O most loving Mother of God, Mary ever-virgin, you overflow with a miraculous sweetness, which the human mind is not able to comprehend or describe! I stand before you now as your lowly servant, humbly bowing before your most gracious throne, which is exalted far above all the choirs of angels in the heavenly kingdom.
You have deserved this preeminent rank, O beloved Lady, for you were found to be the most pure and humble amongst all the daughters of Jerusalem. Therefore, your beauty became pleasing in the eyes of God, the divine King; for truly he found no other maiden upon earth who was similar to you.
Again, I prostrate myself before your footstool, eager to praise and extol you with devout lips and a pure heart. Yet I know, chosen Mother of God, that I am not worthy to raise my impure eyes to you. For often have I sinned, weakly succumbing to the lusts of the flesh, the cravings of the eyes, and the pride of life.
Indeed, I am unfit to gaze upon your most serene face, radiant with the divine luminance, which fills the whole angelic court of heaven with the most profound admiration and wonder. This face is adorned with lips whose crimson surpasses that of the rose and whose eyes’ gentle gleam outshines the stars themselves.
When I consider my own abject unworthiness, I am deeply saddened and filled with frustration at my own impurity. But again, when I recall the multitude of your mercies, I am infused with renewed hope. With you interceding for me and acting as my blessed advocate, surely I shall quickly obtain the grace of forgiveness for my failures and reconciliation to the Lord. What else can I do but see in you, my Lady, my sweetest solace and my most merciful refuge? And not for me only but for all sinners.
Therefore, inspired by the hope of your healing mercy and maidenly gentleness, I fly unto your holy protection, O most gracious of Queens. For, by means of your protection, the weak are given strength and captives receive liberty. Be merciful to me, just as a good Mother. Thus shall I know that you are indeed the consoler of all who serve you and the most faithful helper of all who trust in you.
Again, I pray to you, Mary, most glorious Mother of God! From now until the final hour of my life, never cease to look upon me with a serene and maternal gaze and a benevolent and loving heart. Hold me in the loving embrace of your arms wherever I may walk during the pilgrimage of my earthly life!
In truth, I do not and cannot know when my final day shall arrive. But when that dark day comes, and when descends the grim and dreadful hour of death which no mortal may escape, please remember me, your humble servant! Stand by my side in the time of my mortal dissolution and lend to my fearful soul all the courage that it shall then so desperately need.
Yes, protect it from the foul and unclean demonic spirits which would viciously seize upon it and draw it away to the eternal darkness, to the unquenchable fire and the undying worm! For wherever you are present, O Mary, together with your angelic and saintly cohorts, there the spirits of evil and the demons shall not dare to approach.
By means of your infinitely pure and efficacious prayers, help to reconcile me to your beloved Son, whom I have gravely offended in such a multitude of different ways. After this life – my earthly exile – is ended, take my poor and wandering soul by the hand and lead it through the gates of heaven to the blissful realms of God’s star-illuminated paradise.
Stand by my side and speak to your divine Son on my behalf. He is, indeed, the omnipotent King of all the ages and the supreme judge of every soul. Yet he once came to you as your tiny guest, announced by the word of the archangel Gabriel, and was held in your embrace and nursed by you, as helpless and mild as any human infant.
By the power of your Son, Jesus, kindly protect and guard me both in life and in death. Grant me the privilege of praising your wonderful name with all the capacity of my heart, my tongue, and my mind. Accept my humble prayer which I pour out to you. Look upon me, most merciful and blessed mother of Jesus, and never forget me.
But I must confess that sometimes I am forgetful of you. Sometimes, I am distracted by fleshly temptations, and sometimes I am weighted down by earthly worries and duties. Yet, I hope that you, for your part, will not forget me. For you offer your mercy to all who venerate and love you, even if they do so only imperfectly.
Hail, O most blessed Virgin Mary! I greet and venerate you upon bended knees; to you I bow my head in devout adoration; to you I join my hands in ardent thanksgiving and gratitude. And, so that you may deign to hear my humble prayer, I shall now dare to speak to you that angelic and immortal salutation by which God himself magnified your glory, just as your soul magnified His:
Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee,
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is
The fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Amen.
This article is taken from a chapter in Humility and the Elevation of the Mind to God by St. Alphonsus Liguori which is available from TAN Books.