Today begins a special edition of the Novena of Novenas for Justice, Peace and Creation. This, the Fourth of the Nine, is dedicated to Our Lady Undoer of Knots and a patron of SoberCatholic and probably many of you, Matthew Talbot. It runs from July 17 to July 25, 2020.
I will not post this every day as the prayers and intentions are the same for each day. I’ll just leave it here for nine days; if I need to blog in the interim, I will just blog a reminder afterwards. For the background, please read this post (especially if you need to learn about who Bob Waldrop, the creator of this Novena, was, and why I am introducing it to you.) Or go here: A Novena of Novenas for Justice, Peace, & Creation.
Don’t worry if you jump in at some point later in the 81 days. To paraphrase Bob “just pick up whenever you happen to join in.”
AFTER THIS SENTENCE, THE WRITING IS ALL THAT OF BOB WALDROP, not me, Paulcoholic.
Begin each novena prayer with a time of quiet prayer. You may find it helpful to pray some repetitions of the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner), a decade of the Rosary, the Chaplet of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, or a time of spiritual reading or lectio divina that will prepare your mind and your heart for the prayer to come. This could be a time for a daily examen, where you consider your actions of the day and how they relate to God’s call in your life.”
General Intention: For all those pushed to the edges of human societies.
Fourth Work of Justice and Peace: Protect the poor and powerless — listen, learn, educate, organize, empower participation, and respect life from the moment of conception to the time of natural death.
Act of Caring for Creation: Commit! Accept personal responsibility to live your life so that your love for God manifests as you care for people, care for Creation, and have a care for the future
God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me.
+ Let us pray together in peace, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, help the helpless, strengthen the fearful, comfort the sorrowful, bring justice to the poor, peace to all nations, and solidarity among all peoples.
Give us strength to stand against the demonic powers which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Open our eyes to see the beauty, joy, redemption, and goodness which comes through obedience to your Son our Lord. Teach us to be a refuge of hope for all who are oppressed by injustice and violence.
Holy Mary, Undoer of Knots, full of God’s presence during the days of your life, you accepted with full humility the Father’s will, and the Devil was never capable to tie you around with his confusion. Once with your son you interceded for our difficulties, and, full of kindness and patience you gave us example of how to untie the knots of our life. And by remaining forever Our Mother, you put in order, and make clearer the ties that link us to the Lord.
Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life. You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of His children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the Evil One himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands, there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with your Son and my liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot. (Mention your petition here.)
Receive me into your hands and free me of the knots and confusion with which our enemy attacks. Through your grace, your intercession, and your example, deliver us from all evil, Our Lady, and untie the knots that prevent us from being united with God, so that we, free from sin and error, may find Him in all things, may have our hearts placed in Him, and may serve Him always in our brothers and sisters. Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me, Amen.
Matthew Talbot, you were born into poverty, among a marginalized people, and you went right to the edge as an alcoholic. In these times, the strong prey upon the weak, and violence, despair, alienation and oppression rule the hearts of many. We pray that your example of solidarity with the poor will inspire us to follow your path and open our hearts, minds, and homes to welcome those who are in need. Pray for all who are bound in addiction to money, power, violence, illicit sex, drugs, tobacco, or alcohol.
Lord, in your servant, Matt Talbot you have given us a wonderful example of triumph over addiction, of devotion to duty, and of lifelong reverence of the Holy Sacrament. May his life of prayer and penance give us courage to take up our crosses and follow in the footsteps of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We ask this through the same Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.”
Novena to St. John Chrysostom on behalf of the Bishops of the United States of America
Most Glorious and Venerable St. John Chrysostom,
Grace shining forth from your lips like a beacon
has illumined the universe.
It shows to the world the treasures of poverty;
it reveals to us the heights of humility.
Teaching us by your words, O Father John Chrysostom,
intercede before the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls!
Pray for the bishops of the United States of America,
who do not teach or practice the Catholic faith in its fullness,
that God will deliver them to orthodoxy,
and reform their ways of living,
so that as exemplars of orthopraxis, they will protect all life,
from the moment of conception to the time of natural death.
Teach them true solidarity with the poor, so that they
understand the consequences of their moral abandonment
of entire nations of human beings to a collective fate of cruelty and violence
because they were in the way of the American Empire and
its gluttonous lust for oil, supremacy, and blood.
As you refused to obey the aristocratic commands of your era,
help our bishops turn away from the political demands
that cause them to preach a false gospel of moral relativism regarding war and peace.
Having received divine grace from heaven,
with your mouth you teach all people to worship the Triune God.
Instruct our bishops with the wisdom of the Gospel,
so that they repent of their material cooperation with the objective evil of unjust war, and call all people, in authentic word and deed, to live in solidarity, peace, and justice.
All-blest and venerable St. John Chrysostom,
we praise you, for you are our teacher, revealing things divine!
Pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
O God, Who by the preaching and teaching of Saint John Chrysostom
has given us an example of fortitude in the face of persecution and political corruption,
grant that we who reverence his life and ministry may also imitate
his example of fidelity to wisdom, truth, justice, and beauty,
through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Our Father . . . Hail Mary… Glory be. . .
Thoughts for the journey.
Life is complicated. We often find ourselves “tied into knots” spiritually and emotionally. We get ourselves into situations that seem impossible to resolve.
We see this in the world around us. How can the situation in the Middle East ever resolve itself in peace and justice with respect for life for all people there, Arabs, Jews, Kurds, Persians, Yezidis, and many others. What about the Ukraine? In Asia, belligerence grows on the South China Sea. And then there’s North Korea and Iran and Vebenzuela and Central America.
Pope Francis has a strong devotion to Mary as the Undoer of Knots. For Pope Francis, the knots represent the sins that separate us from God, and Our Lady, in untying them, brings us closer to God. As the Pope has said: “Mary, whose ‘yes’ opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that he can untangle the knots of our soul by his fatherly mercy.”
Which is to say that the roots of the grave knotty crises of justice and peace lay within our own hearts. It’s tempting to wave that away as pious pap, but it’s the truth. The United States has the foreign and military policies that it does because we are the people that we are. If we were a better people, our government would have better policies. Since any one of us has little control over the government, but a lot of control over our own individual lives, the road to peace for me begins at 1524 NW 21 in Oklahoma City where I live. And also where you live.
What are the knots that bind you?
Let us recall the advice of Mary to the servants at the wedding at Cana? “Do whatever he tells you!” What does Jesus tell us to do? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, challenge unjust structures, speak out against oppression and hypocrisy, love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Pious phrases, to be sure, but if that’s all they are for us, then our faith is dead as the proverbial doornail. A living faith, begun in a life-changing encounter with the Risen Christ, nourished by Word, Community, and Eucharist, lives these phrases as daily realities. That’s the point, holiness! Orthopraxis — right action! Prudence — understanding the way towards the greatest good in every situation. Discernment — learned and practiced over time, so that we are able to make these phrases real by the way we live our lives.
Matthew Talbot was born in a slum in Dublin, Ireland in 1856, and died in the same town in 1925. His journey led into the dark depths of alcoholism. But by the grace of God, he experienced a true and lasting religious conversion, and spent his life among the poor, practicing evangelical poverty, working at labor jobs and giving most of his money as alms to the poor and for the benefit of missions.
He helped people find sobriety. His life was an evangelical witness to the power of Jesus to transform the most alienated & to bring new life to community in the midst of despair. He reminds us of the precarious place of those we push to the edge. Often they fall off, into the abyss. They are all around us, but we don’t notice them because they are really good at hiding from us. In their experience, to be noticed is to be abused, hurt, wounded. Their defenders are few, their enemies are many.
Through the example of Our Lady of Good Counsel and Matthew Talbot, we can learn to open our eyes and hearts to see the poor who are among us, and stop doing harm to them.
How is my life — how is your life — open to the reality that Christ is alive and he loves each and every one of us? Jesus gave his life to save us and our societies from sin and oppression. He was with the Matthew Talbot as he wrestled with the demons of addiction and then later when he lived a life of penance, reparation, and service. Jesus comforted him in life and when he died of a heart attack on a Dublin street while walking to Mass, Jesus was there. Christ is as real to us as he was to Matthew. Jesus lives today and is at our side every moment of every day to enlighten, strengthen, and free us. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, of our journeys of justice and peace.
Act of Caring for Creation:
Commit! Accept personal responsibility to live your life so that your love for God manifests as you care for people, care for Creation, and have a care for the future
We care for the planet, one decision at a time. Do you really need that plastic straw or that disposal styrofoam cup made by a noxious process that pollutes the planet and that does not decay or compost? Could you carry a cup with you for drinks away from home? Could you carry a little lunch kit, and use that instead of plastic serving ware? Could you carry reusable bags and thus avoid those ubiquitous plastic bags? Sure you could, but will you? It’s only a moderate discipline, it’s not anything like, you know, dying in a concentration camp or being lynched.
We are destroying the planet one bad decision at a time. We will redeem the planet one good — better — or best decision, at a time. Never think that what you do doesn’t matter, because it does. It matters to you personally, to your family, your neighbors, your community, your planet, and to your God. We start small or we don’t start at all. As you practice being kind to God’s Creation in small ways, you will find your heart and your mind and your will increasingly open to doing more. Before you know it, you could be air drying your laundry on a clothesline!