A Modification to the Hail Mary

a person's hands folded in prayer holding a rosary

About two years ago, I ended up accompanying a friend of mine to the hospital. Once the paramedics showed up, there really wasn’t anything for me to do other than hang around, wait, and pray. At first, I was really scared, but fortunately, it soon became clear that she would be okay. From that point on, all I had to do — all I could do — was patiently wait and pray.

The Hail Mary is one of my favorite prayers, so I ended up praying a lot of those that day. I love the Hail Mary because I am one of those Catholics for whom Jesus actually comes second, or maybe third. It’s much easier for me to connect to God through the Church itself — its communities, its traditions, and its rituals — than through the person of Jesus. For me, belief in the resurrection and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ don’t come easily, which makes it hard for me to pray directly to Jesus or to God. That’s why I love the Hail Mary: it feels more honest to ask Mary to pray on my behalf than to directly petition Jesus myself.

However, when you’re worried about someone’s health, the Hail Mary — as written — isn’t necessarily the most comforting prayer you can recite. So, I modified the prayer. Here’s what I said instead:

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed are thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary Mother of God,
pray for us sinners, now —
and many years from now
at the hour of our death.
Amen.

My friend was able to leave the hospital later that day and made a fairly quick recovery, thank God (and Mary).

This past week, a couple of my partner’s family members ended up in the hospital with COVID-19. Again, I found myself praying this modified Hail Mary.

Yes, we will all die one day, and when that happens I want Mary to be praying for us sinners and God to be present with us. But I don’t want that to happen just yet! I am still planning on and looking forward to sharing more years of life with these people, and I want my prayer to communicate that.

Fortunately, no one has had any serious complications, they have been recovering reasonably well, and they have now left the hospital, thank God (and Mary).

I made this modification to the Hail Mary on my own. No one taught me this exact prayer. However, I’m sure I’m not the only person’s who has ever prayed this, right? Have you prayed this modified Hail Mary before, or do you have another go-to prayer for times of worry or crisis?


Featured image by Marco Ceschi on Unsplash.

“A Modification to the Hail Mary” by Cam N. Coulter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

About Cam N. Coulter

Cam N. Coulter thinks incessantly about speculative fiction, gender, and intentional communities. Their poetry has appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer, Eye to the Telescope, and Polu Texni, and their academic nonfiction has appeared in the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Journal. Cam reviews short genre fiction for Skiffy and Fanty and blogs about social justice, simple living, community, and spirituality at The Ruined Report. After their year in JVC, Cam spent two years as a live-in assistant at L'Arche Heartland and one year in China through the Maryknoll China Teachers Program. They currently work with adults with developmental disabilities in the SF Bay Area. Cam can be found on their website or on Twitter @camncoulter.