‘The Angel of the Lord Declared Unto Mary’

A new book, ‘Praying the Angelus,’ makes excellent Advent reading.

(photo: Register Files)

I was completely unfamiliar with the Angelus until I met my husband. We had never prayed it in my childhood home, and even though I went to a Catholic grade school, it was not prayed there, either. I knew it existed, but the first time I actually heard the whole thing prayed was when I had dinner at my husband’s house when we began dating.

I immediately fell in love with it and began praying it on my own at noon daily and often at 6 PM each day as well. I’ve held to that custom since, and taught the Angelus to my children as they came along.

That’s why I was so excited to see Jared Dees’ new book, Praying the Angelus: Find Joy, Peace, And Purpose In Everyday Life (2017, Ave Maria Press, $13.95). This excellent work is the best explanation of the Angelus that I’ve seen to date. Not only does it explain the background of the prayer, but it also offers solid Catholic teachings and personal anecdotes that bring the devotion to life.

Dees’ experience with the Angelus is similar to my own – he was introduced to it as an adult. In high school theology teacher, Dees was on a trip to Rome with his class and attended the Holy Fathers Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. When the crowd began praying the Angelus in Latin, he had no idea what it was, and had no idea how this beautiful traditional prayer would later change his life.

“I never asked anyone about those Latin words. I just kind of accepted that it was something Catholics do – something ancient and important, like Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, no Venus, or Eucharistic adoration. No one told me about the Angelus. No one invited me to pray with them, and never occurred to me to start praying it myself. I simply tucked my experience with the per way as part of the fond memories of my trip to Rome. I might never have prayed the Angelus again if it hadn’t been for a newly ordained priest named father Terry,” he wrote.

The young priest gave an explanation of the Angelus in a presentation to Dee’s third grade catechism class. The explanation gripped his heart and changed his life.

“That’s where my Angelus journey began,” he wrote. “This book shows where it has led. I invite you to come along – to pray the Angelus with me and thousands of other Catholics around the world – and learn how it can make an impact on your life and the lives of the people you know and love around you.”

The Angelus recounts the details of the Annunciation, echoing the words of the Angel Gabriel and our Blessed Mother as she accepted God’s request to become the mother of his Son. It’s entirely scriptural, and for that reason Dees believes it’s an important aspect of the New Evangelization, as it gives us a tool to present the Gospel to others.

“At the core of the New Evangelization of the challenge for us to present the Gospel, which is unchanged over the millennia and is often perceived as old and irrelevant to our lives today, in new and fresh ways. So much of what people think they know about the Catholic Church is misunderstood; ancient Church teaching must be re-presented in new ways that capture the true essence of our faith. The Angelus is one traditional practice that I believe meets our culture exactly where most needs transformation and conversion. It is the spirit of the New Evangelization that sparked my desire, in fact my calling, to write this book,” he wrote.

The book is an easy read and its meditations are both simple and profound, with a meditation on each line of the Angelus. Additionally, Dees offers background and meditations for the Regina Coeli, or “Queen of Heaven,” an ancient prayer of the Church that is sung or recited in place of the Angelus during the Easter season. They’re all marvelous.

If it weren’t for the Annunciation, there would be no Advent or Christmas. Praying the Angelus takes us deeper into that mysterious and glorious meeting between the Angel and the Virgin, making this book excellent for Advent. After Advent, you want to go back to it time and again to revisit its pages. This book really is a keeper.

Where to get your copy: