The “Hail Mary” — Catholicism’s Push Up

One of the main themes in my postings is that spiritual fitness is an important part of one’s overall health. I discuss the idea of spiritual exercise and being spiritually fit. In this article I’m going to discuss one of the most basic, but also one of the most important elements of spiritual fitness — praying the Hail Mary.

U.S. Marines count out push-ups.
Image via Wikipedia

One of the main themes in my postings is that spiritual fitness is an important part of one’s overall health.  I discuss the idea of spiritual exercise and being spiritually fit.  In this article I’m going to discuss one of the most basic, but also one of the most important elements of spiritual fitness — praying the Hail Mary.

Physical exercise, no matter how complex, breaks down into very basic movements such as push ups, sit ups, squats,  pull ups, etc.  Exercise is a matter of simple mechanics where someone is lifts, lowers, pushes, or pulls some object.  However, an entire industry has emerged selling videos, books, and equipment pushing the idea that being fit is a complex process.  But when you remove all the advertising and spokespeople,  what differentiates a physically fit person from others is that the fit person has discipline to conduct very basic movements aggressively, routinely, and properly.

One of the most basic exercises is the push up.  However, it is also one of the best exercises as it strengthens core muscles, increases metabolism, and requires little space and no equipment.  And yet, so many people avoid doing push ups because they are hard or many believe that such a simple movement cannot be as effective as using a very complex machine at the gym.  But any athlete or soldier will tell you that mastering the push up is an important tool in improving one’s overall health and strength.

Like the push up in physical exercise, the Hail Mary and the rosary are fundamental prayers in staying spiritually fit.  The Hail Mary is 42 words long and takes about 10 seconds to say at a normal pace.  But it should be the cornerstone of everyone’s prayer routine.  After all, why do you think Mary wants you to pray it 53 times in the rosary?  It may be a simple prayer, but Mary and the saints know that it has a proven track record of keeping people in God‘s grace.  And yet so many people tend to avoid praying it.  Like the push up, the Hail Mary and the rosary are often avoided because they are seen as too difficult or not complex enough to have any meaningful result.  But people who are in shape spiritually will probably tell you that the Hail Mary is an important part of their prayer routine and must not be avoided.

Like the push up, you should start praying the Hail Mary slowly, methodically, and routinely.  Even the greatest athletes start with a single push up and then build on it.  Similarly, anyone can start building spiritual muscle with a single Hail Mary and build on that.  Remember, it is a ten second prayer and no one is so busy that you can’t fit in at least one some time during the day.  Like the push up, practice good form which means really concentrating on the words and not rushing through it.  A push up consists of two movements — a downward move followed by an upward one.  Likewise, the Hail Mary consists of two parts.  The first section you acknowledge and praise Mary as the Mother of God.  In the second you ask Her to pray for you, a poor sinner.  Both parts are important and require your attention and concentration.

So don’t be afraid of getting in spiritual shape through simple prayers.  Remember, sometimes the simplest prayers can yield the greatest benefits when they are said with your whole mind and soul.  Does anyone have any Hail Mary or rosary stories that they want to share?  Please leave your story as a comment.

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