The Catholic Church traditionally celebrates May as the Month of Mary. It is a time when we honor and recognize the Blessed Virgin Mary for her unique role as the Mother of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Angelus, which is based on scripture, is an ancient Marian prayer that focuses on the Incarnation. You can read more about the Angelus here, and see the prayer itself here. The Angelus only takes approximately one minute to recite, three times daily (typically, in the early morning [at 6:00 a.m., or at least when you wake up], at noon, and in the evening [at 6:00 p.m., or at least before you go to sleep]). We Catholics can change the world by contributing to the kingdom of God, and we can begin by reciting the Angelus three times a day.
Catechist, writer, and speaker Jared Dees recently released his latest book Praying the Angelus: Find Joy, Peace, and Purpose in Everyday Life. At 140 pages, Praying the Angelus reflects the prayer itself in a couple of ways: it is rather short, but not in a shallow way, and it provides us with an opportunity to step away from the busy-ness of life in order to reflect on what ultimately matters.
Praying the Angelus is divided into three parts: 1) “An Invitation,” 2) “Angelus Meditations,” and 3) “Regina Caeli Meditations.” The following are highlights of each section, which will hopefully encourage you to both read Dees’ book and to take up the devotion of praying the Angelus three times a day (hint: you can begin praying the Angelus today – you do not have to wait to read Dees’ book first, but reading the book will help you understand the importance of the prayer even more).
As Dees emphasizes,
“I invite you to come along – to pray the Angelus with me and thousands of other Catholics around the world – and learn how it can make an impact on your life and the lives of the people you know and love around you.”
In this section, Dees gives us the historical background on the Angelus, as well as how to pray it. In the chapter “Why Pray the Angelus Today?,” Dees offers the following regarding the importance of promoting the prayer of the Angelus in modern times: “I want to place [the Angelus] in the context of the larger cultural milieu in which we find ourselves in the twenty-first century. The devotion, though centuries old, is unknown to most people in the Church today.”
Here, Dees goes through the sequence of the recitation of the Angelus, providing reflections based on the scriptural context of each line. He likewise provides a meditation to invite a more profound understanding of how the Angelus can draw us to a greater appreciation of how we can celebrate God’s presence in our life throughout the day. According to Dees, “My hope is that these reflections, whether read intermittently, all at once, or in bits and pieces, will inspire deeper meditation on how the words that you pray make an impact at this particular moment in your life.”
“Regina Caeli Meditations”
In the third and final section of Praying the Angelus, Dees leads us on a reflection of another well-known Marian prayer, the “Regina Caeli” (“Queen of Heaven”). the Regina Caeli is usually prayed during the Easter season. As in the previous section, Dees shares a reflective description of the scriptural context of each part of the prayer, along with a meditation on this aspect of personal devotion. Dees reminds us of the very reason why both the Angelus and the Regina Caeli bring us to a better understanding of how much the Lord loves us and wants to center our lives around him: “[Mary] lived a life of complete service to and love for God. She opened herself up to God’s will in her life and always stayed in the background. Look closely at her role in the Gospels, in Acts, and even in the letters of the New Testament; she is rarely the focus of attention. Instead, the attention centers on her son and on the work of the Holy Spirit in this world. She lived out what she expressed in the Magnificat (see Luke 1:46-55), proclaiming the greatness of the Lord and not her own” (page 108).
In the midst of a very busy and rushed life, imagine how much more personal sanctity we could foster, not to mention how much good we could bring into the world, by embracing the same humility and selflessness that Mary exhibited. Reading Praying the Angelus is worthwhile because it encourages a greater devotion to this ancient Marian devotion during a time when we need increasingly contemplative laypersons in the midst of the world. Buy a copy for yourself and for the most stressed-out people you know, reminding them that we would all do well to spare three minutes a day to dedicate ourselves to this ancient Marian devotion that ultimately leads us to step outside of ourselves and of the world and into a reflection on the eternal significance of the Paschal Mystery.
Our Lady, pray for us!