The Promise is to You

Lessons from Our Lady, Undoer of Knots

One of Pope Francis’ favorite devotions is to Our Lady, Undoer of KnotsOur Lady, Undoer of Knots. When he was studying in Germany many years ago he saw a painting of her in the Church of St. Peter in Perlack. He brought a copy of it back to Argentina and the devotion spread. It is based on the writings of St. Irenaeus, a bishop and Church Father who was martyred in 202. St. Irenaeus wrote, “Eve, by her disobedience, tied the knot of disgrace for the human race; whereas Mary, by her obedience, undid it.” Many people have received resolution to problems of sin, illness, difficult relationships, family problems, job issues and more when they have asked Mary to untangle those “knots” in their lives.

When I first learned about this devotion a couple years ago, I had just begun crocheting my first afghan. Previously I’d made some scarves and a baby blanket, but nothing nearly as large as an afghan. I composed a simple wave pattern that didn’t require counting stitches after the first few rows. I figured it would take about two years to finish; considering that I just started the third of seven skeins of yarn, though, it’ll be more like seven years.

One reason it’s taken longer is that I initially misjudged the height of some of the stitches. I used double stitches where I should’ve used single stitches, and my afghan was becoming V-shaped. There was no way to fix it without removing all those rows. I essentially had to start over.

At the same time, I was struggling with a lot of difficulties in the rest of my life. I decided to pray the novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots in the hope that she would help me quickly. I gave her a long list of prayer intentions.

On the last day of the novena, my prayers still weren’t answered. None of the situations had been resolved. Some were even messier. Sadly I sat down to pray the last day’s prayers. I clicked on an audio Rosary online and picked up my V-shaped afghan. At least I could mindlessly unravel the botched rows while I prayed.

There was no miracle when the Rosary ended. Just a ball of yarn in my hands. I had pulled out the last stitches as I had finished the novena. I hadn’t even realized that my crocheted mess was at an end until then; I had been focused on praying.

Disappointed, I kept moving forward one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time, working toward resolving the difficult situations I’d prayed for. Several days later I realized that much of the anxiety I’d had was gone. I was moving forward in a more detached manner, knowing that I was doing what I could and the rest was in Jesus’ and Mary’s hands.

Eventually I picked up my afghan again. I began slowly adding stitches one at a time until they added up to a row. I added another row on top of it and then another, being careful to only use single stitches on the ends. The rows stayed straight. I continued stitching until I finished that ball of yarn. Then I wove in another skein and kept going. Soon I’d forgotten about the botched rows.

I forgot about the novena, too. That is, until a year later when I was invited to pray it again. I tried to remember what I’d first prayed for. I knew I’d made a long list of important prayer intentions, but I couldn’t remember specifically what any of them were. All of them had been resolved! Just as the knots had come out of the yarn when the novena ended, Mary had worked out the knots in my life without me even noticing.

Crocheted afghan April 2015cMy afghan-in-progress caught my eye again today when I was praying about my overflowing to-do list. I’d felt discouraged because even though I was getting important things done, the list did not seem to shrink. As I prayed, I remembered how slowly my afghan has grown: one stitch at a time. That’s the only way it can grow. But because it has grown one stitch at a time, it is big enough now to already keep me warm while I work on it.

So it is with life. When we submit our needs to Jesus, particularly through Mary’s intercession, we receive the grace we need though we may not realize it at the time. We can keep moving forward with confidence. God makes “everything beautiful in its time” (Eccles 3:11). And one day we won’t even remember the struggles as we enjoy the answers to our prayers.

Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, pray for us.

For more information and the prayers for this novena, click here.

By Christy Whiting, Upper Room Director.

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