Recently, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Annunciation in recollection of that monumental occasion when the Creator of the universe deigned to dwell among us. When the Blessed Mother offered her fiat and allowed God to use her to bring His plan of salvation to the world. This amazing moment is perhaps even more meaningful than Christmas, for it is when Our Lord was conceived in the womb of his mother and began His life on this earth.
The significance of this event is recalled with the Angelus prayer.
A brief history of the Angelus prayer
For over a thousand years, faithful Catholics have been called to prayer throughout the day by the ringing of bells, and over time the praying of three Hail Marys was added to this. In the 1300s a morning and evening Angelus prayer began, adding reminders from the Annunciation to the three Hail Mary prayers. In 1475, Pope Sixtus IV granted an indulgence for praying a midday Angelus. Now, the Angelus prayer is traditionally recited at 6 a.m., noon, and at 6 p.m.
The prayer itself
The Angelus prayer is simple yet profound, as it brings to mind the moment that the Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to the woman who was chosen from all eternity to be the Theotokos, the daughter, spouse, and mother of God. Standing to face the crucifix, we say:
V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.
We are invited to put ourselves into Mary’s place as she offered her yes to allow God to use her in whatever way He chose for the salvation of mankind:
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
The mystery of the Incarnation is presented to us in a laconic yet deeply moving way as we bow our heads or kneel to say:
V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
And finally, we stand and ask for Mary’s intercession as we say:
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
In the closing prayer, we humbly ask for God’s grace to endure in the race that is the Christian life until we reach the prize of eternity with Him:
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 be brought, by His Passion and Cross, to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
The significance of the Angelus prayer
The entire prayer takes under two minutes to recite, but its importance cannot be overstated. In it, we are invited to recall the example of our Blessed Mother, and to model her example by offering our own fiat to God to allow him to use us as He sees fit, trusting the He works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). In it, we recall that He demonstrated His great love for the world by sending His only-begotten Son (John 3:16). We are reminded that we have the Mother of Our Lord as our own Mother, who loves us and desires for us to become holy (John 19:27). And finally, we recall that it is through the saving work of Jesus’ Passion and Cross and the grace of God required to take up our own crosses and follow Him, that we have hope of being united with Him in heaven. (Matthew 16:24).
Taking the time to stop and pray this prayer in the morning, at noon, and in the evening adds focus to our day and orders our priorities. It offers us a chance to pause and reflect on the orientation of our hearts and minds, and to make corrections if necessary. It adds a discipline to our day that allows the laity to take part in the daily prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours.
My husband and I began praying the Angelus in our home several months ago after we heard an interview with Fr. Chad Ripperger, who said that it was one of the most effective tools parents have to protect their families in spiritual warfare.
“One of the things we found the most effective in creating a good atmosphere within the home among the parents,” Fr. Ripperger said, “is if the parents get up and do the Angelus at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m.” He continued, “There’s something about this that protects people in the spiritual warfare. We’re just now wrapping our minds around what specifically [makes this work]. Part of it just has to do with the discipline.”
We have an alarm set on our phones and when rings, we stop what we’re doing to pray, whether we are together or alone. It has been a beautiful addition to our family prayer life.
Consider inviting the glory of the Annunciation into your everyday life by adding this simple yet beautiful prayer to your day.