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Deanery pilgrimage explores Mary, Undoer of Knots devotion

Posted By March 6, 2015 | 6:53 pm | Featured Article #2
Mary, Undoer of Knots


By Kathleen Bennett
Special to The CFP

EAST TEMPLETON — The deanery in the northwest corner of the Worcester Diocese continues its Lenten Pilgrimage tradition for the fifth year. The program began in 2011 when priests in six parishes expressed the desire to do something special with the greater community in preparation for the Easter celebration.
This year, Father Leo-Paul LeBlanc, pastor of  Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, suggested the pilgrimage focus on a devotion that Pope Francis especially loves. Pope Francis came across the devotion of Mary, Undoer of Knots while on a visit to a church in Germany and promoted it in his native Argentina. The origin of this devotion springs out of Mary’s intercession in a troubled marriage 400 years ago. A German nobleman had prayed to Our Lady to help the couple overcome some serious marital problems. Their Jesuit priest encouraged the young man to place the couple’s wedding ribbon on an image of Mary. This ribbon was a symbol of the unity of bride and groom — a German custom in marriage ceremonies — and had become “knotted” with the problems and difficulties in their relationship. As the man and his priest prayed, the ribbon became smoothed and snowy white.  The married man returned home with new hope for his marriage.  He and his wife were reconciled.
Holy Cross Parish hosted the first of six pilgrimages on Feb. 25, with more than 120 area Catholics in attendance. The sacrament of penance was available before the devotion began and a small a cappella choir softly sang the “Ave Maria” and “O Most Holy One” in Latin (the latter, also in English).
Father Joseph J. Jurgelonis, pastor of the host church, gave a welcome and introduction, followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
The homily and reflection was given by Father William E. Champlin, pastor of Saint Edward the Confessor Church in Westminster. His sermon revolved around The First Knot: Fear. “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
He spoke of the four principles of moving from fear-to-faith, noting that the command “Do not be afraid” appears in Scripture 365 times. Father Champlin explained that even the prolific saints struggled with fear and gave the example of Abram, who was commanded to leave his land and go to a new land. Abram did so, but may have doubted that God remembered how badly he and Sarah had wanted children. Fear and doubt likely crept in over those 10 long years.
The four principles of moving from fear-to-faith are: Faith focuses on God, not problems. Faith trusts in God’s timing.  Faith grows by believing in God, despite our circumstances. Finally, faith obeys God one step at a time.
Fellowship and refreshments followed.
Jerry Larocque, a parishioner from Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, has been attending the Lenten pilgrimage since its inception. He said, “This is a great way to bring people together, as one community.  It brings into focus the real purpose of Lent.”
He felt doing something extra like this pilgrimage is better than just giving up something for Lent. Holy Cross has a special place in his heart because as a boy, he grew up going to this church even when there was only a basement constructed for worship.
A Holy Cross parishioner, Gloria LeBlanc, attended the pilgrimage for the first time.
“I am surprised to see the number of people and everyone comes together at these things. With some churches merging, it makes a softer landing because we don’t know what the future holds,” she said.
She grew up at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Gardner, one of the parishes affected.
“It’s great to hear the different priests speak.  It’s nice that this piques everyone’s interest in what Lent is all about.”
Her husband Benny added, “This is very uplifting—it makes you forget the problems of the day.”
The the rest of the pilgrimage is as follows:
March 11, Saint Denis, Ashburnham, on the knot of addiction; March 18, Our Lady Immaculate, Athol, on the knot of fiscal insecurity; March 25, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Gardner, on the knot of difficulty embracing those different than us; April 12 (Divine Mercy Sunday), Saint Joseph, Gardner.