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470 • Part IV. Prayer: The Faith Prayed

Prayer in Communion with Mary

“Because of Mary’s singular cooperation with the action of the Holy

Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary,

to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to

entrust supplications and praises to her” (CCC, no. 2682). This twofold

movement of joining Mary in praising God for his gifts to her and seek-

ing her intercession has found a privileged expression in the Hail Mary.

The Hail Mary

Along with the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary is one of the most widely

used prayers in the Catholic Church. The first half of the Hail Mary

comes from Luke’s Gospel accounts of the Angel Gabriel’s annuncia-

tion to Mary that she was called to be the Mother of God’s Son (Lk

1:26-56). The second half is an intercessory prayer developed in the

Church’s tradition.

• “Hail Mary, full of grace.” This is the greeting the Angel Gabriel

spoke to Mary of Nazareth. Gabriel proclaims that Mary is full

of grace, meaning that she is a sinless woman, blessed with a deep

union with God, who had come to dwell in her.

• “The Lord is with thee.” Mary has been chosen by God for this

great privilege. He is with her, having already preserved her from sin

and filled her with grace. This does not mean that Mary is deprived

of her freedom. She lives in graced friendship with God and freely

offers him her undivided heart.

• “Blessed art thou among women.”This was the greeting given Mary

by her cousin Elizabeth when Mary came to visit and help Elizabeth

with the birth of her forthcoming child (Lk 1:42). As Scripture points

out, Mary holds a singular place among all God’s chosen ones in the

history of salvation. Mary is the world’s most honored woman.

• “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” This is another beatitude

or blessing uttered by Elizabeth, who spoke these words after her

child, John the Baptist, leaped in her womb at the moment she hears

the greeting of Mary. Elizabeth is inspired by the Holy Spirit to bless

Mary for believing the message of Gabriel. Elizabeth acknowledges