Friday, September 27, 2013

The Real Knot

A blog reader writes ...

Kevin, thank you for posting on Our Lady, Untier of Knots. If you have any more stories about Her help in the future, please let us know. I, alas, have a plenitude of knots that need loosening - or even cutting a-la Alexander the Great.

I am in the middle of a novena to Our Lady, Untier of Knots.  What has struck me so far is the prayer of Day Three ...

Help me now to forgive all the persons who consciously or unconsciously provoked this knot. Give me, also, the grace to forgive myself for having provoked this knot. Only in this way can You undo it. Before You, dearest Mother, and in the name of Your Son Jesus, my Savior, who has suffered so many offenses, having been granted forgiveness, I now forgive these persons [mention their names here] and myself, forever. Thank you, Mary, Undoer of Knots for undoing the knot of rancor in my heart and the knot which I now present to you. Amen. 

Our worst problems are usually interior problems.  They may have external embodiments, but they grow out of the knot of sin and grace within us.  The harder we tug at either end of the not, the tighter it gets.  Only a patient loosening of the strands does the trick.

Alexander cuts the Gordian Knot
Of course one can always cut a knot, as did Alexander the Great.  But the problem is you cut off the thread of grace along with the thread of sin.  Someone I know did just that - cutting a person and a situation out completely in order to avoid sin, and at the same time cutting the life-line -a life-line to an entirely new world that was opening up, a world that could have been cultivated apart from the sin.

But we don't want to see that.  We don't want to take the time to unravel the knot.  For one thing, it involves forgiveness as well as admitting to ourselves the wrong part we've played and the "rancor in my heart" that helped entangle the situation.

I have always found, when I've struggled with forgiving someone, that the hardest thing is to own up to my own role in the harm that was done, and usually that role is not minimal.  And once I take responsibility for my own wrongdoing, I find the knot of resentment is suddenly loosed - and I'm free.  How can we hold grudges against others when we know the miserable things we're capable of, and the miserable things we do?  And when we know the great mixture of good and bad that we all are, and the great struggle that goes on even within the best of us?

The whole Christian life entails the cultivation of the Spiritual Seed and the weeding out of the germ of corruption - the loosening and untangling of the thread of grace from the competing thread of sin that binds and suffocates it.  We are given the Kingdom, and it is our job to follow that thin and frayed string that leads us there.

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