The Angelus has always been a favorite prayer of mine. As a first and second grader, I was intrigued by the third grade teacher, Mrs. Martin, who, every day at noon, would blow her whistle and gather her class in the middle of recess to pray it together. When I finally became a third grader, I joined the ranks of the recess pray-ers, but not before memorizing and getting tested on the words of the Angelus. I can still see them printed on a half sheet and remember my trepidation at their number!
Years later, the habit of a daily Angelus long gone, I was introduced to the painting by Jean-Francois Millet of the couple stopping their work at dusk to pray the Angelus together. The church bells in the distance ring in the six o’clock hour and remind the faithful to mark the evening hour with this ancient prayer. Certainly tired after a long day’s work, the couple nevertheless bow their heads and offer the time to the Lord.
It wasn’t until the recent COVID lock-down that I really saw the necessity of praying at a specific time each day, of marking the hours with prayer. Like many of you, our family suddenly had lots of time at home together and very little structure. We needed a framework for the day, and we definitely needed to pray together.
Enter the Angelus.
For over three months, the kids made good use of the two previously unappreciated bells on either side of the fireplace to joyfully ring in the noon hour. And then, like thousands of faithful have done for hundreds of years, we prayed the Angelus together. And although the kids were far from perfect as we prayed, it was a beautiful time together of stopping our normal activities and remembering what really mattered.
I wish I could say that this habit has lasted, but as the lockdown eased up in Texas, and our lives resumed some sort of normal schedule outside the house, our noon-time Angelus waned. However, it hasn’t disappeared completely. When we are home around noon, we often call the kiddos to the living room to ring the bells and pray. They aren’t always reverent, and it isn’t always convenient, but it reminds us of the need to stop and remind ourselves of who we are and what we are about as a Christian family.
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
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. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary . . .
And the Word was made flesh: And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary . . .
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection, through the same Christ, Our Lord.