Mary as ‘the loosener of knots’ Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

This column is the bishop's communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends,

Even as we come upon the last days and hours of this month of October, I cannot fail to take a few moments to reflect upon the woman we've been honoring in a special way -- Mary, the mother of Jesus, and our mother.

Somehow my devotion to, and love for, our Blessed Mother has been deepened even more this month. Of course, I know exactly how that is -- in the supernatural realm of faith, it's quite "natural," because God always desires that we should grow deeper in faith, stronger in hope, more fervent in love. And what God desires, Mary desires, too.

Growth in devotion to Mary

On a human level, too, it should be no surprise that I've grown in my devotion to Mary this month in that I was able to experience what I perceived to be the very deep -- almost mystical -- devotion of our Holy Father Pope Francis to the Blessed Mother.

Now, of course we have seen just how much Pope Benedict is also devoted to Mary, and there can be no doubt of that, but it was moving to watch Pope Francis earlier this month, especially to see him as he seemed barely able to hold himself back from running to greet the statue of Our Lady of Fatima that came to St. Peter's Square a few Saturdays ago.

At that prayer gathering, the Holy Father called to mind once again one of his favorite "images" and aspects of the Blessed Mother -- Mary as "the loosener of knots." This particular description of Mary is one that can generally be called "lesser-known," and in this day, at this time, the Holy Father is calling us to consider it.

In doing so, he harkens back to the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, as well as to the source that the Council Fathers used -- St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies: Bk III, Ch. 22, Para. 4). Mary the loosener of knots has been a helpful reflection for me, and (if the recommendation of Pope Francis isn't enough!) I'd like to take a few moments here to recommend the image to you.

Faith of Mary loosens knots

The Holy Father emphasized that it is the faith of Mary that serves to loosen knots -- the knots that result from sin. Sin is real, and it has real and harmful effects. These effects can be seen as knots -- both in our own lives, but also on the larger level of humanity.

"The fall," a result of an act of disobedience to God's will which disrupted the perfect harmony God desired for mankind, created a knot so great in mankind's relationship to God that the only possible way of undoing it would be to do precisely the opposite -- for there to be a perfect act of obedience to God's will. That act of obedience began with the "yes" of Mary (the new Eve), and was brought to completion by the obedience of Jesus (the new Adam).

Thus it is that "the knot of Eve's disobedience was undone by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith," Pope Francis said, quoting St. Irenaeus.

Without getting too far off track, it is another interesting point to note St. Irenaeus' description of Eve as a virgin also, "for in Paradise they were both naked, and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25), inasmuch as they, having been created a short time previously, had no understanding of the procreation of children: for it was necessary that they should first come to adult age, and then multiply from that time onward . . . (Ad. Haer. III 22,4)."

Impact on our day-to-day lives

This notion of Mary, though, as the loosener, and Jesus as the ultimate untier of the knots tied by disobedience is, of course, the Good News of our salvation! But we shouldn't fail to recognize the impact that it has on every single aspect of our day-to-day lives.

How many knots are created by our own failings -- knots both in our relationship to God and in our relationships with one another? And isn't it the case that it seems like these knots can sometimes seem impossible to untangle -- so much so that they often result in even greater tangles and more complications? How often is the temptation there simply to leave behind a relationship or a situation which seems hopelessly tangled?

To this reality, and especially as it regards our relationship with God Himself, Pope Francis called us to remember, "but we know one thing: nothing is impossible for God's mercy! Even the most tangled knots are loosened by his grace. And Mary, whose 'yes' opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that he can untangle the knots of our soul by his fatherly mercy."

Mary is ready to help us

The knots which disrupt and complicate and cause pain in our lives can indeed be undone. Indeed it is the Lord's constant desire that these knots be undone, and Mary is our shining example of faith and is always ready to be our help in loosening the various knots, so that our relationship with the Father might be set right again.

Do not hesitate to turn to Mary, seeking her assistance and her example of faith. Do not hesitate to ask her help in loosening the various knots in your lives, and recalling that her steadfast obedience to the plan of God is our best way forward.

Let's redouble our efforts to foster devotion to the Blessed Mother, in our own lives, in our families, and in our communities. Let's rededicate ourselves to Mary, the loosener of knots, whose "yes" leads us always to Jesus.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may God continue to bless each one of you! Praised be Jesus Christ!