Sin's Knotty Entanglements

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On the Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost and the ferial days following it, we pray:

Absolve, quaesumus Domine,
tuorum delicta populorum:
ut a peccatorum nexibus,
quae pro nostra fragilitate contraximus,
tua benignitate liberemur.

Absolve, Thy people from their transgressions,
we beseech Thee, O Lord,
so that through Thy goodness,
we may be set free from the entanglements of those sins
which in our weakness we have committed.

The verb, absolvo, can mean to loosen. The verb, contraho, can mean, among other things, to draw together tightly. Understood in this way, the Collect presents an astute psychology of sin. Sin is a knotty business, leading to hopelessly complex entanglements.

One better understands the old German devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Looser of Knots (Maria Knotenlöserin) in the light of the Church's prayer. There are, I think, in every life, sinful entanglements that only the patient and gentle hands of the Immaculate Virgin Mary can loosen.


I am studying Mariology this semester and repeatedly we also see the Church Fathers use the term "untied the knot" in reference to Mary: ie it was Mary who, through her obedience, untied the knot of Eve's disobedience.

We had to write a paper about how Mary is the "knot" that ties the Old and New Testaments together...that phrase came from Pope Benedict in Daughter Zion...

The more I study Mary, the more the devotion to Our Lady Undoer of Knots makes sense.

Thank you for reminding me of these prayers. I do have them and need them at this time for someone I'm praying for. Thanks

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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