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Hail Mary, The
A Verbal Icon of Mary
244 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268011024 | February 1994
Hardcover | 9780268011017 | February 1994
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268081508 | February 1994
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- Author Bio
Next to the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary may well be the most recited prayer in Catholic Christendom. In this volume, which comprises the most thorough and comprehensive book-length study of the Hail Mary available, Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C., presents a compendium study of this ancient prayer, one that is at once historical and exegetical as well as critical and meditative. Here he thoughtfully examines the quintessential Marian prayer word by word and line by line, analyzing each phrase in itself and in relation to the other phrases, a method that will enable readers to study the prayer for maximum understanding, appreciation, and spiritual gain.
With a balance of clarity and insight, Ayo considers the Hail Mary from every angle, taking into consideration its history, language, literary quality, theology, and spirituality. His reflections reveal a deeper spiritual appreciation for the particular genius of the Ave Maria, which, when combined with an enhanced knowledge of it, will help readers gain a more meaningful understanding of this treasured prayer.
In addition to an in-depth study of the pray itself, The Hail Mary includes an overview of the larger issues of Marian theology and devotion, a review of Mary in the biblical scriptures and in the apocrypha, and a summary review of the place of the Virgin Mary in the hearts and prayers of Christian men and women. Although Ayo treats the Hail Mary as it is known today, he also provides an anthology of commentary on the prayer from over the centuries, including the reflections of such writers as Thomas Aquinas, Matilda of Helfta, and Caryll Houselander, and others.
This insightful study will be useful for clergy, religious, and all Christians who seek a greater understanding of the fundamentals of their faith and devotion.
Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C., is professor emeritus in the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of a number of books, including Gloria Patri: The History and Theology of the Lesser Doxology (Notre Dame Press, 2007) and The Creed as Symbol (Notre Dame Press, 1988).
“Ayo gives a clear introduction to this central prayer of Roman Catholic piety (though its use is not limited to Roman Catholics). He touches on issues of Marian theology and devotion, discusses scriptural and apocryphal references to Mary, and considers her place in Christian spirituality. He includes commentary from nine writers (four of them women) from the patristic to the contemporary period. Ayo concludes with his own evaluation of the prayer and its place in contemporary piety. Although scholarly, this book is quite accessible; it will likely appeal to readers for whom this prayer and the Virgin Mary are important. Recommended for all libraries.” —Library Journal
“Ayo's in-depth examination of the famous Marian prayer yields fascinating insights and revelations into the Christian church's understanding of Mary, mother of Jesus. . . . Ayo explores the scriptural and historical understanding of the Ave Maria in such a way that even the most jaded outlook can be refreshed. A second section deals with the viewpoints of particular theologians from Thomas Aquinas to Agnes Cunningham (the addition of women to this group is a welcome one). While the book is aimed at Catholic Christians, for whom the Hail Mary is a fixture from childhood, non-Catholics, particularly those who are confused about the role of Mary in Catholic prayer life, should find some answers to their questions and a new appreciation of the prayer.” —Booklist
“. . . rehabilitate[s] traditional Marian devotion in a manner that sympathetically engages contemporary ecumenical and feminist concerns. . . . Protestants and Catholics, [as well as] feminists . . . will find in this book common ground for the acknowledgment of Mary as the first of the faithful.” —First Things