Advent can be a deeply prayerful time of preparation for the coming of the Lord at Christmas. For four weeks, we take a spiritual journey towards the Incarnation—God’s coming into the world: Emmanuel, God-is-with-us.
At the same time, however, the days leading up to Christmas can be extremely stressful. I don’t know about you, but I tend to get overwhelmed by the amount of things that need to get done. Shopping for gifts can be stressful especially when everyone else can be as stressed out and annoyed as we are.
There are a lot of devotions to keep Christ in Christmas and in Advent. We have the Advent wreath, of course, in which we light a new candle each week leading up to the Nativity. We have Jesse Trees and Advent calendars marking the days until Christmas. Many of us also get little prayer books to help us prepare for the coming of the Lord.
There is one prayer, however, that can make a powerful impact on your preparation for the coming of the Lord. The Angelus.
It is a centuries-old prayer that used to be very common among Catholics but lately has fallen out of practice.
This Advent we are bringing this prayer back to the mainstream and helping people experience a deep conversion as they prepare for Christmas.
Are you interested in praying it with us? Find out more here.
If you’re not convinced yet, here are seven reasons why you and your family and friends should pray the Angelus during this Advent season.
1. It’s short.
It takes just two minutes to pray the Angelus. Traditionally at 6:00 a.m., noon, and 6:00 p.m. every day, we are reminded to stop what we’re doing and recite the prayer. In the past, you could hear bells from church towers nearby. These days, it is more practical to set up reminders on your phone or computer.
December can be a very busy time. It is easy to think that you don’t have time to pray. The Angelus devotion makes it really easy to add regular prayer into your day. By just making the commitment, we open ourselves to all kinds of graces.
2. Like Advent and Christmas, it is focused on the Incarnation.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ—God made man, the Incarnation. Advent is season of preparation for the coming of the Lord in the world. The Angelus reminds us of the annunciation of Christ’s birth by the angel Gabriel to Mary, it transforms our hearts to be like the servant heart of Mary, and it reminds us that the Word was made flesh and God dwelt among us.
It is a prayer that brings together all the sentiments we express in those great Advent songs and Christmas carols: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “Joy to the World,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
3. It reminds us to keep Christ in Christmas.
What are we preparing for during Advent? Gifts? Christmas parties? Big dinners? The reason for the season (both Advent AND Christmas) can easily get lost in the busy month of December. What if we had a daily reminder to keep Christ in Christmas?
Practicing the Angelus does just that. Committing to pray the Angelus gives us a daily, built-in reminder that we are preparing for the Word-made-flesh, God who dwelt among us. The prayer is a simple reminder not to forget what we are preparing for.
4. In the Angelus, we give our time back to God.
The ringing of Church bells or the buzz on your phone as reminders to pray the Angelus can be difficult to heed. Almost always, we can make excuses for why in that moment we are doing something particularly important. This is both the challenge and the avenue for grace of praying the Angelus.
The Angelus trains us to give up our desire to hoard all time and work to ourselves. It leads us to take on the handmaid’s heart by echoing Mary’s words to “let it be done” rather than “do it myself.” The Angelus helps us recognize that all time, all work, and all we have is just a gift.
Praying the Angelus each day reminds us that we can take each moment and give that time back to God. It teaches us to give everything to God and to those who are in need around us.
5. By praying the Angelus, we walk with Mary from Annunciation to Incarnation.
The Angelus begins with a meditation on the annunciation then shifts towards a deeper appreciation of the Incarnation. In essence, we travel with Mary from the annunciation to the birth of Christ. In other words, we go on a journey with her towards Christmas, just like the season of Advent.
By doing so, we meditate on her experience, her words, and the opening words of the Gospel of John. We appeal to her for her intercession so that we, like her, may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
What better prayer to help us recall her journey than the Angelus?
6. The Angelus coincides with an important prayer on the Fourth Sunday of Advent.
Incidentally, the opening prayer (Collect) during the liturgy of the Fourth Sunday of Advent is the same prayer that concludes the Angelus. We pray: “Pour fourth we beseech thee, O Lord…” in the same way that the priest welcomes us and prays on our behalf at the opening of the Mass on the final Sunday of Advent. Praying the Angelus prepares you to experience a taste of that Christmas joy during Advent and again at the end of the season.
7. The Angelus is a perfect addition to your Advent wreath devotion.
I don’t know about you, but we tend to light our Advent candles at dinner and sometimes other meal times. In other words, we light the candles around 6:00 p.m., noon, and 6:00 a.m.—the same times that we can pray the Angelus.
Consider adding the Angelus to your mealtime routines during Advent. You could certainly pray it after you light the Advent wreath candles. It is a perfect devotion to recall the coming of the Lord on Christmas during Advent.
Make the Angelus Your Advent Devotion
This Advent we are gathering hundreds of people together to pray the Angelus. Make the commitment today to add it to your Advent prayer plans. Print out a copy of the prayer or download an app to help remind you to pray.
Sign up here to get regular reflections to help you meditate on the prayers of the Angelus during Advent. Or connect with us at The Angelus Prayer Facebook Page.