The Novena is a Christian devotional form that is usually practiced on a religious recurrence or a particularly important holiday, like at Christmas, Easter, Immaculata or Pentecost. It involves reciting a particular prayer for nine consecutive days, or different prayers, addressed to God, and usually aimed at requesting the intercession of Our Lady, of a Saint or the angels to give comfort, protection, ask for a favour or the resolution of a particular problem.
Meaning of Devotion
The Novena, which takes its name from the medieval Latin ‘novenus’, arises from Jesus request to his disciples to pray after his death while waiting for the Holy Spirit to manifest. Thus Our Lady and the Apostles prayed together for nine days, from the Ascension to Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit finally descended upon them. This episode, reported in the Acts of the Apostles, gave rise to this practice, which is particularly valuable for those who are in a situation of trouble and suffering for themselves or for someone they love. Jesus had already revealed what it was necessary to do to find peace: “pray always without getting tired“(Lk 18.1). To pray with humility, with absolute trust, without believing that prayer is a sort of magic formula that will solve every problem by magic, but we should be aware of the fact that, by praying, we are entrusting ourselves to God and to his infinite mercy.
In this context, the practice of a particular form of Novena was born and developed: the Novena to Mary that loosens the knots. A bizarre name, but one that perfectly embodies the spirit of those who are preparing to recite this particular prayer and to face the spiritual path it requires.
Dissolve the knots that generate pain
The image of Mary who melts knots expresses very well the need of the faithful to receive help from the Blessed Virgin to solve a problem, find comfort and a solution when in a particularly difficult situation. In a word, dissolving a knot that prevents him or her from living well, which blocks their life, interrupting their natural flow. The knots that can create discomfort are of various kinds and entities. Some knots we carry with us for years without even knowing it, others are open and apparently incurable wounds, which poison our days. A quarrel with a family member, a lack of communication or respect, a sick child, or being prey to a habit that consumes their life, someone we love and who has turned away from God, the pain caused by a child who takes drugs , who is sick or who has left home, guilty of mistakes made in the past, incurable diseases, depression, awareness of having sinned in a way that they consider cannot be forgiven. With this Novena, the intercession of Mary is requested to dissolve any knot that causes us pain. This may be a problem related to everyday life, work, a family problem, a sick relative, or a situation of physical or mental discomfort, a personal quarrel with a partner, a child, a parent. Whatever the knot that prevents us from living peacefully, which makes our days heavy and burdensome, we can ask Mary to help us to untie it and find peace. Mary is particularly suitable as a reference for a prayer of this kind, she who has always been considered the Mother of all mothers, the reference point for those who are lost in a stormy and dark sea and vaguely search for a star to guide them. It is no coincidence that San Bernardo di Chiaravalle referred to her as “Stella del Mare” (The Star of the Sea).
The first Novena to Mary who breaks the knots was written in 1998 by an Argentinian priest, Juan Ramón Celeiro. With his sensitivity, he was able to give voice to the devotion of many people, even far from the Church, who were able to find in Mary the help and intercession needed to solve their problems. Mary, Virgin and Mother, who was consoling and merciful, opened her hands and her heart to those who were able to believe and rely on her. Immediately appreciated and authorised by the Church, this Novena spread rapidly, thanks above all to Cardinal Bergoglio, then Pope Francis, who sustained it immediately.
How do you pray the Novena di Maria who melts the knots?
The Novena di Maria who melts the knots is recited for nine consecutive days as a prelude or tail of the Holy Rosary. First you need to make the Sign of the Cross and recite the act of contrition. At this point, with the soul predisposed to prayer, we turn to Mary reciting the “Supplication to Mary who Melts the Knots”. Alternatively, the petition can be recited at the end of the Rosary. This prayer is found in a booklet specially written to help the faithful in their devotional practice.
Then the real Rosary begins, with the first three dozen, the Meditation corresponds to each day of the Novena, the last two dozen, followed by the “Salve Regina” and another prayer to Mary that loosens the knots. But in reality the scheme can be varied depending on the possibilities and conditions of those who pray. The important thing is the attitude with which one asks oneself to pray. If on the one hand we must avoid thinking of prayer as a sort of magic formula, covering the words or the way in which they are recited with an entirely external importance, devoid of spiritual depth, it is, on the other hand, necessary to trust prayer with complete confidence along with the effects we hope to achieve with it.
In this, as in every other practice, what matters is how we place ourselves, with humility, availability, an open soul, elevated to God, the spirit free from doubts and hesitation. We are supplicants, and as such we must address ourselves to Her who, in her infinite goodness and love, can solve our problems only if we are willing to trust in her help.