I've been drawn to praying the rosary the last week or two, and I've come to a realization that feels a bit odd. I think I love Mary.
What I feel is a sense of connectedness to Mary, like we are a part of the same family. Her place in the family is different than mine, but instead of being removed from each other by thousands of years, a different language and culture, there is a sense of mutuality...that we are both about the same thing, worshipping Jesus. Instead of a simple biblical character, she is alive to me.
I had a similar feeling the first time I walked into Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, a few years before I became Catholic. The sanctuary walls have these massive, awe-inspiring tapestries of the saints facing the altar in prayer, as if they are worshipping right there with us. (A taste of the view here.) I got a shiver looking at them, and something clicked in my head. The communion of saints. They're alive, they're here praising God. We're all participating in the same act of worshipping God. I'm here on earth, they are in heaven, but Christ unites us, and we are especially joined during Mass-- Mass touches heaven as we enter into the worship that is constant there.
Honoring the saints or even asking for their intercession doesn't seem wrong because I don't believe that death separates us spiritually. (And because I've studied the theological points of the communion of saints doctrine.) Thus, I'm willing to pray the rosary, saying the same words the Angel Gabriel spoke to Mary "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!." (Luke 1:28) And the words Elizabeth spoke to Mary "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!"(1:42. These things that are not any less true now than they were then.
A Hail Mary consists of:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is
with thee. Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us
sinners, now and at the hour of our death.