Pray the Angelus!
For over 700 years, Catholics have stopped whatever they were doing and prayed the Angelus at 6:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 6:00 pm.
The Angelus is an invitation to meditation on the Incarnation, and what better day to make this prayer a holy habit as part of your everyday life than on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord! It is a prayer and a tradition that should be revived and particularly taught to our youth. Since Catholics all over the world pray the Angelus at exactly the same time (well, at least those Catholics in your time zone), our prayers are joined and rise up to heaven, crying to God together.
In remembering Our Lord’s Incarnation at these hours, we are sanctifying our routine, our everyday lives, making our time holy. Similar to our Muslim brothers and sisters, praying the Angelus would also be a sign of unity among Catholics.
One of the reasons that churches were built with bell towers or free standing campaniles is to mark time, to cry out over the cities and fields, “Come to Mass” or “Come, let us pray the Angelus!”
There is a famous picture of two young farm workers by Jean-Francois Millet who stop in the middle of a potato field and recite this traditional prayer, reflecting on the Incarnation as they hear the Angelus bells ringing from the church in the distance. I hear that in the Philippines, activity stops in the shopping malls at noon as the Angelus is prayed on the mall’s speaker system.
Sadly, since churches rarely have bells nowadays, I programmed bells to ring on my phone everyday at noon. It’s almost like being in the plaza of some European village (not really. *sigh*). Anyway, it helps me to offer than hour to the Lord and to sanctify my day. Hopefully, once we reincorporate the Angelus back into Catholic culture, then maybe we can work on bringing back the bells.
Lastly, it is customary to genuflect at the line, “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.” It’s the same reason why we bow (or kneel) during the creed when we pray, “…by the power of the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man.”
In doing so, we recognize the decisive moment in human history when the Messiah, the Word of God took on our human body, we honor God, and acknowledge our unworthiness for such a gift as the Son of God who came to save us from our sins while we were still sinners.
It is how Catholics respond to and proclaim John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.”
V/. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R/. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
V/. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R/. May it be done unto me according to thy word.
V/. And the Word was made flesh.
R/. And dwelt amongst us.
V/. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R/. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
V/. 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.
Then, it is customary to pray 3 Glory Be’s and the following:
V/. May the Divine assistance remain always with us.
R/. And may all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.