Malankara World

40 Questions Answered

By H.G. Dr Geevarghese Mar Osthathios

QUESTION 17. Should we pray, 'Hail Mary, full of grace......'

The right type of Mariology is to give her the due place of the God-bearer (Theotokos) and to exalt her as the early church and the Scriptures have exalted her. The Roman Catholic practice of praying ten 'Hail Mary... ' for each Lord's prayer seems to be too much and the Protestant refusal to pray that prayer is giving her too little a place. Similarly, the doctrine of Immaculate conception is unscriptural and the bodily assumption of the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary) is not a dogma in the Orthodox Churches.

The prayer, 'Hail Mary....' is taken from the invocation of Gabriel at the time of the Annunciation (Lk. 1:28), from the greeting of Elizabeth when Mary visited her in her home (Lk. l: 42), and the exclamation of a woman in the crowd when Our Lord was preaching (Lk. 11: 28). There is nothing wrong in the petition at the end to 'pray for us sinners, now and the time of our death.' (See answer to question number 6).

The Scriptural basis for the efficacy of the intercession of the BVM is the incident of the intercession at the wedding in Cana (Jn. 2). Although Our Lord said that his time for performing miracles had not come, he performed his first miracle in response to the request of His mother.

The tradition of the church is also very strong that the earliest churches of Christendom have been in the name of the BVM. She is the queen of saints and so her invocation is made before that of any other saint in the liturgy of all the ancient churches. The fact that Jesus loved her till His last breath is evident in His thoughtfulness to commit her to the care of John the apostle (Jn. 19: 25-27). If the so-called brothers of Jesus (Mt. 13:55) were the children of BVM herself, they would have taken her to their house when Jesus breathed His last. They were, according to one tradition, the children of Joseph in a previous marriage.

The BVM bad a unique place in the life of Jesus and so her intercession has a unique power. Hence it is perfectly in order to pray "Hail Mary, full of grace..."

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