The practice of the Angelus is a long-standing custom of Catholic piety. In some countries it is still a tradition to ring the Church bells three times a day to invite the faithful to pray the Angelus. The praying of the Angelus has always been recommended by the Church. A recent document of the Holy See states, "The Angelus Domini is the traditional form used by the faithful to commemorate the holy Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary. It is used three times daily: at dawn, midday and at dusk ."1 Also Pope Benedict XVI exhorted the faithful to continue this very practical devotion to the mystery of our salvation in the post-synodal exhortation Verbum Domini wrote:
The Synod also recommended that the faithful be encouraged to pray the Angelus. This prayer, simple yet profound, allows us to commemorate daily the mystery of the Incarnate Word. It is only right that the People of God, families and communities of consecrated persons, be faithful to this Marian prayer traditionally recited at sunrise, midday and sunset. In the Angelus we ask God to grant that, through Mary's intercession, we may imitate her in doing His will and in welcoming His word into our lives. This practice can help us to grow in an authentic love for the mystery of the Incarnation. 2
The Incarnation is the central mystery in the history of salvation. The Angelus reminds us in a simple but profound way, how God intends to bring about our salvation. By sin man had cut himself off from God and was unable to return to Him by his own capacity. Therefore, God had to come in search of man. Through the mystery of the Annunciation, God shows us the strong, deep and wise love He has for all mankind. God's love has reached down from heaven to us and rescued us from sin and death. The path Divine Providence took is beyond our understanding and can only leave us in deep amazement. "In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might have life through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins" (1 Jn 4:9).
What can we learn from the Divine Word and Mary for our own life? Mary was one with her Son in His obedience to the Father. According to the Letter to the Hebrews, the Eternal Word on entering the world said to the Father, "Behold, I come to do Your will, O God" (Heb 10:7). On the human side, asked by God through the angel for her loving, obedient consent to His will, Mary freely pronounced her own fiat, and thus heaven and earth met.
Pope Benedict the XVI. commented that "the 'yes' of the Son…and the 'yes' of Mary, …this double 'yes' becomes a single 'yes' and thus the Word becomes flesh in Mary. In this double 'yes' the obedience of the Son is embodied, and by her own 'yes' Mary gives Him that body." 3 Thus she "became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race."
The same dynamic is valid for our lives, whenever we speak our fiat to God's will whether in the fulfillment of our daily duties, or to a special call, God's grace comes down into our souls, sanctifies us and transforms us into more perfect images of Christ, so that we can become and bring light into this world (cf. Mt 5:14). The devout praying of the Angelus allows us to enter into this holy dynamic. It will enlighten us and strengthen us through the ministry of the holy angels to say "yes" to God's will like Mary. We are all encouraged not only to pray daily the Angelus ourselves but also to spread it in our surroundings.
Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, Vatican City, 2001, n. 195.
Pope Benedict XVI., Verbum Domini, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, 2010.
Pope Benedict XVI., Homily, September 11, 2006.