Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sanctifying Time: The Angelus

Cemetery Shrine of Our Lady, New Subiaco Abbey, Arkansas.

Saturday is traditionally given over to the commemoration of the Virgin in the Mass and in praying the Office of Our Lady.  With work and schedules, those may not be customs that are in reach of many people today, but throughout the centuries, the Church in her wisdom has provided devotions suited to all conditions and circumstances.

One of the pious customs all but lost lost in more recent years is the thrice-daily recitation of the Angleus, in which we sanctify time by briefly remembering the Incarnation and the example provided by Our Lady in the morning, at mid day, and day’s end.  Originally a simple set of three Hail Marys, later three petitions were added recalling the Virgin’s answer to the angelic salutation at the Annunciation. Later still, a concluding versicle and collect were added.

      V. The Angel of the Lord brought tidings unto Mary:
      R. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.

     V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

    R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

    V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
    R. Be it unto me according to thy word.

    Hail Mary… Holy Mary…

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

    Hail Mary … Holy Mary…

    V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God:
    R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

    Let us pray.

   We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts, that as we have known the Incarnation of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, by the message of an Angel: so by his Cross and Passion, we may be brought unto the glory of his Resurrection, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Angelus in particular and the Marian prayers and antiphons in general call us out of the cares and skirmishes of the moment and into the presence of perfect love and obedience that we remember on the Annunciation:

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it unto me according to thy word.

We remember what we are called to be and that our chief advocate among the redeemed in heaven is the one whose faith carried her from that first fiat through her agony at the foot of the Cross and on to heaven where she intercedes for all of her children.

Reciting the full office every day may be a bit much for most folks juggling work and family, but sanctifying the beginning, middle, and end of the day with the Angelus might make more of a difference than you would guess for keeping balance in your own soul and for the salvation of the world. The words of the Memorare, traditionally attributed to St. Bernard, say it far better than I could:

    MEMORARE, O piissima Virgo Maria,
    non esse auditum a saeculo, quemquam ad tua currentem praesidia,
    tua implorantem auxilia, tua petentem suffragia,
    esse derelictum.
    Ego tali animatus confidentia,
    ad te, Virgo Virginum, Mater, curro,
    ad te venio, coram te gemens peccator assisto.
    Noli, Mater Verbi,
    verba mea despicere;
    sed audi propitia et exaudi.

    Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary,
    that never was it known that anyone who fled to Thy protection,
    implored Thy help or sought Thy intercession,
    was left unaided.
    Inspired by this confidence,
    I fly unto Thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother;
    to Thee do I come, before thee I kneel, sinful and sorrowful.
    O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
    despise not my petitions,
    but in Thy clemency, hear and answer me.