As I came to the end of the Rosary, I found that I had recited five decades of the Hail Mary (also called a chaplet), with the Lord’s Prayer, the Glory Be, and the Fatima Prayer interspersed throughout. At the end of the chaplet, the final prayer is a prayer called the “Hail, Holy Queen.” As with my first time praying the Hail Mary, I felt that I couldn’t genuinely say this prayer. Some of the language used is more affectionate toward Mary than I actually feel at this time. I am just not used to Mary being part of my spiritual life, other than looking toward her example as a role model for obedience to God. Still, as with the Hail Mary, I wanted to give all the prayers of the Rosary a fair and unbiased chance. So I read over the “Hail Holy Queen” a few times, and tried to put myself in the position of someone who had grown up with this prayer.
“Hail Holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.”
As we have already discussed, the word “Hail” is simply a greeting and as Revelation 12 suggests, Mary is crowned in heaven. Mary is the mother of Jesus – therefore she is the mother of mercy. She is also the mother of our life, the mother of our sweetness, and the mother of our hope – all of which are found in Christ.
“To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”
I have already discussed the idea that the (physically) dead in Christ may have the ability to pray for those of us who are still (physically) alive in Christ. Therefore, sending up our “sighs mourning and weeping” to Mary does not seem odd when in the context of the idea that Mary and all the saints are still very much alive and can interact with us as we are all part of the living body of Christ. Furthermore, the possibility of Mary’s assumption into heaven means that she may never have actually physically died – so not only is she alive in Christ and potentially able to hear our prayers and pray for us – this means that she is also still physically alive and so prayers to Mary are not being directed to someone who is physically dead.
The mention of being “poor banished children of Eve,” kind of compares Mary to Eve as Jesus is compared to Adam in the Bible. Jesus is the “new Adam,” the obedient man. While Mary is the “new Eve,” the obedient woman. The most important part, though, is that this portion of the prayer requests that Mary reveal to us her son. This aligns itself with 1 John 4:2, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” Regardless of whether one feels that it is right to pray to Mary – it can’t be denied that the Catholic position definitively confirms Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, death, and resurrection.
Although this prayer is entitled the ‘Hail Holy Queen,’ the aforementioned is really the only part of the prayer that is addressed to Mary. The rest is directed to God, asking for the ability to imitate the virtues of what the glorious mysteries teach, and to obtain, through Christ, what is promised within the glorious mysteries. Finally, the one praying asks God to be an ever-present help, to grant rest to the souls of the faithful departed, and to not revoke His blessing on us. The Rosary is then concluded by making the sign of the cross.
Dissecting the Rosary has given me a lot to think about, and has challenged some of my current views on Christianity and the Bible. I enjoy being challenged in this way and I am so glad that I have had this opportunity to investigate the Rosary and learn more about what it means and why it is recited. I want to thank my Catholic friends for the articles and resources they’ve sent and the helpful explanations both in the comments and through private messages! And of course, thank you for graciously letting me stumble through your faith for the past couple of weeks!
In the next (and final) Adventures In Rosaries – a brief summary of things I’ve learned, re-considered, or have been challenged to think more about!