First Saturday in Advent - December 8th
Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
I often wonder how many times a day this prayer is recited worldwide.
Because of its simplicity, I know it’s the prayer I recite more frequently than any other prayer I know. It’s a prayer I use when I need help. It’s a prayer I use when I promise someone I’ll pray for them. It’s a prayer I use when I want to say “Thank you” for the blessings I’ve received. I’d like to pray the entire rosary every day, but I’m usually only able to complete 2 decades of the rosary before I’m distracted by my day’s responsibilities.
Why mention this prayer, today, of all days? Because today we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, one week into Advent, the season during which we prepare for the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb, Jesus.
So many aspects of our faith are tied to the decisions made and the actions taken by Mary, our Mother, on our behalf. When God asked Mary to be the Mother of His Son, our Savior, she heard God’s word, and said “Yes”! We celebrate Mary’s “Yes” answer on the Feast of the Annunciation (which is not today’s holy day), although we use the story of the Annunciation as today’s Gospel reading.
What we do celebrate today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, by which we believe no stain of original sin touched the Blessed Virgin. This holy day is meant to remind us of how special Mary was, and how she was, indeed, the sinless, worthy dwelling for our sinless Savior.
Just as important, though, this holy day is meant to remind those who believe in Jesus’s redeeming death and resurrection that they have also had their stain of original sin washed away, through Baptism.
If we could remember this, maybe we would increase the number of times the Hail Mary prayer is recited each day. Maybe it would also help us to do a better job of following Mary’s example. Wouldn’t that be a nice way to say “Thank You” to Mary? Just a thought…
Vito L. Punzi