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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Importance of the Hail Mary

Hail Mary 

Excerpts taken from St. Louis de Montfort’s book, 
The Secret of the Rosary.


The Angelic Salutation, or Hail Mary, is so heavenly and so beyond us in its depth of meaning, that Blessed Alan de la Roche held that no mere creature could ever understand it, and that only our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, can really explain it.  

Its enormous value is due, first of all, to our Lady to whom it was addressed, to the purpose of the Incarnation of the word, for which reason this prayer was brought from heaven, and also to the archangel Gabriel who was the first ever to say it.  

The Angelic Salutation is a most concise summary of all that Catholic theology teaches about the Blessed Virgin.  It is divided into two parts, that of praise and that of petition.  The first shows all that goes to make up Mary’s greatness; and the second, all that we need to ask her for, and all that we may expect to receive through her goodness.  The most Blessed Trinity revealed the first part of it to us; St. Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Ghost, and the second; and the Church gave us the conclusion in the years 430 when she condemned the Nestorian heresy at the Council of Ephesus and defined that the Blessed Virgin is truly the Mother of God.  

At this time she (Holy Mother Church) ordered us to pray to our Lady under this glorious title by saying, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

The Annunciation by Nicolas Poussin
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.  Our Lady was chosen as his instrument for this tremendous event and it was put into effect when she was greeted with the Angelic Salutation.  The archangel Gabriel, one of the leading princes of the heavenly court, was chosen as ambassador to bear these glad tidings.  

In the Angelic Salutation can be seen the faith and hope of the patriarchs, the prophets and the apostles.  Furthermore, it gives to martyrs their unswerving constancy and strength, it is the wisdom of the doctors of the Church, the perseverance of the holy confessors and the life of all religious (Blessed Alan).  

Blessed Alan de la Roche with
 Mary and Christ child
It is the new hymn of the law of grace, the joy of angels and men, and the hymn which terrifies devils and puts them to shame.  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 been pardoned, grace been given to us, the sick been made well, the dead brought back to life, exiles brought home, the Blessed Trinity has been appeased, and men obtained eternal life.  Finally, the Angelic Salutation is the rainbow in the sky, a sign of the mercy and grace which God has given to the world (Blessed Alan).

Even though there is nothing so great as the majesty of God and nothing so low as man in so far as he is a sinner, Almighty God does not despise our poor prayers.  On the contrary, he is pleased when we sing his praises.  And the Angel’s greeting to our Lady is one of the most beautiful hymns which we could possible sing to the glory of the Most High.  “To you will I sing a new song.”  This new hymn, which David foretold would be sung at the coming of the Messiah, is none other than the Angelic Salutation.   

The Holy Trinity
There is an old hymn and a new hymn: the first is that which the Jews sang out of gratitude to God for creating them and maintaining them in existence, for delivering them from captivity and leading them safely through the Red Sea, for giving them manna to eat, and for all his other blessings.  The new hymn is that which Christians sing in thanksgiving for the graces of the Incarnation and the Redemption.  As these marvels were brought about by the Angelic Salutation, so also do we repeat the same salutation to thank the most Blessed Trinity for the immeasurable goodness shown to us.  

We praise God the Father because he so loved the world that he gave us his only Son as our Saviour.  We bless the Son because he deigned to leave heaven and come down upon earth, because he was made man and redeemed us.  We glorify the Holy Ghost because he formed our Lord’s pure body in the womb of our Lady, that body which was the victim for our sins.  In this spirit of deep thankfulness should we, then, always say the Hail Mary, making acts of faith, hope, love and thanksgiving for the priceless gift of salvation.  

Although this new hymn is in praise of the Mother of God and is sung directly to her, it is nevertheless most glorious to the Blessed Trinity, for any honour we pay to our Lady returns inevitably to God, the source of all her perfections and virtues.  God the Father is glorified when we honour the most perfect of his creatures; God the Son is glorified when we praise his most pure Mother; the Holy Ghost is glorified when we are lost in admiration at the graces with which he has filled his spouse.  When we praise and bless our Lady by saying the Angelic Salutation, she always refers these praises to God in the same way as she did when she was praised by St. Elizabeth.  The latter blessed her in her high dignity as Mother of God and our Lady immediately returned these praises to God in her beautiful Magnificat.
St. Mechtilde

Just as the Angelic Salutation gave glory to the Blessed Trinity, it is also the very highest praise that we can give to Mary.  One day, when St. Mechtilde was praying and was trying to think of some way in which she could express her love of the Blessed Virgin better than before, she fell into ecstasy.  

Our Lady appeared to her with the Angelic Salutation written in letters of gold upon her breast and said to her, “My daughter, I want you to know that no one can please me more than by saying the greeting which the most adorable Trinity presented to me and by which I was raised to the dignity of the Mother of God.  

“By the word Ave, which is the name of Eve, Eva, I learned that God in his infinite power had preserved me from all sin and its attendant misery which the first woman had been subject to.  

“The name Mary, which means ‘lady of light’ shows that God has filled me with wisdom and light, like a shining star, to light up heaven and earth.  

“The words, full of grace, remind me that the Holy Ghost has showered so many graces upon me that I am able to give these graces in abundance to those who ask for them through my mediation.  

“When people say, The Lord is with thee, they renew the indescribable joy that was mine when the eternal Word became incarnate in my womb.  

“When you say to me, Blessed art thou among women, I praise the mercy of God who has raised me to this exalted degree of happiness.”  

“And at the words, Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, the whole of heaven rejoices with me to see my Son Jesus adored and glorified for having saved mankind.”

Blessed Alan de la Roche, who was so deeply devoted to the Blessed Virgin, had many revelations from her, and we know that he confirmed the truth of these revelations by a solemn oath.  Three of them stand out with special emphasis: the first, that if people fail to say the Hail Mary, which has saved the world, out of carelessness, or because they are lukewarm, or because they hate it, this is an indication that they will probably be condemned to eternal punishment.  The second truth is that those who love this divine salutation bear the very special stamp of predestination.  The third is that those to whom God has given this favour of loving our Lady and of serving her out of love must take very great care to continue to love and serve her until the time when she shall have had them placed in heaven by her Son in the degree of glory which they have earned. (Blessed Alan)

This is but a glimpse of the wisdom and insight taught by St. Louis de Montfort.  To read more obtain the book called The Secret of the Rosary.
http://catholicfaithwarriors.blogspot.ca/2014/09/the-hail-mary-and-st-louis-de-monfort.html