Rosemary Bogdan reviews Hail Mary by Dom Eugene Vandeur, OSB.
How aptly titled is this new book on the Blessed Mother by Dom Eugene Vandeur, OSB: Hail Mary. He writes that it is not his aim to put forth a new Mariology.
My aim is much more modest; I am trying to reach many small souls, for whom a few rays of Holy Mary’s beauty will suffice; that they may endlessly admire and better pronounce her name—after the name of Jesus, the most beautiful of names.
Dom Vandeur, a Benedictine monk, has written a beautiful meditation on Mary using as a structure the words to the prayer echoed in the title of his book, Hail Mary. Each word and phrase of the iconic prayer that salutes our Mother is discussed, the meaning of each expanded upon and lovingly embraced. It may not be a new Mariology, but I will guess that many who read this modest volume will come to a deeper and more profound understanding of she who is the greatest of all saints.
The entire book is a tribute to Mary, an eloquent and lyrical compilation of praise of her and to her. Most of the book is even addressed to her, and therefore one could even call it a meditative and prayerful description of the delight that we all should have in contemplating Mary.
Hail Mary is divided into three main sections. “The Introduction” covers the Annunciation and The Angel of the Ave. “Part One: The Angelic Salutation” follows with a discussion of each word and concept included in Gabriel’s words. “Part Two: The Invocation” covers the rest of the beloved prayer to our Mother.
If you love the Rosary, you will find that each of Dom Vandeur’s meditations on individual elements of the Hail Mary will deepen your understanding of who Mary is, her role in the Church, and the part she plays in our lives.
So many sentences left me pondering Mary. It was necessary to stop a great deal and let the depth of meaning sink in. For instance, the very first sentence reads,
It will be your everlasting glory, holy archangel Gabriel, to have been the first to utter on earth the Ave Maria, the Salutation to Mary, Mother of God, Virgin of Virgins.
Have you ever thought of that? The Archangel Gabriel was the first to say “Hail Mary,” and how many billions since then have repeated the greeting with each Hail Mary. Indeed, we are quoting the Angel of the Ave.
The power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Let him who will, comprehend! O mystery of mysteries! Mystery that she alone can understand to whom alone was given the supreme happiness of experiencing it.
Reading words such as these, perhaps as a meditation before starting the rosary, can deepen our understanding of the Joyful Mysteries. It may even be an understanding that we can feel but not express in words.
Holy Mary, Mother of God. No dignity approaches nearer to the hypostatic union of the two natures in Jesus than does that of the divine motherhood.
Indeed. As the good monk explains, we honor, praise, and revere the saints with a veneration called dulia. Addressing Mary directly, he says, “But for you, and you alone, we reserve a higher veneration, hyperdulia.”
Those devoted to the Rosary, those who wish to love the Rosary, and those who would like to come to a deeper veneration and understanding of our Beloved Mother will enjoy this book. It could be brought to Adoration or used while saying the Rosary, reading a few sentences of Hail Mary, followed by our own echoing of Gabriel’s words. Hail Mary is truly an eloquent meditation on the holiness and mystical beauty of our dear Blessed Mother.
Let’s pray that Dom Vandeur’s own prayer addressed to Mary for us be heard.
May we spend our lives in saying: Hail! Hail! And again and again Hail! May it be our last sigh at the supreme hour, in the midst of our agony, in the smile of peace which you promise us at that moment! Amen!
Hail Mary, now and forever.
Copyright 2022 Rosemary Bogdan
About the Author
Rosemary Bogdan is a wife, mother of six adult children, and a grandmother. She homeschooled her children when they were young and currently substitute teaches at her favorite Catholic school. When not spending time with her family, Rosemary writes at A Catholic Mother's Thoughts and Catholic365.com.