Our Lady, Undoer of Knots
Preparations are underway for the next Diocesan Marian Pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The pilgrimage will take place on Saturday, Oct. 11, and will be led by Bishop Dennis Sullivan. Catholics throughout the diocese are invited and encouraged to register by contacting their local parishes which organize bus transportation to the Basilica of the National Shrine on the day of the pilgrimage.
For many years this pilgrimage has been a great tradition for our parishes and Catholic groups within the Diocese of Camden.
Did you know that the Blessed Mother, honored as the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of our country, our diocese, and our cathedral in Camden? Did you know that some of the oldest churches in the Diocese of Camden are dedicated to the Blessed Mother?
These are not just coincidences. There is a rich spiritual connection between the Diocese of Camden and devotion to the Our Lady, especially in honoring her Immaculate Conception. In the opening prayer or collect for her feast day on Dec. 8, we pray that “through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted” into the presence of God.
Making a pilgrimage is one of those special ways in which we can take a break from our busy schedules and, for a brief time, consciously enter into the presence of God; and at the Basilica of the National Shrine, into the presence of the Mother of God.
When we come to Our Mother, Mary, we come for many different reasons, often because we have a special person or need to pray for. Sometimes it can be a complicated situation for which we know our human abilities have reached their limits and we must go completely to God through the Virgin Mary, asking her to untie or loosen the “knot” of what we are concerned about. In six months, the Marian Pilgrimage that all Catholics throughout the diocese are invited to participate in with our bishop, will also be to honor and invoke Mary as “Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.”
It is interesting that there is even a providential connection between this devotion and Our Holy Father, Pope Francis. In the 1980s, when as a Jesuit priest he was doing his doctoral studies in Freiburg, Germany, the beautiful image of “Our Lady, Undoer of Knots” captured his attention and he took postcards depicting the image back with him to his Jesuit province in Argentina. Year later, as the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he promoted this devotion within his diocese and since his election as Pope last year, devotion to “Our Lady, Undoer of Knots” has been growing rapidly.
Pilgrims will be invited to make the Novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots and entrust all of our needs to her. Then, with our bishop, we will conclude our novena at the pilgrimage on Saturday, Oct 11. It is hoped that many Catholics from the Diocese of Camden will be able to attend and participate in the pilgrimage events.
Father James L. Bartoloma is the vice-chancellor and director of the Marian Commission for the Diocese of Camden.