PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section One: Prayer in the Christian Life
Chapter 2: The Tradition of Prayer
Article 2, The Way of Prayer (cont’d)
In communion with the Holy Mother of God
§ 2673 In prayer, the Holy Spirit unites us to the Person of the Only Son, in His glorified humanity, through which and in which our filial prayer unites us in the Church with the Mother of Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14).
§ 2674 Mary gave her consent in faith at the Annunciation and maintained it without hesitation at the foot of the Cross. Ever since, her Motherhood has extended to the brothers and sisters of her Son “who still journey on Earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties” (LG 62). Jesus, the Only Mediator, is the Way of our prayer; Mary, His Mother and ours, is wholly transparent to Him: she “shows the way” (hodigitria – Greek for “She who shows the way”), and is herself “the Sign” of the Way, according to the traditional iconography of East and West.
§ 2675 Beginning with Mary’s unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the Holy Mother of God, centering it on the Person of Christ manifested in His mysteries. In countless hymns and antiphons expressing this prayer, two movements usually alternate with one another: the first “magnifies” the Lord for the “great things” He did for His lowly servant and through her for all human beings (cf. Luke 1:46–55); the second entrusts the supplications and praises of the children of God to the Mother of Jesus, because she now knows the humanity which, in her, the Son of God espoused.
§ 2676 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:
- Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God Himself who, through His angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of His humble servant and to exult in the joy He finds in her (cf. Lk 1:48; Zephaniah 3:17b).
- Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel’s greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the Presence of Him who is the Source of all grace. “Rejoice…O Daughter of Jerusalem…the Lord your God is in your midst” (Zeph 3:14, 17a). Mary, in whom the Lord Himself has just made His dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God…with men” (Revelation 21:3). Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to Him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.
- Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel’s greeting, we make Elizabeth’s greeting our own. “Filled with the Holy Spirit,” Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary “blessed” (Lk 1:41, 48). “Blessed is she who believed…” (Lk 1:45) Mary is “blessed among women” because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord’s word. Abraham, because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the Earth (cf. Genesis 12:3). Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the Earth receive Him who is God’s own blessing: Jesus, the “fruit of thy womb.”
Tomorrow – In communion with the Holy Mother of God (to be continued)
(Part IV, Section 1, Chapter 2, Article 2 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
- “LG” – “Lumen Gentium [A Light to the Nations]”, Vatican Council II