Our Lady, Undoer of Knots welcomes all to Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities’ CEO, Chris Ice, Sister Sol Angel Diaz, and Kisha Thomas, Director of the Welcome Center show off Our Lady, Undoer of Knots Chapel, near the Welcome Center’s entrance. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph is dedicated to helping those in need and providing them with hope. They do this by helping them untie knots of worry, fear and desperation that keep them hopeless. But Catholic Charities staff doesn’t do it alone.

Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, is the patroness of the chapel near the entrance to the Welcome Center at their new offices on Blue Parkway. Walking through the chapel’s doorway, you enter a small room filled with warm light streaming though a stained-glass window. Then the eye is captured by the image of Our Lady, Undoer of Knots painted on the wall. Standing upon a serpent and surrounded by angels, she is untying knots in a ribbon of life as the Holy Spirit hovers overhead. The prayer of Pope Francis to her written on the wall accompanies the image.

There is a prie deux by a narrow table bearing a Bible and a cross, and across the room, two chairs for quiet conversation or consolation.

Every day, Catholic Charities CEO Chris Ice prays the pope’s prayer to Our Lady Undoer of Knots, as do many of the staffers and clients. Franciscan Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sol Angel Diaz, invites everyone who comes to the Welcome Center to come into the chapel and pray with her. She said that since the chapel was dedicated six weeks ago, no one has turned down her invitation to pray with her to Our Lady Undoer of Knots.

Ice said that in his prayer he asks Our Lady to “wrap her mantle around Catholic Charities,” and since there are knots in everybody’s life, “the devotion to Our Lady Undoer of Knots seems a worthy one.”

It’s a very old devotion, Sister Sol Angel added. “Saint Irenaeus began it in the second century.”

In Book III of his five-book work, Adversus haereses (Against Heresies), St. Irenaeus of Lyon offered a parallel between Eve and Mary, describing how “the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, thus did the virgin Mary set free through faith.”

Ice said that later the devotion went dormant for several hundred years, reviving in the 18th century.

The story tells of a painting commissioned to commemorate the reconciliation of a couple following the husband’s asking a local Jesuit priest, Father Jacob Rem, for help. The priest prayed to the Blessed Virgin and said: “In diesem religiösen Akt erhebe ich das Band der Ehe, löse alle Knoten und glätte es (In this religious act, I raise the bonds of matrimony, to untie all knots and smoothen them).” The couple were immediately reconciled. Their grandson commissioned the painting from Baroque artist Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner in the late 1690s and about 1700, donated it to the church of St. Peter am Perlach in Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany.

Almost 300 years later, another Jesuit, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, saw the painting while studying in Germany, and bought a postcard of it. He brought the postcard back to Argentina when he returned in the 1980s.

The devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots spread, and now is a daily devotion at Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Sister Sol Angel said, “Our Blessed Mother makes it easier for us to get to Jesus; she unties the knots that keep us from him. She encourages us to place all our troubles at the foot of the cross.”

Ice said with a smile that he pictures Our Lady gathering his prayers and dressing them up in roses or other flowers to present to her son.

Sister Sol Angel shared several stories of clients whose outlook changed after praying with her in the chapel. A young woman, a self-proclaimed Satanist, came into the Welcome Center one day, dressed all in black, and announced to the nun that she had gifted the devil with her soul. Sister invited her to the chapel and when the woman walked through the door, she burst into tears. “She sat down and cried for at least 30 minutes,” Sister recalled. “I told her she belonged to God, and the devil had no hold on her. We prayed together to Our Lady and when she left Catholic Charities, she was smiling.”

Sister Sol Angel has prayed with Catholics, Christians, even a Muslim man who fell to his knees, kissing the Bible over and over. She said, “It’s beautiful to see how they come [to the chapel] and how they go.”

Ice said that not only do Catholic Charities staff and clients pray in Our Lady Undoer of Knots chapel, other people working in the building come to pray there the during their lunch breaks. There is also a prayer box, and people can place intentions in it. Sister Sol Angel prays for their intentions daily.

“Hope is huge in our society,” Ice said. “Hope is found in Christ, we can’t do it alone. We are different from other charitable organizations here in Kansas City in that we also provide spiritual help, which is long-lasting, rather than just temporal help which fades” soon after the need fades.

Sister said when a person asks Ice for money he hands them his business card. On the back, it proclaims Catholic Charities’ values: to Show dignity to each person; to Practice compassion for all; to Promote social justice; to Open up possibilities, and to Work together. “I hand them my card, instead of a coin,” he said, “It goes further.”

Ice and Sister Sol Angel both said they get back so much more than they give.

“Praying together with our clients gives the poor a sense of belonging. And we never forget anyone who comes here for help, we pray for them daily, that Our Lady will untie their knots,” Ice said.

For more information, contact (816) 221-4377 or (800) 875-4377 or visit www.catholiccharities-kcsj.org.

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Thursday
October 18, 2018
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph