…More on the Hail Mary…
(from a February 6, 1977 conference)

The story is told, and I have no reason to doubt its truth, that a certain nun, who suffered very great pain leading up to her death, appeared after her death to one of her Sisters in religion, and among the things she said to this Sister, who was still alive, was that if she were allowed to go back into her body, she would gladly go through all the sufferings she had endured during her last illness if only she could do one thing. . .  She said, “If I were able to return to life on earth to have the chance of saying just one single Hail Mary—even if I said it quickly and without great fervor—I would gladly go through the sufferings I had during my last illness all over again in order to gain the merit of this one prayer. . .

St. Gertrude, who used to have visions, had one on the Feast of the Annunciation.  In that vision, as the Hail Mary was being sung in her monastery, she saw three streams poured forth from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit gently flowing into Mary’s heart.  Then as they entered Her heart, they were reflected back to God.  From this, St. Gertrude learned not only that Our Lady is endowed with power by God the Father, wisdom by God the Son, and love by God the Holy Spirit, but she learned . . . that every time the Hail Mary is said by the faithful, these three mysterious streams surround Our Lady and enter her heart and completely bathe Her in happiness.  And the power and light and love that so thrill her with joy are reflected back to the glory of God. . .

Although we probably think that we are pretty drab sort of people, the fact remains that if we have the grace of God within us, we outshine the sun in an unseen way.  So beautiful and good is the grace of a single soul at peace with God that Our Lord became a Man and died for that one soul and thought it more than worthwhile.  And that was the judgment of God.  If an ordinary person in the state of grace is so resplendent to eyes that can see spiritual realities, what must a person be like who is full of grace?  As we begin the Hail Mary, we give our greeting with great joy and reverence, and we bow our heads a little at the name of Mary.  You cannot say “Hail Mary. full of grace” conscious of grace and of Mary without being almost carried away with joy and love.  Picture Her as the children of Fatima saw her, or St. Bernadette, although what they saw with their souls was much more brilliant than what they saw with their eyes.  “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee.”  How intensely God is within Her and how close to Jesus is She in heaven.  What a delight to think of them together there.  You can hardly resist saying, “Blessed art Thou among women.”  And is it not so very true?

But you cannot look at Mary without seeing Her Son; you cannot speak to Her without Him hearing it with joy, and so our eyes turn to Him in glory.  “Blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus.”  And we bow our head with adoration at the Holy Name.  All the mysteries of the life and death and resurrection of Our Lord are ours.  When we mention the Holy Name and bow in adoration, it may be to Jesus in glory, or Jesus a baby in His Mother’s arms, or embraced in the Temple as a boy of twelve, or on the road to Calvary, or on the Cross.  Jesus and Mary were together in all these mysteries, and the mysteries of our faith do not pass away with time as merely earthly events do.  Perhaps you can see how easily the Hail Mary can become part of the Rosary without losing any of its literal meaning to us or its impact, while yet bringing to mind one of the mysteries in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus with which Our Lady was associated.

Finally there is the petition, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”  This petition includes belief in the true incarnation of Christ, and an act of contrition, and an act of hope and trust.

A great deal more could be said about this wonderful prayer, the Hail Mary.  It is very much valued in heaven and should be loved on earth.  And if you join it up with the Our Father and say the Rosary, you have one of the most powerful weapons there is against the devil and temptation and fear.  Say the Rosary before you go to face a situation you dread, and you will be amazed at the strength you receive.  Say the Rosary for anything you need to pray for.  And say it in order to give a thrill of heavenly joy to our dear Mother in heaven, and to bring glory to God Her Son.  But say it slowly.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee.  Blessed art Thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

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