Sometimes bad experiences take root in our souls and affect our outlook.

As the years go by, we accumulate positive and negative experiences that leave imprints in our souls. Extremely strong experiences can determine our outlook on reality and impact our decisions about the future.

Without even realizing it, we begin to see life through the prism of these experiences, and sometimes we can even allow ourselves to be trapped by the negative ones, becoming blocked and somehow paralyzed.

For example, if we’ve been in destructive relationships and felt rejection, we can develop a fear of rejection, and experience insecurity in our relationships.

If we ignore these negative experiences, little by little they can take up a dwelling in our hearts, fettering our souls.

Sin is one of these negative experiences that mark our souls. Our sins are a betrayal of the One who loves us unconditionally and has given everything for us. They are a betrayal of ourselves, a rejection of the best that is in us and the plan for which we were created. As well, sin — as secret and private as it might seem — is a betrayal of our neighbor, of the members of the one body of Christ, of which we form a part.

The experience of sin and the awareness of guilt further tether the soul, draining strength from our capacity to love and give ourselves.

That’s why it is so important to go to confession: not only in order to receive God’s forgiveness and be taken again into his embrace, but also because the fact of recognizing my sinfulness and naming it is a step toward freedom from sin.

Along with confession, there is a tool for finding freedom from the negative experiences that bind our souls. This “tool,” in fact, will lead us closer to Christ, in confession and in the other sacraments.

This tool is a favorite of Pope Francis, and it is devotion to Our Lady, under the title Mary, Undoer of Knots.

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For the situations in our life that seem a terrible tangle of knots, or that are tethering our souls, try this prayer:

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exist in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exists in my life. You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.

[Mention your request here]

I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Find a novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, here:

Adapted from a similar piece in Aleteia’s Spanish edition.