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How a Novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots Freed Me From Pornography and Masturbation

Writing this article has been a challenge. Not the topic, rather how to share truth in a limited number of words! Early in my recovery, after I had committed to a 30-day challenge with a genuine intent to recover, I found myself struggling. 

As is typical with addicts, I was experiencing difficulty surrendering my ego and pride. Fortunately, I was led to novenas by my regular confessor and he suggested the novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots. Praise the Lord!

I started the novena. I prayed to Mary asking her to untie the chains of my pornography and masturbation addiction. I visualized those chains and Mary breaking them. After the nine-days, I felt clean, at peace, and had remained sober. But I did not stop. 

I started the novena again and again and again. It was this novena more than good habits or tracking days or being accountable that saved me from further relapses. Our lady is awesome! It was later that I actually learned the backstory of this novena.

The devotion to Mary, Undoer (or Untier) of Knots is about 300 years old but has become more widely known as Pope Francis has promoted and spoken about it throughout his papacy. According to him, “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.”

This echoes what St. Irenaeus in the second century said: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith.”

Therefore, we all can turn to our Blessed Mother to undo our knot of addiction because Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin. The knots often depicted in images of Our Lady Undoer of Knots represent suffering in our lives, whatever actually impedes the glory of God from shining in our lives.

The image of Our Lady Undoer of Knots originated in the marital crisis of Wolfgang Langenmantel and his wife Sophie Imhoff who married in 1612. They considered divorcing but before they separated, Wolfgang decided to speak with a priest at a nearby monastery. The priest, Fr. Jakob Rem, encouraged Wolfgang to entrust his situation to the intercession of the Blessed Mother. 

The marriage was saved. And in gratitude for Wolfgang and Sophie’s reconciliation, their grandson Hieronymous Ambrosius von Langenmantel entered religious life and commissioned the painting from which the image is taken.

Combining this novena with the rosary, especially if prayed daily, has been a one-two punch to Satan and evil spirits. Through the novena, I learned to let go of my ego and submit to the true healing of God’s mercy. 

No more my will, but that of God as St. Paul wrote:

“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me” (Romans 7:15-20).  

The success of my recovery, the key to the whole puzzle of escaping habitual vice and acquiring virtue, began with this novena.

Pope Francis, while still Cardinal Bergoglio on the fifteenth anniversary of the enthronement of the image at the shrine, affirmed the following in his homily

“We all have knots or deficiencies in our hearts, and we go through difficulties. God, our good Father, who distributes his grace to all of his children, wants us to trust Her, to entrust to Her the knots of our sins, the tangles of our miseries that prevent us from uniting ourselves with God, to allow Her to untie them and bring us to Her son Jesus.”

This devotion is particularly helpful in the midst of marriage or family problems, as well as struggles that seem impossible to fix. Our Blessed Mother protects and assists people suffering from long-term addictions to pornography and masturbation—and to help them quit and heal for their sinful effects.

Aaron Walter is a lifelong Catholic and former porn addict whose ministry, NewMenRising, is dedicated to pornography addiction recovery. He is a coach, mentor, and accountability partner. He is passionate about helping husbands kick their addiction and transform their lives and relationships. You can connect with him at aaronwaltercoaching.com and on Instagram.

2 Comments

  1. Jeanne on August 4, 2020 at 5:56 am

    Thanks Chris for bringing up the novena. I need to look into this for myself

  2. Nick on August 4, 2020 at 10:29 am

    Do you have a link to the novena you used?

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