I closed my last entry with the Ave Maria. It's my favorite Marian prayer, aside from the Salve Regina, and I find myself saying it every day. Often, I say it multiple times a day. I would like to do with it what I did to the Annunciation: break it down according to Collyridian theology.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee."
This is the salutation given by Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation. Summation of this also summarizes my last post, which should be directly below or here if it's not. Anyway, the summation is this: Mary is filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, marking the indwelling of the goddess and making Mary Her avatar. "The Lord is with thee" is marking the unification of the female and male aspects of the divine. Mary is the divine incarnate, ready to carry the avatar of God.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
"Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus."
She is the most blessed of women, being the vessel through which the Christ will be born and the vessel for the indwelling of the feminine spirit. The fruit of her womb, Christ, is also blessed, filled with the same grace as she. She is, ultimately, the vessel of grace. For this, she is most-favored.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in ora mortis nostrae.
"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death."
I am going to relate a story that was told to me by a Carmelite nun that sums up this part of the prayer.
During the Inquisition in Spain, a very honest prince that was lax in his faith went to Confession prior to the Easter celebration. While there, he informed the priest that he did not understand the point of Confession if God could see the hearts of men and know when man was sorry. The priest told him to pray but one Ave Maria, piously and sincerely to show that his heart truly was repentant. The prince went home and hurriedly prayed a rosary and went about his business. While out, he tripped on a stone in the road and was crushed under a wagon wheel. He saw instantly the divine light of heaven, and standing next to a golden scale was a weeping woman. He realized she was the Blessed Virgin, and he cried out to her, but she continued weeping. He saw on the scales a mountain of his sins weighed against nothing but broken beads and rotting string. The prince begged for forgiveness, only to find himself being woken up by a physician. The physician said that the prince did not have much time. He asked for a rosary, and brought his friends into his chambers. As he lay dying, he prayed the rosary over and over again, asking his friends to pray with him. As he died, he instructed his friends and subjects to pray the rosary daily. He closed his eyes one last time, and passed away. The prince found himself standing before the scales again, but the Virgin was no longer weeping. She looked directly into the divine light, then to the scales heavily weighted with the mountain of the prince's sins. And then the Virgin produced every rosary he had prayed, every rosary his friends had prayed, and every rosary that would ever be prayed due to his pious and inspirational devotion. The beads were solid and the rope was strong, and there was no amount of sin that could outweigh the weight of those rosaries being laid down on the scales. The prince felt the weight of his sin lift from his shoulders, and he entered the heavenly realm to be reunited with God.
This story is ostensibly Catholic, and a Catholic will interpret this simply as the intercession of Mary for which we pray when we recite this prayer. But it is more. It illustrates more fully that ongoing and continual grace pours forth from Mary's heart. She is not only the intercessory mother we run to in times of trouble, she is the original vessel through which grace poured, and she continues to pour out her grace on her devotees. This is the role of the Divine Mother--she is the Advocate, the Clementine, the Blessed Virgin to whom we run and from whom we receive comfort and confidence. Ave Maria, ora pro nobis.