One of the most loved Catholic prayers that are said at the conclusion of the Rosary, is known as the Hail, Holy Queen prayer. As I was meditating on the Rosary this morning, I was thinking about how this prayer, being a powerful prayer for any Christian, can be really misunderstood. And sure enough, when I arrived at the Library here in Trenton Missouri, I decided to Google up the prayer.
Low and behold, I stumbled on this article called “Mary Worship, A study of Catholic practice and doctrine”. The author, Mary Ann Collins, while claiming to be a “former Catholic” as if this makes her an authority of the subject, clearly she has become confused either by an agenda or bias because what she claims is not close to being the truth. This is typically what I see from those who catch onto some of the Fundamentalist Mary claptrap propaganda. Lets take a very simple look at the prayer, Hail, Holy Queen:
First of all, the word hail is not a word used in worship, it is simply a greeting. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica Company-Dictionary, the word hail means:
1. a : salute, greet
b : to greet with enthusiastic approval : acclaim
2. to greet or summon by calling
The first example fits perfectly with the greeting of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, “And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Luke 1:28)
So the idea that the title “Hail Mary” would be an act of worship would be false.
Most of the time, people who love to misrepresent the title Queen that is given to Mother Mary, they attempt to tie Mary as the Queen of Heaven to Jeremiah 7:16-18, “You, now, do not intercede for this people; raise not in their a pleading prayer! Do not urge me, for I will not listen to you. Do you not see what they are doing in the cites of Judah, in the streets of Jerusalem? The Children gather wood, their fathers light the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven, while libations are poured out to strange gods in order to hurt me. Is it I whom they hurt, says the Lord; is it not rather themselves, to their own confusion?”
The queen of heaven that Jeremiah is speaking of is not the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the true Queen of Heaven, but rather a false god. The Israelite worshiped Pagan gods that displeased the Lord. The Babylonians worshiped a woman called “Ishtar“, she was the goddess of love and war. Prostitution was a part of the temple worship. She was known to have had many lovers.
Contrast this with the Blessed Virgin Mary who represents chastity, modesty, faithfulness, and love of God. She is the purest of God’s creation. Unlike Ishtar and other female goddesses who were worshiped and called “God the Mother“, the Blessed Virgin Mary is called "Mother of God." Not because she is a goddess, she is not, but because Catholics recognize Jesus as Divine. He is truly God and man.
The idea of the Blessed Virgin Mary being the Queen of Heaven comes from the tradition and practice of the Kings of Israel beginning with King Solomon who placed is Mother, Bathsheba, a place of honor within his court. (1 Kings 2:12-20)
It was never the wife or wives of the king, but it was the mother of the king who would be queen. Jesus is the King of kings, the rightful Son of David, and the Blessed Virgin Mary is His Mother.
Mother of mercy:
Since the Virgin Mary is the Mother of Jesus, she is the “New Eve” who became the Mother of the living, the Mother of the Church.
St. Irenaeus referred to Mary as the “Ark of the New Covenant”. He made the typology between Eve and Mary “Against Heresies” as St. Paul did with Adam and Jesus (Romans 5:12). This reveals the perspective and role Mary had in the early Church.
Revelation 12:17 states, “And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Compare Genesis 3:15 with Revelation Chapter 12 and we see a clear connection between a woman, her seed (offspring) and a serpent. Clearly, St. John the Apostle is connecting the two stories as one. Mary is the woman, Jesus is the seed or offspring, and the serpent is the Devil. We, the followers of Jesus, becomes the offspring of the woman. Jesus is the Divine Mercy, the Virgin Mary is His Mother, the title Mother of Mercy really is pointing to Jesus.
hail, our life:
Because of the Virgin Mary’s “Yes” in response to the Angel Gabriel’s question, this opened the door for the whole human race. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believe in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the vehicle that the Lord came to the world.
our sweetness and our hope:
Our hope is in the Lord, the Virgin Mary, being with Jesus, takes us deep within the Merciful Heart of Jesus. The Virgin Mary is not in some kind of competition with Jesus. She continues to bring Jesus to us through our prayers of hope.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the par excellence of evangelism bringing countless souls to Christ through her prayers of intercession. We imitate Mother Mary when we bring the Word of God to others.
We become Christ bearers!
To thee do we cry:
The Lord hears the cry of the poor. As Catholics, we go straight to the Lord as the center of our faith. Jesus is the heart of every prayer, He is the source of all that is in us.
Mary does not detract from any of who Jesus is within us. Our plea to Mary here is our common prayer with Mother Mary who is praying for us even at this moment.
Even when we are deeply involved in the pressures of life, Mother Mary is a constant reminder for us to get up and pray!
poor banished children of Eve:
Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we are still influenced by a fallen nature. We cry out to the Lord to help us through our fallen nature. We are still being delivered from bondage and liberated from the power of sin through God’s grace and through His Church.
We have safe refuge from the powers of darkness, but through Jesus Christ, we have the light, like Mother Mary, we become the light when we choose to live for Him.
to thee do we send up our sighs:
Our Mother Mary shares the very pain we have through the merits of her Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. As a loving Mother, she watched over Jesus as a baby through adulthood. As a Mother, she identifies our suffering with his and she intercedes on our behalf through the love Jesus has for us. Being one in the Lord in not just a slogan especially when we are truly one in the Lord with Mother Mary as our Mother as well.
mourning and weeping in this vale of tears:
This life is filled with everything, good and evil. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, that gives us hope, but there is also free will and some choose to do evil. We see in our families both love and support, and at the same time despair and anger.
Life in Christ is not simply a bed of roses, but through Christ, we are given the power to overcome evil through His grace. We are also given the power to forgive others which is necessary for our own personal growth in the Lord.
To be like Him, we offer up our sufferings to unite them with His suffering and passion.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate:
This part of the prayer leads to a very important truth, God involves all of us to become partakers to cooperate with His Holy Will. It is true that Jesus is the one Mediator between heaven and earth, God and man. It is through His mediation, that everything else is derived.
The Church, the Saints, the Sacraments, would be meaningless without Him. The Lord calls for all of us to intercede on behalf of others, especially for those who do not have anyone praying for them.
1 Timothy 2:1 states, “I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men”.
Asking Mother Mary or the Saints to pray for us is based in our belief that when a person dies, their soul continues to live. From heaven, the Saints do pray for us (Revelation 5:8/8:3) and someday, like Jesus and Mary, we will have a glorified body to house once again, our living souls.
thine eyes of mercy toward us:
When we ask Mother Mary to have mercy, we are asking her as our loving Mother, who is not a goddess, but who is right there with her Son, Jesus Christ, who is God.
We are asking our Mother in heaven to keep her eyes on the world with the grace that God gave her for the love of us.
As Queen Bathsheba first interceded before the Court of Solomon on behalf of Israel, Mother Mary continues to do the same with an infinite greater good for the people of God.
Psalms 45 states, “Hear, O daughter, consider, and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house; and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your Lord, bow to him; the people of Tyre will sue your favor with gifts, the richest of the people with all kinds of wealth. The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes; in many colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions, her escort, in her train. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king. Instead of your fathers shall by your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations; therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever” (Psalms 45:9-17).
Notice that the richest people seeks the Queens (Mother Mary) favor! This is not speaking really of wealth, but of a spiritual richness. To be rich in spirit.
and after this our exile:
Until we are in heaven, we are in exile, awaiting for the glorious coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who will one day come again and His Kingdom will have no end.
1 Corinthians 2:9 states, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
That is so great a hope for all of the faithful.
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb:
At the greeting of Mary, St. Elizabeth exclaimed, “Most blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:42) as she recognized that the words of the angel given to Mary were true.
Mary is blessed for her faith and obedience to the will of God. Judith in the Old Testament is a type of Mary because of her faith and in what she had down. Judith literally by her hand saved the Israelite from certain destruction, yet, God worked a miracle through her.
Judith 15:10 states, “With your own hand you have done all this: you have done good to Israel, and God is pleased with what you have wrought. May you be blessed by the Lord Almighty forever and ever!” Likewise, because of Mary’s Yes, and her obedience to do God’s will, through her love of God, by her hand, she brought into the world the King of Kings who won the war.
Mary spoke of herself, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.”
Mary is identifying herself with the Queen of Psalms 45 (vs 10) whom the Lord promised, “I will make your name renowned through all generations; thus nations shall praise you forever.” Psalms 45:18
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believe in me, although he be dead, shall live”. Jesus will not refuse His Mother for her request, and I have no problem asking her to remember me when she is present asking Jesus of any request. Jesus honored the Commandments greater than anyone else who ever lived.
We are all called to show mercy to those who have harmed us, this is central to offering forgiveness for all offenses. We humbly come before Jesus asking for His Mercy. The Virgin Mary’s heart was pierced by a sword, and our sin had something to do with that. If you truly love Jesus, through that love, it is good and right to recognize that when you invite the Blessed Virgin Mary into your house, do it with humility. You want to touch the Heart of Christ in a deep way, respect His Mother!
God so loved the world, God is love. The woman who bore Him, who would become literally the “Ark of the New Covenant”, always points to Jesus.
Her love for Jesus compels her to love all of us, as we should also love others.
O sweet Virgin Mary:
Sampson once asked the riddle, “Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet.” The meaning of the riddle was “What is sweeter than honey and stronger than a lion”. Sampson had killed a lion with his bare hands, and was talking about himself. But Mother Mary is sweeter than honey because as the women of Genesis 3:15, she was greater than the serpent.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God:
At the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., the Church gave the title “Theotokos” (Mother of God) to proclaim that Jesus is God, that Mary was not simply the mother of the human part of Jesus, but his whole person with two natures, divine and human.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ:
“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name. Even though I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage. You set a table before me as my enemies watch; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come”.
Very true! If you get the chance to take a gander at Mary Ann Collins sad misrepresentation of the Catholic Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Jesus, please remember to pray for not only her, but for all who have abandoned the Catholic Faith.
James 5:19-20 states, “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.