“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

Most outside of the Catholic faith question our devotion to the Blessed Mother. Today in the Church, we celebrate her Immaculate Conception. I know I’ve talked about this before, but today is the perfect day to promote one of my favorite devotionals in my faith – The Rosary. I love it so much that I’ve personally expanded the number of Mysteries that I reflect on; I have it that I concentrate on 7 different aspects (ranging from what Jesus would have been taught growing up, His life, death and resurrection and finally, the effects of the Holy Spirit on all of us) when praying the Rosary – one set of mysteries for each day of the week. Before that, let’s take a simple look at the Prayer – The Hail Mary – itself.

From Lukes 1st Chapter:

27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.l 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,s 42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.t

So the first half of the Hail Mary is taken directly from Luke’s 1st Chapter. As a matter of fact, that was the entire prayer for centuries, known as the Angelic Salutation. Then a tradition started where a petition was added to that prayer and during the Council of Trent in 1568 (roughly), they formalized the prayer and added

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death. Amen.

For a brief history of the practice of saying this devotional, I found this on a Catholic website…

The origins of the rosary are “sketchy” at best. The use of “prayer beads” and the repeated recitation of prayers to aid in meditation stem from the earliest days of the Church and has roots in pre-Christian times. Evidence exists from the Middle Ages that strings of beads were used to count Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Actually, these strings of beads became known as “Paternosters,” the Latin for “Our Father.”

The structure of the rosary gradually evolved between the 12th and 15th centuries. Eventually 50 Hail Marys were recited and linked with verses of psalms or other phrases evoking the lives of Jesus and Mary. During this time, this prayer form became known as the rosarium (“rose garden”), actually a common term to designate a collection of similar material, such as an anthology of stories on the same subject or theme. During the 16th century, the structure of the five-decade rosary based on the three sets of mysteries prevailed.

Tradition does hold that St. Dominic (d. 1221) devised the rosary as we know it. Moved by a vision of our Blessed Mother, he preached the use of the rosary in his missionary work among the Albigensians, who had denied the mystery of Christ. Some scholars take exception to St. Dominic’s role in forming the rosary. The earliest accounts of his life do not mention it, the Dominican constitutions do not link him with it and contemporaneous portraits do not include it as a symbol to identify the saint.

So once again, here is my 7 day devotional…

Monday – the First 5 Salvation Mysteries: 1. God’s Creation 2. The Fall of Man 3. God’s Covenant with Noah 4. God’s Covenant with Abraham 5. The Establishment of the 12 Tribes of Israel

Tuesday – the Last 5 Salvation Mysteries: 6. God’s Covenant with Moses 7. The Ten Commandments (recite one before each Hail Mary) 8. Joshua Leads the Chosen People into the Promised Land 9. The Kingships of David and Solomon 10. The Writings of the Prophets

Wednesday – The Joyful Mysteries: 1. The Annunciation 2. The Visitation 3. The Nativity 4. The Presentation of Christ in the Temple 5. The Finding of Christ in the Temple

Thursday – The Luminous Mysteries: 1. The Baptism in the River Jordan 2. The Feast at the Wedding of Cana 3. The Sermon on the Mount 4. The Transfiguration 5. The Last Supper

Friday – The Sorrowful Mysteries: 1. The Agony in the Garden 2. The Scourging at the Pillar 3. The Crowning of Thorns 4. Jesus takes up His Cross 5. Jesus Dies on the Cross

Saturday – The Glorious Mysteries 1. The Resurrection 2. The Ascension 3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit 4. The Assumption of our Blessed Mother 5. The Coronation of our Blessed Mother – Queen of Heaven and Earth

Sunday – The Apostolic Mysteries 1. The Acts of the Apostles 2. The Conversion of St. Paul 3. The Chair of St. Peter – Intercessory Prayers for our Pope 4. The Communion of Saints (invoke a Saint before each Hail Mary) 5. All Holy Men and Women (Pray for 10 people who inspired you)

Do something great for our Lord today – get to Mass today and celebrate the Conception of our Blessed Mother Mary. Try saying a Rosary if you haven’t done this for a while; it may inspire you to do other great things today.

God’s will, not mine, be done. (read the last line of today’s Gospel for the ultimate devotion to God’s holy will)

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.

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