What is the Hail Mary that Catholics repeat so often?

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The Hail Mary, Ave Maria in Latin, is a Roman Catholic prayer to the Virgin Mary that contains salutations and request for intercession.

The text Hail Mary comes from two Bible passages as well as as additional wording. The first part of the prayer come from when the angel Gabriel greeted Mary and told her that she had been chosen to bear the Messiah: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee” (Luke 1:28, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition). The second part comes from when Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, while being pregnant with John the Baptist, greeted her “Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Luke 1:42). The third part of the Hail Mary prayer is not found the Bible: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

This last part has three un-biblical concepts:

1- Mary was called to a holy purpose, however, the Bible never calls Mary “holy.” Mary was a human being who recognized her need for the Savior just like all humans (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23). This very passage used in the Hail Mary, known as Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), contains her declaration “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” as well as “For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name.” These statements show that she understood her need for redemption as well as to call God’s name holy, not her own.

2- Mary is not given the title “Mother of God” in the Bible.  Mary was only the human mother of the human Jesus Christ, who was God in flesh. But she was not the mother of the Almighty God in the heavens. The Creator God doesn’t have a mother (Hebrews 7:3). God is an eternal infinite Spirit being, uncreated, self-sufficient and self-sustaining (Isaiah 45:21).

3-We are not told to petition Mary to “pray for us sinners” in the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ alone mediates and intercedes between God and man “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Jesus taught His disciples how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. He also told His disciples, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions,” (Matthew 6:7).  May we find joy in knowing that Jesus Christ is our High Priest and that we can come boldly to the throne of God through Him (Hebrews 4:14-16).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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