Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
By tradition, the Catholic Church dedicates many months of the year to certain devotions. The entire month of May is devoted to honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Catholic custom of dedicating the month of May to the Blessed Virgin arose at the end of the 13th century.
The great prayer to Our Lady is called the Hail Mary. It is sometimes called the Angelical Salutation and is considered to be the most important prayer addressed to the Blessed Virgin. There are five expressions of prayer offered in each Hail Mary – the salutation or greeting, praise, congratulations, thanksgiving, and petition.
The Hail Mary prayer is prayed more often than any other prayer to Our Lady. It forms the greatest part of the rosary, and is recited morning, noon and evening in the Angelus. The rosary can be said to have originated by the inspiration of God, through one of His angels, one of His Saints, and His holy Church. The Hail Mary consists of three parts:
1. The salutation of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed are thou among women.”
2. The words of Elizabeth: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
3. A petition added by the Church: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
The history of the Hail Mary is very interesting to note. This prayer was unknown until about the 12th century. On certain festivals, in addition to the regular Divine Office, the “Little Office of the Blessed Virgin” was recited in monasteries. The words of the Archangel and of Elizabeth were repeated frequently, and soon they began to be used as a prayer – this is the first part of the Hail Mary. In 1196 Eudes de Sully, Bishop of Paris, ordered his clergy to teach these words to the laity. Pope Urban IV may have added the Holy name of Jesus a little later. The last part, “Holy Mary, Mother of God…” was introduced about the year 1500. This prayer from its first words in Latin, is often called the “Ave Maria.”
The month of May is the month in which the piety of the faithful has been especially dedicated to Mary. It is very important for us to remember that we had a great intercessor in heaven in the Mother of God. In his encyclical entitled, the Month of May, Paul VI, testified that, “In this month, the benefits of God's mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance."
I am sure that many parishioners have prayed the Angelus. Perhaps during this month, we can also pray it for our seminarians, most especially Ryan Everson and Justin Sand who are from our parish.
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
Hail Mary . . .
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary . . .
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
May Our Lady be your solace and guide in every endeavor, joy, and trial! And may the Holy Eucharist be your wisdom and strength!
Fr. Don Kline, V.F.