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 our death. Amen.

A reflection on the word “OF”

By Lisa M. Hendey

My friend Sarah Reinhard has a permanent spot on my “superhero” list of friends – so gracious has she been with sharing her time and talents that I feel like I’ll never succeed in returning the many favors I owe her. But even more than Sarah’s ability to blog or podcast with such aplomb on a second’s notice, the thing that draws her so near to the center of my heart is the way in which she’s come to help me better know and love Mary, our Blessed Mother.

So when Sarah asks, I try to respond from the default position of “yes”. When she invited me to be a part of this special project, there was no reservation in my consent. She’s been generous with her patience in my taking every last second to meet my deadline – and here I am, virtual pencil sharpened, ready to take on the work of saying something completely earth shattering and inspirational about my word – “of”.

… And it’s not even the first “of” in the Hail Mary. My “of” is the second of four in this forty-two word prayer that has enkindled so many hearts. And you’ve already been gifted such a fabulous treatment of the first “of” by Carol Ann Chybowski (who holds a Master’s in English Literature for goodness sake!), that I find myself completely at a loss. Lacking Carol Ann’s literary style, my ponderings of the word “of” remind me of some of the best words I’ve ever heard on praying the Rosary.

If the following sounds familiar to you, it’s perhaps because I shared this same bit of wisdom in The Handbook for Catholic Moms in my chapter on Mary. Their author is my favorite Irish pastor, Msgr. Michael Collins, who I sincerely hope now has at least one little toe out of purgatory and into heaven. The following should be read with the lilting Irish accent of a 92-year-old parish priest who was about to meet his Maker:

Please say the Rosary.  I’ve always been afraid of Hell, I don’t like Hell, but I’m convinced that if I’m true to the Rosary, which I have been – I’ve said the Rosary ever since I was a child, I’ve never deliberately missed the Rosary and I don’t say that as a boast, I say that as kind of an assurance that if I ask the Blessed Mother fifty times a day to be with me now and at the hour of my death she’ll be around somewhere to take me home.

Simple thoughts, a simple prayer made up of a handful of short, simple words. Yet when collected together, they hold the ticket to such profound grace. Yes, our Blessed Mother is there for us to lead us to the fruit “of” her womb: Jesus Christ.

What a blessing to know with such confidence as Father Collins did that she who loved –and continues to love – with such tenderness through so much pain, has unending patience with my shortcomings. Forty-two words, recited in a matter of minutes, and yet how often I rattle through them mindlessly, neglecting the grace of each syllable – even of that second “of”, or forget them all together in my busyness.

They deserve such awe, such reverence and such thanksgiving. Each of them, collected together in our hearts, and expressed in confident love, take us Home.

Lisa M. Hendey, founder and editor of www.CatholicMom.com, is the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. She has claimed the title of President of the Sarah Reinhard fan club. She is also one of the most amazing people I know and continues to inspire me with her ongoing faith and example.

image via Trendy Traditions