Our Father...Hail Mary...

I've been reading On Being Catholic by Thomas Howard and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite books! I just finished the chapter on "Tradition in Prayer" at a number of things struck me. It talked about how prayers like the Our Father wrap up everything that we pray for, "that the seven petitions place upon our very tongues all that a mortal should be saying on the long itinerary from his conception, stained by original sin, to the fruition of his journey in the Beatific Vision."

I like that. Often when I want to pray, but don't have anything particular that I want to say, I will pray the Our Father. I love the idea that everything I could possibly want and need to say is wrapped up in it.

The other familiar prayer he talks about is the Hail Mary. He says that the point of praying it is that "one's lips are continually forming words acutely appropriate for any believer in any possible situation, and this assists one's mind to tarry in this place, along with the one, namely the Virgin Mary, who among us mortals, exhibited the perfect response to the will of God."

This is a helpful idea for me. I have found myself praying the Hail Mary in much the same way as the Our Father, but that seemed weird because usually when it is discussed, it is within the context of the Rosary and the meditations. This idea, however, makes it a more "useful" prayer in a broader sense. As I pray Hail Mary, full of grace, I am saying, along with Mary, may it be done according to thy will. And that is a prayer that is appropriate for every moment of the day!

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