Catholics are often criticized for praying to Mary, but every part of the Hail Mary has biblical roots which reveal that the focus of this prayer is actually Jesus. St. John Paul II put it this way, “Although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that the act of love is ultimately directed, with her and through her.”
Dr. Sri unpacks the biblical roots of the Hail Mary to help us truly understand the significance of this powerful prayer.
Snippet from the Show
“Every time we pray the Hail Mary, we enter into the ecstatic praise of heaven and earth. Heaven represented by Gabriel, earth represented by Elizabeth. We’re entering into their words of praise, which are in Scripture and are inspired by God.”
“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you”
Luke 1:26-28 – In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!”
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb”
Luke 1:39-45 – In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechari′ah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit* and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
- *filled with the Holy Spirit – this language is used to describe someone who is given prophetic insight.
Philippians 2:8-11 – And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow*, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- *at the name of Jesus – there is immense power in the name of Jesus, and his name is at the very center of this prayer, making it literally a Christocentric prayer. St. John Paul II called it the “hinge” of the Hail Mary. He said, “The centre of gravity in the Hail Mary, the hinge as it were which joins its two parts, is the name of Jesus. Sometimes, in hurried recitation, this centre of gravity can be overlooked, and with it the connection to the mystery of Christ being contemplated. Yet it is precisely the emphasis given to the name of Jesus and to his mystery that is the sign of a meaningful and fruitful recitation of the Rosary.”
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”
Luke 1:8 – And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”*
- *let it be to me – Mary’s Fiat, her yes to God, is exactly what we seek to emulate. This part of the Hail Mary is where we ask Our Lady to intercede for us, so that we may accept Jesus into our hearts as she did.
- Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Apostolic letter of St. John Paul II
- Praying the Rosary Like Never Before by Dr. Edward Sri
- How to Pray Like Mary by Sonja Corbitt
Sign up below to receive All Things Catholic weekly shownotes, exclusive monthly updates from Dr. Edward Sri, and additional Catholic resources to help support your faith!
You can now offer ongoing support for this content with a recurring gift.