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 “WITH”

By Nancy Brown

With: Preposition

1. accompanied by; accompanying: I will go with you.

2. in some particular relation to (especially implying interaction, company, association, conjunction, or connection): I dealt with the problem. She agreed with me.

3. characterized by or having: a person with initiative.

4. (of means or instrument) by the use of; using: to line a coat with silk; to cut with a knife.

5. (of manner) using or showing: to work with diligence.

As said by the angel Gabriel to Mary at Nazareth, “The Lord is with thee” is an interesting thing to say to Mary before she was the Mother of God, before she said Yes to God.

We often hear the greeting in Mass, “The Lord be with you.” It is a greeting of hope, one of calling. The priest or minister is praying over us, almost like a benediction, asking the Lord to come and be with us.

We have free will; we have a choice. We can let the Lord accompany us, be with us, or we can say no thank you, and God will leave us to our own defenses. 

If we choose to, we respond, “And with Your Spirit,” asking the Lord to be with our minister, too. This closely follows what St. Paul prays in Galatians, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren.”

But for Mary, the angel doesn’t take this tone of hopeful prayer. The angel is saying the Lord is with Mary.

With thee. With Mary. Accompanying Mary. The Spirit of the Lord is already in company with Mary, already in association with Mary, already connected with Mary—before the angel Gabriel got there. That’s because before the angel even got there, Mary had already been saying “Yes” to God, had already asked the Lord to accompany her on her way. She’d always said yes. Church teaching tells us she never said no, not even once.

Two thousand years later when we pray these words it’s sort of a knowledgeable thing since we know Mary is in heaven with God, there is no doubt of the saying, “The Lord is with you, Mary.” Up in heaven, the Lord is with everyone. Everyone in heaven is in company with Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit in that great Inn at the End of the World, taking part in the endless feast of the Whole Family of God.

May we say with all our hearts, yes, yes, yes to God. Let it be said of us, “The Lord is with you.” May our lives so shine forth God’s presence that those around us can see that the Lord accompanies us on our earthly journey, and so will be with us at our own final hour. Amen.

Nancy Carpentier Brown is the Online Media Manager for The American Chesterton Society. You’ll hear her on the Uncommon Sense podcast and you can read her columns in Gilbert Magazine, among other places. She’s written children’s adaptations of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories, available at Hillside Education with her other titles.

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