Archive for March 26th, 2009

annunciationI apologize for having missed this important day in the Catholic calendar by one day. I was out of commission yesterday, laid low with a stomach thingie. All over now. But I thought it would be worth looking at the traditions behind this day and their link to the Catholic rosary.

The Feast of the Annunciation – sometimes called Lady Day – is the day Catholics and some other Christians observe as the day the Holy Spirit, in the form of an angel, appeared before the Virgin Mary to tell her she was with child. Here is how the Gospel of Luke describes the scene (I have higlighted the part important to prayer beads).

Luke 1:26-38:
And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.

And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.

And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?

And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God.

And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Of course, you see how this became the much loved and oft-repeated “Hail Mary” prayer that Catholics say on their rosary, first on the three Hail Mary beads on the stem of the rosary and then on each of the decade beads of the circlet of the rosary:

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou 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.”

With the revitalization of interest in prayer beads of all kinds, I have seen all sorts of variations on this prayer, each one tailored to suit the one who prayers. I have seen

New Age versions:

Hail Goddess full of grace. Blessed are you and blessed are all the fruits of your womb. For you are the MOTHER of us all. Hear us now and in all our needs. O blessed be, O blessed be. Amen.

Neo-Pagan versions:

Hail Mother, full of grace Thy gifts to us are abundant!
Holy Earth , Mother of us all
Our beloved, living home! Receive the Healing Energies we send to You
As we receive your Most Holy Healing Power, Goddess Almighty.
So mote it be.

Wiccan versions:

Hail, lady, full of grace, the God is with you.

Blessed is the fruit of your womb, the Consort and Son.

Holy Goddes, Mother of Earth,

Work your mysteries for your children,

Now and in the hour of our need.

So mote it be.

Which all goes to show the power and universality not only of this potent prayer, but also of the rosary and other forms of prayer beads. Good Lord – look who’se using rosaries now – boys raised in the Church of the Nazarene and Southern Baptists! What would they make of having the use of a rosary or other forms of prayer beads in common with neo-pagans, Wiccans, Muslims, Hindus, etc? I think we are more alike than we are different and our love of prayer beads highlights that

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