A Timely Prayer
I’ve just finished writing out my Christmas cards a few days ago. We don’t send out nearly as many as we did when we were younger, but there are a few that we do still send.
You may think I am late, but the way I figure it, I am right on time. Since we are still in the Christmas season, I like to fill in my cards with notes about our Christmas festivities, and with the easy-going days following Christmas, I find I am not so hurried when I do so.
As you know, Christmas isn’t just one day. For us, we try to keep the celebration going until Epiphany (January 6th) when the wise men finally arrive after their long journey!
I hope you had a truly beautiful Advent and maybe even took up some new practices related to those four weeks before Christmas. When Christmas arrives with a genuine focus on Jesus, the season begins with increased gratitude for his saving work.
One of the prayer practices I tried to add during Advent was to pray the Angelus. I’ve tried it before and this time did it about as imperfectly as I have in the past, but it is so beautiful and simple, I think it is worth the effort to keep trying.
The challenge of praying this prayer which is focused on the Incarnation (God becoming man in the person of Jesus) is that the typical times to pray it are 6 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 6 p.m. As you might imagine, I am often occupied at those times.
I have an app on my phone that reminds me to pray throughout the day by chiming church bells. If you have not tried Laudate, I highly encourage you to do so (you can find it in your apps store.) A friend of mine showed me that in addition to the Angelus reminders, you have the option of receiving a short scripture passage every hour.
My family has finally stopped asking, “What is that?” when church bells go off in my pocket!
Anyway, I think it is important to mark our time throughout the day with prayer, even if we do not do it perfectly, and stopping for just a moment or two is a wonderful opportunity to praise God.
In praying the Angelus from this app, I noticed they have certain lines of the prayer in bold. As I focused on the bold print, I found it speaking to me personally, in a surprising way!
You can find the full Angelus prayer here, but let me give you a few of the lines that jumped out at me:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit
Be it done unto me according to thy word
And dwelt amongst us
Let’s take them one at a time.
Obviously the first line speaks of Mary’s conception of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. But, I ask, can you conceive of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as well? No, obviously no physically, but the truth about Jesus becoming man? This leads to, the question, “How can I respond to the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in my life?”
And the second line. What if we, in simplicity, offered this prayer? What if we humbly prayed that God’s will be done in us, according to his word, throughout the day? This would be transformative! Are you ready for that?
And finally, to contemplate that Jesus was made flesh and dwelt among us! It is a great act of faith when we respond to the Incarnation of Jesus in Mary and we can do this in many ways, but when we respond with the entirety of our lives, it becomes a great act of love.
So as we move through this holy season of Christmas, let our knowledge that God became man in the person of Jesus so that we can all be saved, penetrate your life. Let it move you to action. Let God work through you to love others radically, in ways unexpected and challenging.
And finally, let the realization that Jesus dwells among us every day impact all that you do.