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By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky, Catholic Culture, Oct 14, 2019
We all have an abiding desire for maternal affection. The history books of the American Civil War are replete with touching accounts of dying soldiers in agony calling upon their mothers like little boys. Even the toughest among us grasp for the love of a mother at the hour of death. Prayers composed by the Church in honor of Our Lady honestly recognize a primordial need for a mother’s love.
But Mary is not a goddess.
The “Hail Mary” reminds us of our sins, and the “hour of our death.” In the “Hail Holy Queen,” we cry out as “poor banished children of Eve.” In the Memorare, we stand before her “sinful and sorrowful.” Do these prayers appropriately reflect Mary in the spiritual life in light of the Gospel evidence?
Of course, the first part of the familiar “Hail Mary” quotes the Gospel. The Angel Gabriel salutes Mary with, “Hail, full of grace!” (Luke 1:28) During the Visitation, when Elizabeth hears the greeting of Mary, the unborn Saint John leaps in her womb. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaims, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! (Luke 1:42) Mary must have “prayed the Rosary,” after a fashion when she pondered these words throughout her life.
We contemplate the same words as we pray the Rosary, but conclude with: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” The Gospel roots of this part of the prayer are not immediately evident. ….