I have a couple of friends who are connoisseurs of Catholic Devotions. A particularly good scout of these treasures of the church, one of my dear friends shares them with our spiritual family. She gave me a little booklet called, “Devotions that can Save Your Soul: 9 Church-Approved Devotions Which Promise Salvation“. Published by Holy Family Press, these devotions range from “Nine First Fridays” (which take 9 months to complete on the First Friday of each month) to the short but powerful “Three Hail Marys.“
I had never before been introduced to the devotion of the Three Hail Marys in which we “honor the privileges given to Mary by the Adorable Trinity“. The Power of God the Father, the Wisdom of God the Son, and the Love of God the Spirit. Ages old, this devotion was revealed to St Mechtilde who was a companion of St Gertrude the Great in the 13th century. Although the devotion itself is short and to the point–praying the Hail Mary three times in a row– it is powerful as it secures for the soul its final passage through the powerful intercession of the Blessed Mother.
“All of the Saints of the Church agree in assuring us that there is no path to Heaven as certain, as safe, as simple, as easy, or as secure, as a true and loving devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. The Great Saint and Doctor of the Church, St Alphonsus Liguori (among so many others), reminds us of this Heavenly Truth: ‘A devout servant of Mary shall never lose their soul!”Devotions That Can Save Your Soul, p. 69.
After reading about this special devotion which includes a special prayer of intention, I was pondering the beautiful package in which came wrapped the gift of this devotion. Stories of souls in danger, turning to the Blessed Mother, who constantly intercedes for us before the Throne of God. I was turning to my afternoon rosary and began to pray the first three Hail Mary’s of the rosary in which we ask for an increase in the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love. It occurred to me how adjacent this prayer was to the devotion of the Three Hail Mary’s, which has now organically been woven into the beginning of my rosary each day.
In my heart as I hold each of those three little beads, I know that the depth of what I am asking for to increase these virtues goes much deeper. It goes to the intercession of a Mother before her Son and her God for her poor little souls that need assistance. As I recite the prayer, my thought goes a little something like this:
The First Hail Mary
For an increase in faith. Mother, God the Father created you for His only Son. You were the chosen vessel and the first fruit of his salvation. You were the first Christian with which God presented His great plan. You believed in the mighty way of incarnation without needing the details because your faith was so strong. Help my faith to be as strong as yours. (Pray as reciting the first Hail Mary…)
The Second Hail Mary
For an increase in hope; Mother, your Son loved you so dearly and knew that his death and resurrection would reconcile God and us sinners. Even as you stood at the cross and watched your son die, you knew that this hope existed for you and for all of mankind. A new beginning from the depths of your sorrow. This wisdom was so exemplary that your son gave it to all of his followers through entrusting us to you, and you to us.
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” –John 19:26-27.
Because you look upon the Face of God, Mother, we know that you understand how to guide us closer to your Son and follow the ways of the Lord.
The Third Hail Mary
For an increase in love: Mom; you are the most affectionate mother anyone could ask for. You spent your life and now your eternity constantly appealing to the mercy of Our Father on our behalf, whether by rearing and safe-guarding God the Son, or by praying for others. Always petitioning for us before the throne of God, you seek the most happy favor of your beloved Son for people everywhere. Let us look to this fervent love of souls and of your son as a complete model of earthly and heavenly love. May it ever increase in us a sense of what it is to love God and one another, and remind us that our own death is only a gateway to being enthralled in that immeasurable and immense love for all eternity.
The Three Hail Marys are meant to be said every day. As many of us devoted to our daily rosary (and some of you soldiers do all four sets of mysteries for your daily prayers!) it is an easy interface between the appeal to increase these fundamental theological virtues, and an appeal to our Mother most Holy in this special devotion. If you are able, the book suggests the following prayer of intention:
For our non-Catholic readers, we direct further reading to doctrine of the Church on Mary, Mother of God in these resources:
EWTN: Mary Mother of God