Blog Post

The Angelus: Perfect Prayer for Advent

by Theresa Cavicchio

How is your Advent going so far? Now that we’re about halfway through this season of waiting and preparing, it may be a good time to switch spiritual gears, so to say, and to introduce a prayer that wouldn’t necessarily be associated with the Advent season, despite its appropriateness.

The Angelus is a centuries-old devotion originally prayed in the evening, when the day’s work had concluded and the mind and heart could turn to God through His Blessed Mother. Over time, the customary daily prayer periods increased to 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m., often accompanied by the ringing of church bells; but in more recent times, the Angelus has been considered generally as a middle-of-the-day devotion, prayed at noon.

It seems especially appropriate to take a deliberate break, whatever the time, from the many activities associated with the holidays as a much-needed reminder of the true “reason for the season.” Raising our minds and hearts to the Lord through His Mother with the Angelus is a brief but meaningful gesture of our love for and devotion to them both -- a beautiful habit to instill in Advent and continue all throughout the coming year.

In his Apostolic Exhortation entitled Marialis Cultus, Pope Saint Paul VI describes the Angelus as a devotion that “despite the passing of centuries retains an unaltered value and an intact freshness … The value of contemplation on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, of the greeting to the Virgin, and of recourse to her merciful intercession remains unchanged.”

Recalling as it does the Incarnation of Our Lord, the Angelus in fact is perfectly suited to the Advent season. Reciting it in a spirit of faith and hopeful anticipation, we call to mind the Scripture passages, from Lk 1 and Jn 1, that are the source of our hope.

The prayers of the Angelus can be recited as a series of verses and responses if prayed by more than one person, or as one’s personal prayer (the brief reflections inserted are optional):

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, and she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

~ We recall the Angel Gabriel’s visit to the virgin of Nazareth and the world-changing outcome of that visit.

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.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.

~ We recall Mary’s fiat, her yes; her total, trusting openness to the extraordinary working of God in her womb.

Hail Mary ...

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

~ We recall the stunning reality that the Son of God deigned to take on a human nature and to dwell among His own creatures in the ultimate act of condescension.

Hail Mary …

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. 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.

As Pope Saint Paul VI teaches: “[The Angelus] reminds us of the Paschal Mystery, in which recalling the Incarnation of the Son of God we pray that we may be led "’through his passion and cross to the glory of his resurrection.’"

The Holy Father’s words are echoed in the concluding prayer of the Angelus when recited as the collect, or opening prayer, at Mass on the Fourth Sunday of Advent. We are led to recall, yet again, the progression of Jesus’ earthly life -- from His miraculous conception in the womb of His Mother, through His journey to the cross, and finally, “to the glory of His Resurrection.”

Our prayer, throughout Advent and beyond, is that our personal journey will bring us to glory with Him.

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