Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Three Hail Marys

Here's the Scripture reflection I gave at both masses yesterday.  It's more of a reflection on the saint of the day, than a reflection on the Scriptures.

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."


Sparksbet said...

Quick question:
Since it says there that when the devil makes himself master of a soul that it first makes it give up devotion to Mary, does that mean that Catholics believe that Protestants have had their souls mastered by the devil?
Also, is it bizarre that I'm Protestant and can still say the Hail Mary in Latin?

Anonymous said...

The only way anyone knows the answer to this question is through what God has revealed in His word.

God alone is to receive prayer. There is no indication in scripture that we should, nor do we have examples of, nor do we know that God desires prayers to anyone but Himself from scripture and in scripture. The idea of praying to dead saints is an entirely Catholic idea, and it comes from the teachings of the church, not from the scriptures.

If you do end up praying to Mary or to dead saints (one and the same), then know that no one is listening, no one hears, and no one responds. You might as well be talking to yourself. Only God hears and answers prayers.

Katie said...

We are asking Mary to intercede with us. We aren't worshipping or anything. And that goes for saints too. They aren't "dead" saints. They are alive in heaven and can hear us, and pray for us. Didn't God also say, "you shall honor your mother and father"? We are honering Mary. And the reason we are honering her is because she is the mother of Jesus, who we DO worship.

Anonymous said...

um.. to anynomous at 3:36, Catholics are the ones who WROTE the scriptures. and it doesn't make sense to follow the scriptures and ignore the teachings of the church because they go hand in hand.