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Chautauqua focuses on Mary

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placeholder August 10, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
Chautauqua focuses on Mary

Sister Felicia Sarati, CSJ

Chautauqua, the gathering of people of the Oakland diocese, will take place on Oct. 10 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light.

For the first time, the Cathedral of Christ the Light will host Chautauqua, the gathering of people that marks its 19th event in the Diocese of Oakland.

This year's theme, "Mother Mary, Untie the Knots of Our Lives," will be carried out through the procession into the cathedral. Participants from the groups represented in the Ethnic Pastoral Center will carry their images of the Blessed Virgin Mary into the cathedral for the Mass, which will be celebrated by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ.

The icon of Mary, the untier of knots, holds special significance to the planners of the day, as well as Pope Francis. Sister Felicia Sarati, CSJ, who directs the Ethnic Pastoral Center tells its story:

What is the origin of Mother Mary, Untier of Knots?

 

Copyright
Precious Blood Association,
87480 Weithav, Germany

Chautauqua
19th Gathering of People
"Mother Mary, Untie the Knots of our Lives"
When: Oct. 10, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland
Procession and Mass celebrant: Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ
Entertainment and food to follow Mass
www.oakdiocese.org/chautauqua

 
The image is from Bavaria, commissioned by a nobleman. He and his wife went for counsel about their marriage problems. The pastor told them to pray to Our Lady and ask her to untie the problems of the knots you having in your marriage. So they prayed to Our Lady to help them solve the problems in their marriage. He commissioned this painting, in the 1700s. It is in a church in Augsburg, Germany.

The tie-in for me was the pope. As I read about the pope, one of his private devotions is to this image of Mary the Untier of Knots that he came in contact with when he was studying in Germany after he had served a term as provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina. In Bavaria, he made a visit to this church. He was so taken with this image of Our Lady that he felt he needed somebody to untie the knots of his life, the problems he was facing in his own life. He became very, very devoted to this image of Our Lady.

When he went back to Argentina, he started with just a small devotional group, and it increased into a big shrine, that is now in Argentina. He was surprised to see how many people were attracted to this image of Our Lady. I can see why, because all of us face all of the knots of our lives, and we need somebody to help us untie the knots of our own lives.

How does this tie into Chautauqua?

When I presented this image to the Chautauqua people, and also to the ethnic directors, it was embraced almost suddenly because people understand we need an advocate, someone to help us untie the knots of our lives. As we discussed this picture of Our Lady, many of the comments were not only personal knots, but our community, our church, our country, every part of life here has its limitations and we get caught up with our own problems. It spoke to them almost instantly.

We as the Chautauqua planners and directors were looking for an image of Our Lady to bring something important to the people as we celebrate in October, which is always dedicated to Our Lady.

How will we see this?

All of us have a special image of Our Lady. It would be wonderful if in the procession we carried with the images with the cords of knots, and somehow at the procession we would be reminded that we need the assistance of Our Lady to help us untie the knots, of not just our lives but the problems we encounter in our own communities.

People said, "Don't put ribbons, put a cord."

The icon has a story, too?

Elizabeth Kristos, from the Eastern Rite, Ethiopian, Coptic Christians, asked if we could find an image that was more in the icon display.

We did find this icon of Our Lady. The difference is the Christ child is on her lap. Through Jesus, through Mary. Mary is the promoter. I was thinking of the pope speaking to women in Paraguay, he said to them: You know the story of the feast of Cana, where Mary said, "Do what he tells you to do." He kept repeating that: "Do what he tells you to do."

As she helps us untie the knots, we are to be attuned to what God is asking of us.

Through the English Internet, we couldn't find anybody who could connect us. By the grace of God, Ursula Gordon was able to trace it, through the German Internet, to the monastery where this image is owned by Sister Michaela Josepha. She has given us permission to use the icon image.

Who is welcome at Chautauqua?

Chautauqua is being celebrated as a diocesan event. Hopefully the message of Mary, the Untier of Knots is something everyone in the diocese will be attracted to. When we celebrate it, we are the picture of our diocese — not just the ethnic groups, but people from the different parishes who might be attracted to this image of Our Lady.

 
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