One of the greatest means of salvation and one of the surest signs of predestination, is unquestionably, the devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin. All the holy doctors of the Church are unanimous in saying with St. Alphonsus of Liguori: “A devout servant of Mary shall never perish.” The chief thing is to persevere faithfully until death in this devotion.
Numerous examples show how agreeable the three Hail Marys Devotion is to the Divine Mother and what special graces it draws, during life and at the hour of death, on those who never omit it for a single day.
Many great saints have practiced and recommended the devotion of the “Three Hail Mary”. Here are the names of but a few of them: St. Leonard of Port Maurice, St. Bruno, St. Bonaventure, St. John Berchmans, St. John Baptist Mary Vianney (Cure of Ars), St. Anthony of Lisbon and of Padua, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, St. John Joseph of the Cross, St. John Baptist de Rossi, St. Gerard Majella, St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Blessed Marcellinus Champagnat, and, above all, the great Marian doctor St. Alphonsus Liguori who, in his writings recommended this devotion about twenty times.
This practice was revealed to St. Melchtilde while she was beseeching Our Blessed Mother to assist her in her hour of death. Our Lady appeared to her and said: “I will, certainly. But I also want you to say three special Hail Marys to me every day.
“The first Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Father, Whose omnipotence raised my soul so high above every other creature that after God I have the greatest power in heaven and on earth. In the hour of your death I will use that power of God the Father to keep any hostile power far from you.”
“The second Hail Mary will be said in honor of the Son of God Who communicated His inscrutable wisdom to me. In the hour of your death I will fill your soul with the light of that wisdom so that all the darkness of ignorance and error will be dispelled.”
“The third Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Holy Ghost Who filled my soul with the sweetness of His love and tenderness and mercy. In your last hour I will then change the bitterness of death into divine sweetness and delight.”
Our Blessed Mother also revealed to St. Gertrude the Great: “To any soul who faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys, I will appear at the hour of death in a splendor so extraordinary that it will fill the soul with heavenly consolation.”
St. Leonard of Port Maurice, the celebrated missionary, had the Three Hail Marys recited morning and evening in honor of Mary Immaculate, to obtain the grace of avoiding all mortal sins during the day or night; moreover he promised in a special manner eternal salvation to all those who proved constantly faithful to this practice. He gave this devotion of Three Hail Marys as a penance in the confessional, especially for those who were struggling with sins of impurity.
Astonishing conversions, increase in virtues, cure of the sick, temptations conquered, business difficulties solved, holy death.and salvation.”
– the promise made by the Blessed Virgin to St. Mechtilde.
The “Three Hail Marys”, are in the words of St Alphonsus Maria Liquori: “the best safeguard for chastity”
-This statement was recorded and attributed to St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori by St. Pius X; “that it is true, has been confirmed by our experiences as well as those of many missionaries” (according to Frassinetti). Even the number of graces and favors obtained through the practice of this devotion show us just how pleasing it is to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Here is the personal testimony of a sinner who used the devotion with good results: “For the last three years, I have been the slave of a bad habit against the virtue of purity. How could I get rid of this terrible passion? I tried every means available, but all proved useless. I used to give in to very serious sins and even to sacrileges. This was most disheartening. “Then, one day, someone recommended to me the devotion of the “Three Hail Marys”. And now, it is not yet quite one month since I started to pray the “Three Hail Marys” every morning and every night without fail. I cannot explain what has happened within me, but I do know and can assure you that, since the very first moment, it has produced wonderful results within me: I have not succumbed to the impure temptations since then. When I have been weak and just about ready to succumb, something or another has happened which has stopped me from giving in; and, indeed, I do know that it was something stronger than my desire of sinning.”
According to St. Gertrude (1256–1301), the Blessed Virgin Mary promised the following: “To any soul who faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys I will appear at the hour of death in a splendor of beauty so extraordinary that it will fill the soul with Heavenly consolation.”
Later on, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, “had the three Ave Marias recited morning and evening in honor of Mary Immaculate, to obtain the grace of avoiding all mortal sins during the day or and night; moreover, he promised in a special manner eternal salvation to all those who proved constantly faithful to this practice.”
St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696–1787) adopted this pious practice and highly recommended it. He told parents to train their children to acquire the habit of saying three Hail Marys in the morning and evening. After each Hail Mary, he advice that the following prayer be said: “By thy Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy.”
According to the St. Martha Catholic Church of the Pallottine Fathers, after Night Prayers, “Many Saints have had the practice of adding three “Hail Mary’s” here in honor of Mary’s purity for the grace of a chaste and holy life.” Thus, it has been recommended as a daily practice for people who have received confirmation that they pray the Three Hail Marys for “purity of mind, heart and body” after examination of conscience.
Practice: Recite morning and evening, three Hail Marys in honor of the three great privileges bestowed upon Our Blessed Mother by the most Blessed Trinity with this invocation at the end: for the morning: “O my Mother preserve me from mortal sin during this day.” For the evening: “O my Mother preserve me from mortal sin during this night.”
(Pope St. Pius X gave his Apostolic Blessing to this practice and the devotion was raised to an Archconfraternity by Pope Benedict XV.)
St.Gertrude: the only female Saint to be called “the Great”
Gertrude of Helfta was a highly intelligent woman. She was born on 6 January 1256 in the little town of Eisleben in Thuringia. At age 5, Gertrude went to the Cistercian monastery school of Helfta in Saxony, and since then has always been known as “Gertrude of Helfta”. She dedicated herself to study, and it was not long before she surpassed all her companions.
She also discovered Christ in the monastery, and the beauty of living for him and with him in the intimacy of love. But the divine Teacher remained in the background of her life for some time while she used all her faculties to improve her education, becoming proficient in literature, philosophy, song and the refined art of miniature painting.
After several years, Gertrude moved from the monastery school to the novitiate, taking the veil and becoming a nun. For her Jesus was “Someone”, but her studies were still her all. But she was not on the wrong track, for knowledge, when it goes hand in hand with humility, does not distance people from God. And he was waiting on her path.
In 1280, she was 24 years old and a half-hearted and distracted nun. Towards the end of the year, she went through an inner crisis that lasted several weeks. She felt lonely. lost and depressed. Her human plans disintegrated like shattered idols. This might have been the end of everything, but instead, it was a new beginning.
On 27 January 1281, Gertrude saw Jesus in person in the form of a marvellous adolescent who said to her, “I have come to comfort you and bring you salvation”. Remembering that day, she was to write: “Jesus, my Redeemer, you have lowered my indomitable head to your gentle yoke, preparing for me the medicine suited to my weakness”. From that moment, she was solely concerned with living in full union with Jesus.
In her writings, she established the date of her newfound unity with Christ as 23 June 1281: all her life she must have seen that day as the day of her new birth, the birth of the true Gertrude in the image of Christ.
She abandoned the study of profane subjects and dedicated herself entirely to the study of Scripture, writings of the Church Fathers and theological treatises. She found extraordinary delight in reading the letters of Augustine, Gregory the Great, Bernard and Hugh of Saint-Victor.
From a scholar specialized in the humanities, she became a “theologian” filled with God and his fragrance. Her life was truly filled with the Lord alone.
But Gertrude did not want to be the only one to enjoy this supreme “Pleasure”: so she began to write short treatises for the Sisters in the monastery and those who approached her in which she explained the most difficult passages of Scripture. true spiritual treasures written in a clear and lively style.
The monastery parlour was also often filled with people in search of her words, comfort and guidance. She exercised a great influence on souls.
Since her conversion, she had become the confidant of Jesus, who revealed to her the infinite Love of his divine Heart and charged her to spread it among human beings with love for the suffering and for sinners. Gertrude’s ecstasies with Jesus prompted her to write those ardent pages that would bring souls to him.
Humble, always happy and smiling, with a loving heart for all, she sparkled with trust, joy and peace, and led everyone to the Lord. To her soul, Jesus was like a spring day, vibrant with life and scented with flowers: Love par excellence, the one overwhelming Love. This is why she is known on the one hand as the “Teresa of Germany” and on the other, the “theologian of the Sacred Heart”.
One day, Jesus said to Gertrude: “It would be good to make known to men and women how they would benefit from remembering that I, the Son of God and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, always stand before God for the salvation of the human race, and that should they commit some sin through their weakness. I offer my unblemished Heart to the Father for them”.
She truly became one with Jesus and transmitted him to her brethren in the many works she has bequeathed to us. some of which have been lost.
In 1298 her health deteriorated but she transformed her sufferings into love, an offering with Jesus to the Father and a gift for humankind.
During her long and painful illness, she decided to recount the “adventure” of her conversion and to tell of the wonderful revelations with which Jesus had favoured her: “Until the age of 25, I was a blind and insane woman… but you, Jesus, deigned to grant me the priceless familiarity of your friendship by opening to me in every way that most noble casket of your divinity, which is your divine Heart, and offering me in great abundance all your treasures contained in it”.
On 17 November 1301, at age 45. she rejoined her Bridegroom for ever. Interestingly, she is the only woman among the saints to be called “the Great’: St. Gertrude the Great.
St. Gertrude, tells us of a wicked man, full of hate for God, who on arising in the morning made this impious act: “O God, I believe in You, but I hate You with all the power of my soul. I wish that every act I do this day be an act of hate and blasphemy against You. I wish that every step I take, every word I say, every single act I do be a blasphemy against You, a blasphemy like to those that the devils in Hell are ever uttering.” Not satisfied with this diabolical act of wickedness, he repeated these words many times each day so that his every act was a blasphemy and an act of hate against God.
Now the Saint asks, why do not Christians do the contrary? Why do they not make their Morning Offering with great deliberation? It will only need a moment. It will make their every act an act of the love of God, as truly as the acts of that wicked man were acts of diabolical hate. Better still, if they sometimes during the day repeat this offering in a few words. For instance, when one is walking: “O my God, I wish that every step be an act of love for You.” What is to prevent us saying a few times every day: “O my God, every word I say I wish to be an act of love for You.” When writing we may pause for a moment and say to God: “My God, every word I write I wish to be an act of love for You.” Some ladies, when sewing, have the pious custom of saying, “O my Jesus, I wish that every stitch I give be an act of love for You.” The wonderful thing is that we thus make every act an act of great merit for ourselves. For every such act, we shall have a great reward in Heaven.
Our Lord said to one of His great servants: “Any Christian can make an act of love in a moment that will last for all Eternity.” Yet another time, He said: “One act of love gives Me more pleasure than a thousand hideous blasphemies give Me pain.” Now if one mortal sin deserves the awful pains of Hell for all eternity, surely one act of love, one good act must obtain a great reward for all eternity in Heaven. For every little cup of water we give to a poor man in God’s name, God gives an eternal reward. No sin, however small, goes without punishment. For every idle word that man shall speak he shall have to render an account for it in the Day of Judgment. So no good act goes without its special reward. What a wondrous thought! Every good act, no matter how small, will have an eternal reward in Heaven! This is what Our Lord tells us: “Taste and see how sweet My yoke is, how light My burden.”
God’s Religion is truly most beautiful and consoling. Surely, then, every intelligent Christian should make his Morning Offering with great attention and deliberation. It means only one short minute. It is, as we have explained, so easy. If he does not do it, what countless merits he loses and what glory and love he takes from God.
To obtain the protection of God’s Holy Mother we would do well to say daily this beautiful little prayer after the Morning Offering: My Mother and my Queen, I offer to thee this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my head, my soul, my whole being. Since I belong to thee, dearest Mother, protect me as thine own property and possession.
On rising in the morning we should drop on our knees for a moment and make the following offering to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord: Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the pure hands of Mary I offer Thee all the prayers, works and sufferings of this day and of all my life for the intentions of Thy Sacred Heart, for the Apostleship of Prayer and for all my own intentions. (Some like to add:) Every breath I draw this day, every beating of my heart, every step I take, every word I say, every movement of my body and mind I wish to be an act of love for Thee such as Thy Blessed Mother herself performed.
~Source:”How to Be Happy,How to Be Holy”