“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners!”
In this part of the Hail Mary, we are asking for Our Lady’s intercession. In praying to Our Lady, we are encouraged by the saints, who have regularly attested to her assistance. The Flemish monk and mystical writer Louis de Blois went so far as to say that no sooner will heaven and earth be destroyed than will Mary fail to aid those who, with pure intention, recommend themselves to her and put their confidence in her. Saint Basil the Great once said, “O sinner, be not discouraged, but have recourse to Mary in all your necessities. Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine Will that she should help in every kind of necessity.” The Saints have even said that no one can get to heaven without Our Lady’s aid. What does it mean to be devoted to Our Lady? It is putting our confidence in her and placing ourselves ‘under her mantle.’ How do we do this? By asking her intercession! The ultimate act of placing confidence in anyone is by asking and trusting that they will obtain for us what we ask.
A story from St. Louis De Montfort’s book ‘The Secret of the Rosary’ illustrates the power of Our Lady’s intercession:
St. Dominic once, in front of a large crowd of people, put his rosary round the neck of a possessed man and asked the demons, “Who, of all the saints in heaven, do you fear most?” The demons refused to speak, so St. Dominic knelt and prayed to our Lady that the demons would answer his question. Our Lady then appeared and struck the possessed man with a golden rod, commanding the demons to speak.
The demons, with a scream, said to the crowd;
“Listen, you Christians. This Mother of Jesus is most powerful in saving her servants from falling into hell. She is like the sun which destroys the darkness of our wiles and subtlety. It is she who uncovers our hidden plots, breaks our snares, and makes our temptations useless and ineffective. We have to say, however, reluctantly, that no soul who has really persevered in her service has ever been damned with us; one single sigh that she offers to the Blessed Trinity is worth far more than all the prayers, desires, and aspirations of all the saints.”
The demons continued by saying that they fear Our Lady more than all the saints together and that damned souls who call on Our Lady at the hour of death are always saved by her intercession.
“And if that Marietta (it is thus in their fury they called her) did not counter our plans and our efforts, we should have overcome the Church and destroyed it long before this, and caused all the Orders in the Church to fall into error and infidelity. Now that we are forced to speak, we must also tell you that nobody who perseveres in saying the Rosary will be damned, because she obtains for her servants the grace of true contrition for their sins by which they obtain pardon and mercy.”
How worthy is Our Lady of the titles Refuge of Sinners, Mediatrix of Graces, and Help of Christians! Mother Mary Francis once wrote in a poem entitled Hail, Full of Grace,
“We come to save you, undaunted Mother
From the floods of grace high rising in your soul.
Here with cupped hearts we knell to beg a drenching.
Hail Mary, full of grace, spill grace on us.”
This is what we should be asking in this part of the Hail Mary. We should be saying… You who are the Mother of God, pray for me! You who are so Full of Grace, pour out your graces on us your poor sinners. Save us, and bring the Church, and the world to your Son! Put your confidence in this great Mother and join Saint Ephrem in saying “Hail thou, firm security of Christians! Hail thou, help of sinners! Hail thou, salvation of the world!”