The Angelus Prayer

Have you ever heard of the Angelus prayer? It is an old and widely popular devotion throughout the world, but was not one that was part of my home parish/family growing up (no matter how much we learn growing up, there is always so much more out there!). I first encountered it at the Newman Center at the University of Illinois, where we would pray it before the noon daily Masses. Then, in seminary it became even more prominent – we were all expected to have it memorized, we prayed it before most meals, and bells rang for it three times every day! It was at this point when I realized how well-known this devotion had been, and came to appreciate it as a daily practice.

The “Angelus” became popular in the Middle Ages, and gets its name from the beginning of the prayer in Latin, “Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae…” (“The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary…”). It commemorates the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to announce the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary (Gospel of Luke 1:26-38). Traditionally it would be prayed at 6:00am, Noon, and 6:00pm. Church bells would ring to mark the times. People throughout the town – whether at work in the fields or at home – would pause and pray the prayer together. It consists of three sets of responses each followed by a Hail Mary, and then a closing prayer (I will list the full prayer at the end of this post).

What I came to love about the Angelus was the way that it invites us to pause at three key points of the day – the beginning, middle, and end (or breakfast, lunch, and dinner) – to reflect on the presence and action of God. Praying the Hail Mary in between the verses gives us a moment to reflect on the meaning of each section.

The first verse proclaims the Annunciation to Mary – a moment to reflect on what God has done in the history of salvation, and what He has done/is doing in our personal life. Next, it remembers Mary’s response: “Be it done unto me according to Thy word.” It invites us to see God’s will in the concrete circumstances of our life and to respond positively to His call. Finally, the Angelus calls to mind the fruit of Mary’s response: the Incarnation, Christ dwelling among us in her womb. The end result of cooperation with God’s will is receiving the life of Christ. We have no need to fear it or avoid it.

I wanted to share this devotion as a practice that may be helpful to you in your daily life now! Whether you pray it at multiple times a day or just once, it can help to give us a practical moment of discernment and reflection in the middle of a busy day. Like Mary, may we be open to the voice of God, and respond with our “yes” in every circumstance!

The Angelus

[Note: if two or more people are praying together, the leader says the parts in normal type, and the other(s) respond with the italicized parts]

The Angel of the Lord declared unto to Mary:

And she conceived by 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. [Traditionally a bow or genuflection is done here]

 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. Amen.

Prayer Service in Time of Sickness (bilingual)

Begin with the Sign of the Cross. In the Name of the Father…

Leader: Let us call to mind the presence of God as we listen to these words of Scripture:

[It is recommended to use the Gospel from the Mass of the day, which can be found by clicking the date on the calendar on US Conference of Bishops website, http://www.usccb.org. Otherwise, this reading from Matthew 8:23-27 or another reading may be used instead]

And when [Jesus] got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

Leader: In a spirit of confidence let us continue with prayers of petition. [Note: the italics in the petitions mark the responses]

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

For an end to spread of Coronavirus COVID-19 and every other illness, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

For all those who are ill, that they may be given strength and recover, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

For all those who care for the sick, and all those working on a cure or vaccine, that they may be successful, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

For our family and friends, the poor, and for all those in particular need right now, that they may be protected from harm and illness, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who have died and for those that mourn the loss of loved ones, that they may be given peace, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

For all of us, that we may grow in faith and conversion to the Lord during this time, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

[Optional: For any other intentions that you would like to share…]

Let us pray for all of these petitions in the words that our Savior taught us, Our Father, Who art in heaven…

Let us also ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of the Sick. Hail Mary, full of grace…

We end by expressing our confidence in the power of the Most Holy Trinity as we pray, Glory be to the Father, and to the Son…

Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, by the grace of your Holy Spirit cure the illnesses of your servants. Heal their sicknesses and forgive their sins; expel all afflictions of mind and body; mercifully restore them to full health, and enable them to resume their former duties, for you are Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

St Malachy, pray for us.

St Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us.

St Sebastian, pray for us.

All angels and saints, pray for us.

 Prayer of Spiritual Communion:

Appropriate to pray daily, and especially at a time you would normally attend Mass.

My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

Prayer of Adoration of Jesus in the Tabernacles of the World:

May the heart of Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored, and loved at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even until the end of time. Amen.

 

Servicio de oración en tiempo de enfermedad

Comience con la Señal de la Cruz En el Nombre del Padre…

Líder: Recordemos la presencia de Dios al escuchar estas palabras de la Biblia:

[Se recomienda utilizar el Evangelio de la Misa del día, que se puede encontrar en las “Lecturas del Día” en el sitio web de la Conferencia de Obispos de EE. UU., http://www.usccb.org. De lo contrario, esta lectura de Mateo 8: 23-27 u otra lectura puede usarse en su lugar]

Subió [Jesús] a la barca y sus discípulos le siguieron. De pronto se levantó en el mar una tempestad tan grande que la barca quedaba tapada por las olas; pero él estaba dormido. Acercándose ellos le despertaron diciendo: «¡Señor, sálvanos, que perecemos!» Díceles: «¿Por qué tenéis miedo, hombres de poca fe?» Entonces se levantó, increpó a los vientos y al mar, y sobrevino una gran bonanza. Y aquellos hombres, maravillados, decían: «¿Quién es éste, que hasta los vientos y el mar le obedecen?»

Líder: En un espíritu de confianza, continuemos con oraciones de petición. [Nota: las cursivas en las peticiones marcan las respuestas]

Señor ten piedad. Señor ten piedad.

Cristo, ten piedad. Cristo, ten piedad.

Señor ten piedad. Señor, ten piedad.

Por el fin de la propagación del coronavirus COVID-19 y cualquier otra enfermedad, roguemos al Señor. Te lo pedimos, Señor.

Por todos los que están enfermos, para que se les den fuerzas y se recuperen, roguemos al Señor. Te lo pedimos, Señor.

Para todos los que cuidan a los enfermos, y todos los que trabajan en una cura o vacuna, para que tengan éxito, roguemos al Señor. Te lo pedimos, Señor.

Por nuestra familia y amigos, los pobres, y por todos aquellos en necesidad particular ahora, para que puedan estar protegidos, roguemos al Señor. Te lo pedimos, Señor.

Por todos los que han muerto y por aquellos que lloran la pérdida de sus seres queridos, para que se les dé paz, roguemos al Señor. Te lo pedimos, Señor.

Para todos nosotros, para que podamos crecer en la fe y la conversión al Señor durante este tiempo, roguemos al Señor. Te lo pedimos, Señor.

[Opcional: Para cualquier otra intención que le gustaría compartir …]

Oremos por todas estas peticiones en las palabras que nuestro Salvador nos enseñó: Padre nuestro, que estás en el cielo …

Pidamos también la intercesión de la Santísima Virgen María, Ayuda de los Enfermos: Dios te salve, María…

Terminamos expresando nuestra confianza en el poder de la Santísima Trinidad: Gloria al Padre y al Hijo …

Señor Jesucristo, nuestro Redentor, por la gracia de tu Espíritu Santo, cura las enfermedades de tus siervos. Cura sus enfermedades y perdona sus pecados; expulsar todas las aflicciones de la mente y el cuerpo; restaura misericordiosamente a su salud completa, y les permite reasumir sus deberes anteriores, Tú que vives y reinas por los siglos de los siglos. Amén.

San Malaquias, ruega por nosotros.

Santa Isabel de Hungría, ruega por nosotros.

San Sebastián, ruega por nosotros.

Todos los ángeles y santos, rueguen por nosotros.

Oración de Comunión espiritual:

Apropiado para rezar diariamente, y especialmente a la hora en que normalmente asistirías a misa.

Jesús mío, creo que estás presente en el Santísimo Sacramento. Te amo por encima de todas las cosas y deseo recibirte en mi alma. Como ahora no puedo recibirte sacramentalmente, entra al menos espiritualmente en mi corazón. Te abrazo como si ya estuvieras allí, y me uno completamente a ti. Nunca permitas que me separe de ti. Amén.

Oración de Adoración de Jesús en los Tabernáculos del Mundo:

Que el Sagrado Corazón de Jesús en el Santísimo Sacramento sea alabado, adorado y amado en cada momento, en todos los tabernáculos del mundo, incluso hasta el fin de los tiempos. Amén.

Three Things about St Patrick

While I was at my first assignment I was blessed to come across a great little book that contained two documents written by St Patrick himself (which was fitting since one of the parishes was named for him!). I really enjoyed this glimpse into the saint’s own mind and personality. The two works are his Confession (the word is used here in a similar sense to St Augustine’s book, as a basic account of his life), and his Letter to Coroticus. Here are three things to share from them-

 

1. His humility.

St Patrick writes about himself in a very simple and humble way. This can be seen in the first line of each work: “I Patrick, am a sinner, the most uncultured and smallest among all the faithful…” and “I, Patrick, an unlearned sinner who dwells in Ireland…” He was well aware that the work he was doing was not a result of his personal strength but came from the grace of God.

2. His encounter with the Lord’s mercy.

This is the counter-point to his above humility. As much as he was aware of his own weakness, he was aware of the power of God. He writes, “But I know… that before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in the deep mud. But the Strong One came and in His mercy He took me out and He lifted me on high and placed me on the top of His wall. Therefore, I must cry aloud in thanksgiving to the Lord for so many good things which He has given me both now and for eternity… He thus prepared me to be the kind of person I am today so that I can care and work for the salvation of others; me who never cared for my own salvation.” My favorite line is his description that, “[God] watched over me before I knew Him and before I could tell right from wrong: He had compassion for me just as a father has for his son.”

3. The love that he had for the people of Ireland.

It sometimes surprises people to learn that St Patrick wasn’t Irish. He was British and originally came to Ireland as a captive. Patrick escaped his slavery back to Britain, but then felt the call to return to Ireland as a missionary. He talks about hearing the voice of the Irish in his dreams and prayers, and his heart being rent within him. He writes to Coroticus, “I am also urged by the love I have for my neighbors and children, for whom I have renounced my fatherland and family and handed over my very life even unto death.” Patrick describes coming to Ireland as if he had adopted the whole people to himself, and from history we know that the love of his dedication to the people of the island has been well felt!

 

These are just a few small samples, I highly encourage taking the time to read his works if you get the chance. God bless!

John Henry Cardinal Newman

I first heard of Cardinal Newman as the namesake of the “Newman Center” that I attended at the University of Illinois (the Catholic student center). It was with great joy that I heard he had been approved for canonization as a saint! In this post I thought I’d give a few reasons as to how he has been a positive influence in my life.

Cardinal Newman was a significant theologian of the 19th century (lived 1801-1890). He was a member of the Oxford Movement within Anglicanism and developed a deep interest in the writings of early Christians. Much of his research can be found in his work, “An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine” (although the word ‘essay’ may be deceiving… my paperback copy is 480 pages!). This study is particularly interesting because he began the research before entering the Catholic Church, and finished it as Catholic. It documents his discovery of the historical roots and unity of the early Church with the Catholic Church today. His writing is full of profound insight into the reasons for belief—which was not an abstract study for him, but a burning personal question. Newman’s writing can be dense at times, but very rewarding!

Second, I find his spirituality compelling and timely. He took as his motto “Cor ad cor loquitur” (heart speaks to heart). As important as study was to him, Newman recognized that what is most powerful is when the Gospel is embodied in a personal witness. In it we can consider the Heart of God speaking to our heart, as well as seeking to let our heart speak to others. My favorite explanation of this phrase comes from a book by Louis Bouyer about St Philip Neri (side note— When Newman entered the Catholic Church he decided to start a community of the Congregation of the Oratory, the religious order founded by Neri. At some point I will write a post on Neri! He is my favorite non-biblical saint). Bouyer writes, “Cardinal Newman’s motto, ‘Cor ad cor loquitur,’ sums up the Philippian ideal; neither speeches nor arguments can awaken a living faith in those whom Christianity has lost its meaning. Only contact with people whose daily lives are dominated by an intense and personal experience of the truths of the Faith can achieve such a result, and it is precisely this result which Philip achieved through his dual life of intimate communion with God and men.” There is a personal touch to his approach to preaching and teaching, and a good reminder that the Faith isn’t just to be studied, but to be lived.

Finally, his legacy keeps popping up in my life. Newman was the rector of a Catholic university and wrote a book called “The Idea of a University,” and his interest in this topic helped him to become the patron of the line of Catholic student centers that I encountered on campus in Champaign-Urbana. This center helped me to make the transition from my high school faith into a more adult faith, and to discern my vocation as a priest (another side note—when I entered seminary, the directors of our diocesan retreat center would begin the retreats with his prayer “Some Definite Service,” it’s worth looking up!). Also, his community and school at the Birmingham Oratory was closely connected with two of my favorite British writers: Hilaire Belloc and JRR Tolkien. Belloc graduated from there as a student himself. Tolkien’s mother appointed a priest of the community as the guardian for him when she was near death, which helped guide him to develop his faith and studies to become the author and professor that he was. Tolkien then sent his children to the school. So, Newman’s influence is all over!

I never can capture everything about a person in a summary like this, but hopefully that gives a little crash course on Newman. God bless!

Mary as the Woman

At the wedding feast of Cana, Mary notices that the wine has run out and makes this need known to Jesus. His response to this request might strike us as a little harsh: “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). It doesn’t take very developed social skills to know that referring to your mother simply as “woman” is not considered polite! However, Mary responds without taking offense, and tells the servers to do whatever Jesus tells them. So, maybe there is more at work in His comment than a sharp rebuke…

In fact, the title of “Woman” has a wide Biblical significance. The first use of it is to refer to the first woman, Eve. It is then used again shortly after the Fall in the first promise of the Redeemer. God tells the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers…” (Genesis 3:15). This title, then, points to the mother of the Messiah. The beginning of the first creation was a husband and wife, while the beginning of the re-creation will be a mother and son. Therefore, it speaks of Mary as the new Eve – the new “Woman.”

Jesus refers to Mary as “Woman” a second time later in the Gospel of John. While hanging on the Cross, Jesus entrusts His apostle John to Mary with the words, “Woman, behold, your son” (John 19:26). Here we again can see a connection with Mary as the new Eve. Jesus is entrusting her with the care of the infant Church (just as He likewise entrusts us with the care of her in the next verse).

The common link between these references is her role as the new Eve. Since the miracle at Cana is Jesus’ first public sign (John 2:11), it is the beginning of His work of redemption that will conclude with the arrival of His “Hour” on the Cross and His Resurrection on the third day (on that note, I think it’s also important to notice that the account of the miracle begins, “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana…”). What might first strike us as a rude comment, then, is in fact a reference to how this request ties into the whole of God’s plan. Hopefully this post has helped you to better understand this passage, and some of the Biblical foundation of Catholic devotion to Mary. God bless!

The Christmas Octave

The Catholic Church celebrates Christmas as an “octave.” What does this mean? It refers to extending the feast from a single day into an eight day celebration because there is just too much to fit into twenty-four hours! Octaves have a long tradition, and in the past many other feasts received this treatment (Easter is the only other Octave in the Church right now). The practice flows from a number of Old Testament feasts that celebrated the “eighth day,” as well as the eight-day dedication of the Temple. Here are some highlights from the Christmas Octave – these days help to extend the grace of the 25th, and draw out more aspects of its meaning!

December 26th commemorates St Stephen, the first martyr (see Acts of the Apostles, chapter 6). This is referenced in one of my favorite Christmas carols, Good King Wenceslas, which is set “on the feast of Stephen!” Stephen shows the strength of the Gospel being put into practice, as well as a powerful symbol of forgiveness. St Paul (before he was St Paul) was present at the stoning of Stephen, and the Office of Readings on this day reflects on this in light of Paul’s later conversion. It quotes a sermon by St Fulgentius, who wrote, “Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephen’s love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul’s love that covered the multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of heaven.” (You can find the full text here towards the end of the page: http://www.liturgies.net/Liturgies/Catholic/loh/christmas/stephen/officeofreadings.htm).

December 27th marks the feast St John, the Apostle and Gospel-writer. His books of scripture give a special insight into the heart of Christ, and emphasize that Jesus is the Word made flesh (born to save us and offer us the opportunity for encounter with Him). He alone among the Apostles stood faithful at the Cross, and was entrusted with/to the care of Mary, the mother of Jesus. As Stephen represents those who give their life by martyrdom, John represents those who give their life by fidelity to the end of natural life.

December 28th remembers the “Holy Innocents,” the children killed by Herod in his attempt to kill the Christ-child.  In a way they represent all of those that gave their life before the arrival of the Messiah, as well as all those that suffer unjustly. This event required Mary and Joseph to flee to Egypt with Jesus for a time. So, although Christmas is a joyful time, this day invites us to remember those who suffer and wait for the full peace of the Kingdom (As an interesting cultural note, in Mexico this is the equivalent of April Fools’ Day. The idea is that everyone wants to be seen as a “holy innocent” even while pulling the pranks!)

The Sunday after Christmas (or, December 30th if Christmas is a Sunday) is the feast of the Holy Family. We focus on the dynamics of the relationship of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. In their home at Nazareth they began to embody and live the Gospel. I always appreciate this feast as a day of gratitude for my family, and to pray for all those that are in particular need at this time. It is also a time to reflect on what I can do to support my family and those around me.

Finally, I want to say a little about the “octave day” (January 1st). It is celebrated as the feast of Mary, the Mother of God (this day has a history of many names, which may be its own blog post at some point!). The title “Mother of God” was strongly promoted after the Council of Ephesus (431 AD) in contrast to the preaching of Nestorius (who denied the unity of Jesus as one Person, true God and true Man). We believe Mary gave birth to a Person, Jesus – who was the Son of God from all eternity, and took to himself a human nature in his birth in time from Mary. This is a key point because the whole work of redemption was to reunite fallen human nature with the abundance of the divine nature. Jesus realizes this in His person. Therefore, this feast brings us back to the beginning by reinforcing the full impact of what happened on Christmas Day; not just the birth of a good human child, but the birth of Salvation itself!

Who was St Elizabeth of Hungary?

St Elizabeth of Hungary was born in 1207, and died 24 short years later in 1231. She filled these brief years with a profound vitality and love for God and neighbor. A daughter of the king of Hungary, she was married at a young age to a German nobleman. There she began to raise a family infused with a deep commitment to the poor and needy (she was strongly inspired by St Francis of Assisi, who was alive and active in Italy during the same time period). She needed a spiritual director not so much to spur her on to deeper virtue (as most of us need!), but instead to help her moderate her desires and focus them on her vocation at hand. When she was sadly widowed at age 20, she converted one of her residences to a hospital and served the sick there herself until her death.

I think St Elizabeth is a model for us of someone who let her life be directed by the Gospel rather than the expectations of the culture around her. As a noblewoman she could have been considered pious with even a passing practice of devotion. Instead, she sought to live her calling as completely as possible rather than seeking to know the minimum that was asked of her. May she pray for us that we be inspired by the same burning furnace of charity!