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Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen)

During this season of the year ("Trinitytide", which is from Trinity Sunday to Christ the King Sunday) we chant the Salve Regina after Mass. It would be good for us to reflect on the specific lines of the chant so that we know what we are singing about (after all, we say it in Latin and we should be able to understand what those words mean!).

Salve Regina, Mater Misericordiae

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy

We begin with a greeting, but not just any greeting; "hail" recalls to mind the greeting of the Angel Gabriel in the Annunciation. "Hail" is not "howdy!" It shows respect and also helps to put us in our place at the very beginning of our prayer. Comparable to the way that we begin a prayer to God by praising Him, we begin this prayer (which is what the Salve Regina is) by honoring our Blessed Mother.

Then, next, we recognize the authority she has over us. This is comparable to a child calling his mother "Mama" or "Mommy"; it acknowledges her place over him and encourages him to seek self control when he speaks to her. As an extra note, just as children should not call their parents by their first names (it is disrespectful, and blurs the lines of what the parent/child relationship is supposed to be like), so we should also not speak to the Blessed Virgin just as "Mary". Yes, we can add a note of honor, "Blessed Virgin Mary" or "Mother Mary", or even "Holy Mary" or "St. Mary", but those clarify what we are doing--honoring her. Remember, she is the sinless one who bore the Divine Savior in her womb and was chosen by God to raise Jesus; she is not your next door neighbor (and we should not speak to her as though she were).

Finally, we call her the "Mother of Mercy". This is true in more than one way. She is the mother of the One Who is True Mercy, Christ the Lord. She is also the "mother" of mercy because she petitions for God to grant it to us, as well the fact that she fosters and encourages it in all of us toward one another. She is also our Mother in Heaven who is filled with all mercy; in this way we could also say "merciful Mother".

More to come...


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