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
• “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