Monday, October 3, 2016


The angel Gabriel venerates Mary by declaring to her, “Hail, Full of Grace” (Lk. 1:28). The heavenly angel honors the human Mary, for her perfection of grace exceeds that of the angels; the greeting reveals the “immaculate state” of Mother Mary.  The angelic salutation is different from the angelic greetings in the Old Testament  that speak only about a woman conceiving and bearing a son, as in the case of the birth of Samson (Judges 13:3-4; 13:7; 13:13-14). 

In the New Testament,  the traditional translation “full of grace” is better than the one found in many recent versions of the New Testament, which give something along the lines of “highly favored daughter.”  Mary was indeed a highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek ‘Charitoo’ implies more than that and it never mentions the word for “daughter”.  The grace given to Mary is at once permanent and of a unique kind.  The term in the perfect tense means that Mary was graced in the past but with continuing effects in the present.  So, the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angel’s visit; she was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence. 

The English translation, “Hail, Full of Grace,” is based on the original Greek of Luke 1:28, Chaire kecharitomene, a phrase which can literally be translated: “Rejoice, you who have been graced.”  The perfect meaning of this passge is that the subject (Mary) was graced fully and completely at some time in the past, and continued in that fully graced state.  The angel’s salutation does not refer to the incarnation of Christ in Mary’s womb, as he proceeds to say: “you shall conceive in your womb…” (Lk. 1:31). She was graced in view of the merits gained by her divine Son, the Savior of humankind.

In the early centuries of the Christian tradition, there was a common acceptance that Mother Mary is pure and sinless, though this was officially declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception later on 8 December 1854 by Pope Pius IX in the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus.  In 1858 Mary appeared in a grotto at Lourdes, France to Bernadette Soubirous and proclaimed: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”   

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