SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
THE HAIL MARY EXPOUNDED.
Q. What is this prayer, and by whom was it drawn up, and for what end?
A. It is called the angelical salutation, and expresses the excellencies of the blessed Virgin Mary. It was composed of three parts. The first are the words of the angel Gabriel saluting her. The second, the words of St. Elizabeth when visited by her. The third, the words of the Church, desiring her intercession; which is the chief motive for which it was appointed.
Q. Which part was composed by the angel Gabriel?
A. Hail Mary, full of grace, our Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women; St. Luke i. 28.
Q. What means the word hail ?
A. It is a word, in the original tongue, signifying joy and peace, upon account of good tidings: and, upon the present occasion, it imported not only a congratulation of comfort and joy to the Virgin Mary, that she was so much in favor with the Almighty, as to be made choice of, to bring forth the Saviour of the world; but a general joy to all mankind, for the news of their approaching redemption.
Q. What signifies the word Mary ?
A. It was the proper name of the blessed Virgin, and signifies the excellency of her person and employment, if we attend to the original sense of the word, which signifies a lady and a sea star. By the first, it is imported, that she was to be the lady, and queen of all mankind, by bringing forth the king and ruler of the world. Secondly, that she was the star, to guide us through the dangerous seas of this life, by the example of her virtues, and intercession.
Q. Why is she said to be full of grace?
A. By grace are understood all supernatural gifts, which made her acceptable to God, and preferable to all other creatures; and this is expressed by fulness; (See St Epiph. tom. ii. p. 292.) and this was requisite, that her womb might be a suitable receptacle for the author of grace; but most especially, the fulness of grace consists in the particularity of graces, viz.: She was not only sanctified in her mother's womb, as some few others had been, but was exempt from the guilt of original sin, and, as a consequence of that, from concupiscence of the flesh, and never was guilty of the least sin; 1 for it was not proper that the flesh, from which the pure body of Christ was to be formed, should ever be corrupted or defiled by any sin, either original or actual, mortal or venial. Besides, she possessed all divine gifts in the most eminent degree, viz.: Faith, hope, charity, humility, obedience, and chastity, with all the moral virtues, etc.
Q. What signifies, our Lord is with thee?
A. It imports, that God was not only with her in a general manner, by all the aforesaid gifts, but that the second person, at that very moment the angel spoke, was to be united to her, by forming a perfect human body of her flesh; and at the same time, a human soul was infused into it, and both united to the second person of the most blessed trinity.
Q. What means, blessed art thou among women, and what is it to be blessed ?
A. To be blessed, in general, is to be in the favor of Almighty God, and the more a person is in God's favor the more blessed he is, and the more favors God shows a person, the greater is his blessing. Hence the Virgin Mary is, upon account of the favor shown her, blessed above all other women, 2 An abridgment of these favors, are her purity from all sin; she being a mother and a virgin, and what is more, she being the mother of the world's redeemer, and mother of God.
Q. In what other sense is she to be called blessed ?
A. Because all nations shall honor her, and call her blessed, as St. Luke declares, C. i. 48. All generations shall honor her, by invoking her as a common mother, and having great power with Almighty God.
Q. Which part was composed by St. Elizabeth?
A. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Q. What is the meaning of these words ?
A. The fruit of her womb was Jesus, the redeemer of the world, who was not only blessed in himself, but a blessed fruit, that spread itself every where, and to every person who received a benefit from him. Jesus is added by the Church.
Q. Which part of this prayer was composed by the Church ?
A. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us, sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.(Con. Ephes. Anno 431.)
Q. Explain the meaning of every word ?
A. The Church calls her holy, because the angel declared she was full of grace: the Church calls her Mary, that name being confirmed to her by the same angel: she calls her mother of God, from these words of the angel, Thou shalt conceive and bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; Luke i. 31. As also because she is the true mother of Jesus Christ, who is both God and man, as the council of Ephesus has defined against Nestorius. Lastly, pray for us sinners, desiring her intercession ; now, that is, every moment, because every moment we are in danger; and at the hour of our death, because then we are most incapable of helping ourselves, and then the devil is most industrious to tempt us, either by despair, or deferring our conversion.
Q. Why are we particularly exhorted to beg the Virgin Mary's intercession ?
A. For several reasons. First, her great power with Almighty God. Secondly, her flaming love, charity, and willingness to assist all who call upon her with their prayers. And lastly, because she is the common spiritual mother of all mankind.
1 St. Aug. L. de Nat et Grat C. xxxvi. n. 42, Conc. Trid. Sess. v. Decr, de Pec. Orig.
2 See St. Jer. Cont. Jovin, ect L. 13. C. 44. in Ezech.