The “Angelus” prayer is one of the main Catholic devotions, prayed three times a day. Around the globe, the Angelus bell is being ringed at 6.00 am, noon, and 6.00 pm by the Catholic churches to remind everyone to participate in the world wide praying of the Angelus.
The devotion commemorates the mystery of the incarnation of God; it is also a shortened confession of faith. Its name is derived from the first words of the prayer in Latin (“Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ”).
The Angelus consists of two parts:
In the first part of the prayer, three meditations tell us different aspects about the incarnation and are taken from the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John. They are each followed by a Hail Mary.
The opening and first meditation is the annunciation, when the archangel Gabriel revealed to Mary the good news, according to the Gospel of Luke: “And the angel came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lk 1:28-35)
The second meditation reminds us about Mary’s role in the incarnation. She trusted God completely and said “yes” to His plans. This ultimate example she gave us can be found in the Gospel according to Luke: “And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)
The third meditation completes the short summary of the incarnation; it is from the Gospel according to John: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Joh 1:14)
The oration, the second part of the Angelus, completes the prayer. We ask for God’s grace, confess that we believe in the incarnation of Christ, contemplate Jesus’ suffering, and acknowledge heaven as our true home. To conclude the prayer, we proclaim that Christ is our Lord.
This beautiful prayer shall interrupt our daily routine for a short moment to remember God’s incarnation. At the same time we know that we do not pray the Angelus alone, but with the community of the universal church.
Nonetheless, the Angelus prayer should not only interrupt our everyday life, but also accompany us throughout our day. It can be seen as a “holy structure” in which we remind ourselves that God became man because He loves us. This is a great way to actively invite Jesus into our lives (which we usually forget too often…) at least three times a day. Even if there is no time praying the entire Angelus, you can simply remind yourself quickly of God’s love.
During the prayer, we think about the resurrection of Christ in the morning, about His sufferings at noon and about His incarnation in the evening.
The pope leads the Angelus prayer on Sundays and Holy Days at noon publicly from the window of the papal study, overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
During the Easter season, the Angelus is replaced by the “Regina Caeli” / “Queen of Heaven” prayer.