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If we allow, Our Lady will accompany us
“… pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”
I learned those words early in my childhood. I learned the sounds, the placement of the breaks; I even mastered the art of mixing my voice with other voices to form a single wave of supplication. But after years of Hail Marys, one day it occurred to me that there was a hidden request in the closing words of the prayer.
“At the hour of our death.” We are asking Mary to pray for us in the most important moment of our life, when the soul leaves the body and places itself before Our Lord, when eternity – for good or for evil – extends before us.
But it seems to me that the expression “at the hour of our death” can mean something more. A year or two ago I was praying in the wake of the academy. At some point, I had a thought: there are two types of death! There is not only bodily death, but also the death of the self, the death of the “old man” to which St. Paul refers (the part of me turned to God and the part bound to myself and sin).
And do not we need Our Lady’s support at the time of this “death” as well?
Now, I understand this request of the Hail Mary, which encompasses all this: pray for me now; pray for me at the hour of my physical death and pray for me at the time of my little daily deaths – those times when I am called to bury the “old self” so that, dead to sin, I can rise to the fullness of life in Christ.
“Take away your old nature which belongs to your previous way of life …”, says Saint Paul, writing to the Ephesians, “and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God.”
“Disregarding our old nature” is not a kind of death? A death we also fear and from which we flee daily? At times I am tempted to think that a bodily martyrdom at once sounds relatively simple, compared to the prospect of sacrificing my will day after day.
This is where Our Lady comes. I can run to it with my fears, with my terrible images of what the future holds for me and my absolute weakness. Pray for me NOW – in all my present troubles, fears and struggles. And at the time of death – in those hours of small deaths of oneself and in the hour of the end, in which I am going to be brought before the court.
Just as she stayed with Christ until the last moment, she will accompany us if we leave her. It wants to sustain us in our daily deaths so that it can see us victorious before Christ in our last hour.
Our battles are real! Our little fights count! But we can not conquer them alone. Let us pray fervently, then, with sincerity and trust to our faithful Mother:
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen