There are numerous warnings in the bible about the dangers of idolatry: “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them,” (Jonah 2:8); “Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God,” (Leviticus 19:4); “You shall have no other gods before me,” (Exodus 20:3), for example. Idolatry, however, is not just worshipping an image or object. Tim Keller, an America pastor, theologian, and Christian apologist explains, “If anything becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity, then it is an idol.” In other words, if we do not put God first in our lives – if we allow possessions, ambitions, or even worries to be our focus – then we are likely not going to be at peace.

It is very important that we share this very basic tenet of our faith with our children at an early age. It is our role as parents and educators to let them know that, no matter what, God loves us, God will always be with us, and God wants us to be happy. This past year, it has been difficult to for this message to resound. Our faith gets stronger, though, when we struggle, pray, and then witness God’s response.

We all face adversity in our lives. If we let our children see our own struggles, and show them how we graciously and patiently cope, they will learn and understand how to face challenges without thinking everything that doesn’t go our way is “the end of the world.” This practice is certainly not modeled by many adults in public life today, and our children witness and imitate these bad habits.

A devotion I would recommend for both children and adults is to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots. The devotion actually originated in the second century. Mary, who is considered the second Eve, unties the knots that our first parents handed down to us. According to St. Iranaeus, “What the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.” The seventeenth century painting, depicted above, by German artist Johann Melchior Schmidtner, shows Mary as she works to untie knots. Pope Francis saw the painting in St. Peter am Perlach Church in Augsburg, Bavaria, when he was a student in Germany and was moved to promote the veneration in Latin America.

As we conclude a tumultuous year that has probably held more frustration than joy for most of us, perhaps Mary can help us untie our knots. Instead of focusing on our “idols,” we need to instead put God first in our lives so he can bring us peace.

Deo Gratias,

Prayer to Our Lady Undoer of Knots
Holy Mary, full of God’s presence, during your life you accepted the Father’s will with full humility, and the devil was never able to tie you up with his confusion.
Since then, you have interceded for all our difficulties, as you did at the wedding feast of Cana. Full of kindness and patience, you show us how to untie the knots of our lives. By always being our mother, you arrange and clarify the ties that link us to the Lord.
Holy Mary, Mother of God and of us all, you untie the knots of our lives with a mother’s heart. We place our intentions in your hands [mention your prayer request], and we ask you to disentangle every knot and confusion.Through your grace, intercession, and example, protect us from all evil, and untie the knots that keep us from being united to God. Free from confusion and error, may we find him in all things, keep our hearts in him, and serve him always in our brothers and sisters.

Kathleen Mock