Some parishes also choose to celebrate a Mass, organizers said.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is an icon of the pro-life movement as her appearances to the peasant St. Juan Diego nearly 500 years ago in what is modern-day Mexico City ushered in the largest mass conversion of a people in the history of the Church from a religion that involved human sacrifice.

Dressed as an Aztec princess, Mary appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill in December 1531 and asked him to tell the bishop of her desire for a church to be built where people could take their prayer requests for her intercession. The bishop, however, asked Juan for a sign to prove the request came from Mary. At Mary’s direction, Juan found a sign — roses not native to the land blooming from the frozen ground on Tepeyac Hill. After filling his cloak with them, Juan hurried to the bishop. Upon opening his cloak, the roses fell out and Juan and the bishop saw a more wondrous sign — an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously imprinted on the cloak. Convinced, the bishop built the church. The cloak bearing the image remains on view at the Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico City where it draws millions of pilgrims annually.

Every year, runners from villages across Mexico light torches at the Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico City and relay them to their home churches to arrive on Dec. 12. For the Silver Rose pilgrimage, instead of carrying a torch, Knights steward a silver rose to recall the miracle of Guadalupe and Mary’s promise of aid. The final destination of the silver rose is the Guadalupe Basilica in Monterrey, Mexico, where the Silver Rose program was initiated in 1960 by the Columbian Squires, youth group of the Knights of Columbus.

Since its inception, which started with a single live rose, the program has grown to relay eight silver roses, which take different routes from their March departure, half from cities in Canada, to their final destination.

“The routes cover several provinces in Canada and most U.S. states,” said JR White, a Knight organizer of the event.

In addition to promoting Marian devotion and the dignity of all human life, organizers said the pilgrimage embodies international brotherhood and builds unity among the Knights.

The Knights urge parishes interested in participating to contact them as soon as possible.

To host or find a Silver Rose liturgy or get more information about the Knights, contact Sweeney at 303-880-9820 or stephen.sweeney@archden.org or White at 303-330-6245 or wjr35000@juno.com.

Silver Rose Pilgrimage Host Locations
Date/Parish/City
July 5 – St. Gabriel (Colorado Springs)
July 7 – Pax Christi (Highlands Ranch)
July 8 – St. Patrick’s (Colorado Springs)
July 12 – St. Paul’s (Pueblo West)
July 17 – St. Therese Circle (Pueblo)
July 19 – Holy Cross (Thornton)
July 22 – St. Mary’s (Greeley)
July 25-26 – St. Dominic’s (Security)
July 28 – St. Michel’s (Aurora)
Aug. 1 – Our Lady of Fort Carson (Fort Carson)
Aug. 2 – Light of the World (Littleton)
Aug. 3 – St. Francis Assisi (Longmont)
Aug. 4 – St. Paul’s (Colorado Spring)
Aug. 6 – Our Lady of Pines (Conifer)
Aug. 7 – Queen of Peace (Aurora)
Aug. 8 – Mt St. Francis (Colorado Springs)

*Article updated July 1, 2020

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.