How Should We Pray?

The Novena to “Mary Who Unties Knots” is made up of specific prayers inspired by the painting of the same name, and is based on the meditation of the rosary. It takes place over 9 consecutive days and is addressed to Mary, to whom we can confide just about anything. Everyone does what he or she can. Mary is a true mother and she looks at the intention, not the form. Ideally, one should prepare by being calm and opening one’s mind. This is essential for prayer. On a practical level, we should have: the Novena booklet, a rosary, and a Bible.

What is the Rosary?

A rosary, according to the dictionary, is a prayer object ressembling a kind of beaded necklace that is passed successively between one’s fingers while reciting certain prayers, including, for Catholics, the “Our Father” and the “Hail Mary”. It is also the whole series of prayers that are recited while passing one’s fingers over the beads of a rosary. The prayer of the rosary is commonly and tirelessly practiced around the world.

It is based on the principal events of the life of Jesus and Mary. To say the rosary well, it is preferable to find a link between the knot one is praying for and one of the events that Jesus and Mary experienced.

These episodes from the life of Jesus and Mary (called mysteries) are divided into:

  • 5 joyful mysteries,
    including the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel and the Nativity.
  • 5 luminous mysteries,
    including the Wedding at Cana.
  • 5 sorrowful mysteries,
    including the Crucifixion and death of Jesus on the Cross.
  • 5 glorious mysteries,
    including the Resurrection and Pentecost (when the disciples received the Holy Spirit).


Traditionally, the faithful have prayed these mysteries on specific days of the week :

  • The 5 joyful mysteries on Monday and Saturday
  • The 5 sorrowful mysteries on Tuesday and Friday
  • The 5 luminous mysteries on Thursday
  • The five glorious mysteries on Wednesday and Sunday.


Each mystery is followed by the recitation of the “Our Father”, ten “Hail Marys” and a “Glory Be”. This is called a 5-mystery rosary. All these prayers and biblical references for the mysteries are listed in the booklet of the Novena to Mary Who Unties Knots.

Snapshot of 1 day of the Novena, found in the booklet:
  • Make the sign of the cross.
  • Read the act of contrition
  • Start with the first prayer which presents to Mary the knot to be loosened
  • Pray the first three decades of the rosary
  • Read the meditation of the day. For example, the meditation on day 4 reads :

Holy Mary, Mother of God, I ask you to inspire the prayers I offer to my Heavenly Father. Let his mercy be poured over my family and my loved ones. Mary, who know the stones lying on our paths, untie the knot that I present to you…Let us contemplate how Mary is able to untie the knots of sadness because all her life she “rejoiced in her Savior” (Lk 1,47); as well as the knots of triumphalism and pride because she brought forth Jesus, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, laid him in a manger and presented him to the shepherds of Bethlehem (Luke 2: 7-16).

  • Pray the last two decades of the rosary
  • Finish with the conclusion prayer to Mary Who Unties Knots
  • Make the Sign of the Cross.


Father Celeiro is pastor of San Juan Bautista parish in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
He wrote the Novena in 1997 for all those who want to place their problems in the hands of Mary. Learn more
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