AVE, MARIA, GRATIA PLENA!
HAIL, MARY, FULL OF GRACE!
This Angelical Salutation is most pleasing to the ever¬blessed Virgin for whenever she hears it, it would seem as if the joy she experienced when St. Gabriel announced to her that she was the chosen Mother of God was renewed in her. For this reason we should often salute her: Ave Maria, gratia plena-Hail Mary, full of Grace!
This Angelical Salutation is most pleasing to the ever¬blessed Virgin; for, whenever she hears it, it would seem as if the joy she experienced when St. Gabriel announced to her that she was the chosen Mother of God, was renewed in her; and with this object in view we should often salute her with the “Hail Mary.” “Frequently salute her,” says Thomas a Kempis, “with the angelical salutation; for she indeed hears this sound with pleasure.” The Divine Mother herself told St. Matilda that no one could salute her in a manner more agreeable to her than with the “Hail Mary.”
He who salutes Mary will also be saluted by her. St. Bernard once heard the Blessed Virgin salute him, saying: Ave, Bernarde!-Hail, Bernard! Mary’s salutation, says St. Bonaventure, will always be some grace corresponding to the wants of him who salutes her: “She willingly salutes us with grace if we willingly salute her with a ‘Hail Mary.’ Richard of St. Laurence adds that “if we address the Mother of our Lord, saying, ‘Hail Mary,’ she cannot refuse the grace which we ask.” Mary herself promised St. Gertrude as many graces at death as she should have said “Hail Marys.” Blessed Alan says that “as all Heaven rejoices when the ‘Hail Mary’ is said, so also the devils tremble and take to flight.” This Thomas a Kempis affirms on his own experience; for he says that once the devil appeared to him, and instantly fled on hearing the “Hail Mary.”
We can every morning and evening on rising and going to bed say three “Hail Marys” prostrate, or at least kneeling; and add to each “Hail Mary” this short prayer: O Mary, by thy pure and immaculate conception, make my body pure and my soul holy. We should then, as St. Stanislaus always did, ask Mary’s blessing as our Mother; place ourselves under the mantle of her protection, beseeching her to guard us during the coming day or night from sin. For this purpose it is advisable to have a beautiful picture or image of the Blessed Virgin. We can say the Angelus with the usual three “Hail Marys” in the morning, at mid-day, and in the evening. Pope John XXII was the first to grant an indulgence for this devotion; it was on the following occasion, as Father Crasset relates. A criminal was condemned to be burned alive on the Vigil of the Annunciation of the Mother of God; he saluted her with a “Hail Mary,” and in the midst of the flames he, and even his clothes, remained uninjured. In 1724 Benedict XIII granted a hundred days’ indulgence to all who recite it, and a plenary indulgence once a month to those who, during that time, have recited it daily as above, on condition of their going to Confession and receiving Holy Communion, and praying for the usual intentions. Formerly, at the sound of the bell, all knelt down to say the Angelus, but in the present day there are some who are ashamed to do so. St. Charles Borromeo was not ashamed to leave his carriage or get off his horse to say the Angelus in the street, and even sometimes in the mud.
O Immaculate and holy Virgin! O creature the most humble and the most exalted before God! Thou wast so lowly in thine own eyes, but so great in the eyes of thy Lord that He exalted thee to such a degree as to choose thee for His Mother, and make thee Queen of Heaven and earth. I therefore thank God Who so greatly exalted thee, and rejoice in seeing thee so closely united with Him that a greater gift cannot be granted to a pure creature. Before thee, who art so lowly, though endowed with so precious gifts, I am ashamed to appear, I who am so proud in the midst of so many sins. But, miserable as I am, I will also salute thee, Hail, Mary, full of grace! Thou art already full of grace; impart a portion of it to me. The Lord is with thee. That Lord Who was always with thee from the first moment of thy creation has now united Himself more closely to thee by becoming thy Son. Blessed art thou amongst women. O Lady, blessed amongst all women, obtain the Divine blessing for us also. And blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Oh, blessed plant which hath given to the world so noble and holy a fruit!
We can salute the Mother of God with a “Hail Mary” every time we hear the clock strike. St. Alphonsus Rodriguez saluted her every hour; and at night Angels awoke him that he might not omit his devotion.
In going out and returning to the house we can salute the Blessed Virgin with a “Hail Mary,” that both at home and abroad she may guard us from all sin; and we should each time kiss her feet, as the Carthusian Fathers always do. We should reverence every image of Mary which we pass with a “Hail Mary.” For this purpose those who can do so would do well to place a beautiful image of the Blessed Virgin on the wall of their houses, that it may be venerated by those who pass. In Naples, and still more in Rome, there are most beautiful images of our Blessed Lady placed along the wayside by her devout clients.
By command of the holy Church all the canonical hours are preceded by a “Hail Mary,” and concluded with it; we therefore do well to begin and end all our actions with a “Hail Mary.” I say all our actions, whether spiritual, such as Prayer, Confession, and Communion, Spiritual Reading, hearing sermons, and the like; or temporal, such as study, giving advice, working, going to table, to bed, etc. Happy are those actions that are enclosed between two “Hail Marys.” So also should we do on waking in the morning, on closing our eyes to sleep, in every temptation, in every danger, in every inclination to anger, and the like; on these occasions we should always say a “Hail Mary.” Do this, and you will see the immense advantage that you will derive from it. Remember also that for every “Hail Mary” there is an Indulgence of thirty days. Father Auriemma relates that Blessed Virgin promised St. Matilda a happy death if she every day recited three “Hail Marys” in honour of her power, wisdom, and goodness, Moreover, she herself told St. Jane Frances de Chantal that the “Hail Mary” was most acceptable to her, and especially when recited ten times in honour of her ten virtues.
Holy Mary, Mother of God! O Mary, I acknowledge that thou art the true Mother of God, and in defense of this truth I am ready to give my life a thousand times. Pray for us sinners. But if thou art the Mother of God, thou art also the Mother of our salvation, and Mother of us poor sinners; since God became Man to save sinners, and made thee His Mother that thy prayers might have the power to save any sinner. Hasten, then, 0 Mary, and pray for us, now, and at the hour of our death. Pray always: pray now that we live in the midst of so many temptations and dangers of losing God; but still more, pray for us at the hour of our death, when we are on the point of leaving this world and being presented before God’s tribunal, that, being saved by the merits of Jesus Christ and by thy intercession, we may come one day, without further danger of being lost, to salute thee and praise thee with thy Son in Heaven for all eternity, Amen.