Today is the feast day of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, one of the doctors of the church. He wrote extensively on moral theology, and he had a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary. Today, I am going to talk about the prayer style that he used, which is known as "The Three Hail Marys".
The Three Hail Marys is a very simple devotion. Every morning, after he got out of bed, St. Alphonsus kneeled and prayed three Hail Marys. Every night, before he went to sleep, he prayed three Hail Marys. In other words, he said the Hail Marys at the start of the day and at the end of the day, to ensure that Mary's blessings would be with him throughout the entire day.
You can pray the Hail Marys for an increase of faith, hope and charity, or patience, kindness and goodness, or something similar along those lines. St. Alphonsus specifically prayed the three Hail Marys in honor of her power, wisdom and goodness, and he used them to ask for a special blessing. He asked, "By virtue of your Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy."
It is important to know that you should not limit praying the three Hail Marys to just the beginning and the end of the day. Some people will pray them every hour. Some people will pray the three Hail Marys before and after important events. The one that I find most useful, and the one that St. Alphonsus recommends the most, is praying three Hail Marys in times of difficulty. That is whenever we are afraid, whenever we are in danger, whenever we are inclined to be angry, and whenever we are tempted to sin. During these moments, we should have recourse to Mary, because she is the Help of Christians.
St. Alphosnus says, "The person who remembers having invoked the name of Mary in an impure temptation, may be sure that he did not yield to it," and again, he says, "When the devil wishes to make himself master of a soul, the first thing he does is to make it give up devotion to Mary."
Praying the three Hail Marys is a recommended practice, due to its great effectiveness. The Virgin Mary is an excellent guide along the path of virtue, because she avoided all temptations that came her way, and she is eager to see us, her children, do likewise. Her path is easy and secure, because she loves us as a mother, and she leads us directly to her son Jesus. In fact, "after the love which we owe Jesus Christ, we must give the chief place in our hearts to the love of His Mother Mary."