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Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of Grace
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and Blessed is the Fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners
now and at the hour of our death.

The first half of the Hail Mary quotes Holy Scripture.  "Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you" quotes the Archangel Gabriel's greeting to Mary near the beginning of the Gospel of Luke when he appears to her to tell her she is to be the Mother of God (Luke 1:28).  "Blessed are you among women, and Blessed is the Fruit of your womb" quotes the Holy Spirit and Mary's cousin Saint Elizabeth, also from Luke 1.  This is what Saint Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, says to Mary in response to Mary's greeting when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, goes to visit her cousin Saint Elizabeth, who is pregnant with Saint John the Baptist. 

(As an aside, note also that Saint John the Baptist, whom the Gospel and the Holy Spirit refer to as an infant while he still is in the womb, stirs for joy inside the womb at the sound of Mary's voice, as his first instance of heralding the arrival of the Messiah.  The Holy Spirit and Saint Elizabeth, of course, go on to refer to Jesus as Lord while He Himself is still in the womb.)

In the second half of the Hail Mary, we seek the Blessed Mother's intercession.  We ask her to pray for us, in the process acknowledging in humility our status as sinners.  Recall that the Wedding Feast of Cana, prior to what Jesus had anticipated to be the starting point of His Ministry, Mary interceded with Him to convince him to perform a miracle.  In so doing, she reminded Him of a need He already knew to be there, but reminded Him and indicated that she cared about the need.  She then turned to ordinary humans telling them, "Do whatever He tells you."

It is interesting to note that God created Mary knowing she would tug at His Heart, that she would regard humanity with love, care, and concern, and that she would intercede for us.

Many devotions include the Hail Mary, such as the Rosary, with ten Hail Mary's per decade, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and other Chaplets or Novenas.  While the Hail Mary is not a regular part of Mass, sometimes the Celebrant will lead the Assembly in a Hail Mary, such as before or after the Prayers of the Faithful.  Some have written that a Celebrant might lead a Hail Mary just after his homily, to help the lessons of the Liturgy of the Word (the Readings, Psalm, and Gospel) and of the Homily will take root in the hearts of the faithful.  And when Catholics pray for the Holy Father the Pope, and his intentions, it often is with an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

In Latin, the Hail Mary begins "Ave Maria."

[click here for Luke 1]
[click here for John 2 and its account of the Wedding Feast of Cana]

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