If we posed ourselves the question, "What has been the prayer Christians from all Christendom, from all times and places, have prayed the most?", we would respond without hesitation, "the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary." In the Liturgy, the Church prays the Our Father solemnly at least three times a day: in the morning prayer, in the afternoon prayer, and in Holy Mass. The Rosary, which is one of the prayers most present on the lips of the people of God, contains 21 Our Fathers and 203 Hail Marys. If it rained prayers in heaven, that rain would undoubtedly be composed of drops of Our Fathers and Hail Marys.
This sovereign dominion of the Our Father and of the Hail Mary in the field of prayer cannot be by any means arbitrary or fruit of mere coincidence. The hand of God, or rather the breath of the Holy Spirit, must be there; this predilection of Heaven for the Our Father and the Hail Mary is proved by Divine Providence, which poured these two prayers on the face of the earth as a universal flood of blessing and grace.
Therefore, there must be something special in the Our Father and in the Hail Mary, a hidden grace, a treasure hidden in the field, which God wants us to find.
To dig this field, however, it is necessary to have the proper tool, so to speak, the spiritual shovel to dig the treasure, and it is precisely this tool that we intend to present to you here.
But before presenting our simple method for the prayer of the Our Father and the Hail Mary, it is worth considering some important points that involve these two so sublime prayers.
The origin of the Our Father is divine. It is a prayer that was taught by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to the apostles and his disciples. You can read about it in the Evangelist Saint Matthew (6, 5-15) and the Evangelist Saint Luke (11, 1-13).
The Tradition of the Church has considered the Our Father as the synthesis of the whole Gospel. The Catechism of the Church repeats Tertullian's statement: "The Lord's prayer is truly the summary of the whole Gospel" (Catech. § 2761). Being, above all, a prayer taught by Jesus to his disciples as a response to the call they made him, to teach them to pray, the Lord's Prayer is a perfect prayer, which makes us ask God what He Himself ordered us to ask.
The first part of the Hail Mary, until "from thy womb, Jesus", also came from Heaven. It is the acclamation that the Angel Gabriel gave to Mary, "Hail, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee" (Lk 1:28) , completed with the greeting that Elizabeth, "filled with the Holy Spirit", made to the Mother of Jesus, "blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (Lk 1:42).
The second part, which invokes the Virgin under the noblest title of Mother of God, a truth recognized in the Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, makes us ask Her to "pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death "- that is, the main purpose of the Hail Mary is that the Mother of God intercede for the Christians who come to her. Since it is impossible for Jesus to refuse a request from his Mother, one can understand the unequaled effectiveness of the Hail Mary.
We must now briefly explain the method of praying the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary so that we may find the grace God has hidden therein, and thereby sanctify us.
We must know how to pray in the manner the Virgin Mary herself used to pray.
"Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart."
Our method is to listen to the words of the Our Father and the Hail Mary, and to apply to them, more or less, the method of meditating the words of the Bible in the Lectio Divina.
In your usual place of prayer, far from the distractions of the internet and the world, immersed in silence and stillness, pronounce in your heart, not on your lips, the Our Father or the Hail Mary, in a slow way, as savoring every word, every image the words can evoke in you. And let God, by these words, lead your heart to Him.
Listen to God who speaks to you through these very words that you use to address Him. First of all, we must listen to the words that God has given us to be our prayer to Him. God must be glad when he sees that the words He gave us to pray have become an integral part of our hearts.
Following this method of prayer every day, as a proper style of praying, the Holy Spirit can certainly work wonders in our lives: to free us from our vices, to enlighten us inwardly with gifts of wisdom and science, to inflame our hearts for the love of God and neighbor …
It is necessary to understand that these prayers, so simple in their formulation, are actually greater than the universe and that they, by their divine nature, somehow contain the universe itself; and that the words of these prayers are sufficient for the cultivation of a solid and serious spiritual life, strengthened in virtues.
Br. Christopher, NDS
To be continued