Hail Mary: Kecharitomene, A Unique Word for a Unique Lady
Medieval theologians described it this way. They saw Mary's "fullness of grace" (plenitudo gratiae) as something between the "fullness of grace" that was unique to Christ (cf. John 1:4) and the "fullness of grace" that might be found in the Holy Angels and the Saints (cf. Acts 6:8). This special and unique condition of Mary was described as plenitudo summae abundantiae (a plenary fullness of abundance of grace) or a plenitudo redundantiae (plenary redoundingness of grace).
This unique condition expounded and developed by the Medieval theologians in their cumbruous is precise Latin phrases is implied in the unique germ of a Greek word kecharitomene.
Clearly, the Golden-and-Greek-tongued Father of the Church, St. John Chrysostom understood the word Kecharitomene to be nominal, titular, official, personal to Mary. And he is our sure guide. How else can we explain this virtual explosion of praise to Mary--not in the name of Mary-but in her other God-given name--Kecharitomene--in one of his Christmas Day sermons?
Hail, Kecharitomene, unreaped land of heavenly grain.
Hail, Kecharitomene, virgin mother, true and unfailing vine.
Hail, Kecharitomene, faultless one carrying the immutable divinity.
Hail, Kecharitomene, spacious room for the uncontainable nature.
Hail, Kecharitomene, new bride of a widowed world and incorrupt offspring.
Hail, Kecharitomene, weaving as creature a crown not made by hands.
Hail, Kecharitomene, habitation of holy fire.
Hail, Kecharitomene, return of the fugitive world.
Hail, Kecharitomene, lavish nourisher for the hungry creation.
Hail, Kecharitomene, interminable grace of the holy virgin.
Hail, Kecharitomene, lampstand adorned with all virtue and with inextinguishable
light brighter than even the sun.
Hail, Kecharitomene, challenger of spirits.
Hail, Kecharitomene, wise bearer of spiritual glory.
Hail, Kecharitomene, golden urn, contaning heavenly manna.
Hail, Kecharitomene, dispensing sweet drink ever flowing to fill those who are thirsty.
Hail, Kecharitomene, spiritual sea who holds Christ, the heavenly pearl.
Hail, Kecharitomene, splendor of heaven, having the one uncontained by the heavens in herself,
God confined and unconfined.
Hail, Kecharitomene, pillar of cloud containing God, and guiding Israel in the wilderness."
"What should I say, and what should I speak?" Chrysostom breathlessly asks, asking perhaps the same question as the holy Archangel Gabriel before he spoke to Mary. "How should I bless the root of all glory?" Chrysostom continues and explains the source of his troubles. His quandary comes from the unique circumstance before him, "because, with the exception of God alone, she is superior to all."
So, when you pray the Hail Mary, and when you utter the words "Hail Mary full of grace," never, never, never let that marvelous mustard seed of a word kecharitomene and all its implications be far away from your mind.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Mary, Marian, mother of God, rosary, marian devotion, Annunciation, Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.
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