Along with the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary is one of the most widely used prayers in the Catholic Church. The first half of the Hail Mary comes from Luke’s Gospel accounts of the Angel Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary that she was called to be the Mother of God’s Son (Lk 1:26-56).
St. John Paul II explains that although the Hail Mary is addressed to Our Lady, "it is to Jesus that the act of love is ultimately directed" (RVM, no. 26). Every time we recite the Hail Mary, we are repeating the words of Gabriel and Elizabeth. In doing so, we enter into the ecstatic joy of "heaven and earth" over the mystery of Christ: heaven, represented by Gabriel, and earth, represented by Elizabeth.
“Hail Mary, full of grace.”
This is the greeting the Angel Gabriel spoke to Mary of Nazareth. Gabriel proclaims that Mary is full of grace, meaning that she is a sinless woman, blessed with a deep union with God, who had come to dwell in her.
In awe over that profound mystery of his eternal God becoming a little embryo in Mary's womb, Gabriel greets Mary. The grace with which Mary is filled is the very life of God who is the source of all grace.
Reflect: Allow yourself to greet Mary in the same way and to exult in the same joy in Mary that God had for her. Imagine yourself bowing with the deepest respect before our Queen and Mother - imitating the reverence shown to her even by such a great being as an archangel.