Ave Maria

From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

AVE MARIA. —This well-known devotion of the Latin Church is based upon the salutations addressed to the Virgin Mary by the angel Gabriel and by Elisabeth the mother of John the Baptist ( Luke 1:28;  Luke 1:42). Its earlier and shorter form follows closely the words of Scripture, with the addition only of the names ‘Mary’ and ‘Jesus’; ‘Hail (Mary), full of grace; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Jesus).’ As thus recited, it cannot be called a prayer, but may be considered either as a memorial of thanksgiving for the Incarnation; or as one of those devotional apostrophes of departed saints which are found even in the writings of the Christian Fathers and in early Christian inscriptions.

The use of the Ave Maria in the fixed liturgical services of the Latin Church is of comparatively late origin. Its devotional use is, however, much older: it is even said to be traceable as far back as the 7th century. In the 14th cent. it is found in the popular handbooks of devotion. The Mirror of our Lady (first half of the 15th cent.) alludes to it as forming part of the preliminary prayers said privately by the worshipper before the office began. An interesting example of its use is given by Maskell ( Monumenta Ritualia , ii. 71). The foundation statutes of the Abbey of Maxstoke in the reign of Edward iii. order its recital daily.

But the Ave was not definitely placed in the offices of the Breviary until the 16th cent.; and curiously enough by the liturgical reformer, Cardinal Quignonez. In the present Roman Breviary, dating from Pope Pius v. (1568), it is directed to be said with the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each office, and after Compline.

The pre-Reformation Ave was usually the shorter and Scriptural form as given above. But as it stands now in the Breviary, it ends with a direct prayer addressed to the Virgin, said to date from the middle of the 15th cent.: ‘Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of our death.’

It is fair to remember that, whatever lines the devotions to Mary ultimately followed, they were, in their original intention, undoubtedly devotions to Christ. Like the title Theotokos , sanctioned by the Third Œcumenical Council (Ephesus 431), they were intended to safeguard and emphasize the true humanity of Christ. Not only was Christ perfect God, but He was truly conceived and born of a human mother, so that the Son of Mary is indissolubly God and man in one person. The devotions addressed to His mother were therefore a commemoration of the intimate union between the Godhead and human nature, of which union Mary was both the willing instrument and the sign.

Literature.—Addis and Arnold, A Catholic Dictionary , 1897; Wright and Neil, A Protestant Dictionary , 1904; Bodington, Books of Devotion , 1903; Procter, A History of the Book of Common Prayer , 1884; Maskell, Monumenta Ritualia , 1846; the Breviarium Romanum  ; The Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Preface), Percival & Co. 1892; Bengel, Meyer, and Alford on  Luke 1:28.

A. R. Whitham.

AWE. —The adoration of what is mysterious and sublime is an essential element in religion. When expressed towards unworthy objects the result is superstition, but the motive itself is the soul of worship. As the feeling is thus fundamental to the relationship between the human and the Divine, increase of knowledge, while testing and purifying this relationship, should protect and strengthen it.

In the service of the missionary gospel, the complaint is made to-day by Eastern heathen religions that our Western Christianity, which comes to them as the aggressive herald of a higher life, is gravely deficient in religious veneration. It becomes, therefore, of practical interest to inquire how Christ’s first disciples were influenced in this direction by His presence among them, and to what extent the same feeling towards the person of the living Christ pervades the Church of modern times.

When Christ took upon Him our nature, it was under such circumstances of poverty and humble birth as could not inspire the conventional regard which the world bestows upon rank and title. Further, His life was lived in such daily intimacy with those around Him, and was so thoroughly affected by the local customs of Israel and the social conditions of the time, that His disciples could speak of their fellowship with Him in terms of exact knowledge and distinct impression. They could afterwards refer to His life as something that they had seen with their eyes and their hands had handled ( 1 John 1:1).

Nevertheless, there is nothing more evident in the story of the Evangelists than the fact that a permanent and increasing mystery, passing into reverence and awe, accompanied that familiar acquaintance. The feeling was usually called forth by some manifestation of knowledge or power, and deeper even than the impression thus produced by His wonderful teaching and miraculous works was the trustful consciousness of their being in contact with a personality that was altogether holy and separate from sin. Finally, the reverent submission thus instilled into the minds of the disciples was exemplified in Christ Himself towards the will of God, as in the temptation in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane.

As their power of spiritual perception increased, the disciples learnt to apprehend and accept the startling renovation, the sudden depth, and the delightful expansion that the Master gave to old religious truths, but there were always meanings about which they had to seek an interpretation in private, and to the end of their fellowship they had often to confess that they knew not what He said. The difficulty thus created by His personality and actions was so far recognized by the Lord Jesus, that on one occasion He encouraged His disciples to make known their own thoughts and the thoughts of others about Himself ( Matthew 16:13). Thus Nathanael was overawed by the knowledge that He had been watching him in his place of seclusion ( John 1:49); and this feeling soon became a general persuasion that He knew all men and what was in man ( John 2:24-25). Peter felt himself so immediately in the presence of Divine power that he confessed his own sinfulness, and he and James and John decided to leave all and follow Him ( Luke 5:1-11). The bereaved sisters at Bethany repeat the conviction that if He had been there, their brother would not have died ( John 11:21;  John 11:32). And among those who came into more incidental contact with Him by simple inquiry or importunate need, Nicodemus was attracted by the persuasion that He was a teacher come from God ( John 3:2); an admission to the same effect was made on one occasion by the Pharisees and Herodians ( Mark 12:14); the chief priests and scribes were driven to assign a Satanic origin to His unquestionable power ( Matthew 12:24); while the Pharisees reached a stage in their controversy with Him after which no man durst ask Him any question ( Matthew 22:46,  Mark 12:34). The privileged traffickers in the temple quailed under His exposure and rebuke ( Matthew 21:12), and to the end the challenge to convict Him of sin remained unanswered ( John 8:46). All the miracles of Christ, while expressing His pity and love, accentuated this Divine power, and His teaching bore the distinguishing mark of authority ( Matthew 7:29).

To His first Jewish disciples the name Messiah was the unveiling of a historical mystery, the justification of the calling, preservation, and discipline of Israel. They found in Him the fulfilment of the prophecy ‘and his name shall be called Wonderful’ ( Isaiah 9:6). With so much that attracted them to His person and depended upon His presence, it is doubtful if they could have ventured upon our depersonalized formulae about ‘the plan of salvation.’ And so, while the Fourth Gospel, like the ancient epics, begins with the introduction of its principal theme, namely, ‘The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us’ ( John 1:14), the Evangelist could add that even through that obscuring medium Christ’s disciples were enabled to behold His glory ( ib. ).

After the Resurrection this veil was so completely removed, and the awe of Christ’s presence became so unclouded and continuous, that one of the Apostles could write, ‘Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more’ ( 2 Corinthians 5:16).

Thereafter it became the commission of the Church to proclaim and teach and exemplify how the flesh may in turn become the Word, and every believer be a dwelling-place for the Spirit of Christ. The reverence that once gathered around His own visible person could still influence men through every witness in whom His Spirit dwelt. The condition of life and service was fixed, namely, ‘As he is, so are we in this world’ ( 1 John 4:17). And so in the Apostolic preaching of the gospel the living personality of Christ was never lost in the analysis of His mind and nature. Instead of the parched abstractions that with us so often take the place of the mystical indwelling, they preached ‘Jesus and the resurrection’ ( Acts 17:18), ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified’ ( 1 Corinthians 2:2).

Can it be said to-day of Christian sainthood and the service of the missionary gospel, that the person of Christ is thus central, His presence an indispensable necessity, likeness to Him the recognition mark of His Church, and the conquest of the world the consummation of its appointed labours? If it be otherwise, certain signs may be expected to manifest themselves. Christ will be little more than a beautiful name in His Church, an idea developed and resident in our minds. The work of the Holy Spirit in bringing and revealing the things of Christ will be shadowy and almost superfluous to those who have already reached a complete conception of Christ by philosophical method applied to the study of doctrine. The question, ‘Is Christ divided?’ ( 1 Corinthians 1:13) will cease to startle and distress, and the loyalty due to the Head of the Church and to the universal kingdom will be pledged to sectarian trusts and the watchwords of exhausted controversy. When the one standard of elevation, the stature of Christ, is withdrawn, Church distinctions will be restricted to the superficial dimensions of mere historical length and doctrinal width. In the ideal picture of the future fold, the one flock still needs the presence of the one Shepherd ( John 10:16). Through this visible union in Him, Christ will be glorified ( John 17:10), and solely to its manifestation is promised the conquest of the world ( John 17:21).

Literature.—Fowler and Wilson’s Principles of Morals , Oxf. 1894, p. 101; Kidd, Morality and Religion , Edin. 1895, p. 187; Davidson, Theism and Human Nature , p. 279; and on Christ’s awe, Swete’s St. Mark 2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , 1902, p. 342 (on  Mark 14:33).

G. M. Mackie.

Webster's Dictionary [2]

Alt. of Ave Mary

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [3]

An invocation to the Virgin, so called as forming the first two words of the salutation of the angel in Luke i. 28.