January 17, 2017

First Enthronement of Mary, Undoer of Knots in the U.S.A.

Rosie and Henry Aguilar of Del Rio, TX met with Archbishop Patrick Flores of the Archdiocese of San Antonio in 2003, to request permission to start a devotion to Mary, Untier/Undoer of Knots at St. Joseph Church in Del Rio.  Before granting permission, Archbishop Flores first contacted the Archbishop of Buenos Aires (who happened to also be a cardinal) for more information on the devotion.  The Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenos Aires at the time was Jorge Bergoglio - the chief promoter of Mary, Undoer of Knots and the future Pope Francis! 

After permission to help spread the devotion was granted by Archbishop Patrick Flores, the pastor of St. Joseph's, Fr. Ramiro Cortez, O.M.I. held a mass of enthronement for the Mary, Untier of Knots image donated by devotees in Argentina.  

A portion of the handout from the mass of enthronement ... celebrating the special day and letting parishioners know that St. Joseph's was the first church in the U.S. to embrace and promote the devotion to Mary, Untier of Knots.

Mary, Undoer of Knots at St. Joseph Church in Del Rio, TX

If you would like to learn more about the first church-sponsored devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots in the U.S., please contact Rosie through St. Joseph's Church in Del Rio, TX at 830-775-4753.

Letter From Archbishop Patrick Flores Giving Support
to the Mary, Untier of Knots Devotion in Del Rio - 2003

Mary, Undoer of Knots - a Special Devotion in Del Rio
Today's Catholic - February 5, 2016

January 10, 2017

Mary, Undoer of Knots - A Special Madonna of Germany

Mary, Undoer of Knots
by Johann Schmidtner (c. 1700)
I am a Mom to three adult sons.  I can’t help but wonder sometimes … how will my boys fare due to the mothering I have offered them?  Will they be o.k.?  Have my shortcomings harmed them in any way? 

A Comforting Devotion
With these thoughts of doubt parked in the back of my mind, one day I overheard a friend share about a growing devotion to “Mary, Undoer of Knots,” a devotion based on the concept that Mary, the mother of Christ, is able to undo painful “knots” we have created in life by praying for us.  I felt very drawn to this notion.  So, I decided to try out a novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots, asking her to pray for my sons - that any faults I may have made as a mother might be rectified.  I must say, a curious feeling of peace came over me during the novena.  Later, I tried another novena to this Madonna, and again, I felt mysteriously calm, confident that all would be well.  I was won over.  

A Saint Irenaeus Parallel 
With an increased curiosity, I did a bit more digging and delving to learn more about the background of Mary, Undoer of Knots.  I learned that the devotion stems from a painting found in a Bavarian Catholic Church.  It was painted sometime near 1700 by the German artist, Johann Georg Schmidtner.  Schmidtner’s unique portrayal of Mary may have been inspired by some words written by Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (d. 202):

… the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary.

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
(Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 22)

Schmidtner's painting is very similar to this concept: the Blessed Mother is holding a long ribbon of knots, gently untying one knot at a time.  People began to appreciate this idea of Mary, through prayer, undoing painful and difficult knots in our lives.  Prayers were prayed and answered, miracles were reported, and a fondness for Mary, Undoer of Knots slowly spread.

St. Peter Am Perlach
Church of Saint Peter am Perlach
The church holding this beautiful painting is called St. Peter am Perlach.  The “am Perlach” part is in reference to a tall tower adjacent to the church (Perlach Tower).  The church is located in Augsburg, Germany, a small city about 35 miles northwest of Munich.  Although St. Peter am Perlach has not been an active parish for 200 years, there is a group of about 22 people who work to keep the church in good condition and open to visitors.  There is no official feast day of Mary, Undoer of Knots (in German, Maria Knotenl√∂serin), however, on December 8, many Catholics of Augsburg pay special honor to both the Immaculate Conception and Mary, Undoer of Knots.

No matter what uncomfortable knots you have managed to create in your life, try turning to Mary and see if her prayers will help undo your bonds.  I decided to purchase a plaque with the tender image of Mary, Undoer of Knots to hang in my home as a peaceful reminder, for I’m quite sure that I’ll be needing help with many more knots that need to be undone in the future!
Tradition of Prayer Ropes

A Novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots
There is a very pretty and elaborate novena that a Dr. Suzel Frem Bourgerie has written in honor of Mary, Undoer of Knots; however, it not a one-and-only-approved devotion.  And, it is not a novena that stems from St. Peter am Perlach. So, it is important to remember that it is not necessary to follow one formula when praying  a heartfelt plea is the most important part of prayer. If you like elegant novenas, try Dr. Suzel's!  However, if you prefer something a bit simpler, try the homemade novena idea below (or come up with your own!):  

Make (or buy) a chaplet/prayer rope by threading 33 beads or tying 33 knots onto a piece of string (33 symbolizing the age of Christ when he died), or use the beads of a rosary.  In your heart, share your “knot” with Jesus and Mary.  On each bead/knot of the prayer rope/rosary say:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Mary, Undoer of Knots, please pray for me.

 Say this sequence of prayers once a day for nine days.

Extra ...
The Pope on Real Prayer

Martin Ziegelmayr, Administrator of St. Peter am Perlach, Augsburg, Germany               

January 06, 2017

Words of Mary

The life of Mary has had such a powerful influence among centuries of Catholics. Truly, so many feel a strong bond and special protection with her.  It is intriguing to note, however, that she does not appear all that frequently within the Bible. Matthew makes quick reference to her for some key occasions surrounding the birth of Christ, and Mark barely skims over her existence.  Luke and John, however, offer a few deeper insights into this beautiful mother of God.  These two gospel writers have shared with Christians a handful of specific words that Mary actually spoke.  With just a bit of pondering over these few recorded words of Mary, Bible readers can more deeply understand this loving mother and then hopefully reflect upon the quality of their spiritual growth.  Very interestingly, the first recorded quote of Mary includes words of doubt:

“How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1: 34)

 Mary had just been told by the angel Gabriel that she was soon to be with child, that she would become the mother of a divine Son.  Mary was clearly stunned.  She could not comprehend the ability to have a child without having had a husband.  This quote can bring some relief to many.  On one hand, it is important to trust God ― completely.  Many earnestly strive to do just that, however, when something bewildering and unexpected happens, our minds frequently go immediately to how or why.   It is comforting to know that our heavenly mother also felt, at least on one occasion, compelled to question a confusing situation, even in response to an archangel!  After Gabriel’s assuring explanation, Mary then fully accepted what was being asked of her:

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  (Luke 1: 38)

This quote can offer encouragement to let the hows and whys in life shift more readily toward O.K.s, to accept whatever God wills of us.  We don’t have to be instantly all-knowing and understanding; perhaps a little curiosity is o.k., but ultimately, whether we are given an explanation or not, we must yield to His will, even if the circumstances are shocking or uncomfortable.  Perhaps our hearts don’t change gears to comply with God’s desires as quickly as Mary’s did, but her example can inspire us to try.

Shortly after, Mary visited her relative Elizabeth, who greeted her with an overwhelming comprehension of Mary’s blessedness.  Mary reacted to the remarkable greeting with the most words ever recorded on her behalf.  The several words that Mary spoke on this occasion were very prayer-like, offering tremendous praise to God.  This prayer has become known as the Magnificat (Latin for “magnifies”), the first word in the Latin version of the prayer: 

“My soul magnifies the Lord,  (In Latin:  Magnificat anima mea Dominum,)
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he had looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; 
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors, 
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.”   (Luke 1: 46-55)

This striking prayer of Mary poetically reminds us of God’s powerful, caring, and perfect ways.   These particular words of Mary, the Magnificat, can be the perfect prayer to read and re-read during times of challenge and times of joy.

Mary’s next spoken expression takes Bible readers to years later, when Jesus was a twelve-year-old boy.  The small family had just attended the Passover Feast in Jerusalem when Mary and Joseph lost track of their son among the crowds on their way home.  After searching for three terrifying days, they found him in the Temple back in Jerusalem and Mary said:

Child, why have you treated us like this?  Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”  (Luke 2: 48)

 Jesus’ response was simple: he was in the Lord’s house.  Didn’t they know?  Mary’s yielding to anxiety is thought-provoking ― and natural for humans.  Her quiet reaction to Jesus’ response, however, adds something powerful to her words.  Mary responded to her Son with reflection and wonder.  She seemed to let go of her nervousness and mulled the events over in her heart.  This example can hopefully hearten Christians to let go of our own worries a bit quicker.  To do what needs to be done, but avoid clinging to feelings of uneasiness for extended stretches of time ― especially if the crisis is over!  Rather, pause, and quietly reflect for a moment. Let your heart wonder.    

To find Mary’s last two spoken phrases, we go to John’s Gospel.  Early on in the Gospel, shortly after the first apostles had been selected, Jesus, the apostles and his mother attended a wedding in Cana.  Mary noticed a problem and said to her Son: 

“They have no wine.” (John 2: 3)

 This concern for the wedding couple, over something as simple as a lack of wine, shows a tremendous sense of care.  That Mary could fret and express a desire for help from her son illustrates her willingness to notice others’ problems and bring them to Jesus.  Interestingly, Jesus’ reaction appears somewhat disinterested, that the problem was not such a big deal.  Yet, he still arranged for the wine to be miraculously replenished, seemingly to please his mother more than the newly married couple.  Meditating upon this event can foster the belief that, Jesus more than likely still desires to please His mother.  This interaction offers strong incentive to turn to both with our troubles.  We can pray directly to Jesus, but it doesn’t hurt to ask Mary for her involvement as well, for chances are she will bring our problems to Jesus ― just as she did for the newly married couple in Cana. Maybe it’s comparable to calling someone on the phone and sending them an e-mail message.  The receiver receives the message/request in two different ways, perhaps feeling a stronger appeal. 

The last phrase of Mary is the most profound of all.  It is a simple, yet impactive reminder of who is Lord.  Still at the wedding celebration in Cana, but before Jesus’ miracle, it seemed that Mary instinctively knew that her Son was about to somehow assist the married couple.  So, she urged the servants to:

“Do whatever he tells you.”  (John 2: 5)

That these are the last recorded words of Mary is significant.  The last impression of her spoken desires and encouragement are perfect.  Yes, she can help, she can speak to her son on our behalf, she can pray for us, she can make a difference, but she insists that we must do whatever Jesus desires of us.  It seems fitting that her final spoken message to humanity encourages one of the very basic tenets of our faith: to do whatever Jesus wills of us.

*The New Revised Standard Version Bible was used for the quotes.

The Catholic Comparative New Testament.  New York, NY:  Oxford University Press, 2005.

 The New Dictionary Concordance to the New American Bible.  Charlotte, NC:  C.D. Stampley Enterprises, Inc., 1970.

 The New American Bible for Catholics.  Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 1991.


January 03, 2017

Mary - Inspiration to Ponder and Reflect

The Adoration Of The Shepherds
by Guido Reni (1575-1642)
I find intriguing the smattering of times the Bible mentions how Mary pondered or reflected upon some event or another.  I find Mary to be an inspiration to think before talking ... to follow hers example of pondering, reflecting, and keeping things in my heart.

When the Angel Gabriel Appeared to Mary
But she (Mary) was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
- Luke 1:29

When the Shepherds Came to See the Baby Jesus
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.
- Luke 2:19

After Mary and Joseph Found the Boy Jesus in the Temple
He (Jesus) went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother (Mary) kept all these things in her heart.
- Luke 2:51

January 01, 2017

Steel Engravings From a 1800s Bible Honoring Mary, the Blessed Mother

Some sweet engravings from my husband's family's 1800s Bible honoring Mary as the Mother of God ...

Mary, Jesus, Little John the Baptist and Some Angels

St. Luke the Evangelist Painting a Portrait of Mary

Our Beautiful 1800s Bible

I couldn't find a copyright page, but the Matrimony Page (showing the names of the witnesses)
shows that the Bible was inscribed in 1899.

It holds 21 beautiful "Steel Engravings" (copied on paper pages of the Bible, of course)
along with many other illustrations.

Impressive Steel Buckles for Closing the Bible
The Full Matrimony Page

March 07, 2012

Returning For 2017 ... With a Few Additions!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses*, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us ...                       ~ Hebrews 12:1a

In 2017, I will be adding a few more touches to Bible Saints! 

The time has come to put the last touch on this scrapbook blog. Each saint of the Bible has been included in at least two postings ... and so I'm feeling that it's time to bring this project to a close.  To those who have followed along - thanks for your company!   To those visiting for the first time, please take a look at the names/labels to the right and click on the name of a saint or two that catches your interest! 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *
* “cloud of witnesses” - those who are already in heaven (CCC 2683)

March 04, 2012

Go Down Moses

Moses and Aaron Speaking to Pharaoh
by James Jacques Joseph Tissot
c. 1896-1902
Fun song ... A good one to teach a CCD class, or just to listen to!

Go Down Moses

Go down Moses
Way down in Egypt land
Tell old Pharaoh to Let My People Go!
Now when Israel was in Egypt land ... Let My People Go!
Oppressed so hard they could not stand ... Let My People Go!

So the Lord said: “Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land;
tell old Pharaoh to Let My People Go!”
So Moses went to Egypt land ... Let My People Go!
He made old Pharaoh understand ... Let My People Go!

Yes, the Lord said, “God down, Moses, way down in Egypt land;
tell old Pharaoh to Let My People Go!”
Thus spoke the Lord, bold Moses said, “Let My People Go!
If not I’ll smite your firstborn dead, Let My People Go!”

'Cause the Lord said, “Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land;
tell old Pharaoh to Let My People Go!”
“Tell old Pharaoh to Let My People Go!”

St. Moses is honored on September 4.
St. Aaron is honored on July 1. 


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