Tag Archives: rosary

Hail Mary


Praying the Hail Mary, we ask Mary the Mother of Jesus to lead us to God.  The prayer’s earliest form  developed  in the middle ages with the simple greeting of the angel Gabriel at Nazareth, from St. Luke’s gospel:

Hail Mary,
full of grace,
the Lord is with you.

You are favored by God, the angel announces to her. She brought Jesus Christ into the world. That message continues through the ages and is reflected in us.  Like her, we are favored by God and called to bring God’s Son into the world.  God’s promise of grace to Mary echoes in God’s promise to us. As  promised  to Mary, God will be with us.

Over time her cousin Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary, also recorded in St. Luke, was added to the prayer:
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

Finally by the 15th century, the remainder of the prayer appeared:
Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners
now and at the hour of our death.

The prayer asks Mary, full of the grace of her Son, to intercede for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. She is a model for believers and she knows what it means to believe. She who knew her Son so well, can teach us  the way to him.

On Calvary Jesus entrusted her to us as a mother when he said to his disciple “Behold your mother.” Ever since, she brings Christ into this world. She knew Jesus from the beginning and witnessed his life, death and resurrection. She helps us to know him. She also knows our needs. Aware of  the needs of the newly married couple at Cana in Galilee, she approached Jesus, her Son. She is aware of our needs too.

By the end of the 16th century the practice of saying 150 Hail Marys in series or decades of 10 became popular among many ordinary Christians. Helped by her they remembered  the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. That practice of prayer is known now as the Rosary.

Mary is a model of faith for Christians. When the angel Gabriel came to her, she believed the words he spoke even to the dark test of Calvary. She helps the family of believers on their journey to believe..

The Hail Mary and the Rosary are blessed prayers,  simple and profound. They’re not beyond anyone’s reach; their repetition brings peace to the soul. They draw us into  the joys, sorrows and glory of Jesus, the world Mary knows so well.  We hope to “imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen”

We will be celebrating the Feast of the Assumption of Mary this month..

The Rosary

St. Bernard, in a homily for today’s Feast of the Holy Rosary, says that God is by nature incomprehensible, inaccessible, invisible, unthinkable, but wished “to be understood, to be seen and thought of.” And so the Word became flesh of the virgin Mary.

The Rosary is a prayer inviting us into the mystery of Christ.through Mary, his mother, who gave him birth and treasured his memory in her heart. Human as we are, she introduces us to Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary.

“He lay in a manger and rested on a virgin’s breast, preached on a mountain, and spent the night in prayer. He hung on a cross, grew pale in death, and roamed free among the dead and ruled over those in hell. He rose again on the third day, and showed the apostles the wounds of the nails, the signs of victory; and finally in their presence he ascended to the sanctuary of heaven.

How can we not contemplate this story in truth, piety and holiness? Whatever of all this I consider, it is God I am considering; in all this he is my God. I have said it is wise to meditate on these truths, and I have thought it right to recall the abundant sweetness, given by the fruits of this priestly root; and Mary, drawing abundantly from heaven, has caused this sweetness to overflow for us.”

Praying is like breathing

Last Sunday morning a Jewish man sitting next to me on the plane from Tel Aviv to Newark asked me, “Do you mind if I pray?” I replied, “Certainly not, I would be be happy if your prayed.”

He stood up and got something out of the overhead compartment and readied himself for prayer. I’m not quite sure all he did, but I noticed he put leather straps around his arms. Then he sat down and read from a small prayerbook he had for about 15 minutes. The drone of the engine blocked out any words he might have said that I could understand.

Praying is like breathing. We all need to do it. I used to bring out my small prayerbook on flights like that, but it got so cumbersome that I use a small rosary I keep in my pocket to pray.

Years ago, I remember on a flight from St. Louis to New York City a young Afro-American girl sat next to me. I opened my prayerbook to say my prayers, and I heard a  soft southern voice saying to me, “Sir, could I read a psalm?”

“Sure,” I replied, “Why don’t we read a psalm together.” I turned to Psalm 22 “The Lord is my Shepherd” and we read it aloud as we took off.

Afterwards, she told me that was her favorite psalm. She looked like a young teen-ager, but she told me she was married and on her way to Germany to return to her husband who was in the military. She had just lost a baby and had gone home to her mother to look for some comfort.

“I’m looking at these beautiful clouds in the sky,” she said, “and I remember one day after I lost my baby I had a dream and I saw the Lord like a Shepherd in clouds like these, holding my little baby.”

When we landed in Kennedy, I noticed she was struggling to pull out a big package from the overhead compartment and tried to  help her. ”It’s very heavy,” I said.

“It’s a computer, “ she answered, “I’m going to learn how to use it.” And she went off to the International departures.

Praying is like breathing; if we do it, we live.