Notre 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.
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.