Hail Mary Series (Part 1 of 10) – Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death! Amen.
A friend told me a story once of a non-Catholic friend she was visiting. At one point, they passed a statue of Our Lady, and her friend waved and said, “Hi, Mary!” Then, turning to her companion said, “See, I talk to Mary just like you Catholics do… “Hail Mary” is just like saying “Hi, Mary!”
While our sister meant it well, that could not be further from the truth. “Hi” does NOT equal “Hail.” Dictionary.com offers this definition of hail: “to cheer, salute, or approve enthusiastically.” For hi, the definition is thus: “informal, simplified hello.” While ‘Hi!’ is perfectly acceptable for a peer, it is not the proper greeting for the Mother of God, which is why the angel Gabriel did not say, “Yo!” or “Hi there, Mary!” He said “Hail,” the formal greeting for someone deserving of respect and honor.
When you greet someone is a position of Earthly prestige (ie the president, governor, member of the military, etc.) you offer them respect with a more proper greeting as is fitting to their position. When I was little my mother taught me to always say “Good morning/afternoon/evening, Father ____” when I met a priest. Not because of the man, but because of the office.
When we pray the Hail Mary, in the very first word, we acknowledge the fact that Mary is worthy of respect and honor. Even the tiniest child can lisp the simple words of love and honor that bring such joy to the heart of our Blessed Mother.