Dear Parishioners and Visitors:
In the gospel passage for this weekend, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray “The Lord’s Prayer.” On a similar note, no one knows who put together the series of Bible verses and intercessions we know as “The Hail Mary.” Forms of this prayer existed in the 6th-century Eastern church, by the 11th century it was included in the “Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” and it came into wider use in the 16th century as the Crusaders invoked Mary to assist their quest to recapture the Holy Land.
The prayer is grounded in Scripture with the angel’s greeting to Mary: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” It continues with Elizabeth’s blessing on her young cousin during their visitation: “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” Elizabeth offers a standard Jewish birth-blessing which praises the mother for the child she carries. While we think of it as a Marian prayer, the Hail Mary is literally Christ-centered.
The Hail Mary also acknowledges that Mary of Nazareth, a young girl whose faith in God is strong and true, is elevated to the status of Abraham, whose faith made him the father of nations. The Jewish community identifies itself as Abraham’s children. It’s fitting that Christians perceive themselves as the children of Mary, our mother in faith.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
Fr. John Mahoney