The spiritual benefits of Diocesan Pilgrimage

A child or loved one who no longer goes to Mass or practices the faith.

An addiction.

Uncertainty about how to make do when there are financial problems or a job has been lost.

Someone you deeply care about has been diagnosed with a serious illness.

Complicated family problems.

Complicated personal problems.

A knot is a complicated thing. When we are children we learn how to tie our shoes and we practice tying and undoing the knot. There were probably times when we laced the knot too tightly, or maybe over the course of the day we stepped on a hanging shoelace and the knot tightened even more. As children, if those knots were tight and mixed up; covered in dirt from the playground, the person that we probably went to and asked to help loosen and undo that knot was our mother.

Our experienced mothers could size up the knot; they saw the twists and turns more clearly than we could. Our mothers could skillfully maneuver the knot until it loosened and then finally became undone. After the burden was removed by the loving hands of a mother we were thankful and could go off to gratefully enjoy our restored freedom.

Shoelace knots are really not as complicated as children might think they are if they make the lace take a wrong turn and then cannot undo the knot. Anyone who even learned how to tie a square knot, clove hitch, bowline, or half hitch knows that there are much more involved knots out there. But some of the tightest, most complicated, and seemingly impossible knots that come along in life have nothing at all to do with ropes or shoelace. Those spiritual and very personal knots that tie us up and restrict us from being the persons that we want to be and that we know God desires us to be. Or those involved, complicated situations with the members of our families or our loved ones. Maybe we are not even that involved in the knot but we see the people that we love and the perplexing situations around us. Our hearts go out to so many people because of what is tying them down or constricts. We want them to be freed and at peace.

It really is not that different from the shoelaces when you think about it. Here again we need to go to our mother and ask for her help. We go to our heavenly mother, Mary, and we ask her to loosen the knot for us and to untie it if it is the will of God; if it is for the greater good and what is best for us.

On Saturday, Oct. 11, Bishop Dennis Sullivan will lead a Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The Marian Commission of the Diocese of Camden sponsors this pilgrimage which only takes place every two years. It lasts for just a day but the spiritual benefits are tremendous.

This year, in a special way, we will honor Mary under her title, “Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.” This is a growing Marian devotion and the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been particularly interested in it for many years. When he was the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires he worked to teach people about Our Lady, Undoer of Knots and urged people to entrust themselves and their “knots” to her.

Next year, there will be a special Year of the Family which the church will celebrate. Even before this special year begins, we have a great opportunity with this pilgrimage to fervently pray for our families — especially that any of those family “knots” can be loosened and undone because of Mary’s prayers!

For more information about the Diocesan Marian Pilgrimage, contact your parish office or call 856-939-1769. You can also visit the new website of the Diocesan Marian Commission to learn about the pilgrimage. The website address is and the Diocese of Camden is grateful to which has developed the website to promote the pilgrimage.

In addition to giving general information about the pilgrimage and how individuals can attend, there is also an opportunity to submit special prayer intentions electronically on this website; to offer up all of those different “knots.” The online petitions will be collected, printed, and then placed before the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Diocesan Pilgrimage on Oct. 11. Then, as a spiritual family, the Catholics of the Diocese of Camden will be led by our bishop to visit the Basilica of the National Shrine which is often known as “Mary’s House” and to present to our Mother Mary all of those “knots” which we need her to help undo.

Visit and click on the “submit your knots” button.


Father James Bartoloma is the chancellor of the Diocese of Camden and the director of the Marian Commission.

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