Adaptation of "True Devotion" Unifies and Vivifies Parish

Parish

St. Charles Church
Bellows Falls, VT 05101
Diocese of Burlington
United States

More Info

For more information, email Fr. Lance W. Harlow.

Categories: Faith Formation, Family

Getting your parishioners to go to Jesus through Mary, which is the core of St. Louis de Montfort's "True Devotion to Mary," fits into and unifies every aspect of parish life--from sacramental to devotional.

"The pastor's conviction in the truth that Mary leads us to Jesus is the central organizational principle. A priest can't go wrong in the administration of his parish with this in mind. "

Reverend Lance W. Harlow

The need it meets

Father Lance Harlow wanted to find an organizing principle for the conversion of his parish that would lead to a deepening of the practice of the faith among all age groups. He didn't want an approach that would simply be a flash in the pan, but something that would withstand the test of time--and would outlive his own pastorate. Getting his parishioners to go to Jesus through Mary, which is the core of the "True Devotion to Mary" as explained by St. Louis de Montfort, is the key that can fit into every aspect of parish life--from sacramental to devotional.

Where it came from

A few years ago, Father Harlow participated in a priests' cenacle which studied the "True Devotion to Mary" by St. Louis de Montfort. His goal was not just to intellectualize the "True Devotion," but to incorporate it into his own personal life, and more importantly, into the life of his parish. He wrote "Echo of God" as a way to explain St. Louis' "True Devotion" and how to live it, because people (including his fellow priests) were having a hard time understanding it and living it out after having made the consecration.

How it works

There have been two ways of incorporating the "Echo of God" ("True Devotion") into his parish work.

  • The first has been a personal living out of the consecration to Jesus through Mary so that Mary becomes the point of reference for all the pastor's apostolic endeavors.
  • The second is to lead the parishioners into a greater Marian devotion which, correctly done, is always Christocentric.

By preaching, teaching, and leading parish devotions, Father Harlow's parish within two years has already reached a much deeper level of spiritual life.

The results

Within the past two years, the fruits of Father Harlow's practice of leading parishioners to Jesus through Mary include:

  • notable increase in Confessions
  • notable increase in parishioner involvement in parish social life
  • the perception of a clear sense of unity to all the many pastoral duties and activities that need to be tended to - less chaotic and more focused
  • an ongoing study group of "True Devotion to Mary" with people making their personal consecration
  • annual consecration of the parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on January 1st
  • a 7-year "Novena" for an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit through Mary's intercession
  • public Rosary in May and October

Key elements

  1. The pastor's conviction in the truth that Mary leads us to Jesus is the central organizational principle. A priest can't go wrong in the administration of his parish with this in mind.
  2. Read and study the "Echo of God," which contains the entire text of St. Louis' "True Devotion to Mary" and a commentary.
  3. Have the pastor lead the Rosary in the parish (whenever possible) - this sets the tone that he believes what he's preaching. If the pastor leads the Rosary, he can offer each decade for a specific intention for the conversion of parish life.
  4. Create a cenacle or study group with parishioners to study "True Devotion to Mary" and make the consecration to Mary.

How to implement it

Obtain a copy of "The Echo of God" and pray through it. Information about obtaining a copy can be found at: http://www.stcharles-church.org/echo.htm.

At each stage ask Our Lady and the Holy Spirit to enlighten you about how going to Jesus through Mary can fit into the life of your parish. But more importantly, it is vital for the priest to make the consecration himself with the intention that he wants to become holy. Our Lady will honor that intention and will make him holy and his parish will soon follow. If she worked wonders for the saints of old, she will do the same for us.

Fr. Lance W. Harlow is pastor of St. Charles Church.

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