May Crowning

Today’s reading: Luke 1:42-50
This was used at a May Crowning prayer service for the school children.

I remember a time when I was in seminary, and I was on my pastoral internship, much like seminarian Frank is today.  I visited with a nice lady that I had visited often in the nursing home.  This time she was doing poorly, and was in the hospital.  Her husband said to me, “She’s having a rough time.  She hasn’t said anything in days.”  So I suggested we pray and I told her she could pray with us in her heart, if that was all she could do.  So we began to pray, the Hail Mary, and she prayed it with us!  She hadn’t said anything in days, but she called on Mary!  We were all in tears!

We all know, and say, the “Hail Mary” prayer all the time.  It’s a great prayer, and we should probably say it even more often than we do.  Mary loves to hear it, loves to be close to all of us, who are her children.  Since we are crowning Mary today, I thought it might be a good thing to talk about that wonderful prayer and what it means, because just like every familiar prayer, we can sometimes forget what it means when we say it so often.

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…”

Mary never thought she was great all by herself.  She always knew that it was because the Lord had chosen her and that the Lord had given her his grace, his help, that she could live a holy life and be the mother of Jesus.

“blessed art thou among women…”

Because Mary was holy, she is able to help all women to lead a holy life.  When they follow her as mothers or even as women of faith, they have a wonderful role model.  She was the first of all the apostles, the queen of the apostles, and that was because of her faith.  She is an example for all women, and really all people of faith.

“and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”

Mary was the first earthly temple that Jesus was to be in.  Because of God’s grace and her faith, she was the perfect home for Jesus to be born in.  And she said yes to that, even though she wasn’t sure how it would happen or what it would mean.  She was faithful to God by saying “yes.”

“Holy Mary, Mother of God…”

Some people think that it is weird, or even wrong, for us to say that Mary is the mother of God.  But Jesus was perfectly human and perfectly divine.  Yes, he was God, but he was also a human person.  Every human has a mother, and so Mary is the human mother of Jesus who is God and man.  We say that she is the Mother of God the Word, according to his human nature.

“pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

This is what makes us celebrate Mary today.  She is not just the mother of Jesus.  She is also the mother of John, the “favorite disciple”.  Jesus made them mother and son at the foot of the cross.  While he was on the cross, he said: “Woman, behold your son.  Son, behold your mother.”  Because we are disciples now, she is also the mother of you and me, Jesus’ “favorite disciples” today.  Just like every other good mother, Mary prays for all of her children, including you and me, all the time – now and at the hour of our death.

Sometimes we forget how very important familiar prayers are.  But we shouldn’t overlook them.  Those familiar prayers will get us through so much in our lives if we remember to say them every day.  They will be the last things we forget, and they will see us through the good times and bad times of our lives.  They will give us words to pray when words fail us.  So remember the “Hail Mary,” and say it every day.  Mary loves to hear her children call on her.

The “Hail Mary” says everything about why we crown Mary as Queen of the Apostles, Queen of the Church, and Queen of Heaven and Earth today.  She was faithful, she said yes to God’s will, she prays for us all the time.  Mary is the mother of all of us, and as we come close to Mother’s Day, it is so appropriate that we give Mary the gift of our love and devotion today.

Pray it with me: Hail Mary, full of grace…