If Mary is so important to Catholics why is it that we don’t say the Hail Mary during Mass? We don’t even say it on January 1st which is the Solemnity of Mary. Why do we ignore her?
To answer this question requires that we look at a foundational difference between liturgy and devotions. When we think of “liturgy” we are referring to the Church’s public worship which is above all the participation of the faithful in the saving works of Christ on behalf of the people. Accordingly, liturgical prayer is
centered in the celebrating of and receiving of Christ’s saving works. Meanwhile, devotions are meant to assist us in becoming open to these saving works, but are not of themselves a participation in the saving works as is offered by the liturgy.
So what do we make of the “Hail Mary” in this distinction? Acknowledging that the “Hail Mary” is biblical in its expressions and is well established in
tradition (going back to the early centuries) it remains a devotional prayer insofar as it is directed at asking Mary to come to our aid. By contrast, the prayers of the Mass are directed toward the participation in the saving work of Christ’s cross and resurrection, that we might rightly receive the fruits of this work. By way of another level of comparison, that we pray “The Lord’s Prayer” during every Mass and not the “Hail Mary” shows us the difference – as “The Lord’s Prayer” is both a prayer that comes from Jesus Himself who has exhorted us to pray it, and it is a prayer that contains within itself that which is sought through the liturgy: the
giving of praise and worship to the Father, the pleading for forgiveness of sins,
and the seeking/asking for a share in the Kingdom – all of which are also elements of the offering of Mass itself. Does the “Hail Mary” assist us in receiving these graces? Without a doubt! However, the “Hail Mary” is not intended to directly pray for these graces; it is more properly prayed as a devotional prayer, including as a preparation for Mass or response in thanksgiving to what has been offered at Mass, that like Mary, we might partake more fully and perfectly in the saving works of God.
Therefore, that the “Hail Mary” is not prayed during Mass does not lessen it; but simply orders it according to what it really is meant to be as devotional prayer