the annunciation and the angelus

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear the gospel story of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38). The encounter between the Angel Gabriel and Mary is one of the most familiar scenes in Christian art. The picture above is a wood-inlaid beauty from India, given to us by a Marianist Brother and friend. It hangs by our front door as a gentle reminder of Mary`s role in salvation, and her presence in our lives.

The Catholic prayer, The Angelus, is grounded in the Annunciation story. Traditionally, it was prayed three times a day; at 6:00 am, noon and 6:00pm. In monasteries and villages, bells would summon all to pause in their work to pray.

"The Angelus," by Jean-Francois Millet, 1857 Louvre, Paris

As a child, I loved the back and forth rhythm of this prayer. The words from the gospel and the Hail Mary were simple, familiar and comforting.  But, I always stumbled on the closing prayer. If the truth be known, I still do to this day. (Mea culpa!) Interestingly, the New Roman Missal is re-introducing this closing prayer into the `Collect` or Opening Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Advent. It will be a comforting memory for many who grew up with the Angelus. This simple mind still prefers the simplicity of the gospel words.

Here is the traditional version of  The Angelus…

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

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.

Hail Mary . . . 

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. 

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.