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 Shelly Kelly

This wonderful series has been focusing our thoughts on the power of the Hail Mary.  As we pray, we consider being in her presence, humble and repentant, for Mary is our companion and our advocate in life.

In meditating on the individual words of this prayer, we now come to the ending phrase. I have the monumental task to address the final “of”  – a word that was daunting enough before I read the powerful thoughts written by Carol Ann, Lisa, and Val. Sitting before my blank computer screen, I am reminded of Blessed Mother Teresa’s humble saying, “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”

While reviewing the previous writings on the earlier appearances of “OF,” I realized that for such a small two-letter word, each use within this prayer has carried a different, though very powerful, meaning.

Full OF Grace

Fruit OF thy womb

Mother OF God

Hour OF our death

In this instance, we are looking at OF being used to indicate a position in the time of an action. OF in this moment of the prayer indicates not just any action or occurrence, but our final breaths of life. Our imperfect, admittedly sinful, life.

Also important is the preceding word, hour, denoting not just any brief moment, but a specific period of time. For no one knows when their moment of death will arrive, only that it will come.

We implore Mary, who stood at the foot of the cross witnessing her son’s death, to be our Mother, remembering us in her prayers guiding us in our final hour, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Even the Catechism reminds us, it is not enough to “give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives,” but also in the hour of our death. (2677)

Just as she delivered our Lord to us, we pray for her to deliver us to her Son, our Lord. In each prayer, we invite her to pray for us, not just now, but to herald us on our journey to being received into the presence of God.

Shelly is half of a sisters’ blogging duo at Of Sound Mind and Spirit, writing about their Catholic faith, family life, and books they love to read. She also contributes to Catholic Mom and SQPN “Secrets of Once Upon a Time.”

Shelly recently left a successful career as a Certified Archivist to join the family telecommunications business. Her publications include the award-winning Through a Night of Horrors: Voices from the 1900 Galveston Storm. She lives in Texas with her husband, two daughters, and last year’s “surprise” baby boy.

image credit: MorgueFile