Before I married, while R and I were still “courting”, someone who I respect greatly said to me, “You know, if you marry him, your life is going to be one long Ave Maria.”
A little background, in case you’re new to the blog- my husband and I follow different (Christian) traditions. He is Catholic, I am what is technically called reformed Evangelical (Protestant). Some people see these positions as exclusive. I prefer to view them as parallel. So, depending on your tradition, the title of this post immediately conjured up either warm fuzzies or an inadvertent grimace.
In Catholic practice, the Ave Maria (or Hail Mary) is a prayer echoing the words of the angel to Mary, upon the Annunciation (the Biblical equivalent of the little pink line on the dipstick). Normally used during rosary praying, the words basically ask Mary to intercede for us (“now and at the hour of our death”). The Catholic practice uses the beads of a rosary to count the number of times one repeats the prayer, while simultaneously meditating on the “mysteries” (or events) of Jesus’ life. I am told the practice of repeating the prayer over and over frees the mind from the things of the earth and focuses the consciousness on meditating, and that it’s a way to “accompany” Christ through the major events of His life.
In retrospect, I can’t say that my life has ever been a “Hail Mary”. I don’t live surrounded by icons, I don’t cross myself after I pray, and the only rosary we have hangs from my husband’s rearview mirror. A good (Protestant) friend has a delicate golden rosary that she wears, a gift from her (sweet but totally clueless) father. Rather than use it as a prayer object, it has meaning for her beyond the original, intended one. And I think that’s as far as a rosary can go for me, too. They are lovely objects, some delicate like E’s, some huge, wooden and cumbersome, like the ones I saw in our recent trip to a monastery gift store. They are by far the image associated with Catholicism, at least in my neck of the woods. If you don’t want to do the rearview mirror thing, there are always these.
And the accompanying prayer? I haven’t ever prayed the Ave Maria, since most Protestants don’t go in for the whole praying-to(or through)-anyone-other-than-God thing. I may have prayed it inadvertently as I sang along to Schubert’s classic version. I understand it (as much as an outside observer can really understand things of another faith), though I don’t go in for it. Is it helpful/meaningful/moving to Catholics? The “average” Catholic would say sure. My husband does pray it, as he has mentioned to me, though never with me looking on. Prayer can be, after all, a highly personal thing.
Is my life, then, “one long Hail Mary”? I hope not. I do hope it’s a prayer- thoughtful, discerning, and always open to the work of Christ. I hope that my every action, every day, is a prayer, even down to typing on my blog :). Maybe not “Ave Maria, gratia plena”. Maybe one long Gloria Patri.
World without end.