Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Undoing the Knots in Our Lives
Guest post by Doreen Truesdell www.maryundoerofknots.com
The knots of life weigh me down
with intertwining cares,
a confusion of threads and a tangle of mesh,
knitted by arrogance and dread.
Would that these ties which bind my will
and stifle my beating heart,
be straightened with a patient hand
and be mercifully drawn apart!
Why, oh why, did Catholics ever give up the many and diverse devotions which for centuries have provided people with a personal connection with heaven? As individual as our personalities, the breadth of traditional devotions to Jesus, Mary, the Holy Spirit, the angels and archangels, and the saints have served a pious purpose for many centuries when practiced with an honest heart and a soul guarded from superstitious inclinations.
It will take generations to rediscover many of these wonderful devotions, but in an effort to advance the cause just a little let me shine the light of attention on the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Undoer of Knots.” In a time of cultural complexity, of confusion and disarray in personal relationships, this beautiful devotion brings that rare commodity for which we sometimes despair: hope.
With the supernatural patience and wisdom of the Mother of God, the image of Mary, Undoer of Knots, shows the blessed Mother serenely at work untying a length of cord that is riddled with kinks and tangles, representing the difficulties in our lives. Broken relationships, sinful behaviors, unforgiven enemies, prejudices and hates, lukewarm faith, anguish and regrets, loneliness, ignorance, cowardice, and so many other human failings on our part and on the part of others are responsible for the knots in our lives.
The bondage of sin, and the realization that sins that may appear to be “freeing” actually bind and enslave us, is a traditional biblical image. Jesus, upon raising Lazarus from the dead, declared that his bonds should be loosed so he could be set free. Our Lord gave the power of binding and loosing to Peter and the Apostles when establishing His priesthood. Sin, from the Old to the New Testament, is described as an enslavement that keeps us from the company and grace of God the Father.
Also traditional from the early Church is Mary’s role as the great mediatrix, whose nimble fingers can undo the tangles of our sins in a heavenly intercession of maternal love.
The origin for the devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots, is a meditation from Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon and a martyr of the early Church. In his book Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies), he builds upon Saint Paul’s parallel between Adam and Christ, stating “Eve, by her disobedience, tied the knot of disgrace for the human race; whereas Mary, by Her obedience, undid it…For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the Virgin Mary set free through faith.
The beautiful image of the Undoer or Untier of Knots, has been venerated in the pilgrim church of St. Peter in Perlack (Perlach), Bavaria, Germany, since 1700. For three centuries, the devotion has survived among the faithful and appears to be growing, thanks to published booklets, websites such as www.maryundoerofknots.com phone 1(905)495-4614. An official publication, containing the devotion’s history, and a novena with nihil obstat and imprimatur, has been printed in 19 languages and distributed worldwide.
Contemplation of the image shows Mary with a crown of twelve stars adorning Her head, a sign of Her Queenship of the Apostles, whom She consoled and counseled after Jesus’ earthly departure. Her blue mantle represents Her glory as Queen of the Universe. Her feet crush the head of the serpent indicating Her victory over Satan. She is suspended between heaven and earth, resplendent with light, and accompanied by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, reminding us that She became Mother of God and full of grace by virtue of the Third Person of the Trinity. Assisting Her at the task of straightening the cord of our life is an entire heavenly court of angels, signifying Her position as Queen of the Angels, and Queen of Heaven.
“Ah, the knots of our life! Knots of discord in your family…the knots of deep hurts between husband and wife, the absence of peace and joy in the home. Knots of hurt and resentment that so torture our hearts… How they suffocate the soul, beat us down, betray the heart’s joy and even the will to continue living,” writes Dr. Suzel Frem Bourgerie, a contributing author of the publication, “Mary, Undoer of Knots.” “Knots that separate us from God, chaining our arms, legs, all our being and our faith, keeping us from flinging (ourselves) like children into the arms of God and glorifying Him. The Virgin Mother does not want this to continue…She comes to you…to give Her all these snarls because She will undo them one by one…more than ever the Holy Mother of God is ready to succor those who cry out to her…”
No matter how knotted are the events in your life, the Blessed Virgin can undo the tangles because Her Son empowers Her to. Through this prayerful devotion we are reminded that sin never entangled Our Lady; that Christ gave His Mother to be our Mother, and that She is uniquely endowed with grace and perfections to fulfill Her role, which She willingly accepts out of great love and humility.
Mary, Undoer of Knots, is a devotion that speaks to the hearts of the suffering who have become entangled in ourr own vices and failings. In the related novena, we pray and entrust our specific “knots” to Her loving hands, learning how to let go of that which binds us. To be free of the weight of our own chains means our hearts and minds are free to accept God’s mercy and begin to do His will in our lives.
You may ask why we need such picturesque devotions which, to some, seem to smack of fairy tales and children’s stories. We need them because we are human. To ponder something at once fantastic and yet attainable raises our minds and strengthens our faith that this world we live in is not the only one, and is far from the best one available. Devotions, such as Mary, Undoer of Knots, take the everyday difficulties of the human experience and transform them into opportunities to grow closer to our Creator and to our goal of heaven.
“Mary, Undoer of Knots, dearest Mother, I thank you for undoing the knots in my life. Wrap me in your mantle of love, keep me under your protection, enlighten me with your peace!”