Just 3…wait until you hear how important they are.
So, little things are often the biggest things–especially in the spiritual life. (Of course St. Therese and many, many others would tell you that.) This is now the staple of my morning and evening prayer routine. I always have time for three Hail Marys no matter what kind of a crazy day it is.
Naturally, the way to do this is to pray three “Hail Marys” one right after another. But each one is dedicated to a person of the Blessed Trinity as you pray it, and contemplating the Blessed Virgin’s love for each one. Many saints endorsed this practice. I do as St. Alphonsus Ligouri recommended and after each “Hail Mary” add the sentence, “By thy pure and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy.”
The Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Mechtilde requesting this devotion, and also spoke to St. Gertrude about it. To those who devoutly persist in this devotion day by day, Our Blessed Mother has promised a visit at the hours of their deaths, arrayed in heavenly splendor, to bring them extraordinary consolation at that terrible time.
Another beautiful, traditional devotion with a magnificent pedigree, more people need to know about this venerable practice. Teach it to your children! Morning and evening, in front of your home altar/little oratory, pray the three Hail Marys with your young ones. This habit will be of inestimable value throughout their lives, and at the hours of their deaths.
I first read about this devotion in the book Prayers and Heavenly Promises: Compiled from Approved Sources, by Joan Carrol Cruz. She lists other saints and clerics who promoted this devotion, and notes that it was also encouraged by Popes Leo XIII and Benedict XV. (More on this devotion can be found here and here online.)
I’m all for doing everything possible to prepare for a holy death–staying free of sin, receiving the Sacraments, and praying the Holy Rosary are of course the basics on my list. But this simple little devotion is now an essential element of my day–may I be faithful enough to see it through. I hope you will join me each day in making this loving oration to the Holy Virgin and the Blessed Trinity.