“The Angelus bell slowly rings. Sister Hermance turns in the general direction of the high altar and get to her knees as she prays, “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.” “And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.” And then an Ave Maria is said.
Sister Virginie is kneeling with scissors and hyancinths in the garth but she tenderly puts them on the grass as she says to herself, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”
Sister Marie-Madeleine holds on to a ripsaw and brushes wood shavings and dust from her gray habit as she privately gives the response, “Be it done unto me according to Thy word.”
In the kitchen the sisters stand by the hot stoves in rolled-up sleeves, their white aprons stained with soups and juices, steam from saucepans wetting their chins. Sister Saint-Leon’s hands are whitely gloved in flour as she prays the rest, “And the Word was made flesh.” Cook’s helpers with her respond, “And dwelt amongst us.”
The prioress stands at her desk, her palms held up to her face as though she’s in tears. She prays, “Pray for us, O Hold Mother of God.” And then she replies in antiphon, “That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”
Sister Hermance smiles as Mariette recites from girlhood memory, “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 Christ Our Lord. Amen.”
This touching description of the Angelus being prayed in a US convent in 1906 is found in the novel Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen. The author gives us a beautiful picture of the sisters joined in praying the Angelus wherever they are in their convent.
Similalrly we are invited to imagine, as we sing the Angelus after Sunday Mass, or say it at other times, – or indeed whenever we pray – how we are joined and encouraged in prayer with Christians wherever they may be, some using the same words which we are. Perhaps, in whatever place you pray the Angelus you may like to think of yourself standing in front of the statue of Mary in Church (See the lovely image here of Our Lady’s statue on the evening of Easter Day).
And… would you like to see the music of the version we use at Church? You may like to sing and pray. We’d love you to join in! For a copy, click here: Music for the Angelus