Thank you to the Knights of Columbus from Newtown, CT, whose “Three Hail Marys” prayer request in their time of sorrow helped me to better appreciate this prayer. newtownknightsofcolumbus.org/ThreeHailMaryPrayerDrive
44 The Angelic Salutation, or Hail Mary, is so heavenly and so beyond us in its depth of meaning, that Blessed Alan de la Roche held that no mere creature could ever understand it, and that only our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, can really explain it.
The most Blessed Trinity revealed the first part of it to us; St. Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, added the second; and the Church gave us the conclusion in the year 430 when she condemned the Nestorian heresy at the Council of Ephesus and defined that the Blessed Virgin is truly the Mother of God.
45 The greatest event in the whole history of the world was the Incarnation of the eternal Word by whom the world was redeemed and peace was restored between God and men. Our Lady was chosen as his instrument for this tremendous event, and it was put into effect when she was greeted with the Angelic Salutation. The archangel Gabriel, one of the leading princes of the heavenly court, was chosen as ambassador to bear these glad tidings.
In the Angelic Salutation can be seen the faith and hope of the patriarchs, the prophets and the apostles. Furthermore, it gives to martyrs their unswerving constancy and strength, it is the wisdom of the doctors of the Church, the perseverance of the holy confessors and the life of all religious (Blessed Alan). It is the new hymn of the law of grace, the joy of angels and men, and the hymn which terrifies devils and puts them to shame. By the Angelic Salutation God became man, a virgin became the Mother of God, the souls of the just were delivered from Limbo, the empty thrones in heaven have been filled, sin has been pardoned, grace been given to us, the sick been made well, the dead brought back to life, exiles brought home, the Blessed Trinity has been appeased, and men obtained eternal life.
47 Although this new hymn is in praise of the Mother of God and is sung directly to her, it is nevertheless most glorious to the Blessed Trinity, for any honour we pay to our Lady returns inevitably to God, the source of all her perfections and virtues. God the Father is glorified when we honour the most perfect of his creatures; God the Son is glorified when we praise his most pure Mother; the Holy Spirit is glorified when we are lost in admiration at the graces with which he has filled his spouse.
When we praise and bless our Lady by saying the Angelic Salutation, she always refers these praises to God in the same way as she did when she was praised by St. Elizabeth. The latter blessed her in her high dignity as Mother of God and our Lady immediately returned these praises to God in her beautiful Magnificat.
“The name Mary, which means ‘lady of light,’ shows that God has filled me with wisdom and light, like a shining star, to light up heaven and earth. “The words, full of grace, remind me that the Holy Spirit has showered so many graces upon me that I am able to give these graces in abundance to those who ask for them through my mediation.
“When people say, The Lord is with thee, they renew the indescribable joy that was mine when the eternal Word became incarnate in my womb. “When you say to me, Blessed art thou among women, I praise the mercy of God who has raised me to this exalted degree of happiness.
“And at the words, Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, the whole of heaven rejoices with me to see my Son Jesus adored and glorified for having saved mankind.”