Catholic Devotions: The Angelus

Catholic Devotions: The Angelus

CHRISTIANS HAVE ALWAYS paused for prayer at the noon hour. In apostolic times, it was called the prayer of the “sixth hour,” counting from sunrise. St. Peter was praying the noontime prayers when he received a revelation from the Lord (Acts 10:9). It was also at the sixth hour that Jesus was crucified (Lk 23:44)…. The early Christians remembered these biblical events and precedents as they offered their customary midday prayers.

We can also grow weary midway through our daily struggles. So we pause at midday to renew our flagging efforts in prayer. The traditional Catholic midday prayer [although some also pray it in the early morning and in the evening] is called the Angelus, [and consists] of verses with responses, each followed by the recitation of the Hail Mary.

The verses and responses are scriptural, drawn from the story of Jesus’ conception as told in the Gospels of Luke (1:26-28 and 1:38) and John (1:14). Thus, at the turning point of our day, we remember the turning point of human history: the moment when an angel appeared to a young woman named Mary and told her of God’s plan to send the Messiah to the world as her child. All subsequent history, and all of creation, turned on her consent.

If we are growing weak or weary at midday, or … discouraged … we can look to Mary and know that we, too, can rely on the help of the angels and the providence of God, who has a plan for us.

Scott Hahn, Signs of Life (New York: Doubleday, 2009),
Pages 95-98. Used with permission.