Hail Mary, Full of Grace

praying-the-rosary-724621Throughout more than thirty years with degenerative multiple sclerosis there have been horrible times with the disease that dragged me to deep levels of sickness I did not think were possible. The terrors often came in the darkest nights when exhaustion was at its greatest and I was at the end of my tether emotionally and physically. I would cry out to God while fumbling in the dark for my rosary beside my bed.

Soon I would discover that God was with me. As I have said before in previous blogs, a message too profound for words would comfort me: “Be not afraid. I AM with you.” My anxious heart would become calm

Praying the rosary has nourished generations of Christians  dating back into antiquity. In medieval times the custom of praying “Paternoster” beads (Latin for Our Father) was common, in many European countries.

It was a way of meditating on the life of Christ from his birth to his resurrection. Medieval Christianity saw Mary the Mother of Christ as a spiritual guide to the mysteries of her Son. Hail Mary evolved as a prayer during that time.

It begins with the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” (Luke 1:28) Later the greeting given to Mary by her cousin Elizabeth was added: “Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” (Luke 1:42)

Finally by the 15th century the remainder of the prayer appeared: “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”[1]

God waits for the Christian at the hour of his life. The prayers of Mary, the Mother of God, precede him. It has been this way throughout the centuries for people who believed in Jesus Christ and placed their trust in Him. So it can be for you and me.

I have prayed the rosary in my room at times of greatest anguish and grief. Christ and His Mother have been there when I was at the end of my tether. To mock my own human weakness and doubts, I put up a sign outside my little house in front of my bedroom. It said “Tether’s End.”

Mark Davis Pickup is chronically ill and disabled with degenerative multiple sclerosis. He is an advocate for life issues and disability inclusion across North America. He and his wife, LaRee, have been married for 38 years. They live in Alberta Canada with their two adult children and five grandchildren. Mark is available to address issues of euthanasia, assisted suicide, and issues revolving around suffering that often fuel calls for euthanasia. He writes regularly at http://markpickup.org and http://humanlifematters.org. For bookings, contact him by e-mail at MPickup@shaw.ca or telephone (780) 929-9230. Mark Pickup's bi-weekly column can be read in the Western Catholic Reporter (Canada) at http://www.wcr.ab.ca/.