It's an easy prayer that requires you to stop whatever you are doing for 20 seconds at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m.
The Angelus is a devotional that originated in the middle ages. Lay people who lived near monasteries would stop their work and pray it when the bells tolled—early morning, noon, and evening. The Angelus mirrored the structured prayers of the nuns and monks.
Now, I’m a cradle Catholic and had never heard of this prayer. To quote Jared Dees, “No one told me about the Angelus. No one invited me to pray it with them, and it never occurred to me to start praying it myself.”
How can it be prayed if one is not aware that it exists?
My discovery of this ancient prayer came on a dreary mid-winter day when a friend mailed me a copy of Praying the Angelus: Finding Joy, Peace, and Purpose in Everyday Life by Jared Dees (Ave Maria Press, 2017). I had been looking for a new prayer or devotional to deepen my prayer time and expand my faith. And right there in the morning mail the Holy Spirit, to my delight and surprise, came through once again!
Praying the Angelus is a small book, clearly written, that will entice you to add the prayer to your current devotionals. Dees gives a personal and heartfelt reflection on both the Angelus and his journey to discovering its profound meaning. He also includes the other portion of this devotional, the Regina Caeli, which is traditionally prayed during the 50 days of the Easter season.
As a Benedictine oblate, I am asked by the monastery to increase my prayers, fasting, and service during Lent above my usual practices for the rest of the year. Thanks to this little book, the Angelus will be a perfect devotion for me to incorporate into Lent—continuing through Easter with the Regina Caeli—and into ordinary time.
Following the traditional routine of the Angelus requires you to literally stop whatever you are doing and pray for 20 seconds at 6 AM, noon, and 6 PM. It’s an easy prayer to the Virgin Mary, and a surprisingly challenging discipline!
The second half of the book is filled with more than 50 meditations that explore each stanza of the prayer. Praying the Angelus is a lovely book, small and easy to read, and highly recommended for anyone who, like the author and me, are uneducated about this ancient devotion.
Buy it for Lent, as a gift, or get a couple copies to place at the back of church.