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Hail Mary- The Perfect Prayer
“It is through the blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus Christ came into the world, and it is also through her that he must reign in the world.” St. Louis Marie de Montfort,
“True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary” at 1.
“The Angelic Salutation is a most concise summary of all that Catholic theology teaches about the Blessed Virgin.” Montfort, “The Secret of the Rosary” at 44.
Prayer of Praise. If we have difficulty finding ways to speak with our mother, the Mother of Jesus Christ, we need look no further than the words of God the Father himself. It was God’s personal messenger, the Angel Gabriel, who uttered those fateful words to Mary directly from God “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.” Luke 1: 28. Those words are recorded in the gospel of Luke and form the basis for the Incarnation or Annunciation.
The importance of this salutation or greeting by the Angel cannot be overstated: “By the Angelic Salutation, God became man, a virgin became the Mother of God, the souls of the just were delivered from Limbo, the empty thrones in heaven have been filled, sin has become pardoned, grace been given to us, the sick have been made well, the dead brought back to life, exiles brought home, the Blessed Trinity has been appeased and men obtained eternal life.” Montfort, “The Secret of the Rosary”, at 45. If this divine greeting is good enough to serve as God’s message to Mary, it should yield spiritual fruit for us as well.
“The greatest event in the whole history of the world was the Incarnation of the eternal Word by whom the world was redeemed and peace was restored between God and men…. [this] was put into effect when [Mary] was greeted with the Angelic Salutation.” Montfort, “The Secret of the Rosary”, at 45.
The Gospel of Luke also provides the second sentence in this exquisite prayer. When Mary visits her cousin to share in the miracles about which both have just been informed, it is Elizabeth, touched and inspired by the same Holy Spirit that has touched Mary, who greets Mary with the well-deserved and now familiar praise, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” Luke 1: 42. With each Hail Mary, we thus simultaneously praise both Jesus and Mary: blessed art thou, Mary AND the fruit of your womb- our Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayer of Petition. The second part of the Hail Mary prayer- the petition- was given to us by the Church herself in 430 A.D., when, at the Council of Ephesus, the Church confirmed what the Gospel of Luke says – that the Blessed Virgin was the Mother of God. The Church then directed that we should pray to her by asking “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” The Gospel of Luke provides the foundation for this confirmation of Mary as the “Mother of my Lord.” Luke 1: 43. It is thus very appropriate that we should ask Mary, with the title which was bestowed upon her by God, for her prayers.
Perfect Prayer. The Angelic Salutation is thus the perfect prayer. When we linger with the Hail Mary, Mary becomes a place- our special garden. A place where by its loving familiarity, we invite Mary to join hands with us and with her hand tenderly intertwined with ours, we can feel intimately comfortable and secure to explore the mystery of the Rosary upon which we are meditating, gaze upon the face of her Son, or seek the solace that our world sometimes requires us to seek.
Through, with, and in the Hail Mary and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can reside with Mary in the essence of love from where to seek and achieve that lively communion with our God.
1 St. Louis de Montfort (“Montfort”) is a Saint whose treatise, “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” was reportedly on the nightstand of Pope John Paul II throughout most of his life and certainly during his papacy. Montfort’s Marian devotion led him to write a number of important works on themes surrounding Mary and her role in our Catholic Christian faith. These works include “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary”, “The Secret of the Rosary”, “The Secret of Mary”, “The Love of Eternal Wisdom”, “Letter to the Friends of the Cross” and others.
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