What about the Knots?: Weekly Message for 05-17-2022

Dear Friends,

From May Crowning to the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the weeks of May are filled with opportunities to learn about Mary, the mother of Jesus, or ask for her prayers of intercession. 

Understanding the Catholic teaching about Mary is often a challenge for non-Catholics. Volumes of books have been written on this subject. Hostility towards her is displayed all over the world by the many stories of vandalism and destruction of her image. This letter is not about defending dogma or doctrine or apologetics. It is about hope.

I was moved deeply this past week by the quiet yet overwhelmingly visible evidence of tens of thousands of pilgrims who have entrusted to Mary the longings of their hearts, begging for her to plead on their behalf before God.  I had the privilege of visiting a shrine in Cancun Mexico dedicated to Mary Undoer of Knots. This is the third shrine under this patronage I have visited in the world; one in America, one in Italy, and this one in Mexico. 

For those of you unfamiliar with this devotion, the pilgrim takes a white ribbon and writes the “knot” in their life or the life of a loved one and entrusts it to the Blessed Mother to untie through her communion with God. The pilgrim then ties the ribbon somewhere along their journey through the shrine. Each time, I have been overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of ribbons tied around the walkways, walls of the chapels, and prayer gardens.  Hundreds of thousands of ribbons fluttering in the wind.  

The shrine in Cancun designed a type of tunnel walk winding throughout the property ending at the Chapel. As I walked through the completely white ribbon-filled tunnels, my mother’s heart was moved by the seemingly insurmountable suffering and desperation inscribed on ribbon after ribbon. When all our human effort cannot bring about peace and resolution, we look to someone who can help. Mary, the mother of Jesus, willingly intercedes for her children on earth taking into her hands each knot-filled ribbon entrusted to her and presents them to our Lord to undo. 

What was unique at this shrine was what I call the chapel of gratitude. Winding through tunnels and canopies of white ribbons, the path opens up to a place where the walls were bursting with color. The thousands of colored ribbons set against the stark white of the rest of the grounds are breathtaking. Here, pilgrims tie colored ribbons to signify answered prayers once offered by a white ribbon. For the thousands of desperate pilgrims tying their white ribbons, this is a clear sign of hope that their prayers might be answered through Mary who is busy at work helping to undo the knots of her children on earth.  

The world is often a hostile place, but there are places in it where heaven and earth seem to meet. A pilgrimage to a Marian shrine such as one dedicated to Mary, Undoer of Knots is a great road trip for the month of May.

In the heart of Jesus,


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