Living the Hail Mary

Imitate Mary’s disposition

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”                                (Luke 1:38 ESV)

Mary represents the greatest miracle of history when with her, God takes flesh and becomes human. Try to picture God, the merciful Father, intervening in human history by sending His Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to become flesh and be born of the Virgin Mary.

Mary is present and available to God, for this to happen. Bring your imagination to share in God‘s own wonder and pleasure at His ultimate creation – a child is born by Mary and a Son is given by God. And the Virgin Mary truly becomes the Mother of God!

With this marvel, be sure to take Mary as the model for your discipleship of prayer. Think of Mary in the Gospels, and how she displays a full range of prayerful attitudes. Wherever she goes, she distributes God’s graces. Mary’s life was (is) living prayer!  

In the scene of the Annunciation, she lives in humble surrender as the handmaid of the Lord, being in accord with God’s Will. You must “Hail Mary,” so that you too can get to hear God’s message for you. Know that every message is personal. Ask for a listening heart, that you may first find out what God wants for you.

“Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee.”

This is Angel Gabriel’s message to Mary. First He hails her. Then He announces that Mary is in a permanent state of being highly favoured with the presence of the Lord (cf. Luke 1:28 NABRE). He says she is full of grace. Realize that this can also happen to you, and indeed does happen to you if, when and how you make yourself available to it.

God, in His infinite goodness and love, chooses to perfect His created goodness in Mary (and in you too!), and He fills her finite being (as is yours) with unlimited grace limits. Ponder this for a while.

Use these beautiful words to take a glimpse into God‘s own wonderment as He appreciates the masterpiece of creation in the Incarnation. This was her calling. See how God likewise wills that you too should live the incarnation in your life.

Discover your own calling. Recognize that you too are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be your way of life (Ephesians 2:10). Mary sure lived it; ask her to help you live yours. 

Notice that she was expectant in her praying, and you too, be as expectant in your praying. Observe that the angel’s appearance to her does not frazzle her. She remains calm, waiting to hear what he has to say.

You too must be aware of the presence of God’s messengers (angels) and the multitude of witnesses (saints) when you pray. Remember, Mary is Queen of Angels and Queen of all saints. So, when you “Hail Mary”, they come to you with her.

And she always carries her divine Son in her heart. She, therefore, comes with Him. And He comes with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus, when you pray “Hail Mary”, the whole of Heaven comes down with her.

This is how graces spill over from heaven every time you call on Mary. See how Mary is indeed the Gate of heaven, and acknowledge that she is as such.

Be attentive to what is going on when you pray. Know that what the angel says to you, is God’s Word. Thus enter into a dialogue with God. Actively take part in this godly conversation: listen, question, listen again, and respond. Repeat this process and experience a deep personal prayer, a holy experience.

Follow Mary’s lead. Encounter the Father, be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and conceive the Son in your heart. Live the incarnation by allowing His Word to become flesh in you! Hail Mary and ask her to show you how by praying.

You may not understand whatever you may get when you pray. Look to Mary again. See how she seeks to discern what God is saying to her in the things which are to happen to her. She has a discerning heart. She does not fully understand at first, but she asks for clarification of what is said.

Know that God does not always speak directly to us in prayer. More often He will manifest His will in the people we meet and the events of our daily life. Bring a listening heart to these people and events too. Be constantly on the alert to pick up what God is really saying and asking of us. 

The discerning heart must be your habitual disposition of a delicate sensitivity to the hand of God in your daily life. Your prayer must extend throughout your life, permeating everything you do. Look to Mary, who prays always. She was (is) always ready to hear the Word of God and put it into practice.

She was constantly aware of God’s dealings with His chosen people in the past and His promise to send them a Messiah. This gave her the insight to see that what was now happening to her was all part of God’s plan of salvation.

Thus it became clear to her what she must decide. God’s will became plain to her and she consented to His plan for her. Imitate her. Once the Word becomes clear, accept it as your Call. There should be no rationalizing. Once you accept, commit to being who you are called to be.

There should be no second-guessing. Once you commit, declare that you are the handmaid of the Lord. When you pray, de-center your ego, re-orient your life, become passive, and surrender to God’s Will. Then go out in haste to be His chosen representative in the world.

Catch up with Mary as she travels in haste to the hill country to visit with Elizabeth, showing concern for another. There she becomes the channel of God’s grace, through whose greeting both Elizabeth and unborn John become filled with the Holy Spirit.

With these words which proclaim her as blessed, you join in adoration of the mystery accomplished in the Virgin Mother.

Identify with St. Elizabeth that this is truly the Mother of the Lord. Acknowledge her blessedness in having believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled. Think of your own beliefs and pray the Hail Mary.

Acknowledge that Jesus is the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb. Emphasize the name of Jesus and ponder His mystery. Profess your faith in Jesus, the Word become flesh. Ponder this mystery of God taking the form of a man for love of us. Call on Him to likewise become flesh in you (Galatians 2:20).

Repeat this name of Jesus; this only Name was given to us by which we may hope for salvation. Repeat it in close association with the name of His Blessed Mother, Mary. “Blessed are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Blessed are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”

Now be silent. Listen. Hear the multitude of angels and saints who accompany Mary everywhere likewise greet you and call you ‘blessed’. Listen to what they tell you. Get the message. Appreciate that the Lord is really with you; you are also truly blessed. And the work you are setting out to do is likewise blessed.

Ask Mary to help you carry the Lord Jesus to all you meet so that you also become a channel of His grace. Commit to it and declare that you are. Now go out in haste, and be that blessing.

Repeatedly saying, “I am God’s channel of grace, I am.  I am a channel of God’s grace, I am. I am a blessing, I am. I am a blessing, I am.”

Recognize the value of Mary’s reaction as she breaks into thanksgiving and praise of God in the Magnificat. It reveals her reflective heart. The word of God is not always made clear to us in the present events of our life. We must reflect on them in the light of our past as well. Learn from Mary. She pondered these things.

In the Magnificat, she recalls the deeds of mercy God did for Abraham and her ancestors throughout Israel’s history ( Luke 1.54-55). Looking back helped her to find meaning in the mission given to her. Now she glorifies the Lord in her soul. And she rejoices in the current events in body, mind and spirit. It is a wholesome outburst in praise of God. In it, she recalls everything thanking and praising GOD for it all.

Reflect and pay attention to God’s dealings in your life. Observe which course of action conforms to the pattern that He reveals to you. Identify this as the one more likely to be in accordance with God’s will. See the pattern that emerges from good and not so good times.

See it in the doubts and difficulties that you faced. Appreciate it in the joys and triumphs that you experienced. Acknowledge God’s sure guiding Hand and His providence in all your life. Like Mary, repeatedly thank and praise Him for each one that you recall.

“Thank you, Lord; praise you, Lord. Thank you, Lord; praise you, Lord. Thank you, Lord; praise you, Lord.”

This should be sufficient to entice you to call on Mary whenever you pray. Notice in all these ways of praying, that Mary displays a consistent attitude towards God. She prays with a noble and generous heart (this is rich soil) while seeking to hear the word of God.

Having heard the Word, she takes it unto herself (embracing it with a generous and good heart), and yields a harvest through her perseverance ( Luke 8.15). Now think about yourself. Is the Word of God falling on rich soil in you?

In tranquillity and silence, take the Word unto yourself. Identify with it, and make it your own. Know the voice of God in the word which you hear. Absorb it and allow it to sink deep into your heart. Let it resound deep with your inner being.

Let it reveal the truth of who you are and what God wills for you. Let it reach the intimate depths of your being. See how it rings as true. Now you know that this word is truly from God. Repeatedly thank and praise Him.

“Thank you, Lord; praise you, Lord! Thank you, Lord; praise you, Lord! Thank you, Lord; praise you, Lord!”

When you truly hear God’s Word, be transformed into the best version of who God created you to be. Be religiously obedient and keep it in your heart. Allow the Word to judge all your secret emotions and thoughts.

Let it overcome in you all those elements which are not true of you. Bring out those disturbing forces and urges which frustrate your good intentions and lead you to do things that you would rather not do.

Let it be the unifying point of your life. Get rid of those things which do not represent what you know you truly are. Become fully integrated into your role as God’s representative in this life. Look to Mary, and declare like her, that you are the lowly servant of the Lord, and let it be to you according to God’s word.

Follow Mary through the rest of the Gospels. Observe how she allows the Word to have an effect on all of her life. Notice that she put it into practice (Luke 8:21). Listen when she says, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5).

Imitate her so that you become like her, a true disciple who hears the word of God takes it to heart and yields a harvest through perseverance. As St. James bids us, be a doer of the word, and not just a hearer of it (James 1:22).

Recognize Mary’s uniquely privileged relationship with the Lord Jesus, which makes her the Mother of God. She committed to this vocation and remained perfectly faithful in it, even to date. With our adoption as children of God, we are her children also. Have the confidence to entrust your life (and ours too) to her maternal intercession.

Remember that there has never been any known to come to the glorious virgin, implore her help or seek her intercession who was left unaided. Be thus inspired with confidence to return to her often times. When you do, fly into her open arms or simply stand before her, in all your sinfulness and sorrowfulness.

But know that she, the mother of the Incarnate Word, will never despise our petitions. Be always confident that in her mercy, she will receive and answer them all, in accordance to the will of God.

Believe that she knows the spiritual needs of all humanity, and she knows all that which concerns our salvation. Be sure that she has immense charity, and thus she prays for all of God’s children. And she is all-powerful with her Son because of the love-bond by which they are united.

Therefore she obtains from Him all the graces for which she asks, which are all the graces that we receive. Appeal to her often, that she may continue praying for us (her children) now and at the hour of our death.

Ask her to pray that each moment of your life is like hers, consecrated to love and to Christ. Recognize each ‘now’ as the very moment of salvation, so that you die prepared for eternal life. Proclaim this power of her intercession. Trust her to come each time you call to her. Trust her to lead you always to Jesus. Trust her to get you to Heaven. Trust her.

Read more of Dr. Pamela Mandela Idenya’s book:   Living the Common Prayers: Turning Basic Catholic Prayers into Living Prayers

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