Saturday, May 16, 2009

THE DEVOTION OF THE 'THREE HAIL MARYS' - history and Novena prayers

Our Lady of Mt Carmel with the Child - beautiful statue in the series of Spanish style sacral art.

Practiced and Recommended
Many great saints have practiced and recommended the devotion of the "Three Hail Mary". Here are the names of but a few of them: St. Leonard of Port Maurice, St. Bruno, St. Bonaventure, St. John Berchmans, St. John Baptist Mary Vianney (Cure of Ars), St. Anthony of Lisbon and of Padua, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, St. John Joseph of the Cross, St. John Baptist de Rossi, St. Gerard Majella, St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Blessed Marcellinus Champagnat, and, above all, the great Marian doctor St. Alphonsus Liguori who, in his writings recommended this devotion about twenty times. As a result, this devotion has been spreading, and we are reminded of it in many ways: at shrines, in churches and chapels, through association and sodalities, through novenas, pictures, statues and medals, and especially by the innumerable graces and favors received through the practice of this devotion. No doubt, one day in the near future, it will be numbered among the universally-known important Marian devotions. Moreover, various Popes have indicated that they favor this devotion and Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X have granted special indulgences for the practice of this devotion. Since 1095, Urban II at the Council of Clermont have proposed it as a means for obtaining the triumph of the Church; while Leo XIII and St. Pius X have ordered its recitation after the Mass for the same intention, that is why the "Three Hail Marys" were recited after the Low Masses before the Liturgical Reform. St. Pius X was convinced that this devotion will save Mexico, and so he recommended all the faithful to practice it.

Innumerable Fruits
"Astonishing conversions, increase in virtues, cure of the sick, temptations conquered, business difficulties solved, holy death.and salvation." - the promise made by the Blessed Virgin to St. Mathilda.
The "Three Hail Marys", are in the words of St Alphonsus Maria Liquori: "the best safeguard for chastity" This statement was recorded and attributed to St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori by St. Pius X; "that it is true, has been confirmed by our experiences as well as those of many missionaries" (according to Frassinetti). Even the number of graces and favors obtained through the practice of this devotion show us just how pleasing it is to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Devotion for Everyone
This devotion is suitable for everyone: For sinners, it is a classic example of a devotion approved especially for them by the Church. Even if the complete renewal in our way of life does not occur immediately, at least a great change for the better will be noted. Our faithful perseverance in this practice will succeed in obtaining the complete change, sooner or later, through Our lady's intercession - this is what St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori wrote about this devotion. Of course, it is understood that the person who is praying for the favor -- even if he/she be a great sinner -- must have pure intentions and good will, and pray with great attention, fervor and constancy. For those who progress in spiritual life, the "Three Hail Marys" are powerful arms against temptations, especially those against purity. "From my wide experience, I know that boys and girls who faithfully honor Mary, do not usually commit serious sins" (Frassinetti). And this devotion is really very easily practiced, for its very brevity makes it suitable for everyone, however busy they may be, since it does not even take one minute to pray the "Three Hail Marys". To say the prayer takes around 40 seconds, therefore, of the 1,440 minutes in each day, are we unable to devote about one minute and half per day to reciting the "Three Hail Marys" in the morning and at night in order that we may obtain our eternal salvation?!

How to Pray the "Three Hail Marys"
Although the devotion of the "Three Hail Marys" is very easy, there are certain conditions which we should observe:
1. Our intentions must be pure, and we must have good will.
2. We must pray with attention, fervor and constancy.
3. With each "Hail Mary", we must have the intention of honoring one of the three privileges granted by the Blessed Trinity to the Blessed Virgin Mary: POWER, WISDOM and MERCY.
4. Since the main aim of these "Three Hail Marys" is our sanctification and salvation, we should add one of the ejaculations which recall this aim. Some of them had been recommended and indulgenced by Leo XIII or by St. Pius X.

Here are some examples:
a) "Mary, my Mother, keep me free from mortal sin during this day" or "during this night" (as the case may be).
b) "O Mary, by your Immaculate Conception, keep my body pure and my soul holy."
c) "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee and also for those who do not have recourse to thee, especially for the enemies of the Church."

Its Effectiveness
Here is the personal testimony of a sinner who used the devotion with good results: "For the last three years, I have been the slave of a bad habit against the virtue of purity. How could I get rid of this terrible passion? I tried every means available, but all proved useless. I used to give in to very serious sins and even to sacrileges. This was most disheartening. "Then, one day, someone recommended to me the devotion of the "Three Hail Marys". And now, it is not yet quite one month since I started to pray the "Three Hail Marys" every morning and every night without fail. I cannot explain what has happened within me, but I do know and can assure you that, since the very first moment, it has produced wonderful results within me: I have not succumbed to the impure temptations since then. When I have been weak and just about ready to succumb, something or another has happened which has stopped me from giving in; and, indeed, I do know that it was something stronger than my desire of sinning."

Fatal Delay in Explaining
Although the recitation of the "Three Hail Marys" was recommended after Low Masses, at the beginning of each Rosary, etc., the importance of this devotion was not explained to the faithful on a wide scale. Therefore, most Catholics did not know its meaning or its importance, and so, they did not pray them with the proper dispositions. As a result, anti-Christian forces -- like Atheism, Communism, etc. -- have been able to organize secret societies to attack the Church. Let us hasten to start practicing this devotion of the "Three Hail Marys" every morning and every night! Let us not put it off till tomorrow! Moreover, let us introduce this devotion to our friends and relations and urge them to recite the "Three Hail Marys" daily, every morning and every night! Through the practice of this simple devotion we may be led to study the Message of Fatima in greater detail, and so we may lead a life of greater prayer, sacrifice and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The suppression of the anti-Christian doctrines, the conversion of sinners and of Russia, and, above all, peace in the world depends on our obtaining the necessary graces from God through our prayers and sacrifices!

Efficient novena of the Three Hail Mary

I – Oh Mary, Powerful Virgin, Virgo Potens, You to whom nothing is impossible... * ,by this same power that gratified You the Powerful Father, I conjures you, attend me in the necessity where I find me. Therefore that You, you only can help me, you do not abandon me, oh You who you are the lawyer of the most desperate causes! It seems - me that the Glory of God, Your Honour and the good of my soul are on to the concession of this favour. If, therefore, as I think, it is in agreement to most nice and most holly will of God, I conjure You, oh Most Powerfull Petitioner, Omnipotentia Suplex, intercede for me next to Your Son who nothing can refuse You. I ask you, on behalf of the Power without limits that the Celestial Father communicated You, and in honour of which I say You, in union with saint Matilde, to whom You disclosed the practical very salutary of the Three Hail Mary. – Hail Mary…

II - Divine Wisdom, that you are called the Throne the Wisdom, Sede Sapientiae, because the non created Wisdom, the Verb of God, inhabited in You... You to whom this adorable Son communicated all the extension of Its Divine Science, in the measure where the most perfect creature could receive it... You know the largeness of my misery and how much necessity I have of Your assistance. Trusted in Your Divine Wisdom, I abandon me entirely between Your hands, so that You do everything, with force and tenderness, for the biggest Glory of God and greater well of my soul. Please therefore, to come in my aid, for the ways that You know to be most proper to reach this end. Oh Mary, Mother of the Divine Wisdom, I request You, to get - me the precious favour that I request; I ask for in the same name of this incomparable Wisdom of that the Verb, Your Son, illuminated You, and in honour of which I say to You, in union with Saint Anthony of Lisbon and Saint Leonard of Porto MaurĂ­cio, the most zealous preachers of Yours Three Hail Mary. – Hail Mary...

III – Oh good, oh tender Mother, true Mother of Mercy, Mater Misericordiae, that in these last times you called Yourself "Mother All Merciful one", I come to request - that you use with me of Your compassionate Goodness. Greater is my misery, but it must excite Your compassion. I know, I by no means do not deserve the precious favour that desire, I who I have You as many times saddened offending Your Son. But if I have been guilty, very guilty, I sincerely repent myself having wounded the so tender Heart of Jesus and Yours. Moreover, you are not You, as you said to Saint Brigit, "the Mother of the sorry sinful people"? You pardon - me, therefore, my passed ingratitude, and considering only Your Merciful Goodness and the Glory that of this will result for God and You, you get - me from the Divine Mercy the favour that I beg for Your intercession. Oh You to whom nobody ever invoked vainly, "oh Clement, oh Merciful, oh sweet Virgin Mary; the Clemens, the Pia, the Dulcis Virgo Maria "! oh come, come to help me, I conjure You, for this Merciful Goodness that the Holly Spirit filled You for us, and in honour of which I say with Saint Alfonso of Ligory , apostle of Your Mercy and I give it apostle of Your Mercy and the doctor of the Three Hail Mary. – Hail Mary...

In Honor of the Power, Wisdom, and Loving Mercy of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This novena was originally prayed by Franciscans and later developed into Angelus Prayer. Reciting three Hail Marys This as a petition for purity and other virtues is a traditional Roman Catholic devotional practice. It is not to be confused with the Three Hail Marys devotion, invoking the Immaculate Conception, although they are similar and have the same origin. One of the first to practice this and to recommend it was St. Anthony of Padua (1195–1231). His purpose was "to honor the spotless Virginity of Mary and to preserve a perfect purity of mind, heart and body in the midst of the dangers of the world."

According to St. Gertrude (1256–1301), the Blessed Virgin Mary promised the following: "To any soul who faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys I will appear at the hour of death in a splendor of beauty so extraordinary that it will fill the soul with Heavenly consolation."

Later on, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, "had the three Ave Marias recited morning and evening in honor of Mary Immaculate, to obtain the grace of avoiding all mortal sins during the day or and night; moreover, he promised in a special manner eternal salvation to all those who proved constantly faithful to this practice."

St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696–1787) adopted this pious practice and highly recommended it. He told parents to train their children to acquire the habit of saying three Hail Marys in the morning and evening. After each Hail Mary, he advice that the following prayer be said: "By thy Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy."

St. Mechtilde received a private revelation from the Virgin Mary on how the Three Hail Marys honor the three persons of the Blessed Trinity: "The first Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Father, Whose omnipotence raised my soul so high above every other creature that, after God, I have the greatest power in Heaven and on earth. In the hour of your death I will use that power of God the Father to keep any hostile power from you.

"The second Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Son, Who communicated His inscrutable wisdom to me . . . In the hour of your death I will fill your soul with the light of that wisdom so that all the darkness of ignorance and error will be dispelled.

"The third Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Holy Ghost, Who filled my soul with the sweetness of His love and tenderness and mercy . . . In your last hour I will then change the bitterness of death into Divine sweetness and delight."

According to the St. Martha Catholic Church of the Pallottine Fathers, after Night Prayers, "Many Saints have had the practice of adding three "Hail Mary's" here in honor of Mary's purity for the grace of a chaste and holy life." Thus, it has been recommended as a daily practice for people who have received confirmation that they pray the Three Hail Marys for "purity of mind, heart and body" after examination of conscience.

I. Oh, Immaculate Mary, Virgin most Powerful, I beseech thee, through that immense Power which thou hast received from the eternal Father, obtain for me Purity of heart,---Strength to overcome all the enemies of my soul; ---and the special favor I implore in my present necessity.

[Name it.]

Mother most pure! Forsake me not, despise not my prayer, graciously hear me for God's glory, thy honor, and the welfare of my soul.

To obtain this favor I honor thy Power by reciting:

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

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


Oh Virgin Mary, My Mother, through that ineffable Wisdom bestowed upon thee by the Incarnate Word of God, I humbly beseech thee, obtain for me Meekness and humility of heart;---a perfect knowledge of the Divine Will and strength to accomplish it always.

Oh Mary, Seat of Wisdom; as a tender Mother lead me in the path of Christian Virtue and perfection; enlighten and enable me to do what is most pleasing to thy beloved Son, and obtain my petition.

[Name it.]

To obtain this grace I honor thy Wisdom by reciting:

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

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


Oh, Mother of Mercy, Mother of penitent sinners, I stand before thee sinful and sorrowful, beseeching thee through the immense Love given to thee by the Holy Spirit for us poor sinners, obtain for me true and perfect contrition for my sins, which I hate and detest with all my heart, because I love God.

Mother most Merciful, help me in my present necessity.

[Name it.]

Turn, then those eyes of Mercy toward us, Oh Clement, Oh Loving oh Sweet Virgin Mary!
To obtain this precious gift, I honor thy Loving Mercy by reciting:

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

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

Credit: "Fatima Findings" in 'Cavaleiro da Imaculada' by Fr Nazario SJ