Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, 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. Amen.
A reflection on the word “BLESSED”
I treat myself to a burrito at a local fast food joint about once a week. I can’t exactly call it a highlight of my week, but the burrito gets the job done.
The early afternoon lunch run through the drive-thru is efficient. Quick. Impersonal. Just the way I like it.
Enter Gloria, the super-fast, super-accurate cashier. She always tells me to “have a blessed day” when she hands me my order. Every single time. I’ve probably heard that about 200 times since I started eating there, and I never gave it a thought until now.
What exactly is she saying? Is she blessing me? Is she blessing the day?
Does it really matter?
Yes. The answer is yes, it matters a lot.
A blessing is something special, and to be blessed, as Webster tells us, is to be hallowed; worthy of blessing; heavenly; holy.
I particularly like that last one, joyful.
This 11th word in the Hail Mary comes at a very important part…following the greeting by the angel Gabriel, Hail Mary , we continue with “blessed among women.”
Joyful among women. I always knew she was holy, but the idea that she was full of joy at the thought of being the Mother of God, well, yes, of course she would be joyful.
This realization of the joy that accompanies the blessedness inspired me to read chapter one of Luke. In it, I was reminded of the events surrounding this astonishing news of the Annunciation.
First, Zechariah is assured of joy and gladness in Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Then, Mary learns that she will conceive a son, and gives her fiat to God.
And then…Mary visits Elizabeth, and the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy upon hearing her greeting.
How did I miss this before?
Elizabeth tells Mary “Most blessed are you among women…” (Luke 1:42) and then again tells her “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45).
That is followed by The Canticle of Mary, the Magnificat, where Mary proclaims, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.”
There is a great deal of rejoicing going on!
And how blessed are we that Mary said yes to it all. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains how this act of faith is the root of this blessing:
The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that “with God nothing will be impossible” and so giving her assent: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” … It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.” (CCC 148).
Maria Johnson blogs at another cup of coffee, is active on Twitter as @bego, and can be heard on Catholic Weekend. She’s active with the Star Quest Production Network (SQPN) and is a great friend and mentor. She is also a hoot, in case you wondered, and she has authored a number of books, too. In other words, she’s amazing.
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