Our Lady, Knots, and Discernment

A.M.D.G.
J.M.J.
A.T.C.

Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in aeternum! Amen.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us!

Saturday of the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time (Optional Memorial of Our Lady on Saturday)

Oh, and did I mention that it is also the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the 1962 Missale Romanum?!?!?!  ‘Cause it is!!!! *traddy Catholic girl SQUEEEEE*

Sorry, I forgot myself for a moment.

Who am I kidding, I never remembered to begin with!

The above image of Our Lady is one of my favorites because, as is obvious, it shows her untying knots.  The meaning of her untying knots is derived from what Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, in his Adversus haereses that

… the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.
(Adversus haereses Book III, Chapter 22)

 That is, all the sins and proclivities to sin that had been begun in the actions of Eve were reversed by the actions of Our Lady which pretty much began at her conception without original sin and really started with her “Fiat” to the Archangel Gabriel when he told her that she would bear in her womb the promised Messiah. <—- if that was in any way heretical or off-kilter, it was not done on purpose.  Something just seems off with that.

This is one of my favorites because, to me, it’s a reminder that there is no problem in my life that, if I give it to Mary, that she cannot take and turn into something better by the grace and providence of God.

This happened this week.

I’ll spare you the details because I prefer not to relive them in writing (Lord knows I’ll never forget them) but they were not pleasant at all and sadly, I have past experience with it.

Well, it was getting to me so I took it to the Lord and Our Lady.  I gave it all to them because I knew that they would make it better.

And they did.

I gave Mary a rope full of thick stubborn knots and she immediately got down to it.  The knots I did not think could be undone, she began to loosen and undo.  And she is still doing it.

Another one of the major knots that I have been giving Our Lady to undo is my discernment.

Now, I don’t see this knot as a bad knot but rather, I see it as a knot that when undone or at least loosened a great deal will allow me to better do the will of God.

The thing with this knot is that it isn’t just one piece of string or rope but perhaps about two or three pieces of string twisted and knotted up.  If you have ever had a knot comprised of several separate pieces of string then you know that it can be a pain to undo and can wear on your patience.

Those separate pieces of string are the different possibilities: religious life, consecrated virginity, and marriage.

Each are intrinsically beautiful vocations that have their own unique charisms but all have the same end: uniting the soul with God in Heaven.

It’s choosing/discerning between three goods.  It’s not even like I am choosing the good from the bad.  That’s what can make it so difficult.

Another thing that makes it interesting is that I lived in a religious community for a period of time.  I spent time with sisters.  I worked with sisters.  I have lived with sisters.  I have prayed with sisters.  I have hung out with sisters.  I have developed relationships with sisters.

I will never truly regret my time spent in community because I learned things about myself that I did not know before I entered in September.

But that adds some “difficulties” to my further discernment in that there were aspects of my life in the community that I absolutely loved and would have loved to do for the rest of my life.

But there were things that just were not clicking.

Two of those things (not going to list them all) is the living in common and the poverty.

Some may be surprised but I am a major introvert; I am an ISTJ on the Meyers-Briggs test.   I enjoy being with people but there are times when I find being in large groups where I get kinda anxious and it can even get exhausting.

When I started living in common, I knew it was going to be a struggle but I thought I would get used to it.  As time went on, I began to realize that maybe I was not called to live life in common.  It was not anything against any of the sisters.  It’s just that I was beginning to think that maybe common life is not an intrinsic part of my vocation.

It’s not that I am this radical loner where I am appalled by being with other people; it’s just that common life is not for me.  Ask any of my friends, I love being with people but there are times when I need to be on my own.  I need time to recharge and recollect.  I have my extroverted periods and I have my introspective periods.  And I tried to live it but it never “clicked” and I was not about to force it for the sake of appearances or the approval of others.  If it was not going to work, it was not going to work.

Now for the poverty.

I do not see what is wrong for someone to be independent and self-sustaining.  I do not see what is wrong with earning and having money.  I do not see what is wrong with having things.

And really, there is nothing wrong with any of that so long as it does not become excessive and ultimately a detriment to the person’s well-being.  I guess a better way to put it is I do not think that serving the Lord and His Church is contingent on whether I own things or not.  I have no problem with living a simple life.  In fact, that is to what I aspire.  I mean, I will have my geek stuff and my God stuff but you won’t see me driving a ritzy (or foreign) car.  You won’t see me spending gobs of money on jewelry or clothes.  Simple clothes does not have to be synonymous with frumpy and unflattering as some have thought.  Besides, how can one get vocations if one is walking around looking unkempt.  Joy is what attracts … looking presentable helps.  Humanity is very visual whether he means to be.

I guess my “issue” arose when I see diocesan priests, married persons, single persons, and consecrated virgins living a life dedicated to the Lord and His Church without making a vow of poverty.  They are just as dedicated to the Lord as religious who make the vow of poverty.

Perhaps it’s just not a part of my vocation.  That does not mean that those called to take that vow are better or inferior to me or others who do not, it’s just that some are called and others are not.  I do not think that I am.

Those reasons (among quite a few others) is why I am beginning to feel quite attracted to consecrated virginity.  I will be dedicated to the Church in a special way, I will still be in the world (but not of the world), and I will be espoused to Christ.

I know I want to dedicate my life to the Church.  I have known that for a very very long time.  That has NEVER been a question in my mind.  Kinda why I studied Theology instead of anything else.  Kinda why I am going for my MA in Theology this Fall (hear me, O Lord).  Yeah, kinda why I am a Church nerd.

I know I am completely and totally in love with Christ.  I look up at Him at the elevations at Mass and I fall for Him all over again.  He loves me completely, totally, and uniquely.  I can only hope to touch that love so as to share it with others so that they can in turn grow to love Him.  I walk into church and my eyes fall on the tabernacle and I smile.  I genuflect to Him and I smile at Him and He smiles back.  I know for a fact that He is.  No question.  Anytime you walk into church to see Him He smiles at you … because He loves you individually.  I see Him in the crucifix around my neck.  I kiss Him quite a few times during the day (His feet are worn down after years of me doing this and rubbing His feet when I need help) along with my other medals (Michael and Aloysius get special attention)  Some girls have a picture of their guy in a frame on their dresser and/or in a locket around their neck.  I have my Guy right next to me as I get ready for the day at my dressing table and right next to my bed.  I have Him around my neck.  I have a picture of Him on my cell phone so that whenever I open it, I see Him and I feel peace because it reminds me that He is with me always.  All of those things remind me that He is always with me and that He will always love me, no matter what.  What more could a lady want?

I know a special part of my vocation is to be dedicated to praying, offering sacrifices for, and serving/assisting in one way or another the Lord’s priests.  I have known that since I was in college.  It was reinforced when I began to participate in Opus Sanctorum Angelorum’s Crusade for Priests (I am still awaiting my adoptees for this year!).  It was around that time that I began to realize that a major part of my vocation is to be a spiritual mother for priests.  With that in mind, I pray everyday for priests and I offer sacrifices for them, their perserverance in their vocation, and the sanctification of their work.  I also have my list of a few particular priests who mean a lot to me in one way or another for whom I pray and offer sacrifices in particular.  Yeah, it keeps me busy but I love doing it.  I seems so right.

Yeah, so Imma have fun over the next few years or so.  I am going to treat my time in grad school as a time for discernment.  I won’t be pressured to decide but it will also give me time to establish myself in one way or another.  I must get my feet wet.

A dear priest-friend has strongly suggested that I go on retreat.  I know I need it but it was good to hear it suggested from someone other than me.  I am just sad that Opus Sanctorum Angelorum does not have any more retreats in Michigan for the year (I missed the last one by a week).  The interesting thing was that I was looking at their retreats in passing (just an idea) and then he brings it up today.  Maybe the Lord is trying to say something.  Besides, the Michigan ones are at Maryville Retreat Center which is owned by my dear Felicians and it’s a beautiful place!  And the program for the retreats is just what I want/need.

All right, I have to get ready for bed.  Going to 10am Mass to support mah chilluns from VBS this week!

OH!  I have to share this!  It touched mah heart and made my week so much better!  One of my kids made me a glow-in-the-dark cross and wrote me the sweetest ‘thank you’ note!  I have the note next to my bed and I am going to hang the cross somewhere it will get enough light that when the lights go out, it will glow.  It was sooooooooo darling!  She was such a sweetheart to do that!  I had such a wonderful group of kids this year!

Along with supporting my chilluns, there is another reason for going to an earlier Mass.  And just so you know, I will not do the song and dance at Mass, it was AWKWARD enough doing them at the VBS Mass yesterday. if God wanted us to spin in our seats, He would have made space between pews wider.  Maybe that was just the trad in me coming out.  Well, she ain’t going anywhere.

Anywho, the other reason is because one of our associates (“parochial vicars” in canon law speak) is moving onto a new assignment.  I am very happy for him because he is an excellent priest who loves the Lord, His Church and her people (and he may know how to ‘party like it’s 1962′ … just sayin’).  But I am also sad because of those very reasons.  Any parish to which he is assigned is very lucky to have him.  We were immensely blessed to have him for the year we did though a great many people are sad that it was not for longer, I am one of them.  Thank the Lord for social networking and podcasts.  His homilies are excellent and thank the Lord once more that he has a blog.

All right, now I am really off to bed.  Still have to pray my Office and such before hitting the hay.  After Mass and the farewell party, we are going to my aunt and uncle’s house for an afternoon swim.  I have not swum in a few weeks and I hope it’s at least warm and sunny.  My arms got a mess of color this week from all the outdoor VBS-ing I did with the kids but other parts of me are still blindingly pale.  I picked out a Michigan-made pale ale for my mother and I to try while putzing in the pool.

Have a nice night!

-Allie

About Ms. Allie

I am a Catholic young woman who works as a Theology teacher at a Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of the Detroit. In Spring of 2015, I graduated with an MA in Theology with a concentration in Systematic Theology. My MA thesis was titled: "Mary as Woman of the Eucharist in the Theology of Pope Saint John Paul II." I also hold a BA in Theology (with a dabbling in Philosophy) and is a member of Theta Alpha Kappa (θΑΚ), the National Theology/Religious Studies Honor Society. Prayers are appreciated.
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One Response to Our Lady, Knots, and Discernment

  1. circlecitadel says:

    “Something just seems off with that.” –Probably where you say “which pretty much began at her conception,” but then correct yourself with “[But it] really started with her ‘Fiat.’ ” I think it’s a bit of hair splitting though.

    I never knew Our Lady was also known as an undoer of knots. That’s really cool.

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