Jesus Christ is the one mediator and bridge between God and humanity. Christian prayer is only possible due to the humanity of Jesus – it is the Word becoming incarnate which gives us, in the Spirit, his filial relationship with the Father.
That is why the Virgin Mary occupies a privileged, beloved place in Christian prayer and devotion as the Mother of Jesus, as Pope Francis noted that “her presence is everywhere in Christian iconography, sometimes very prominently, but always in relation to her Son and in connection with him.” Mary is the one who “shows the way” — she always points towards her son.
Mary is the first and model disciple, as her life is completely directed towards Jesus. As she states at the wedding at Cana: “do whatever he will tell you.” In her humility she wants to be the humble handmaid of the Lord, nothing more. During Jesus public ministry she almost disappears into the background. Thus the beautiful things that the Church and the Saints say about Mary take nothing away from Christ’s sole Redemption.
From Cana to the foot of the cross, Mary intercedes and directs others to her Son. Jesus gave her to the Church as Mother when he entrusted her to his beloved disciple from the cross. Hence the earliest prayer to Mary — sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix: We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God. Our Lady is the Mother to whom Jesus entrusted us, she ‘enfolds’ us all taking us under the protection of her mantle.
The Hail Mary is based on scripture and includes Mary’s title as Mother of God, then adds a supplication asking for her prayers and intercession “now and at the hour of our death.” She accompanies us in life and death, and is always present to those dying alone and abandoned. She hears our prayers – spoken or unspoken – with maternal tenderness.
“Prayers said to her are not in vain,” Pope Francis concluded, “Mary is there, praying for us, praying for those who do not pray. Praying with us. Why? Because she is our Mother.”
You are invited to meditate on the words directed to Mary in the gospel of Luke chapter 1: “Hail full of grace, the Lord is with You” (Luke 1:28) and “blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:42).
As we pray in the Hail Mary, Mary intercedes for sinners and for those at the hour of death, drawing them ever closer to her Son. Just as she stood beneath the cross, united with Jesus in his abandonment and sorrow, so she is close with a mother’s love to those who are lost or have no one to pray for them.