Hail Mary

The longest confession of my life was about to finish. The priest and I knew each other, so he decided to spend extra time with me. In the long run, it was a good thing, but at the time I wanted to go to lunch. For my penance, he told me, "Pray our most ineffable prayer, the Hail Mary." I nodded and went to do my penance as I wanted food. He was on to something that I didn't see then. I guess I was too hungry.
                Ineffable means that something is too great to describe in words. It is often associated with music, as music is meant to emphasize and lift up its lyrics. Music lifting up the lyrics is one of many reasons, "singing is praying twice." Almost everything about our faith is too great to be described in words, but we do our best. We do this knowing it's a losing battle. It was very strange to me, at the time, to think of the "Hail Mary" as ineffable. It has words. How hard is it to express words in words? I simply didn't go get it.           
                Last week we celebrated the Immaculate Conception. It is often forgotten or confused. You may have heard this before, or even from Father Al, but it is often associated with Jesus being sinless. The Immaculate Conception is Mary being born without original sin. The biggest clue we had into Mary being sinless is the beginning of the prayer in the address to Mary from Gabriel.
                The Hail Mary prayer consists of two biblical quotes (one from Gabriel and one from Elizabeth) and ends in a prayer request. It is short and sweet, but the quote from Gabriel is incredible. No angel has ever said Hail to a human. They come out in a storm like in Job, or command us like in Zechariah. They are above us, and they serve the Lord accordingly. They do this to everyone, but Mary. Gabriel is overjoyed and says, Hail, as if she is royalty. She is about to become Queen Mother to the Son of God. She is above the Angels.  He goes on further. He might have well said "Hail Queen Mary of heaven and earth, first of her name" because he continues with a title. He calls her "Full of Grace." Sin pushes out grace, we all have grace given to us by God but we always need more. Mary is already full, enabling her to bring Jesus into her body.  She then becomes the temple, and the temple must be pure.
                Advent ends Saturday, and in comes the New Creation which began with Mary's Immaculate Conception. It is God's Advent as it was the ultimate preparation by our Lord for our upcoming salvation. If nothing else, take this week to think about how you have prepared and how you will celebrate Christmas more than you have during Advent. Soon our wait will be over and our mission will begin again. 


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A Monthly Article by our Coordinator of Youth Ministry Kevin Byrnes addressing issues of the Christian life. Read More

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