Understanding the Richness of the Angelus
The Angelus is a very brief, eminently logical and well made three-point meditation on the Incarnation.
The first meditation is: The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, and
she conceived of the Holy Spirit. The second one is: Behold the handmaid
of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word. The third is:
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
These three points of meditation are three aspects of the Incarnation.
First we glorify the fact that there was an angelic message. Secondly,
we recognize Our Lady’s attitude of entire obedience to that angelic
message. Finally, we acknowledge the fact that the Word not only became
flesh but dwelt among us. This short prayer condenses the whole history
of the Incarnation into these three points. It does this in such a
condensed, brief, logical and substantial way that nothing more need be
added. Each point is followed by the recitation of a Hail Mary, which is
a glorification of Our Lady from the standpoint of that truth which the
Since the fact that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us is
precisely the greatest event in the whole history of humanity and the
greatest honor ever bestowed upon mankind, it became a habit born of
Catholic piety to say the Angelus at dawn, noon and sunset. Thus, we
repeat these truths at the three principle stages of the day, praising
Our Lady regarding these truths and asking her for graces related to
The Angelus, so to speak, changes with the time of day. How beautiful
is the Angelus said in the freshness of the morning. How different is
the Angelus at noon, when the work pace is intense. When prayed at
sunset, everything becomes much more suave and inviting as it begins to
take on a tone of recollection.
It became a habit born of Catholic piety to interrupt one’s work to
pray the Angelus at dawn, noon and sunset, giving thanks for the
Incarnation, praising Our Lady for her obedience to the Divine
Will, and asking for the graces related to the Incarnation.
L’Angélus by Jean-François Millet.
The Church takes this jewel, the Angelus, and makes it shine differently as the day progresses as if to draw out all its beauty. We understand how Catholic things, built on Faith and with a kind of instinct from the Holy Ghost to do them well, display a great harmony. For example, the Angelus admirably harmonizes the greatest clemency, simplicity and profoundness of its concepts. There is also a kind of undefined beauty that comes from its simple poetic and literary elements that does not clash with its deep and profound meaning but, on the contrary, complements it.
Imagine if someone ordered a writer today to compose a prayer to be said every morning, noon and evening, day in, day out, over the ages. Considering the modern mentality, the result would be either a tiny prayer full of trifling and meaningless words or a dry or empty prayer. The prayer would never be able to match the Angelus of Christian piety practiced over the centuries.
What we lack today, especially in Catholic settings, is precisely this kind of spiritual richness whereby one is able to order things with logic, coherence and beauty. However this is done with such naturality that we hardly realize just how well-thought out, well-considered, well-prayed, and above all well-believed all these things are. This can be seen in the Angelus which contains and translates into words the wisdom of the ages.