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Why I Pray the Angelus

Why Sr. Anne Flanagan (Nunblogger) Prays the Angelus

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sr-anne-flanaganSr. Anne Flanagan, FSP is a Catholic sister (nun) of the Daughters of St. Paul, an international community founded in 1915 for evangelization in the world of communication. She is a singer, writer, and speaker for Pauline Books & Media (US). She is currently working on various digital projects for her community and its publishing ministry.

If you had asked me about the Angelus before I entered the convent, I might have known it was a prayer somehow related to the ringing of bells. I also knew of the famous painting of workers in the fields pausing to pray. That was about it.

But in the convent, the Angelus punctuated our day. We prayed it at the start of Morning Prayer, and hours later, when the lunch bell rang and the presses and bindery machines fell silent, we prayed the Angelus at our workstations in the publishing house before heading to the refectory. Night Prayer was late, but still began with the Angelus.

The Angelus taught me that the Incarnation is the central mystery of our Faith: a moment in history that rightfully stops us in our tracks and invites us to “ponder in our heart” what God has done for us. The Angelus teaches me that every circumstance in life, whatever God wills or permits, is a “word” to which the fitting answer is “be it done to me,” knowing that “God makes all things work together for good” (even when that “good” is hidden from me).

That is part of the reason I began The Angelus Project (calltoprayer.blogspot.com), a service that posts an Annunciation scene every week to foster the praying of the Angelus. (During Eastertide, the image is a Coronation.)

The Angelus is a simple practice, but one that can help renew the faith of millions as they remember, three times a day: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son . . . that we might have life” (John 3:16).

And all we have to say is “Be it done to me.”

Why Katie Bogner Prays the Angelus

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katie-bognerKatie Bogner is a 5th grade Catholic School teacher by day, parish Director of Religious Education by weekend, crafter in her spare time, and late night reader.  Katie blogs at Look to Him and Be Radiant where she creates lessons, crafts, and printables for sharing the faith with kids of all ages.

A few years ago, I decided to work on adding depth to the prayer structure built into my school day. We routinely pray as a whole school and as a class, but I hoped to broaden my students’ memorized prayer arsenal as well as share with them a prayer that links us with Christians around the world and through the centuries.

So, I decided to teach them the Angelus.

I didn’t want them to merely memorize it. (They actually did very quickly. Kids are sponges and childhood is a great time to expose them to the richness of our faith.) I wanted them to understand the Angelus and see how it is a statement about a core belief of our faith, as well as a request for intercession in our day-to-day lives.

To help teach them both the words and the meaning, I created this mini-book to tuck in their desks. Using the mini-book, the students had the text right in front of them, as well as some pictures, definitions of hard words, Scripture references, and other info.

Now each year, my students and I pray the Angelus together as a class every day just before we leave for lunch. I love being united with countless others joining in the same prayer that honors Mary’s yes to God and calls to mind the amazingness of the Incarnation, God become man for us.

As we are about to move into the Easter Season, my students will soon be learning the Regina Coeli. Everything should look different during the Easter season for the life of a Christian, and noon prayer is no different. From Easter until Pentecost, we won’t pray the Angelus, which remembers the Incarnation, but will instead pray the Regina Coeli, which celebrates the Resurrection.

I made this matching mini-book for teaching the Regina Coeli.  Season to season, the Angelus and Regina Coeli draw us into the rhythm of prayer that compels my students and I to feel and see and live our part in the greater Church.

Why Christine Johnson Prays the Angelus

Why Christine Johnson Prays the Angelus

Christine Johnson has been married to Nathan since 1993 and has two daughters who she homeschools. They live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, where she tries to fit in as a transplanted Yank. She blogs at Domestic Vocation about her life as a wife, mother, homeschooler, and Lay Dominican. 

We all start out with the best intentions when we want to add a new devotional practice to our lives. Sometimes those intentions get hit hard by reality and the guilt sets in. It is at those times that we should trade in that guilt for grace and let God invite us back into an encounter with him in prayer. 

Christine has a wonderful journey towards the Angelus that should be comforting to anyone who struggles to add a new prayer to their life. 

Christine Johnson and the Angelus

Why Christine Johnson Prays the AngelusI had sporadically prayed the Angelus for years, and even had an alarm set on my phone to remind me. However, I was never quite consistent or good at it. I had been thinking about praying it for priests and seminarians at noon, which would give me a mid-day prayer to add to Lauds and Vespers each day. (I’m required to pray Morning and Evening Prayer as a Lay Dominican.)

I was overthinking, as usual, and trying to figure out if I ought to do this or not.

Then one day, I was listening to my playlist on shuffle when I heard bells ringing on a new track. I looked at my radio for song information and saw “ANGELUS” scrolling across the screen — it was the Latin version from a CD I had in my iTunes library!

I was about to skip it when I noticed that it was exactly noon. That was the beginning of a more consistent prayer habit.

So I pray the Angelus most days at noon, dedicating it to priests, seminarians, and other religious. There are days when I miss the notice altogether and other days when I see it late and pray it on the spot. If my children are with me, they’ll pray it with me, as well. I’m in the process of teaching it to my husband in hopes that it can be a devotion our whole family keeps, whether or not we’re together.

Why Brandon Vogt Prays the Angelus

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Brandon Vogt is a bestselling Catholic author, blogger, and speaker. He is the Content Director for Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Brandon’s work has been featured by several media outlets including NPR, FoxNews, CBS, EWTN, Vatican Radio, Our Sunday Visitor, National Review, and Christianity Today, and he’s a regular guest on Catholic radio. He has written six books and is the founder of StrangeNotions.com, the central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists.

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“For me, the Angelus offers a five minute break during the day to stop, join with others, and focus on the Lord.

It’s both the shortest and most difficult part of my routine, which I’ll explain in a moment.

At the beginning of 2014, I resolved to pray the Angelus everyday throughout the year. I thought it would be a simple, fun thing to try. I was wrong.

It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever faced.

Inevitably, my Angelus alert would ping in the middle of some pressing task–a focused email I was writing, a delightful lunch conversation, a big project I was knee-deep in. The last thing I wanted to do was break away, lose my momentum, and pray the Angelus, even if it only took a few minutes.

But eventually the Angelus liberated me.

I understand that in monasteries, when the bell rings for prayer, monks are obligated to stop whatever they’re doing and pray, even if that means quitting a letter in mid-sentence or dropping a shovel mid-swing. That act of submission communicates to your whole being–your body, your time, your ambition–that God matters more than whatever you’re doing at that moment. Once you free yourself from the slavish demands around you–which, in the long run, aren’t really important anyways–your life starts moving to a new rhythm, following a new clock.

That’s why I still try to pray the Angelus everyday (albeit to mixed results.)

If anyone reading this wants to tackle a simple but enormously challenging discipline, commit to praying the Angelus everyday, no matter how inconvenient. It’s incredibly freeing.”

Read more about Brandon’s prayer life in “How I Pray: A Peak Into My Prayer Routine” (BrandonVogt.com) and “How I Pray: Brandon Vogt” (Wonderful Things by Thomas McDonald) 

Why Elizabeth Scalia Prays the Angelus

Elizabeth Scalia and the Angelus

Elizabeth Scalia is a Benedictine Oblate and Editor-at Large at AleteiaEN. She is known to most of the world by her social media handle and blog name, “The Anchoress.” She also writes as a columnist at First Things and The Catholic Answer and is the author of Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life.

Elizabeth Scalia and the AngelusOn the Solemnity of the Annunciation, Elizabeth Scalia wrote a wonderful piece in our column on Aleteia, “The Annunciation is why I can never not be Catholic.” In it she explains how praying the Angelus continually reminds her that “our every yes keeps us on a God-directed path” and “plops us right into a mystery that is imponderable and yet ever-pleasant to dwell upon: And the Word was made flesh, And dwelt among us.”

She goes on:

“How grateful I am that our Church encourages the daily refreshment that is found in recalling the Annunciation, because in that brief pause of prayerful remembrance, there is an invitation to continual immersion in transcendent light and life.

To rise of a morning with the words of the Angelus on our lips, ‘The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary’ and then to repeat them at noon, and at six, and again upon retiring, or to use those words while announcing the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, is to be continually drawn back to what is real, and true, and salvific; our perspective is trained toward Christ, and heaven, and the long view of things.”

And finally she concludes:

“. . . the more we surrender to God’s purposes, give up our own will, the more we assist in the propulsion of his will in our lives, which is really all about cooperating with his purposes for the good whole world.”

Read her entire article here: “The Annunciation is why I can never not be Catholic.”

Why Fr. Edward Looney Prays the Angelus

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Fr. Edward Looney is a popular Catholic writer and speaker on the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially about the approved 1859 apparition of Mary in Wisconsin. He is the author of the best-selling rosary devotional A Rosary Litany and his forthcoming release A Heart Like Mary’s.

father-edward-looneyMy first priestly assignment was at a parish right across the street from the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother. Each day at 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. their bells rang signaling to me that it was time to pray the Angelus.

Blessed Paul VI best describes the reasons why I love the Angelus.

In his 1974 exhortation Marialis Cultus, Paul VI referenced two forms of Marian piety: the Angelus and the rosary. He described the Angelus as a prayer with a biblical character, with historical origins linking it to prayers for peace and safety, and its “quasi-liturgical rhythm which sanctifies different moments during the day” (paragraph 41). He adequately states why I appreciate the Angelus.

Many people find the Rosary challenging, especially as a beginning point for Marian devotion. The Angelus, in its simplicity, is an excellent way to cultivate and foster a devotion to Mary. When I was a student at Mundelein Seminary, a few of us were the force behind instituting the daily Angelus in the refectory at noon, instilling within the hearts of future priests a devotion to Mary.

I most especially love the fact the Angelus allows us to recall Mary’s role in the incarnation. As I pray those words, “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary” and “Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” I am praying with Mary and I hope that her response might be my response too.

Why ND Vision Prays the Angelus with Hundreds of Teenagers Every Summer

Teens at ND Vision Praying the Angelus

vision_smNotre Dame Vision engages high school and college students, as well as professional youth, campus and music ministers, in a robust exploration of God’s call and our response. Vision conducts summer conferences, initiatives for pastoral leadership formation, and academic endeavors for theological enrichment.

Teens at ND Vision Praying the Angelus

Teens at ND Vision Praying the Angelus

Read this entire article, by ND Vision Director Leonard DeLorenzo, at the ChurchLife Journal website

Making faith appealing to young people seems to require efforts to excite the senses and incite emotion.

While such strategies of evangelization may have their place, praying the Angelus once daily with hundreds of high school students and another 70 college students during the summer at Notre Dame Vision witnessed to the possibilities for renewing the Church through simple practices of the ancient faith.

The prayer was a part of their daily routine and, because of that, they opened the teenagers to the possibilities for how everything else they did during their time together was connected to the remembrance of the Incarnation in the middle of our day. They trusted in the practice first of all, while also trusting that the practice would lead to understanding.

The practice of praying the Angelus invites us to discover the ways in which the activities, encounters, and general busyness of our daily existence harmonize with God’s action for us and with us.

At the same time, this simple daily practice will, over time, prompt the one who prays to recognize where there is disharmony between her daily life and the love of God that Jesus Christ poured into the world.

This is the great hope for all those who gather at Notre Dame Vision each summer, just as it is the great hope of the Church for the world: to receive the incarnate gift of God’s love and to allow one’s own bodily existence to move in harmony with this gift.

With the Angelus—as with all Catholic devotions—the practice initiates one into a way of life that, over time, allows for transformation and understanding.

As juxtaposed with approaches to evangelization that prioritize affective conversions, emotional attachments, or the hook of entertainment, small commitments to particular practices like praying the Angelus build up a communion-of-beginners and trust in the slow formative effects of specific bodily actions.

ND Vision and the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame is has a wonderful at called “3D Catholic,” which can be downloaded here. “3D” stands for three devotions: prayer (Angelus), fasting (no meat on Fridays), and almsgiving (corporal works of mercy).

This brief testimony was adapted from Leonard DeLorenzo’s article, “Daily Prayer, the Incarnation, and the Discipline of Harmony” DeLorenzo is the director of ND Vision and the author of the book, Witness.

Why Dorothy Day Prayed the Angelus with the Catholic Worker Communities

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dorothy-dayServant of God Dorothy Day (1897–1980) was a pacifist, social commentator, journalist, convert to Catholicism, and cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement. Day cofounded the Catholic Worker movement in 1933 with Peter Maurin to live and spread the vision of Catholic social teaching.

The following excerpt was taken from Reflections during Advent by Dorothy Day, which originally appeared in the Ave Maria, November 26, 1966. In the reflection for the First Week of Advent, she describes the importance of Marian devotion in her life. 

Every day at the Catholic Worker Farm when we gather for meals we say the Angelus before asking God’s blessing on us and the food we eat. And it rejoices me to hear all the men, who are in the majority, saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy Word,” and repeating together that marvelous and yet terrible prayer:

“Pour forth we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the incarnation of Christ was made known by the message of an angel, may by His passion and cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection.”

This incarnation came about by Mary’s consent, she “through whom we have received the author of life.”

So Advent must begin with Mary, who presents us with the infant Christ. “The flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary,” St. Augustine wrote. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

When I go to the crib this year I will think, as I always do, that we are not dependent on the governments of this world for our safety, but “the government will be upon His shoulder.” This baby cradled in a manger, this boy talking to the doctors in the temple, this youth working with St. Joseph as carpenter, this teacher walking the roads of Palestine, “Do whatever He tells you,” Mary told us.

Why Jared Dees Prays the Angelus

Why Pray the Angelus

My new book, Praying the Angelus: Find Joy, Peace, and Purpose in Everyday Life, is now officially on sale. Find it on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

Here’s what I find to be most interesting about Catholic devotions like the Rosary, novenas, and the Angelus: they are passed on from one person to another.

This may not be some profound revelation. Maybe it is obvious to you, but the implications are extremely important.

The way you pray today was influenced by others. Your prayer life was inspired by the prayer lives of others. You heard about a devotion or someone invited you to do it yourself and now whether years or days later, you have made it your own.

The Angelus has changed my life. I won’t presume to know if it will change your life, but I think it will. I can’t tell you how God will touch your life through this prayer, but I can say this: God has deeply touched my heart through the daily practice of this prayer and I think he can do the same for you if you take some small time out of your day to try it.

So, this is no article on “Why YOU should pray the Angelus.” Frankly, I don’t know what God has in store for you through this devotion.

What I will do is share why I pray the Angelus. I hope it convinces you to give it a try too.

(To read a much deeper history and background to the prayer and to reflect on the words of the devotion with many short meditations, I hope you will check out the book, Praying the Angelus.)

I pray the Angelus because someone invited me to do it.

In all honesty, this is the simplest answer. I pray the Angelus because of an invitation from Fr. Terry.

Before that invitation, I had barely known about the prayer. Only a century earlier, nearly every Catholic would have prayed the Angelus every single day. Still churches ring bells calling us to pray the Angelus, yet so few of us today heed the call.

The fix to that problem is very, very simple. All it takes is an invitation.

Fr. Terry invited me and my 3rd grace catechesis class to pray the Angelus one Advent season and so we did. I made it a part of my daily routine. Then I invited my wife to pray it with me. Later we included our kids in the devotion. We’ve prayed it with friends and family.

Now, I extend that invitation to you.

(Visit TheAngelusPrayer.com for more information and to get the text for the prayer.)

I pray the Angelus because it unites our family together.

When I first started praying the Angelus, I tried to make it my own personal devotion. Big mistake.

I was (I am embarrassed to say) afraid to share the devotion from my wife. I didn’t think she would want to pray something so Catholic and so routine with me (which, of course, was absurd). I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have gotten over that fear of sharing this prayer with her. It has become an important part of our morning and evening routines at home.

I always used to wonder how Catholic married couples prayed with each other. Here is a very simple devotion for couples to share together.

Later on, we started praying it with our kids too. To be honest, it is the first Catholic devotion that we are able to get about a 100% participation. We have tried–unsuccessfully like many families–to establish a Sunday evening Rosary routine. The beads often distract everyone from really paying attention. The Angelus, however, is short and it doesn’t take long for the kids to memorize their parts.

(Side note: During Easter, Catholics pray the Regina Caeli instead of the Angelus. You should see the joy on children’s faces when proclaiming “Alleluia!” during this Easter devotion.)

Now our kids are praying it at school each day and recently, for the first time, they started asking if they could lead the prayer instead of me. I was one very proud father!

I pray the Angelus because it reminds me why I am here.

As a devotion that we practice at specific times each day ( 6:00 a.m, noon, 6:00 p.m.), I always have something I feel is important going on when it comes time to pray. I always want to push through something I’m writing or doing. I can always try to justify in some way why I could just put off the prayer until later later.

That’s the beauty of this devotion. You have to stop whatever you are doing and pray. That puts into context what you are doing with your time. You realize that everything we have, especially our time, is a gift from God. You realize that he visits us in unexpected ways (like the angel and Mary) and that he dwells among us wherever we are.

We cannot hide anything from God. There is nothing that we do with our time that isn’t fully his gift. He wants to be present in everything we do. The Angelus is a daily reminder of that. I stop, pray, and realize that even in the article, book, worksheet, workshop, or email I’m writing, he is here. He is present and I am here to serve him alone.

I pray the Angelus because the words stick with me throughout the day.

One of the biggest hurdles I needed to get over in adding this devotion to my life, was a shallow understanding of memorized prayers as a Catholic.

As someone who spent a lot of time in Protestant churches growing up, I always felt that spontaneous prayer said with emotion was superior to those rote, memorized prayers that we said as Catholics.

Boy was I wrong.

The prayers we pray repeatedly, like the Angelus, program our minds for a spiritual purpose. By praying these words again and again, they start to echo in our minds throughout our day.

By praying the Angelus, for example, I started to:

  • recognize the “Angelus moments” in my day where I had the unexpected opportunity to be a servant (handmaid) to others.
  • accept each new challenge or obstacle in my days as an opportunity to repeat Mary’s words: “be it done unto me according to thy word.”
  • to realize that the Word was present everywhere I went and not just in sacred spaces.

The words stick with you when you pray them constantly. They open your eyes to seeing the world very differently.

I pray the Angelus because it keeps me humble.

Surprised by an angel, Mary had to change whatever plans she had in place before the Annunciation. She was a humble servant of the Lord open to his will becoming a reality in her life. Through her “yes,” the Word was made flesh and God dwelt among us, taking human form. We turn to her in prayer because we desperately need the grace from God to be made worthy of Christ’s promises.

How can you pray the Angelus and not become a humble servant like Mary–Mary and all of the saints?

Think about that word “Behold!” from the second stanza of the prayer. It is a word that should announce something or someone grand and majestic, yet the word is used to point not to a queen but to a handmaid, a servant. This is because through this dedication to humble service, we are open to God’s grace in our lives.

The Regina Caeli takes its name from the opening lines of the prayer, “Queen of heaven, rejoice! Alleluia!”

How did Mary become queen? She first was a handmaid.

It was a true Cinderella story and one that we can follow too.

Why Will You Pray the Angelus?

This is my invitation: pray the Angelus with me.

Unite with me and thousands, if not millions, who pray the Angelus each day. Find out why God is calling you to make this devotion your own and something to be shared among friends and family.

If this devotion is new to you, then check out the resources at TheAngelusPrayer.com.

Or, I hope you will enjoy reading and praying with the book, Praying the Angelus. It offers an introduction to the prayer and a guide to making it your own. The meditations will help you reflect on each phrase of the prayer and, I hope, go deeper into your encounter with Christ.

The Angelus

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. 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

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done to me according to thy word.

Hail Mary. . .

V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary. . .

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. 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. Amen.