GUEST COLUMNIST | 'Our Lady Undoer of Knots, help me'

Theresa M. Tighe

For more than three months, since Michael Brown died, the St. Louis region has been filled with fear and anger, and sometimes violence.

Many say that peaceful protests are called for. Some say protests give thugs cover to loot and burn and costs the area jobs and income. Some say the police shoot first and ask questions later. One friend, a policeman's daughter, says calmly that no policeman she has ever known got up in the morning and said, "I'm going to kill someone today."

I stress calmly because so many opinions are rage-filled shouts. Maybe, because these issues hit our core, the shouting is part of the healing -- if we can only listen to each other.

I don't say much. My heart and mind are tied in knots. Sometimes, the knot in my stomach hurts.

So, I pray to Mary in her role as Our Lady, Undoer of Knots. In that role, Mary untangles seemingly intractable problems. Pope Francis takes his to her.

Heart and soul, I come firmly down on the side of some of what both camps -- police and protesters -- say. It's an inflammatory label. Both groups contain many people with many different opinions, some of them very sympathetic to their supposed foes.

One of my nephews is African-American. I pray daily that he won't be racially profiled, frisked and ordered to lay on the ground.

But four African-American teenagers once circled me and dared me to step forward. When I made eye contact, one of them softened and let me pass. Maybe I reminded him of his grandmother. But now I fear groups of black teenagers.

The devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots is theologically sound and touches souls with its very human imagery. Fear, anger and prejudice killed Mary's son. Prejudice cuts both ways. I think she will help us with these knots.

When I pray through Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, I think of my mother untangling my hair when I was a child. In the second century. St. Ireneus, bishop and martyr, wrote, "The knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by Mary's obedience."

Since the 18th Century pilgrims have come to pray before her portrait in the St. Peter am Perlach Church in Augsburg, Germany.

In the picture, she holds a knotted white wedding ribbon. The family of a couple who prayed successfully to her to save their marriage commissioned it. At the time, bridesmaids wrapped a strand of white ribbon around the newlywed's hands to symbolize their unity and the start of a new family.

Whether we like it or not, the people of the St. Louis region are a family. Like the parents in a bitter divorce, we must find a way.

Before he was pope, Pope Francis saw the portrait of Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, was inspired, and spread the devotion in Latin America. She was nearly unheard of here, until as Pope, he mentioned her. Now religious shops have trouble keeping her novenas in stock, a testimony to her power.

An Internet search for Our Lady, Undoer of Knots or Untier of Knots returns almost 89,000 sites. Pope Francis has written a prayer to her. There are several novenas.

I simply say: "Our Lady, Undoer of Knots help me." And she does.

Tighe is a veteran features and news reporter with more than 25 years experience. She attends St. James the Greater Church in Dogtown and St. Vincent de Paul Church in Soulard.


Tighe is a veteran features and news reporter with more than 25 years experience. She attends St. James the Greater Church in Dogtown and St. Vincent de Paul Church in Soulard.


 

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